CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, June 4, 2005

CrimProf Spotlight: OSU's Alan Michaels

MichaelsThis week, CrimProf Blog spotlights Alan C. Michaels, the Edwin M. Cooperman Designated Professor of Law at Ohio State.  Following graduation from Columbia Law School, Professor Michaels clerked for Chief Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and then Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Professor Michaels spent three years in private practice representing the Major League Baseball Players Association and then served for four years as a prosecutor in New York County before joining Ohio State in 1995. From 2001 to 2003, he served Moritz as Associate Dean for Faculty and has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan.               

Professor Michaels’ research, primarily in the area of the mens rea of crimes and in the adjudicatory portion of criminal procedure, has been published in a variety of leading journals, including the COLUMBIA LAW REVIEW, the HARVARD LAW REVIEW and the SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LAW REVIEW. He also recently joined Professor Joshua Dressler as a co-author for updates and future editions of UNDERSTANDING CRIMINAL PROCEDURE. Professor Michaels was the recipient of the 1998-99 Outstanding Scholarly Paper Award from the Association of American Law Schools.  Several of his articles can be found here.

Professor Michaels regularly teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure: Adjudication and White Collar Crime.  He was chosen as the Outstanding Professor by the graduating class in both 1999 and 2000.

June 4, 2005 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Frank Bowman from Indy to Missouri

CrimProf Frank Bowman, a specialist in sentencing, will leave his position as M. Dale Palmer Professor of Law at IU-Indianapolis as of June 15 to become Floyd R. Gibson Missouri Endowed Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. [Jack Chin]

June 4, 2005 in CrimProf Moves | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Library Records Helped to Solve Unabomber Case

From  "Stephen Freccero, a former U.S. Attorney and prosecutor in the Unabomber case, explains how authorities used library records to confirm a tip given by the Unabomber's brother that ultimately led to the conviction of Ted Kasczynski."  Listen to story here.  [Mark Godsey]

June 4, 2005 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 3, 2005

New Article Spotlight: Wake Forest's Ronald Wright

Wrightron_1Here's an interesting piece, Prosecutorial Guidelines and the New Terrain in New Jersey, recently posted by CrimProf Ronald Wright of Wake Forest.  The abstract states:

This symposium essay chronicles the efforts of the New Jersey courts and legislature over the last two decades to promote more uniform and accountable decisions from prosecutors in the state. Three features of these doctrines make them worth considering as a model elsewhere, as a way to scrutinize and regularize prosecutorial discretion.  First, these prosecutor accountability doctrines were targeted to the charging decisions with the most direct effects on the traditional judicial functions in sentencing, such as the use of mandatory minimum sentences. The courts interpreted this subset of criminal laws to require the attorney general to draft statewide charging guidelines to promote more uniform prosecutorial choices throughout the state. Second, the doctrines promoted more transparency in prosecutorial decisions as the key strategy to more consistent and less arbitrary charging. Courts required New Jersey prosecutors in particular cases under these specialized statutes to submit a written explanation of how the prosecutor planned to apply the charging guidelines in the case at hand. Third, the courts pushed the prosecutors to defend their charging policies periodically, both in particular cases and at the systemic level.  This innovative doctrine could reorient our thinking about what is possible and desirable for the control of prosecutorial discretion. The judge-centered strategy of constitutional litigation to develop rules of criminal procedure, a strategy that transformed the practices of police departments during the middle of the twentieth century, is not a promising model for controlling the prosecutor. Instead, a recent school of legal scholarship has begun to explore an "internal" alternative, tracking the impact of prosecutorial office structures and policies on the consistency and accessibility of charging and dispositions. Developments in New Jersey could contribute to this line of inquiry by showing how judicial opinions and legislation can promote more and better internal prosecutorial regulation.

The article was recently published in the Penn State Law Review at 109 Penn St. L. Rev. 1087 (2005) .   [Mark Godsey]

June 3, 2005 in Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Law & Society Conference

This week is the annual The Law & Society Conference, held this year in Las Vegas.  Click here to see all the crim-related panels and papers that will be presented this weekend.  [Mark Godsey]

June 3, 2005 in Conferences | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Two New CrimProf Books

DubberbookTHE POLICE POWER: PATRIARCHY AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT, by Markus Dirk Dubber. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.  Reviewed here.

