CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Chicago's New Crime Strategies Working, Researchers Say

From the Chicago Sun-Times:  "Technology, sharing of information and immediate deployments to high-crime areas appear to be working in reducing Chicago's crime rate.  That was the assessment from University of Illinois researchers who spent two years examining the department and the new strategies put in place by Supt. Phil Cline.  The study will continue, and one author cautioned it is too soon to say for sure what is behind the 25 percent reduction in homicides in Chicago in 2004. That meant 153 fewer murders than the year before -- and it also marked the apparent cessation of a trend that had homicide rates hovering around 600 for the previous five years.  "I think we're fairly confident that these initiatives played a key role, but there may have been other forces at work as well,'' said Dennis Rosenbaum, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who co-authored the study.

Rosenbaum said the research showed Chicago did a good job at what's called "hot-spot policing'' by getting special units to areas of the city that needed attention because of spiking crime.  Technology was used in conjunction with street intelligence to float units around as needed.  Rosenbaum said the researchers were able to show that districts with the largest increases in "contact cards" -- which means officers have talked to a resident to gather information -- also showed the largest decreases in public violence.

The study noted how the department, similar to New York, is holding commanders working around the city accountable by calling them in for weekly meetings about crime in their areas.  The study also surveyed exempt employees -- which refers mostly to command staff -- about what was working. Community beat meetings got lower ratings than cleaning up graffiti. Street corner drug busts also got high marks, as did giving more resources to deputy district chiefs -- who oversee patrol operations in all six geographic areas."  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

June 18, 2005 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Latest With Rush Limbaugh

The long delay in prosecutors getting access to Rush Limbaugh's medical records which allegedly show illegal drug acquisition may be nearing an end.  Story here. [Jack Chin]

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

Texas: Autopsy Finding Changes Lead to Appeals

A mother serving 17 years for causing the death of her baby by shaking is appealing after a new medical examiner changed the cause of death from "homicide" to "undetermined."  The new medical examiner testified that "there was no blunt trauma, no clear evidence this child died of shaken baby syndrome."  A bad report by the old medical examiner led to dismissal of charges in another child death case, and the doctor involved has left the medical examiner's office after being criticized by her superiors for bias. [Jack Chin]

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

CrimProf Spotlight: Margareth Etienne of Illinois

Etienne_1 This week CrimProf Blog spotlights Associate Professor Margareth Etienne of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Born in Haiti, Professor Etienne grew up in New York City where she attended a science magnet school, Stuyvesant High School. Despite this initial leaning toward the hard sciences, she focused on the social sciences during her undergraduate years at Yale and graduated with strong interests in both education and law. After college she left friends and family in the Northeast to pursue a career as a high school teacher in the small town of Brookhaven, Mississippi. She later returned to the law and to New Haven and resumed her studies at Yale Law School. 

Following law school, Professor Etienne clerked for Judge Diana G. Motz on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Before joining the faculty, she practiced for five years as a criminal defense attorney, first in state court with the University of Georgia Legal Aid Office and later in federal court as an Assistant Federal Defender in the Northern District of Georgia. In practice she defended clients in a wide variety of cases ranging from misdemeanor shoplifting to international conspiracies. 

In 2001, Professor Etienne joined the Illinois faculty, thus combining her longstanding interests in education and law. She teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Sentencing Law and Policy and Children in the Law. Her research focuses on the intersection between ethics and advocacy in criminal courts. 

Etienne’s recent writings include: Parity, Disparity and Adversariality As A First Principle of Sentencing, 58 Stanford L. Rev. (forthcoming 2005); The Ethics of Cause Lawyering: An Empirical Examination of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Cause Lawyers, 95 J. Crim. L. & Criminology (forthcoming October 2005); The Declining Utility of the Right to Counsel in Federal Criminal Courts: An Empirical Study on the Diminished Role of Defense Attorney Advocacy Under the Sentencing Guidelines, 92 Cal. L. Rev. 425-85 (2004); Acceptance of Responsibility and Plea Bargaining Under the Feeney Amendment, 16 Fed. Sentencing Rep. 109-13 (2003); Remorse, Responsibility and Regulating Advocacy: Making Defendants Pay for the Sins of their Attorneys, 78 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 2103-76 (2003).

