CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Supreme Court Decides Two Cases

The Supreme Court decided two cases today.  In Muehler v. Menas, the Court held that it did not violate the Fourth Amendment for occupants of a house being searched to be handcuffed for two to three hours.  The Court noted that the search was for weapons and involved allegations of gang membership, but remanded for consideration of the question whether the detention continued beyond the time necessary to complete the search.  Four justices concurred in the judgment but would have left open the possibility that the handcuffing was unreasonable under the circumstances.

In Brown v. Payton, the Court held that a capital jury had been given sufficient opportunity to consider the defendant's religious conversion and reversed the grant of a new sentencing hearing. Both cases were from the Ninth Circuit. [Jack Chin]

March 22, 2005 in Supreme Court | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Oral Argument Today in Habeas Case

Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Dodd v. U.S., 04-5286.  Question presented:  Does the one-year limitations period in 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ¶ 6(3) begin to run (i) when either the Supreme Court or the controlling circuit court has held that the relevant right applies retroactively to cases on collateral review (as the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 9th circuits hold), or instead (ii) when the Court recognizes a new right, whether or not it is made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review (as the 5th and 11th circuits hold, and the 2nd and 8th circuits have stated in dicta)?  Details . . .   [Mark Godsey]

March 22, 2005 in Supreme Court | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Congratulations to CrimProf Earl Martin, New Dean of Gonzaga

Dean Martin was at Texas Wesleyan and has written extensively about capital punishment and other issues.  Story here.

March 22, 2005 in CrimProf Moves | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Corporations Avoid Criminal Charges

The Chicago Tribune reports that since Arthur Andersen, companies involved in criminal behavior are usually not charged in favor of prosecution of the individual wrongdoers.  [Jack Chin]

March 22, 2005 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Catholic Bishops Begin Campaign Against Death Penalty

Press release here. [Jack Chin]

March 22, 2005 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 21, 2005

CrimProf Comments on Atlanta Police Department's Failures in the Wake of the Courthouse Shootings

The fallout from the courthouse shootings in Atlanta continues to damage the city's reputation as a safe, friendly, and progressive capital of the South.  As details of how the rampage emerge, Atlanta's police have been dubbed inept "Keystone Kops" by local and national media personalities.  The courthouse police failed to moniter a surveillence camera that showed Brian Nichols, the 200 lb. rape suspect, overpowering and stealing the gun of the five foot, petite female deputy who was left to guard him as he was left uncuffed in the courthouse, without the extra security escorts as requested by the judge he later killed.  Twenty minutes passed between Nichols opening fire in the courthouse and local police beginning to control the crime scene.  And in that time period, Nichols carjacked five vehicles and walked to a downtown train station, where he escaped without notice.  An hour passed after his courthouse shootings before his photo was circulated to the media, and even so, he spent at least 12 hours wandering undetected outside a mall before assaulting a couple and killing a federal agent.  A local radio personality was recorded saying, "Thank God he left Atlanta [and fled to the suburbs], otherwise they never would have found him."  In response to the criticism, Atlanta's Mayor Shirley Franklin is quoted saying, "We're not perfect, but we seek to be the best we can be."  CrimProf Joe King commented, "Regardless of who failed or why they failed, to the general public the fact is they failed...The biggest black eye you could say happened to the Atlanta Police Department and the Sheriff's office is they failed to see this coming and they failed to gear up for it.'' In the past, Atlanta downplayed its crime to preserve its reputation as a thriving, sophisticated center for business and tourism, but law enforcement's failures have motivated the city to overhaul its policing.  According to police chief Richard Pennington, he will oversee a complete review of the mistakes made in the handling of Nichols' rampage and 26 hour manhunt. More from NYTimes... [Mark Godsey]

March 21, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Oral Argument Today in Prison Religious Freedom Case

Supreme_court_14The Supreme Court will hear oral argument today in Cutter v. Wilkinson, 03-9877.  Question presented:  Whether Congress violated the Establishment Clause by enacting the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 through § 2000cc-5, which requires state officials to lift unnecessary governmental burdens imposed on the religious exercise of institutionalized persons under their control?  The suit was brought by a group of prisoners who claimed that the Ohio prison system stifled their ability to exercise their religion of choice.  On prisoner is a Satanist, another claims to be a witch, and others belong to a polytheistic religion called Asatru, which requires them to wear medallians in violation of prison rules.   Details. . .   [Mark Godsey]