SPEAKING OF CRIME: THE LANGUAGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, by Lawrence M. Solan and Peter M. Tiersma. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.  Reviewed here.  [Mark Godsey]

June 3, 2005 in Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

UK: Car Thieves Stealing Keys

Because anti-theft technology is getting better and better, car theives are resorting to stealing keys in burglaries.  Story here. [Jack Chin]

June 3, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Death Penalty Info

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Phony Criminal Charges UPDATED

Three black men kidnapped a 17-year-old Oklahoma girl, taking her in a dark colored SUV to a warehouse, where she was gang-raped--whoops, no she wasn't, she made up the whole story as a prank!  The false report aspect of the runaway bride scenario is not unique; with 911 and the increased resources devoted to police and prisons, it seems inevitable that the unstable and the dishonest will seek attention, vengeance or excuse with the help of the free services offered by the government. In recent weeks there have been news reports of false kidnapping accusations in Wisconsin, false kidnapping/rape claims in Kansas and Pennsylvania, along with false rape claims in Florida, IdahoMichigan and South Dakota. There were false robbery charges in New York, a fabricated street assault in Virginia.  Presumably as misguided pranks, jackasses made phony 911 calls of school shootings or equivalent emergencies in Illinois and Texas.  Some false reports are evidently aimed at covering up the reporter's own crime, such as this phony car theft report in Arkansas, this man who took his own wife's jewelry and tried to make it look like a burglary, or this Illinois grandparent who falsely claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint--to cover up her own light fingers.   I can't decide whether my favorite false report is: A) This Florida man claimed to be the victim of a drive-by shooting when in fact he had shot himself in the foot!  Ironic, huh? He'll get a lot of laughs on the cellblock with that story; or B) this dude in Oregon falsely reported seeing a woman being attacked by a cougar--why not a T-Rex? Of course, it is difficult to get hard numbers on the percentage of reports that are false, but intuition suggests that most false reporters are smarter than this group of Einsteins, and thus more likely to be successful.  LSU CrimProf Stuart Green has a piece just out called Uncovering the Cover-Up Crimes on various types of cover-up crimes and how they should be treated by the criminal law.  [Jack Chin]

UPDATE:  San Jose authorities report a regular flow of phony crime reports (note that the sexual assault director quoted in the story reports the debunked figure on the rate of false reporting in sex crimes).  In England a minister was convicted of filing a false report that he had been raped.  Shades of the runaway bride, in New Zealand police are seeking restitution for a false rape complaint.  Here's a different kind of phony crime: Police in Scotland faked a murder scene to persuade a criminal that an ordered hit had been carried out. [Jack Chin]

June 2, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (3)

Runaway Bride Indicted-UPDATED

Story here.  [Mark Godsey] Pleads no contest. [Jack Chin]

June 2, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Cleveland-Marshall Names Criminal Defense Attorney as New Dean

MearnsFrom a press release:  "Cleveland State University has selected local attorney Geoffrey S. Mearns as Dean of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, effective July 11.  Over the past four years, Mearns, of Shaker Heights, has been a partner in the Cleveland offices of two major law firms – Thompson Hine LLP from 1998 to 2001 and Baker & Hostetler LLP since 2002. He heads Baker & Hostetler’s national business crimes and corporate investigations team, focusing on white-collar and corporate criminal defense and representing individuals and businesses in investigations conducted by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. His practice also includes internal corporate investigations and complex commercial litigation.  From 1989 to 1998, Mearns worked for the U.S. Department of Justice.  As Special Attorney to the U.S. Attorney General, he assisted in the prosecution of Terry Nichols, one of two defendants convicted of the Oklahoma City bombing. As First Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, he supervised a long-term political corruption grand jury investigation and had management responsibility for all legal matters – criminal, civil and appellate.  As Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Mearns was chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section and chief of the General Crimes Section.  He investigated and prosecuted several major organized crime cases.  Mearns earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale University and a JD from the University of Virginia.  His teaching experience includes serving as an adjunct professor of law at Case Western Reserve University Law School and New York Law School."  [Mark Godsey]

June 2, 2005 in CrimProf Moves | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Accused Murderer Faces Additional Charges for Scaling Crane

The fellow who climbed a crane in Atlanta and held off police for 56 hours, to avoid arrest on murder charges, is facing additional charges of trespassing and the like.  I hope he learns his lesson.  [Jack Chin]

June 2, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

DOJ Report: DNA Testing in "Minor" Crimes

"DNA In 'Minor' Crimes Yields Major Benefits in Public Safety."  Report here. [Jack Chin]