Professor Etienne enjoys traveling with her husband, law professor Patrick Keenan and their daughter Madeleine. 

June 18, 2005 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Medical Marijuana Use

The takes a comic look at the reactions on the street to the Supreme Court's recent medical marijuana case, Gonzales v. Raich, No. 03-1454. 

June 18, 2005 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Who Will Replace Rehnquist?

Listen to Nina Totenberg's NPR story here.  [Mark Godsey

June 18, 2005 in Supreme Court | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Utah AG Urged to Prosecute Polygamists for Sex Crimes

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- Rachael Strong said she was 18 and "too scared to resist" a marriage to a polygamist in his 60s who scheduled nights with his 17 wives on a calendar and ordered them to use birth control.  She eventually broke away from the polygamous sect and said she can provide evidence of rape and bigamy at The True and Living Church in Manti, Utah -- but claims authorities won't listen.  "Here I am," the 20-year-old Strong declared Wednesday at the Utah Capitol, in a lobby two floors under Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's office. "For over six months I've been willing to testify."  Strong made her appearance as an anti-polygamy group accused authorities of going after only the most visible polygamous leaders and ignoring the vast majority of cases of child abuse, incest and bigamy in the secret societies throughout Utah and Arizona.  Although polygamy is illegal, it's believed that tens of thousands of Mormon fundamentalists and others across the West continue the practice.  Tapestry Against Polygamy, which helps women escape polygamous homes with their children, said last week's felony indictment of Warren Jeffs, president of the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, underscored the gulf that leaves many other polygamy victims without the support of law enforcement."  Story . . . [Mark Godsey]

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

Child Molester May Have 36,000 Victims

From  "SAN JOSE, Calif. - A convicted child molester jailed in California may have committed sex crimes against thousands of victims, police said Thursday after finding computers, notebooks and meticulous, handwritten lists of boy’ names and apparent codes for various sex acts.San Jose Police Lt. Scott Cornfield described 63-year-old Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller as “one of the most active child molesters we’ve ever seen.”  During a search of his bedroom in San Jose, police discovered binders full of child porn and numerous logs with lists of more than 36,000 children’s names — mostly boys — and codes that appear to indicate how he abused them.  “If one-tenth of these numbers are accurate, we’re looking at hundreds of victims in a number of states. The reason we want to tell the world about this is because we believe he’s been involved in child molestations in a number of countries,” Cornfield said."  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

June 17, 2005 in Sex | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Criminal Defense Attorney Charged With Hiring Hitman to Kill Husband

From  "Ohio defense attorney Maridee Costanzo made a reputation for herself as one aggressive, tough-talking and remarkably profane lawyer.  She once called a judge a "sick, twisted old man" in a voice mail message. Another time, she told a client who was considering a divorce to max out her husband's credit cards. The woman did, going on a $14,000 shopping spree.  But all of that was nothing compared with what she said in federal court on Thursday: She admitted trying to have her estranged husband killed.  Costanzo, 47, is accused of making a $1,100 downpayment in April toward a $5,000 hit on her husband, Roger Bauer. Prosecutors did not offer a motive, and Costanzo did not explain in court. She could get up to 10 years in prison at sentencing Aug. 4.  She pleaded guilty in the murder-for-hire plot before a judge could even finish stating the charge against her.  "I've heard it. I've read it, ad nauseam," she said.

