[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's states brief, Alabama Governor Bob Riley signed legislation [Governor's press release] today that creates a mandatory sentence of at least 20 years to life for people convicted of certain sex crimes against children 12 and younger, and allows those offenders to be tracked by Global Positioning System technology for at least 10 years after serving their sentence. The law [text] also prohibits sex offenders from working or loitering near places where children gather and requires offenders to have a special mark identifying them as a sex offender on their driver's license or other identification card. The state legislature working on the bill [JURIST report] during a special session which ended on July 26. AP has more.
In other state legal news ...
- The Wisconsin 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled [text] Tuesday that a $225,000 punitive damage award given to a couple involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver was not unconstitutional under the state or US constitutions. The court rejected the drunk driver's arguments that the award had no rational or reasonable relationship to the compensatory damages or to the criminal penalties he faced, and instead found that the jury properly concluded a large punitive award supported the criminal and civil sanctions imposed by the Legislature for behavior that was reckless or indifferent to the safety of others. The jury awarded $2,000 in compensatory damages. AP has more.
- Oregon lawmakers have passed legislation [text] that would make the state the first in the nation to require a doctor's prescription for cold and allergy medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in manufacturing methamphetamine. Oregon currently requires customers to show identification and to sign a log when buying these products from pharmacies. Governor Ted Kulongoski is expected to sign [Governor's press release] the legislation this week, and the state Board of Pharmacy will have until July 2006 to implement the prescription requirement. View Senate's press release here. AP has more.
- A New Jersey appellate court has overturned [PDF text] a drunk driving conviction by finding that the police officer who pulled the driver over had "no objectively reasonable basis" for doing so. Judge Harvey Weissbard wrote for the majority, "If officers were permitted to stop vehicles where it is objectively determined that there is no legal basis for their action, the potential for abuse of traffic infractions as a pretext for effecting stops seems boundless and the cost to privacy rights excessive." The decision overturned a lower court ruling which found the officer acted in good faith and on articulable suspicion. The officer mistakenly thought the motorist was violating commercial vehicle laws. New Jersey's Star-Ledger has local coverage.