Morning Links

• The New York Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday about how far police should be able to go when lying to suspects in order to nudge them into confessing. About a fourth of the DNA exonerations so far have involved false confessions.

• Virginia appeals court orders Yelp to reveal the identities of anonymous reviewers.

White House announces the creation of the new National Commission of Forensic Science. The move at least helps shed light on the problem. But the fix may need to be a bit more radical than another blue ribbon panel.

• My colleague Max Fisher throws some cold water on that El Universal report alleging a bargain between the DEA and the Sinaloa drug cartel. I think Fischer is right that the report doesn’t produce enough evidence to back up its claims. (I can’t read Spanish, so I’m basing this on the reports of the report.) But while a grand bargain allowing the cartel to import billions of drugs over the better part of a decade seems unlikely, the DEA looking the other way while a few valuable informants in that cartel carry on their business doesn’t seem at all beyond the realm of possibility. We’ve seen worse. See the House of Death case, or the CIA-cocaine, Contras connection.

An internal investigation by Durham police has concluded that 17-year-old Jesus Huerta somehow shot himself in the head, after he was frisked, as he sat handcuffed in the back of a squad car. That’s quite a feat.

New York Times reporter James Risen has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case in his bid to protect the identity of confidential sources.

• In Illinois, a third offense of tossing a cigarette butt on the ground now constitutes a felony. It’s unclear if the arrests will come with a  body cavity search.

Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."

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Tom Toles · January 15, 2014