This is going to be one of those days when I just take a look around the Web and see if there's anything interesting in the legal field. Sometimes what I find is depressing, like this commentary from the San Francisco Chronicle, highlighted over at Sentencing Law & Policy:
To many in the United States, the country of Somalia conjures up images of a primitive Third World country. So it may come as a surprise to learn that Somalia and the United States share an unfortunate commonality - they are the only countries in the world that refuse to sign the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child because of its ban on sentencing children to die in prison.
According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, there are now about a dozen people outside the United States and Somalia who were sentenced to permanent imprisonment as children: South Africa has four, Tanzania has one, and Israel has seven. In contrast, the United States has 2,270 children serving such a sentence, including 227 in California.
Sometimes, though, you come across some really cool stuff, which can help you with your practice. Like, courtesy of Grits for Breakfast, a link to the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) Eyewitness Identification Research Laboratory. I'd figured it for just a bunch of barely comprehensible research papers, but it's got things like a basic information on how to construct a lineup, and "a Do-It-Yourself Kit for assessing the fairness of an eyewitness identification lineup." Given the well-documented problems with eyewitness identification, something like this could come in handy in preparing for cross-examination of a witness or the police.
In the same vein, there's another website, run by Gary Wells, a psychology professor from the University of Iowa. The website's design is not exactly user-friendly, but if you look for it, you'll probably find something on eyewitness ID that might help you. Dr. Wells even offers a video where you can try out your own identification skills: you view a two-minute clip where you see somebody attempting to plant a bomb, then you're shown a lineup of the potential subjects and are asked to identify the person you saw. When I did it, I didn't think any of them looked like the guy, but there wasn't an option for that. I selected the first person, was told that I'd identified an innocent person, and advised to go to the web site to do additional reading on the problems of eyewitness identification. I then picked the remaining five suspects in turn, and got the same response each time. Oh, well.
And sometimes when you surf the web, what you come across is just plain weird, like this story:
Lindsay Lohan is about to see dead people. The 21-year-old actress will soon be working at a morgue as part of her punishment for misdemeanor drunken driving, her attorney, Blair Berk, told a judge Thursday.