March 21, 2005 in Civil Rights | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Oral Arguments Today in a Mother's Suit Alleging Police Negligence for Failing to Enforce a Restraining Order

Oral arguments are scheduled for today, Monday March 21, in the case of Jessica Gonzales, of Castle Rock, CO, who contends, in her $30 million lawsuit, that Castle Rock police officers ignored her calls for help when Simon Gonzales, her ex-husband, took their daughters, ages 7, 9, and 10 from her yard in June 1999 in violation of a restraining order, and later killed them.  She claims that if the police had appropriately responded, they could have prevented Simon Gonzales from killing their daughters.  The Associated Press reports, "At issue in the Supreme Court appeal is whether the 14th Amendment obligates police to protect residents from violence when a local government issues a restraining order and promises it will be enforced...Gonzales' federal court lawsuit was dismissed in 2001, but it was reinstated by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said police had a duty to respond to her calls for help. In Colorado and about 20 other states, law enforcement agencies are required to enforce restraining orders.  Littleton Assistant City Attorney Brad Bailey, who filed a brief opposing the lawsuit, said the 10th Circuit's decision marked the first time any court has given such status to a restraining order. 'Given the sheer numbers of orders out there, potentially the liability is just staggering,' Bailey said."   Many states' laws sanction relief for police negligence, but Colorado law bars these negligence suits.  More from NYTimes... [Mark Godsey]

March 21, 2005 in Supreme Court | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

French Investigate Concorde Crash

French authorities have begin a criminal investigation of Continental Airlines into the 2000 Concorde crash which killed 113 people and contributed to the end of supersonic travel.  The French theory is that something fell off a Continental aircraft which popped a Concorde tire. [jack Chin]

March 21, 2005 in International | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

This Week's Top 5 Papers

This week's top 5 most downloaded crim papers on SSRN, with number of recent downloads, are:

(1) 245 Search Warrants in an Era of Digital Evidence
Orin S. Kerr,
The George Washington University Law School,
Date posted to database: February 11, 2005
Last Revised: February 22, 2005
(2) 119 Rethinking the Involuntary Confession Rule: Toward a Workable Test for Identifying Compelled Self-Incrimination
Mark Godsey,
University of Cincinnati - College of Law,
Date posted to database: November 19, 2004
Last Revised: March 16, 2005
(3) 106 An Introduction to the Model Penal Code of the American Law Institute
Paul H. Robinson, Markus Dirk Dubber,
University of Pennsylvania Law School, University at Buffalo School of Law,
Date posted to database: February 4, 2005
Last Revised: February 4, 2005
(4) 101 The Blakely Earthquake Exposes the Procedure/Substance Fault Line
Stephanos Bibas,
University of Iowa - College of Law,
Date posted to database: January 21, 2005
Last Revised: February 4, 2005
(5) 72 Does Criminal Law Deter? A Behavioral Science Investigation
Paul H. Robinson, John M. Darley,
University of Pennsylvania Law School, Princeton University,
Date posted to database: February 4, 2005
Last Revised: March 14, 2005

March 21, 2005 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Is There Room for the World in Our Courts?

On Sunday, The Washington Post published an artice by International LawProf Sarah H. Cleveland of Texas Law called Is There Room for the World in Our Courts?.  The article focuses on the role of international law in relation to traditional American constitutional values in the recent Roper decision, and the ongoing debates about gay rights, the death penalty, and abortion.  The article concludes: "  Over a century ago, the court observed that "The Constitution of the United States was . . . . made for an undefined and expanding future, and for a people gathered, and to be gathered, from many nations and of many tongues; and while we take just pride in the principles and institutions of the common law, we are not to forget that in lands where other systems of jurisprudence prevail, the ideas and processes of civil justice are also not unknown."

Those who seek to differentiate the American system from the international community fail to recognize that the United States is a participant in the making of international law, from international trade rules to international humanitarian law and human rights.

