Thursday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Judge Opens Door for Michigan Juvenile Lifers, ABC News

All Michigan inmates serving no-parole sentences for murder committed as juveniles are entitled to a chance at release, a judge said Wednesday, declaring that a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision applies retroactively.

The decision by U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara trumps a ruling last fall by the state appeals court, which said most people already behind bars wouldn’t benefit.

At issue in Michigan is how to follow a 2012 Supreme Court decision that struck down mandatory no-parole sentences for those who were under 18 when they committed crimes, mostly murder. The court said it’s cruel and unusual punishment. The state has more than 350 prisoners in that category.

Texas Media Won’t Say it, but Rick Perry’s Veto of Texting while Driving Ban Likely Saved Lives, Grits for Breakfast

Why might texting bans increase accidents? IIHS suggested that drivers, particularly young people, may be “moving their phones down and out of sight when they texted, in recognition that what they were doing was illegal. This could exacerbate the risk of texting by taking drivers’ eyes further from the road and for a longer time.” Indeed, “Using a driving simulator, researchers at the University of Glasgow found a sharp decrease in crash likelihood when participants switched from head-down to head-up displays. This suggests that it might be more hazardous for a driver to text from a device that’s hidden from view on the lap or vehicle seat.”

Bottom line: Texting bans have simply not had the desired effect. “Survey results indicate that many drivers, especially younger ones, shrug off these bans. Among 18-24 year-olds, the group most likely to text, 45 percent reported doing so anyway in states that bar all drivers from texting. This is just shy of the 48 percent of drivers who reported texting in states without bans.”

Teen Who Performed at Obama Inaugural Events Shot Dead in Chicago, CNN

A teen who performed at events around President Barack Obama’s inaugurationwas shot to death in Chicago this week, and now her story has become part of the debate in Washington over gun violence nationwide.

The shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton came up in a U.S. Senate hearing and a White House press briefing Wednesday.

“She was an honor student and a majorette,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. Performing at inaugural events last week “was the highlight of her young, 15-year-old life,” he said.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, Durbin mentioned Pendleton’s death as he argued that more must be done to stop gun crimes.

Parents:  Bronx Boy Handcuffed over $5 Theft, CNN

The family of a 7-year-old Bronx boy is suing the city of New York and its police force for $250 million, claiming the child was falsely arrested and handcuffed over a $5 theft.

After being accused of stealing the money from a fellow student in November, the parents say, the boy was taken out of his third-grade class in the Bronx and detained by authorities.

The family filed the suit last week, but the incident came into the spotlight early Wednesday in New York when the boy’s mother released a photo of the boy being handcuffed.

The court filing says the child was handcuffed by police, held for 10 hours and charged with two counts of robbery that were later dropped.

But the New York Police Department disputes those allegations, saying the claims are exaggerated.

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