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BLAWg In Bloom

The Indiana Law Library Blog

A Difficult Time For Legal Aid

The National Law Journal and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog are reporting that Legal Aid organizations are having a particularly difficult time at the moment.  With state funding being cut across the country the already hardworking Legal Aid system is struggling.  Organizations from many states are reporting significant funding drops, coupled with large increases in the number of people seeking low cost assistance.  The Legal Aid Society can help only one in nine people who seek their assistance. Legal representation for the impoverished is both important and expensive.  Any thoughts as to how it can be maintained?

The Value Of The White House

According to popular real estate website the White House is not immune from the recent housing crisis.  The famous house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has dropped in value from $331.5 million dollars in 2007 to a mere $251.5 million at the moment.  It seems to have dropped about $5 million in value just in the past month.  It is entertaining to look at the Zillow listing—it is not often that you see single family residences of 55,000 square feet built in 1792 with forced air heating.  For more information, take a look at articles from Yahoo and the L.A. Times.

Police Created Exigencies

Participants in last semester’s Moot Court dealt with a case on police created exigencies.  Warrantless searches are permitted when there are exigent circumstances—i.e. if the evidence would vanish in the time it takes to get a warrant—but not when law enforcement officers create those circumstances themselves.  It turns out that the Supreme Court is just about to hear oral arguments on a case involving this same issue—Kentucky v. King.  Both the Volokh Conspiracy and SCOTUSblog offer the thoughts of Prof. Orin Kerr of George Washington University on the subject.  Kerr offered his professional opinion to the defendant, so the article is not meant to be unbiased, but he does offer some really interesting thoughts on police created exigencies in general.  SCOTUSblog also includes other case documents.  Go take a look—particularly if you spent time with this issue during Moot Court.

Cell Phones in Prisons

It’s not a new story.  Time Magazine ran an article on it a year and a half ago, but the appearance of smart phones in prisons is growing by leaps and bounds.  In August of last year President Obama approved a law that added additional jail time for those caught with cell phones in prisons, but there is still an ever growing number of inmates who are texting one another, talking with family, and maintaining Facebook pages. A day or two ago the New York Times had an article about it, also picked up by the Indiana Law Blog. Now it doesn’t seem so bad that an inmate might talk with his child, but it is certainly a different story when they are coordinating a strike or concealing online evidence from prison.  So what is the solution?  There has been some talk of jamming cell phones near prisons, but the jam could bleed over into other areas.  Mississippi started a program that created a network around a prison that blocked calls and texts from unauthorized cell phones. It caught over 600,000 unauthorized messages just in the latter half of 2010. According to the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, the same program also made money for the prison system—as the use of pay phones went way up.  What do you think?  How bad is it for inmates to have smart phones?  What is the best method to prevent it?