The use of international law does not mean we should follow it blindly. But willfully ignoring those rules both brings the United States into conflict with other nations, as with the juvenile death penalty, and hampers our ability to invoke international rules from which we wish to benefit. International law has been a part of our law from the beginning, and its use in constitutional analysis is fully part of the American tradition."  Cleveland's full article is here. [Mark Godsey]

March 21, 2005 in Supreme Court | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Indiana Legislature Considers Inspector General to Prosecute Crimes by State Employees

Last week, the Indiana House of Representatives passed a bill that would give the governor's inspector general the power to prosecute certain crimes.  Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels created the inspector general position in January with the goal of abating corruption by state employees.  The bill passed 98-0, although Democrats launched a House boycott a couple weeks ago in response to the bill, because they considered it a dangerous combination of executive and judicial functions in the governor-appointed inspector general.  The original bill that Democrats boycotted would have authorized the inspector general to prosecute suspected government crimes if local prosecutors failed to charge the crimes within 6 months of their occurrence.  The amended version that passed 98-0 allows an appeals court judge either 1) to appoint the inspector general to prosecute these cases or 2) to choose an elected county prosecutor as a special prosecutor for these cases.  Despite unanimous passage, Democrats are still wary of a governor-appointed official having the power to prosecute state employees and the amount of resources that the inspector general may use to execute this new function.  "I'm not sure the State Police can afford the manpower to provide investigators for the inspector general," said Rep. Vern Tincher, D-Terre Haute.  He and other Democrats worry that the inspector general will deplete resources from the State Police and State Board of Accounts.  In response Gov. Daniels says that the inspector general's position will pay for itself by cutting corruption.  A conference committee still must approve the bill.  More from [Mark Godsey]

March 21, 2005 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thanks to George Brooks

Among the many tippers who provide useful links to this Blog is the Reverend George Brooks, J.D., Director of Advocacy for the Kolbe House, the jail ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago.  I won't thank him for each story, but I do want to acknowledge his past present and future work sharing death penalty and other criminal justice news.  Reverend Brooks has ministered to more prisoners than most criminal lawyers have ever met.  Here's his interview with the Catholic New World; here's a statement about his work on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. [Jack Chin]

March 21, 2005 in About This Blog | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

California Legislators Seek to Reduce High-Speed Police Chases

Legislators in California, the nation's leader of high-speed car chases, are seeking to clean up the state's image by limiting police immunity for injuries and deaths that occur in the course of these chases.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2003, California's 7,171 high-speed pursuits caused 51 deaths, 18 of whom were innocent bystanders.  Law enforcement agencies intend to fight efforts to end police immunity, but Republican State Senator Sam Aanestadat, whose previous bill to limit police immunity died in the Senate Public Safety Committee, says the new bill is an effort to reach a compromise between the police perspective and the stringent perspective taken in the previously defeated bill.  Though the compromise legislation may not be what Aanesadat had in mind, he says the compromise is worthwhile to reduce the loss of innocent lives statewide.  Legislation used in LA County limiting police immunity has proven effective in reducing the number of police chases.  The Associated Press reports: "Los Angeles County adopted one of the nation's most restrictive pursuit policies in 1998, limiting chases to instances where there has been a felony crime committed, a misdemeanor crime involving a weapon, or suspected drunken drivers who are an obvious road hazard.  Before, deputies engaged in about 500 chases a year, a number that dropped by half since the policy was adopted, said Sgt. Wayne Bilowit, the department's legislative advocate.  The number increased in the last year with deputies now patrolling more jurisdictions, but the percentage of chases resulting in collisions has dropped to historic lows, and there have been no chase-related fatalities since 1998.  Moreover, the policy has changed the culture of the department's chase mentality, Bilowit said. Now, 40 percent of chases are halted even though they fall within department guidelines, and half those decisions are made by the pursuing deputy."  Despite these successes, Captain Scott Howland of the CA Highway Patrol advocates more stringent penalties for people who flee from the police instead of limited police immunity.  He seems to have a good point: in California, evading an officer and misusing a handicapped placard result in the same penalty; and misusing the placard requires a higher bail. More... [Mark Godsey]

March 20, 2005 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Florida Supreme Court and No Contest Pleas

The Florida Supreme Court, 4-3, held that no contest pleas constitute convictions for purposes of sentencing in subsequent cases. Opinion here. [Jack Chin; thanks to Deven Desai for the tip].

March 20, 2005 in Sentencing Corrections | Permalink | TrackBack (0)