civil cases involving punitive damages L a w
1) You are a police detective and, though you lack probable cause, you are convinced that Amy Able is the mastermind behind a series of art thefts in the north end of town. You believe that Amy plans the thefts, hires local thieves, and then sells the artwork overseas. You know that her usual thief has been arrested on an unrelated charge, so you decide to arrange a meeting between Amy Able and a confidential informant (CI) with a history of petty theft. At the meeting, your CI is wearing a wire to tape the conversations. During the meeting, Amy is reluctant to go ahead with more thefts, because she tells your CI that she is “out of the business” and wants to retire. At this point, your listening device malfunctions, but your CI later tells you he convinced Amy by threatening to go to the police and ruining her reputation as an art dealer. Amy reluctantly agrees to plan the heist and, several days later, meets with your CI to go over the details. At this point, you know that she has committed sufficient acts under local law to be guilty of conspiracy to commit theft, and you can arrest her. You give the DA the transcript of the conversations recorded by the wire, and the DA says it is a “slam dunk.” What legal issues, if any, are raised by the facts? What should you do, if anything, as the detective on this case?
2) Public defenders are employed by the government to ensure that everyone’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel is met, particularly those who cannot afford their own lawyer. You have just graduated from law school and are a brand-new public defender. Your first client is charged with armed robbery and, during your first meeting with her, she says, “I thought I was entitled to the best attorney available?” Explain to your client her entitlement in terms of effective assistance in her criminal trial.
3) In civil lawsuits, punitive damages are designed to punish a wrongdoer and act as a warning to others not to engage in similar conduct. For example, an individual might suffer $10,000 in compensatory damages because of lost wages, but the jury could award $1 million to punish the defendant over and above compensatory damages. The Eighth Amendment prohibits punishment by excessive fines in criminal cases, but not in civil cases involving punitive damages. Therefore, the $1 million judgment in the civil suit would, if imposed as a fine by a judge or jury in a criminal court, likely violate the Eighth Amendment. Do you think this distinction is a relevant one? Why should punishment by the government be considered different than punishment by an individual?
4) The Twenty-Second Amendment restricts the length of presidency to two terms. The only president to serve more than two terms was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died shortly after beginning his fourth term in 1945. What are the pros and cons associated with this Amendment?
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