William H. Freivogel

William H. Freivogel is director of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Previously, he worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 34 years, serving as assistant Washington Bureau Chief and deputy editorial editor. He covered the U.S. Supreme Court while in Washington. He is a graduate of Kirkwood High School, Stanford University and Washington University Law School. He is a member of the Missouri Bar.

Darren WIlson Case
11:04 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Grand Juror Doe May Have A Case, Say Legal Experts

Credit sxc.hu

The grand juror who wants to challenge publicly St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s portrayal of the Ferguson grand jury has a relatively strong First Amendment case -- if the juror can get the argument before a judge, legal experts say.

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a Florida law that permanently barred a grand jury witness from disclosing his grand jury testimony. That same rationale may apply to grand jurors themselves, legal experts say.

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Municipal Courts
3:19 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Missouri Supreme Court Eases Penalty For Not Paying Court Fines

Thomas Harvey speaks to the Ferguson Commission
Credit Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court issued a new rule two weeks ago that eases the financial burden on poor people facing big fines in municipal courts. The new rule should reduce the number of people who spend time in jail for failing to pay fines. 

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Keeping track of law enforcement
11:12 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

How Many Police Kill Black Men? Without Database, We Can't Know

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson's shooting of Michael Brown is just one example of many police shootings in the United States. Exactly how many shootings there are every year is unknown.
Credit Undated video grab

One of the most important reforms that could grow out of the Aug. 9 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, experts say, would be the creation of a national database containing detailed information about all police shootings, whether or not suspects are wounded or killed.

On this much experts agree. But beneath that agreement, the debate about police use of force is fraught with sharp disagreements about how important a factor race plays.

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Proving Civil Rights Violations
10:50 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Police Use Of Force: How Did We Get Here And Where Can We Go?

The laws governing how much force police are allowed to use has had a long, circuitous history.
Credit Flickr | Quinn Dombrowski

Second of two parts.

Even though a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, the case against Wilson is not entirely closed. The U.S. Department of Justice is also conducting an investigation into the Aug. 9 incident.

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Police Use of Force
9:13 pm
Sun December 7, 2014

Why It's So Hard To Hold Police Accountable For Excessive Force

The grand jury decisions not to indict police involved in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York sparked nights of protests. Here, protesters gathered on the steps of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.
Credit Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

First of two parts.

Two grand juries in two very different cases have refused to indict white police officers for the deaths of two black men. As a result, many people are wondering if it's possible to hold police officers accountable for use of deadly force.

State and federal laws could be reformed to make it easier to punish police officers who misuse deadly force, but legal experts say those changes would face political hurdles and an unfriendly U.S. Supreme Court. 

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9:51 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

What Could Happen If There's No Indictment Or Conviction In Michael Brown's Death

Credit Wikipedia

The federal government is sharply limited in what it can do to address a police killing such as the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

A tiny handful of allegations of police brutality are prosecuted and the burden of proof is extremely high. Courts give police the benefit of the doubt, not wanting to second-guess decisions made in the “heat of battle.”

The Justice Department also can bring a civil “pattern and practice” suit against a police department aimed at changing policies and procedures that may have contributed to a shooting.

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First Amendment and Ferguson
1:15 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Police Force And First Amendment Trespasses In The Ferguson Protests

Credit Bill Greenblatt | UPI / UPI

Police appear to be violating the First Amendment rights of protesters and journalists in Ferguson by arresting and targeting journalists, and by turning the right to assembly into a daytime-only right, according to legal experts. 

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10:33 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Hobby Lobby Decision Says Corporations Have Religious Freedom; Local Cases Seek More

Credit supremecourt.gov

Update: U.S. district court grants St. Louis Archdiocese an injunction from enforcement of the mandate to provide contraceptive coverage, even with the existing religious accommodation.

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What is a state employee?
6:27 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Case Striking Illinois Requirement That Home-Health Workers Pay Dues May Only Apply In That State

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan criticized the court ruling.
Credit Wikipedia | government photo

In a case from Illinois that may not reach outside that state, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Pamela Harris, whose child’s disabilities required that he have around-the-clock care. She became his home health worker and objected to having to pay union dues that she thought reduced the amount of money she had to care for her child.

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Appointments, buffer zones
11:38 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Analysis: Supreme Court Unanimous Decisions Do Not Equal Agreement

Credit Matt H. Wade | Wikipedia

The era of unanimity on the U.S. Supreme Court lasted about four days.

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued three important decisions last week with unanimous votes, a flurry of legal and media commentary talked about Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. having engineered a new era of consensus on the court, with nearly two-thirds of this year's decisions decided without a dissent. Some contended that this new consensus court had rejected President Barack Obama's extremism and bolstered House Speaker John Boehner's threatened lawsuit against the president.

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