Wednesday, April 6, 2005
A Louisiana statute authorizes the Attorney General to dissolve corporations promoting homosexuality, among other things. That statute was the subject of an attack in the Louisiana Court of Appeals. The prosecutor defended the law as follows:
"The law is the law," he said outside the courthouse, but he added that "we never prosecute" cases under the crimes against nature statute.
Tuesday, April 5, 2005
On April 1, in the case State v. Citizen (2005 WL 737421) the Louisiana Supreme Court held that, in cases involving indigent defendants, if adequate funds to support assigned counsel's work aren't identified and made available, the defendant has the option to file a motion requesting the trial judge to stop the prosecution of the case until adequate funds are provided. The Court assured that speedy trial mandates still apply according to LA and Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. [Mark Godsey] (thanks to Pamela Metzger of Tulane for the tip)
In Springfield, MA, Alfonso Carrano, the former manager of the Springfield School Department lunch program, was sentenced to serve four months in either a federal prison or a halfway house, pay a $5,000 fine, serve 100 hours of community service, and remain supervised for 2 years after his release for stealing $10,000 from the Springfield School Department. Carrano pled guilty after telling vendors in charge of setting up vending machines in the schools to make checks payable to him instead of the school department. As part of the city's efforts to deter public corruption, the state sought an additional punishment--to require Carrano to wear a sandwich board reading, "I STOLE $10,000 FROM THE SCHOOL DEPARTMENT. THIS IS A SERIOUS CRIME. THIS IS PART OF MY PUNISHMENT." Judge Posner rejected the State's request, instead choosing the 100 community service hours, but said he'd consider a punishment advertising the offender's crime in a more appropriate case. More from BostonHerald.com... [Mark Godsey]
Monday, April 4, 2005
After a Kentucky campus police officer served as lead investigator in a rape-murder, the accused was acquitted. Family members and legislators said the result might have been different had the crime scene not been left unsecured for 3 hours. Legislation has been introduced to require city or state police to investigate serious crimes on campus. [Jack Chin]
Texas law renders forfeitable profits from the sale of objects which are more valuable because of the notoriety of a crime committed by the seller; this is designed to prevent people like John Wayne Gacy from making money selling his clown pictures. See Texas CCP 59.01(7)(B) This article explores inmates selling art, and whether the law applies. [Jack Chin]
A Florida couple escaped criminal charges even though they admitted to a cocaine binge, in the midst of which their infant died. An autopsy showed no specific cause of death of the infant; there was no cocaine in its system and it had received appropriate doses of prescribed medication. Here's a Palm Beach Post editorial on the case, which points out that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing, in part because the police did not take blood samples from the parents. [Jack Chin]
Public officials in Bellwood, IL, a village of 21,000 residents covering 3.5 square miles in Greater Chicago, have decided to join the growing list of cities using surveillance cameras to deter crime. Only Bellwood is taking their initiatives one step further. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, within two years, officials plan for Bellwood to be the first town in Illinois (and quite possibly the first in the entire country) "to have every public thoroughfare, sidewalk and alley under the watchful digitized eye of the Bellwood Police Department...[In response to criticism from the ACLU,] Bellwood's mayor said he welcomed the suggestion that his town might be considered something akin to a Big Brother-land. 'I wish we could create that image. I would love that,' Mayor Frank Pasquale said with a chuckle. Although village officials say their town is not unsafe, and in fact crime has dropped in the last two years, they are aiming for a crime-free future. 'Let this be a warning to our criminals,' Pasquale said. 'Be aware. We have you covered. So go elsewhere.'...The cameras, which police will monitor at the department's call center and can access through laptops in their cars, are the latest technology. They're wireless and sound-activated. Any excessive noise prompts the cameras to tilt and point toward the sound, enabling the department to hone in on a crime even as it is happening. The images are beamed to the department and the laptops through highly encrypted Internet servers and can be downloaded to compact discs to be used as evidence. High-ranking department officials eventually will be able to access the cameras via hand-held PDAs.
