Monthly Archives: October 2014

Urine Drug Testing: The Risk of False Positives – What Judges Need to Know

immunoassaysJudges rely on urine drug screening (UDS) tests in a myriad of criminal and civil settings. In criminal cases, defendants are often ordered by the court not to use or possess alcohol or mood altering chemicals as a condition of their pretrial release or probation. In family court cases, parents are often ordered to undergo UDS as part of a court-ordered child custody evaluation. The results of the UDS can have tremendous adverse consequences for defendants (incarceration or loss of privileges) or for divorcing parents (loss of custody or parenting time). The potential for false-positive urine drug screen (UDS) results presents a due process dilemma for the presiding judge. When and under what circumstances can a judge feel comfortable relying on the results of a urine drug screening test without a secondary confirmation test? This training update will address the following six topics:

  1. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FALSE POSITIVE RESULTS
  2. WHAT COMMON SUBSTANCES CAN CAUSE FALSE POSITIVES?
  3. MEDICAL AND SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY RECOMMENDATIONS
  4. WHAT SHOULD JUDGES DO?
  5. SPECIAL CONCERN – CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATIONS
  6. URBAN MYTH – FALSE POSITIVES BASED ON 2nd-HAND SMOKE

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PendletonUpdate14-20

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“Pendleton Judicial Training Blog” receives national recognition from legal commentator and author Robert Ambrogi

ambrogi web sitehttp://www.lawsitesblog.com/2014/10/new-blog-serves-training-hub-minnesota-judges-trial-lawyers.html

CIVIL JURY TRIALS: 10 TRIAL ISSUES JUDGES SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR (14-19)

Most judges tend tCIVIL.LAWo preside over criminal jury trials more frequently than they do civil jury trials. Thus, it is not surprising that many judges are more familiar with and comfortable handling criminal jury trial issues than they are civil jury trial issues. In the world of civil jury trials there are certain legal issues that tend to occur with a fair amount of frequency. Because most civil trial attorneys deal with these issues regularly, trial judges must be prepared to address these same issues, sometimes on very short notice. This update addresses ten common civil jury trial issues that every judge should be prepared for.

PendletonUpdate14-19

 

ALFORD (Defendant Denies Guilt) Plea of Guilty (14-18)

alford pleaQUESTION: What is an “Alford” plea of guilty? What procedure must the District Court follow before an “Alford” plea can be accepted?

 In North Carolina v. Alford, the United States Supreme Court held that it was constitutional for a court to accept a defendant’s guilty plea, even though the defendant maintained his innocence, where the State demonstrated “a strong factual basis for the plea” and the defendant clearly expressed his desire to enter the plea based on his belief that the State’s evidence would be sufficient to convict him. 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160 (1970); State v. Theis, 742 N.W.2d 643 (Minn. 2007).

This update discusses the three necessary steps that courts must take before an “Alford” plea can be accepted.

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PendletonUpdate14-18

COURT-RELATED VIOLENCE; 15 FACTS EVERY JUDGE (and attorney) SHOULD KNOW (14-17)

wellerAttempted Murder of a Judge: The facts in this update come from an amazing story. Eight years ago a sniper shot Judge Chuck Weller (a family court judge in Reno, Nevada) just above the heart as he was standing in his courthouse chambers. The shooter was an estranged husband embroiled in a contested divorce and child custody action. The shot was fired from the roof of a parking garage 200 yards from the courthouse. Earlier that day, the husband stabbed his wife to death during an exchange of their nine-year old daughter. Following his recovery, Judge Weller entered into an advanced degree program and wrote a doctoral dissertation on courthouse violence. This training update summarizes 15 key facts uncovered from Judge Weller’s exhaustive research into this troubling area. One of the most interesting findings is the correlation between courthouse violence and domestic violence (see finding #6 on page two). These are facts that every judge, attorney and the general public should know.

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