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Dear Friend of TCP,Top


This has been an incredible year for TCP for many reasons, as well as a year of enormous change.  For those of you who  may have missed our exciting news , I am pleased to let you know that TCP and the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) have now joined forces.  I could not be more confident that TCP's mission will continue at POGO and that we will emerge stronger and better prepared for the constitutional battles that lie ahead. 

I founded TCP 20 years ago to bring together people of diverse experiences and political philosophies to forge consensus on some of the most difficult constitutional questions of the day. During that time, POGO has been the preeminent, nonpartisan government watchdog, investigating government corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest to achieve a more effective, accountable and ethical federal government. Our merger enables TCP and POGO to take on new investigations and lines of advocacy to surmount the enormous challenges facing our constitutional democracy in 2018 and beyond. 

I have also decided that it is time for fresh leadership, and for me to take a break, although I am delighted that I have joined POGO's Board of Directors.  Under the outstanding leadership of POGO's Executive Director, Danielle Brian, Sarah Turberville will transition to the new role of Director of The Constitution Project at POGO.  All TCP staff will also join POGO as part of the merger.

I hope that you will continue to collaborate with and support TCP; we cannot continue to carry out our mission without you. And while I sign off as President of TCP in this newsletter, you will continue to receive the latest news from TCP through updates from Sarah and the team at POGO.

It has been my great honor and pleasure to work with you over the past 20 years. You can reach me at vsloandc@gmail.com and while I look forward to new opportunities, I know that they will involve a continued commitment to social justice and, hopefully, new chances to work with you. 


All my best,

Virginia Sloan


In This Issue
In an amicus brief organized by The Constitution Project, a group of prominent Texans has urged the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) to grant Bobby Moore relief from his death sentence because he is intellectually disabled. Moore's case is back before the CCA after the Supreme Court held that Texas's standards for determining mental illness were unconstitutional because they were not informed by the views of medical experts. The Court stated in its 5-3 opinion that, "not aligned with the medical community's information, and drawing no strength from our precedent, the Briseno factors [the Texas standard being challenged] 'creat[e] an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed.'" In so holding, the Court cited  The Constitution Project's amicus brief . In the new proceedings, the Harris County District Attorney's Office, which is representing the State of Texas, has filed a brief agreeing that Moore is entitled to relief. 


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Updates on Surveillance Article1
Government Searches & Surveillance

As the year comes to a close, we've seen major action on surveillance.  On November 29, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Carpenter v. United States, a critical case that could reshape Fourth Amendment protections for cellphone location tracking.  The Constitution Project submitted  an amicus brief with several other groups.  Just prior to oral arguments, Senior Counsel Jake Laperruque published an  op-ed in Slate on potential location tracking concerns that would persist even if cellphone tracking is better regulated, and immediately following arguments he led a panel, co-hosted by TCP and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, at the ABA reacting to the case.  Laperruque also spoke at the Cato Institute's annual surveillance conference on a panel reacting to Carpenter ( video available here).  

Laperruque also participated in an event at The Century Foundation speaking about the various risks of police body cameras along with reporter Ava Kofman, moderated by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Barton Gellman ( video available here).


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Oklahoma Commission Driving Reforms Article2
Two of Oklahoma's leading newspapers (The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World) published op-eds by the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission co-chairs, former Oklahoma governor Brad Henry and Andy Lester, a prominent Republican leader in Oklahoma. The op-eds note two recommendations from the Commission's report that have already been taken up by Oklahoma stakeholders.

First, the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) created a task force to create standards for capital defense counsel-which currently do not exist in Oklahoma. Creation of such standards was a major recommendation in the Commission's report, and we are pleased that the OBA's  House of Delegates recently voted to pass standards created by the task force. The Commission noted that "effective defense counsel acts as a safeguard against wrongful convictions (and) requires specialized training and experience in the complex legal framework that governs capital cases." It is wonderful that the OBA agreed with this assessment and is in the process of drafting new rules for capital defense attorneys consistent with baseline standards.

Second, the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council (DAC) provided training on common causes of wrongful convictions-another recommendation from the Commission's report. The DAC is also considering formation of a best practices committee, which we strongly encourage. We continue to work with the Oklahoma Commissioners to ensure that their report maximizes its impact in Oklahoma. Please keep following press coverage and other notable developments here


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TCP Continues Advocacy on Police Militarization Article3
Policing Reform
 
As you know from our last newsletter and our 2016  report of TCP's Policing Committee, TCP has been at the forefront of policy advocacy to limit federal programs providing military equipment to law enforcement agencies. We continue to engage policymakers and unlikely allies in this work. For example, we assisted with this  op-ed in The Hill by John Dixon III, a former Petersburg, VA police chief and Marine veteran, which cites TCP's work in challenging unfettered police access to military equipment and training. And, working closely with our new colleagues at POGO, we helped Senators Brian Schatz and Rand Paul push federal agencies for answers regarding policy changes to these programs.

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