In a demonstration Wednesday, a camera set on a lamppost in the Bellwood Police Department parking lot was able to zoom in on the license plate of a car parked about five blocks away. When a gun was fired into the air, the camera took less than one second to shift toward the sound and zoom in on the demonstrator. 'We can look for chain-link fences rattling, gunshots obviously, car alarms, burglar alarms,' said Steve Daugherty, president of Current Technologies, the Naperville-based company that built and will install the cameras for Bellwood. 'Any sound that's discernible, we can find it, sense it and point a camera at it.' But unlike the flashing blue-light districts in Chicago, Bellwood officials say most of their cameras won't be visible to the public eye. The point is not to deter crime, but eliminate it, they said." The project is scheduled to begin in May 2005 and cost about $750,000, which will be offset by speeding tickets and other citations police expect to be able to give using their new surveillance cameras. Business owners will be able to pay link their businesses' surveillance cameras into Bellwood's camera system. The Chicago Tribune's full story...
For an earlier post on the growing trend of public surveillance, click here. [Mark Godsey]
I suppose the Robinson case permits searching the contents of a camera phone or other electronic device incident to arrest. So why was a Houston Police Officer suspended for so thoughoughly searching a DUI arrestee? Because he downloaded the contents of the camera phone to his PDA, and the pix were of the arrestee in a state of undress. [Jack Chin] UPDATE: I'm turning on comments after receiving an email suggesting that a search incident to arrest of a camera phone might not be permitted. I read Robinson as allowing a search (at least of an object closely associated with the person of an arrestee) even if there is no reason to believe it will turn up a weapon or evidence of the crime. Am I wrong?[Jack Chin]
From Talkleft.com: "Montana Senate Joint Resolution 19, sponsored by Sen. Jim Elliott, D-Trout Creek, says that while the 2005 Legislature supports the federal government's fight against terrorism, the so-called Patriot Act of 2001 granted authorities sweeping powers that violate citizens' rights enshrined in both the U.S. and Montanan constitutions." Story . . . [Mark Godsey]
From TheOnion.com (satire, of course):
American Torturing Jobs Increasingly Outsourced
WASHINGTON, DC—AFL-CIO vice president Linda Chavez-Thompson, representing the American Federation of Interrogation Torturers, released a statement Monday deriding the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, under which American torturing jobs are outsourced to foreign markets. "Outsourcing the task of interrogating terror suspects to countries like Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia is having a crippling effect on the Americans who make a living by stripping detainees nude, shackling them to the floor, and beating the living shit out of them," Chavez-Thompson said. "And specialists within the field—corrosive-material chemists, ocular surgeons, and testicular electricians—are lucky to find any jobs at all. How are they supposed to feed their families?" Attorney General Alberto Gonzales defended extraordinary rendition, saying the program will create jobs in the long run by fostering a global climate of torture tolerance.
Bills reviving criminal prosecutions for libel were introduced in South Crolina and Alabama. Meanwhile, the 10th Circuit is considering a challenge to Colroado's criminal libel statute in a challenge brought by a student arrested for posting an unpleasant drawing of a university professor; the Supreme Court of Israel limited criminal libel in a recent decision. [Jack Chin]
Sunday, April 3, 2005
Here's John Yoo. South Texas CrimProf Robert Holland on liability of soldiers for Abu Ghraib. Duke CrimProf Erwin Chemerinsky on the passing of Johnnie Cochran. South Carolina lawprof John Freeman on the prosecution or lack thereof of white collar criminals. Loyola LA CrimProf Laurie Levenson on Michael Jackson. [Jack Chin]
The Urban Institute released a report on the effectiveness of parole. Highlights: supervised parolees fare little better than unsupervised; mandatory parolees fare little worse than those released based on a discretionary determination. [Jack Chin]