June 2, 2005 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Ninth Circuit Reverses Conviction Due To Prosecutor's Closing Statements

From  "A prosecutor who argued to the jury that government witnesses who were police officers risked their jobs if they did not tell the truth, and who later admonished the jury to convict the defendant in order to reduce crime generally, committed misconduct that requires the reversal of the defendant's conviction, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held in United States v. Weatherspoon, 9th Cir., 03-10551. In this close case, the improper arguments deprived the defendant of his due process right to a fair trial, the court decided.  At the defendant's trial for being a felon in possession of a firearm, some of the witnesses for the prosecution were police officers who linked the defendant to the gun. During closing arguments, the prosecutor told the jury that, if the officers' testimony against the defendant was false, the officers "risk losin' their jobs, risk losin' their pension, risk losin' their livelihood. And on top of that if they come in here and lie, I guess they're riskin' bein' prosecuted for perjury."  Additionally, the prosecutor told the jury that convicting the defendant "is gonna make you comfortable knowing there's not convicted felons on the street with loaded handguns," and that "finding this man guilty is gonna protect other individuals in this community.""  Decision here.  [Mark Godsey]

June 2, 2005 in Due Process | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

9-Year Old Charged with Manslaughter

A nine-year old girl who stabbed her 11-year old friend in the chest with a knife, and killed her, after the two argued over possession of a ball has been charged with manslaughter in NY.  A spokesman for the Brooklyn DA's office has said the case will go to family court because the girl is under 14.  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

June 1, 2005 in Criminal Law, News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

WV Law Starts Innocence Project Clinic

Press release here.  [Mark Godsey]

June 1, 2005 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge's Alternative Sentence: Church

From  "LONDON, Kentucky (AP) -- A Kentucky judge has been offering some drug and alcohol offenders the option of attending worship services instead of going to jail or rehab -- a practice some say violates the separation of church and state.  District Judge Michael Caperton, 50, a devout Christian, said his goal is to "help people and their families."  "I don't think there's a church-state issue, because it's not mandatory and I say worship services instead of church," he said.  Alternative sentencing is popular across the country -- ordering vandals to repaint a graffiti-covered wall, for example. But legal experts said they didn't know of any other judges who give the option of attending church.  Caperton has offered the option about 50 times to repeat drug and alcohol offenders. It is unclear what effect the sentence has had.  David Friedman, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said the option raises "serious constitutional problems."  "The judge is saying that those willing to go to worship services can avoid jail in the same way that those who decline to go cannot," Friedman said. "That strays from government neutrality towards religion.""  [Mark Godsey]

June 1, 2005 in Sentencing Corrections | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Article Spotlight: Geraldine Szott Moohr

GeraldinemoohrHouston CrimProf Geraldine Szott Moohr has posted Defining Overcriminalization Through Cost-benefit Analysis: The Example of Criminal Copyright Laws, forthcoming in the American University Law Review, on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Commentators readily identify the negative consequences associated with overcriminalization. Yet it is not always obvious when a proposed law might have that result. One predictive method that can be used during the legislative process is to define "overcriminalization" in a way that identifies a proposed criminal statute as problematic.  As a starting point in devising a definition, I suggest that a law overcriminalizes when the costs of treating conduct as a crime exceed the benefits of the new crime. Working within the consequentialist construct, the new criminal copyright infringement law is used to illustrate how a cost-benefit methodology might work. The analysis indicates that the costs of imposing criminal punishment on copyright infringers may exceed its benefits.  Although this type of cost-benefit analysis necessarily involves weighing incommensurable factors, the proposed definition merits further attention and refinement. Considering the full effects of a proposed law acknowledges that criminal laws impose costs beyond the expenses of enforcement, incarceration, and lost income. The cost-benefit screening device makes the process of criminalizing conduct more transparent. Another advantage is that resulting laws are likely to be tailored to the specific harm that Congress seeks to prevent. In identifying a range of considerations that might otherwise escape attention, the definitional strategy may also result in less reliance on criminal law, thus avoiding overcriminalization.

Obtain the paper here.  [Mark Godsey]

June 1, 2005 in Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Beware of Digital Evidence

Scott Christianson, author of Innocent: Inside Wrongful Conviction Cases, warns about the dangers of relying on digital evidence. [Jack Chin]

June 1, 2005 in Technology | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Texas DNA Exoneration

Story here. [Jack Chin]

June 1, 2005 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)