U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. asked her if she knew she had a right to a jury trial. "Been there. Done that. Understand thoroughly," Costanzo replied.  [Mark Godsey]

June 17, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (4)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Statutory Revision Accidentally Reduces Felony to Misdemeanor

In Maine, animal cruelty was a felony before July 2004 and will be again starting in September, but thanks to a drafting error it was left off of a list of Class C felonies and thus for a period of time defaulted to a misdemeanor.  Accordingly, some vicious dog killers will be treated as misdemeanants. [Jack Chin]

June 16, 2005 in Criminal Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Bail Jumping Popular in England

One in seven do not show for trial.  Story here. [Jack Chin]

June 16, 2005 in International | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Creative Fundraising Technique: Seton Hall Law Gets Endowed Chair Through Restitution Order in Criminal Case

White Collar Crime Prof Blog has an interesting story about the restitution agreement in the Bristol-Meyers Squibb prosecution.  The company agreed as part of its restitution deal to endow a chair at Seton Hall Law School in the area of business ethics.  [Mark Godsey]

June 16, 2005 in Teaching | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Underwear Gang

A gang in Cambodia known as the "Underwear Gang" breaks into houses wearing only their underwear and oil over their entire bodies.  They do this to make it harder to identify them and so they can slip away if a resident tries to grab them.  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

June 16, 2005 in International, News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

International Computer Database of Child Porn

Member nations of the G8 are working together to create an international database of photographs depicting child pornography.  Authorities from each country and other participating nations will enter copies of all known pictures of child pornography in their possession into the database.  Similar to existing databases involving DNA and fingerprints, when police find a photograph that they suspect involves a minor, they can enter it into the database.  If it matches a picture in the database, then the cops will know they have found child porn and can make an arrest.  Story from News.Telegraph . . .  [Mark Godsey]

June 16, 2005 in International, Sex | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Article Spotlight: Florida's Christopher Slobogin

Slogobin Florida CrimProf Christopher Slobogin has posted Subpoenas and Privacy, forthcoming in the DePaul Law Review, on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This symposium article, the first of two on regulation of government's efforts to obtain paper and digital records of our activities, analyzes the constitutional legitimacy of subpoenas. Whether issued by a grand jury or an administrative agency, subpoenas are extremely easy to enforce, merely requiring the government to demonstrate that the items sought pursuant to the subpoena are "relevant" to a investigation. Yet today subpoenas and pseudo-subpoenas are routinely used not only to obtain business records and the like, but also documents containing significant amounts of personal information about individuals, including medical, financial, and email records.

Part I provides an historical examination of how we got to this point. In the nineteenth century, the courts initially provided virtually absolute protection of papers held by the target of an investigation, first based solely on the Fifth Amendment's prohibition of compelled testimony and then, after Boyd v. United States, based on both the Fifth Amendment and the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. In the twentieth century, the Supreme Court reversed itself, eventually eviscerating both Fourth and Fifth Amendment limitations on subpoenas. But the early cases doing so all involved government attempts to regulate businesses; not a single one of them involved searches of personal papers, which these cases routinely indicated were still protected from government seizure by the Fifth Amendment (although no longer by the Fourth). It has only been in the past three decades that the Supreme Court has also come close to eliminating the Fifth Amendment's protection of personal records held by the target. Far more importantly, the modernization of society has rendered the Fifth Amendment irrelevant in any event, because so much more of our personal information is now recorded and held by third parties, which can be forced to produce records without violating the ban on compelled self-incrimination.

Since today most subpoenas for personal documents are aimed at third-party record-holders, the upshot of these developments is that government is almost entirely unrestricted, by either the Fifth or Fourth Amendment, in its efforts to obtain documentary evidence of crime. Part II identifies six possible reasons why subpoenas need not meet the traditional probable cause standard, ranging from the assumption that subpoenas are not "intrusive" or seek only information that has been "voluntarily" surrendered to a third party to the assertion that a probable cause standard would handcuff law enforcement. It concludes that at least some of these rationales are persuasive in the context which most commonly triggers the use of subpoenas and in which constitutional subpoena law developed - the investigation of corporate crime. But none of them is convincing when applied to demands for personal records.

If these conclusions are correct, then distinguishing between impersonal and personal records is important, a task undertaken in Part III. Ironically, this part borrows heavily from the Court's old Fifth Amendment jurisprudence, which justified protection of records in large part based on a desire to create a "zone of privacy." The irony stems from the fact that today the Fifth Amendment is not about privacy at all, but rather about coercion. The fact that the Court's early Fifth Amendment decisions were focused on protection of privacy suggests that, had the Court of one hundred years ago known its Fifth Amendment jurisprudence would be jettisoned, its Fourth Amendment jurisprudence might have been much more protective of documentary evidence that is personal in nature.

