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CLN is a project of the Human Rights Defense Center

Welcome to Criminal Legal News!


Criminal Legal News (“CLN”), a project of the nonprofit Human Rights Defense Center (“HRDC”), is a monthly magazine that reports on criminal justice issues and related civil litigation topics.
CLN focuses on individuals’ constitutional rights as they relate to interactions with the criminal justice system and the persistent expansion of the police state in America.  In addition, CLN provides case summaries of the latest state and federal appellate court decisions of importance for anyone with an interest in the most recent developments in substantive criminal law and criminal procedure.
Specifically, CLN’s coverage of criminal justice issues includes, but is not limited to, police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct, abuse of power, habeas corpus relief, ineffective assistance of counsel, sentencing errors, militarization of police, surveillance state, junk science, wrongful convictions, false confessions, witness misidentification, paid/incentivized informants, search and seizure, Miranda warning, and due process rights.
CLN is the companion publication to Prison Legal News (“PLN”), which is widely recognized as the preeminent source of information and advocacy for prisoners' rights and associated legal issues.  In 2013, PLN received the First Amendment Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Both CLN and PLN serve as vital resources for prisoners who otherwise don’t have access to current legal and prison-related news and information.
The Human Rights Defense Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit human rights organization that zealously advocates, educates, and litigates on issues pertaining to people’s constitutional rights, especially on issues affecting individuals at all stages of the criminal justice system from initial police-citizen encounter to post-incarceration release.
To search CLN’s articles and other content, click “Search Content” on the top menu bar.  For recent news articles that mention CLN, PLN, and HRDC, click “In the News” (which also includes press releases from across the entire HRDC organization).  For HRDC’s litigation project, which tracks our First Amendment lawsuits, public records cases, and other legal actions, click “Litigation.”
CLN’s monthly magazine is a subscription print and online publication.  Our core subscriber base are prisoners incarcerated nationwide and members of the legal community who are interested in the latest criminal law-related court decisions and criminal justice news.
We also offer website subscriptions that provide full access to all content on our website (most of our news content is free, but a subscription is required to access some of our legal content).  For subscription options and fees, please click on “Subscribe” on the menu bar.
CLN also distributes numerous criminal justice, legal, and self-help books through our book store. Plus we do much more—for a better understanding of everything we do, please review our Annual Reports (also available under the “About” tab). 

Recent CLN Articles

The Rise of Smart Camera Networks, and Why We Should Ban Them

by , The Intercept

This January 27, 2020 article is republished with permission from The Intercept, an award-winning nonprofit news organization dedicated to holding the powerful accountable through fearless, adversarial journalism. Sign up for The Intercept’s Newsletter.

There’s widespread concern that video cameras will use facial recognition ...

Prosecutorial Misconduct: Justice Denied as the System Turns a Blind Eye

by Christopher Zoukis

How do rogue forensic scientists and other bad cops thrive in our criminal justice system? The simple answer is that some prosecutors turn a blind eye to such misconduct because they’re more interested in gaining a conviction than achieving a just result. — Judge Alex Kozinski, U.S. ...

Why Are Cops Around the World Using This Outlandish Mind-Reading Tool?

The creator of Scientific Content Analysis, or SCAN, says the tool can identify deception. Law enforcement has used his method for decades, even though there’s no reliable science behind it. Even the CIA and FBI have bought in.


by Ken Armstrong, ProPublica, and Christian Sheckler, South Bend Tribune ...

Insurance Companies Are Paying Cops To Investigate Their Own Customers

A cozy alliance between insurers and law enforcement has turned the justice system into the industry’s hired gun and left innocent customers facing prison.

by Kendall Taggart, BuzzFeed News Reporter, August 15, 2019

When police showed up at Harry Schmidt’s home on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, he thought they ...

How the Secretive 'Discipline' Process for Federal Prosecutors Buries Misconduct Cases

by Brooke WilliamsSamata Joshi and Shawn Musgrave

This October 10, 2019 article is republished with permission from The Intercept, an award-winning nonprofit news organization dedicated to holding the powerful accountable through fearless, adversarial journalism. Sign up for The Intercept’s Newsletter.

Lashawn Jermaine Johnson spent his 30s ...

Prosecutors Working to Clear Wrongful Convictions With Mixed Results

by Bill Barton

Before the murder charge against him was finally dropped, Richard Phillips had the decidedly dubious distinction of being locked up longer than any other eventually exonerated prisoner—he was incarcerated for 45 years, convicted of a crime he did not commit. 

According to a report from the ...

Partial Justice

How a Judiciary Poisoned by Politics, Ideology, and Unaccountability Contributes to the Wrongful Conviction of Innocent Men and Women

by Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist Paper No. 78 that the judiciary “may truly be said to have neither force nor will but merely judgment.” Because the judiciary ...

More articles

"Criminal Injustice"

Paul Wright, the founder and executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center and editor of Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News, is a regular guest on the "Loud & Clear" podcast's Thursday series “Criminal Injustice,” a segment about the most egregious conduct of our courts and prosecutors and how justice is denied to so many people in this country. Listen to this week's episode here or visit our media library, here, for an archive of past shows.

Recent Headlines 

As the U.S. Scrambles to Slow Coronavirus, We Should Be Wary of Increased Surveillance

Police groups slam cities and states releasing jail inmates to mitigate coronavirus fears

Undercover Providence Police Faked Withdrawal Symptoms and Solicited Suboxone

Disturbing video shows man scream for help as police officers make aggressive arrest over smoking weed

A mother died in police custody of a treatable illness. Her family says she was denied proper care because she abused drugs

Body camera video shows 6-year-old Orlando girl arrested at school

Advocacy groups call on Cuomo to repeal law that hides police misconduct records

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The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct Side


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Adams State University