CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Police Criticize High Rates of Non-Prosecution in New Orleans

Many arrests in New Orleans are not accepted for prosecution by the DA's office--60% of violent crimes are declined.  Factors may include turnover in the DA's office, lack of evidence and lack of cooperation between police and prosecutors. [Jack Chin]

May 21, 2005 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Spotlight: Chapman's Katherine B. Darmer

Darmer_kThis week, CrimProf Blog spotlights Chapman's Katherine B. Darmer.  Prior to entering acamedia, she served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, specializing in public corruption, violent gang and narcotics prosecutions. In 1998, she served as lead counsel in a three-month criminal RICO trial that resulted in the conviction of six Bronx-based gang members of crimes ranging from murder to narcotics distribution. During her tenure as an AUSA, she also argued seven cases in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Professor Darmer received her A.B. from Princeton University, with high honors, and her J.D. from Columbia University, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar for two years and served as Articles Editor of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law. She then clerked for the Hon. Kimba M. Wood in the Southern District of New York and the Hon. William H. Timbers on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Following her clerkships and before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she worked for three years as a litigation associate at the Manhattan law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell. While at Davis Polk, she was a member of the trial team that successfully defended Delta Air Lines in a $2.5 billion lawsuit brought by the Pan Am Corporation and the Pan Am Creditor's Committee.  At Chapman, she teaches Criminal Procedure, Advanced Criminal Procedure and Evidence.  Her scholarship in the crim area has focused on National Security and confession law in the age of terrorisim.   For a list of publications, click here.  [Mark Godsey]

May 21, 2005 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

BC CrimProf Wins University's Distinguished Teaching Award

Beckman2Congratulations to BC CrimProf Sharon Beckman, who was recently honored with the Distinguished Teaching Award from her university. 

Professor Beckman was born and raised in Illinois. She is a graduate of Harvard   College, and the University of Michigan Law School, where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Law Review. After law school she served as a law clerk for Hon. Frank Coffin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and then for Hon. Sandra Day O’Connor of the Supreme Court of the United States. Prior to joining the Boston College Law faculty, Professor Beckman practiced law in Boston with Silverglate, Gertner, Fine & Good (later Silverglate & Good) and in Chicago with Jenner & Block. Her practice focused on criminal defense and civil rights/civil liberties litigation.

In a letter signed by a dozen of Professor Beckman’s students and submitted in support of her nomination for the Distinguished Teaching Award, Professor Beckman was singled out for her commitment to her students and to the mission of Boston College.  “In addition to her excellent classroom teaching, Professor Beckman has had a tremendous impact on our students and on the larger Law School community,” the letter reads. “As a former Supreme Court clerk with a keen analytical mind, Professor Beckman has chosen to share insights and understandings of law with her students and to help us formulate our own ideas. She spends hours each week talking with students in her office, encouraging our development as lawyers, human beings, and advocates for the poor and underrepresented. These conversations further Boston College Law School’s goal as described in the mission statement to ‘train a diverse student body, not merely to be good lawyers but to be lawyers who lead good lives and who will be prepared to seek and to find meaningful work in service to others that will enrich their communities.’"

On another note, Professor Beckman swam across the English Channel in 1982. In 1983 she was ranked 1st in the United States and 3rd in the world among female marathon swimmers.  More details of her career here.  [Mark Godsey]

May 21, 2005 in CrimProfs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Gotta be More to the Story

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has been called to investigate two crimes in the Knox County Prosecutor's office--first, the rape of a prosecutor by a convicted felon, second, another prosecutor fixing traffic tickets--including one for the accused rapist. [Jack Chin]

May 20, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Law School Rankings By LSAT

Brian Leiter has a new ranking of law schools by LSAT scores here.  [Mark Godsey]

May 20, 2005 in Teaching | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

LockPicking Club

A little off-topic, but here's the website of what appears to be a security professional's lockpicking club site.  Some amazing videos of quick opening of high-security locks. [Jack Chin]

May 20, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Kansas Criminal Defamation Law Upheld

From Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:  "A Kansas criminal defamation law is not unconstitutionally vague or overly broad because the law only punishes speech that can be proven false and is spoken with actual malice -- meaning that the speaker knew it was false or recklessly disregarded whether it was true or not, a federal judge in Kansas City, Kan., ruled last week in two separate cases.  The nearly identical rulings by U.S. Chief District Judge John W. Lungstrum in two related cases arose from a 2003 mayoral election in Baxter Springs, Kan. The Baxter Springs published a March 2003 letter-to-the-editor by local businessman Charles How and a guest editorial by columnist Ronald Thomas criticizing City Clerk Donna Wixon. How later became a mayoral candidate. Two days after the letter and editorial ran, Wixon swore out a criminal complaint against How, Thomas and the newspaper's publisher for violating the city's criminal defamation ordinance. The ordinance, which is adapted from a state criminal defamation law, carries a maximum penalty of a $2,500 fine and one-year imprisonment.  The law defines criminal defamation as "communicating to a person orally, in writing, or by any other means, information, knowing the information to be false and with actual malice, tending to expose another living person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule; tending to deprive such person of the benefits of public confidence and social acceptance; or tending to degrade and vilify the memory of one who is dead and to scandalize or provoke surviving relatives and friends.""  [Mark Godsey]

May 20, 2005 in Criminal Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thailand House Passes Bill to Revise Criminal Procedure Code to Protect Female Witnesses and Victims

The Thailand House of Representatives passed a bill this week that will require female victims to be interviewed by female police officers.  The bill also authorizes female crime victims to testify at trial via closed-circuit TV.  Story from Bangkok Post here.  [Mark Godsey]

May 20, 2005 in International | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