To obtain the paper, click here.  [Mark Godsey]

June 16, 2005 in Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

House Votes to Restrict Patriot Act

Talkleft has the details here.  [Mark Godsey]

June 16, 2005 in Homeland Security, Search and Seizure | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ohio Teachers May undergo Criminal background Checks

The proposed law would apply to license renewals.  Story here. [Jack Chin]

June 15, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Article Spotlight: The "Broken Windows" Theory

Bernard Harcourt of Chicago and Jens Ludwig of Georgetown have posted Broken Windows: New Evidence from New York City and a Five-City Social Experiment on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

In 1982, James Q. Wilson and George Kelling suggested in an influential article in the Atlantic Monthly that targeting minor disorder could help reduce more serious crime. More than 20 years later, the three most populous cities in the U.S. - New York, Chicago and, most recently, Los Angeles - have all adopted at least some aspect of Wilson and Kelling's theory, primarily through more aggressive enforcement of minor misdemeanor laws. Remarkably little, though, is currently known about the effect of broken windows policing on crime.  According to a recent National Research Council report, existing research does not provide strong support for the broken windows hypothesis - with the possible exception of a 2001 study of crime trends in New York City by George Kelling and William Sousa.  In this paper, we re-examine the Kelling and Sousa 2001 study and independently analyze the crime data from New York City for the period 1989-98. In addition, we present results from an important social experiment known as Moving to Opportunity (MTO) underway in five cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as well as Baltimore and Boston, which provides what is arguably the first truly rigorous test of the broken windows hypothesis. Under this program, approximately 4,800 low-income families living in high-crime public housing communities characterized by high rates of social disorder were randomly assigned housing vouchers to move to less disadvantaged and disorderly communities. The MTO program thus provides the ideal test of the broken windows theory.  Taken together, the evidence from New York City and from the five-city social experiment provides no support for a simple first-order disorder-crime relationship as hypothesized by Wilson and Kelling, nor that broken windows policing is the optimal use of scarce law enforcement resources.

Obtain the paper here.  [Mark Godsey]

June 15, 2005 in Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

2nd Amendment Advocates Say New FBI Stats Support Their Position

From Empire Information Services:  "Recently released FBI crime data validates statements by gun ownership advocates that last year's expiration of the so-called "assault weapons ban" would not impact crime and may, in fact, help improve community safety.  According to an FBI report, the national homicide rate has declined for the first time since 1999. The report shows that homicides declined 5.4 percent in cities with more than 1 million people and overall murder rates dropped 3.6 percent.  "I think this justifies our statements that the expiration of the ban would not have a negative impact on crime in this country or in New York," said Tom King, President of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.  When the ten year old ban on certain semiautomatic firearms expired last September, gun control advocates and media outlets warned of increases in violence, especially against children.  "Unfortunately, those same people trying to draw the connection between crime and gun ownership have apparently stopped trying to make such a connection public. And, apparently the media is not as concerned with publicizing these truths." said King. "Violent crime has decreased since the weapon ban expired. What can be more telling than that?""  [Mark Godsey]

June 15, 2005 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Kenya Set to Abolish Death Penalty

From the DPIC:  "Kenyan Justice Minister Kiraitu Murungi announced that those on the nation's death row will soon have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. Murungi noted that he is working closely with Kenya's President's Office to bring the nation into compliance with its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. "We are committed to abolishing the death penalty. The death sentence is a violation of the right to life," he said. In the 1970s, Kenya argued that the death penalty would deter crime, but the nation's leaders have since found no downturn in crime. Following a 1982 coup attempt, no death warrants issued by the courts were ever signed by the President, and in February 2003, President Kibaki ordered the release of 28 prisoners on death row and commuted the sentences of 195 others."  In a prior post, we noted that India has moved closer to abolishing the death penalty, and that Bhutan, Greece, Samoa, Senegal and Turkey abolished capital punishment in 2004.  [Mark Godsey]

June 15, 2005 in Capital Punishment, International | Permalink | TrackBack (0)