UN Report: High Crime Level Impedes Economic Development in Africa

From Reuters:  "JOHANNESBURG, 18 May (IRIN) - The rise of transnational organised crime in Africa has scared off foreign investment and undermines economic progress across the continent, a new United Nations study has found. In a report released on Tuesday, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) argued that despite the lack of credible or official data on crime, indicators suggest that Africa has a serious problem in maintaining law and order. Criminal activities in Africa were mainly the result of high levels of income inequality, rapid urbanisation, unemployment and poorly resourced criminal justice systems, the study found. It also noted that low conviction rates were directly linked to the lack of police and judges, with political instability seen as an additional catalyst for criminal activities. "Conflict had also destroyed the capacity of the state to secure order and to provide services to its citizens, which contributes to crime both during war and afterwards," the authors observed. In recent decades, Africa has experienced more wars than any other part of the world. Rising crime had also taken a toll on business confidence. Surveys conducted for the 2005 UN World Development Report revealed that African business leaders were twice as likley to cite crime as a major impediment to investment, compared to their peers in other parts of the world. The World Bank has identified corruption as the single greatest barrier to development."  [Mark Godsey]

May 20, 2005 in International | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Law in Columbia: Three Years in Prison For Gossiping

From The Australian:  "BOGOTA: A Colombian town has taken a hard line against gossip, with fines of up to $7950 and three years in jail.  Only gossips who cannot resist talking about their neighbours will be punished to the maximum. Recidivists could get the full three-year, $7950 punishment.  The Iconozo gossip ordinance is not the first in Colombia. Two years ago, the mayor of Ibague, also in Tolima province, imposed a fine on gossip.   "Residents come out with things that they have no reason to say, that are mere gossip and that have even gotten people killed," Margoth Morales, city manager of Iconozo, 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of Bogota, told RCN televsion."   [Mark Godsey]

May 20, 2005 in International | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

MN: DNA Mixups

25 of 350 DNA samples handled by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were contaminated, in some cases DNA from one person was mixed up with that of another.  Lab officials explained that the problems were caught before the tests left the lab. [Jack Chin]

May 19, 2005 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

DOJ Passes New Pornography Rules

From  "The Justice Department passed new pornography rules today--shifting the burden of proof to the producer of the material. The producers will have to establish that those depicted in photos and films are adults."  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

May 19, 2005 in Criminal Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

FBI Sued Over Monitoring

From  "Five civil rights, animal rights and environmental groups are joining together to sue the FBI to release records about monitoring of antiwar and other political activities by federal agents assigned to counterterrorism duties.  The American Civil Liberties Union said the decision to file a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Washington came after the FBI ignored Freedom of Information Act requests for the documents. The other organizations involved are the American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee, Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and United for Peace and Justice.  The groups say they have been subjected to scrutiny by task forces set up to combat terrorism.  “We think that if they have some reason to hide from the public the files they have on political and religious groups, we want to know right now what it is,” said Ann Beeson, the ACLU’s associate legal director."  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

May 19, 2005 in Homeland Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Florida State Prison Clinic Wins National Award

A clinic at Florida State, the Childen in Prison Project, won the Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Project from the Clinical Legal Education Center.  Law students in the clinic litigate and advocate for better conditions for children in prison.  Details. . .  [Mark Godsey]

May 19, 2005 in Teaching | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Recent Cases of Interest


United States v. Green, 1st Cir., No. 05-1014, 5/12/05
A federal trial judge in a capital case has no power before trial to authorize the empanelment of one jury that has not been "death-qualified" to serve at the guilt phase and a separate death-qualified jury to sit at the penalty phase, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled May 12. A provision in the Federal Death Penalty Act that allows the empanelment of a separate penalty-phase jury if the guilt-phase jury has been dismissed for "good cause" does not provide authority for a court to order separate guilt- and penalty-phase juries to avoid systemic problems associated with having death-qualified jurors making guilt determinations, the court held.   More details . . .

United States v. Kwan, 9th  Cir.,  No. 03-50315, 5/12/05
A criminal defense attorney who failed to warn a client who had pleaded guilty that Congress had changed immigration law in a way that made the attorney's previous advice on the subject inaccurate amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held May 12. On another issue of first impression in the circuit, the court ruled that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's certificate-of-appealability requirement did not apply to a petition seeking coram nobis relief pursuant to the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. §1291, even though the petitioner previously had an opportunity to raise the same claim in an ordinary application for habeas-type relief.  More details . . . [Mark Godsey]

May 19, 2005 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Graphic Snow Sculpture Not Obscene

IsThatLegal has a post about criminal charges being dropped in Wyoming against creators of an anatomically correct snow sculpture. [Jack Chin]

May 18, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Phony Child Rape

From the phony crimes department: In England, 40 officers looked for the rapist of a 10 year old girl; they stopped 300 motorists, and interrogated many men who fit the detailed description.  However, it turns out the whole thing had been made up, for unexplained reasons. [Jack Chin]

May 18, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Celebrity Commencement Speeches

The Onion has some highlights here.  [Mark Godsey]

May 18, 2005 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Article: Fingerprint Analysis Shaped by Emotions

Researchers in England have found that fingerprint analysts are affected by outside information they have about the case, such as knowledge of the horrific nature of the crime or the suspect's record.  The abstract of the paper is here, and the lead author is generously taking requests for reprints. [Jack Chin]

May 18, 2005 in Law Enforcement, News, Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Dallas PD Parks Broken Down Heaps to Deter Crime

The Dallas PD will strategically post empty, beat-up old cop cars around town to give people the impression that they might be under police scrutiny.  When asked if criminals might notice that the cars are empty and thus not be deterred, the Dallas Police Chief explained, "Criminals have no way of knowing if an officers is resting in the back seat, ready to pounce at the sound of breaking glass or a scream." [Jack Chin]

May 17, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)