CrimProf Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Evidence Suggests MO May Have Executed Innocent Man in 1995

St. Louis, MO (AP): Prosecutors are investigating whether a man may have been wrongly executed in 1995 after the victim's family and others recently raised questions about whether he was guilty of the crime.  Larry Griffin, 40, was convicted in a 1980 drive-by shooting that killed Quinton Moss but maintained his innocence.  Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said on Monday that the file was reopened after she was approached recently by several people with doubts about the case, including Saul Green, a Detroit attorney who is the lawyer for Moss' (the victim's) family.  Others included Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project...and Sam Gross, a University of Michigan Law School professor who looked into the case....'If the victim's family doesn't feel the right person was held responsible, and the actual killer is still out there, I'm going to do everything in my power to give them some closure, even though this individual has been executed,' she said." Story...  More here, including NAACP report on Griffin's innocence.

In other capital punishment news...

Jarratt, VA (AP): "The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, (July 11), granted a stay in the execution of a man convicted of fatally stabbing the manager of a pool hall.  Robin Lovitt was scheduled to be executed at 9 p.m. (on July 11). barring intervention from the high court or Gov. Mark R. Warner. The court's action was made without comment.  Lovitt, 41, was convicted in 1999 in the slaying of Clayton Dicks, 44, during a pool hall robbery in Arlington. Lawyers sought last-minute court intervention in a case in which the murder weapon and other evidence was destroyed (by the court clerk) after the trial.  Among those fighting the execution are Kenneth Starr, the former independent counsel in the Clinton Whitewater investigation, who argued the case before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in February." Story... [Mark Godsey]

July 13, 2005 in Capital Punishment, Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Amsterdam: Trial Begins for Killer of Dutch Filmmaker Theo Van Gogh

From Bloomberg.com: "Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, told an Amsterdam court he has no regrets and would kill anyone who demeaned the Muslim religion.  'I should cut everyone's head off who insults Allah or his prophet,' said Bouyeri, 27, after prosecutors asked for a sentence of life imprisonment.  'I would do exactly the same again.' Bouyeri, on trial in a guarded courthouse known as 'the bunker,' had confessed and refused to put up a defense.  Van Gogh received death threats after making a movie critical of Islam. His Nov. 2, 2004, killing by Bouyeri, a dual Dutch-Moroccan national, stoked tensions in the Netherlands, which counts 900,000 Muslims among its population of 16 million people. At least 10 mosques and Islamic schools were desecrated or damaged in arson attacks in following weeks." Story... [Mark Godsey]

July 12, 2005 in International | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Removes Himself From Criminal Cases As Feds Investigate His Secretary for Drug Conspiracy

From Law.com:  "For the second time in two months, Senior U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in Miami has removed himself from all his criminal cases as federal and state agents have targeted his longtime secretary and her husband in a drug and money laundering probe.  Federal prosecutors in West Palm Beach believe that King's secretary, Sandra Diaz, passed copies of court documents to her husband, Jorge Diaz, shortly before his April 29 arrest in Key Largo on federal marijuana conspiracy charges.  In court filings, prosecutors described the items she passed to her husband as computer printouts of all court documents regarding the arrests of two of Jorge Diaz's alleged associates at his marijuana "grow house" in Loxahatchee, Fla. The printouts allegedly were downloaded from the online PACER system, which is publicly accessible to subscribers.  In an interview June 8, Judge King said his initial recusal on May 16 had nothing to do with rumored legal difficulties of a member of his staff. King acknowledged that a relative of that staffer had been indicted on federal charges but he would not disclose the circumstances or further identify the individuals."  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

July 12, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Proposed Legislation Would Limit Habeas Review

From the DPIC:  "A bill proposed by Rep. Daniel Lungren of California and Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona would strip the federal courts of much of their power to decide whether death row inmates have been given a fair trial and could result in the execution of innocent defendants. The bill is entitled the Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005. The Washington Post editorialized about the measure here"  [Mark Godsey]

July 12, 2005 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Alleged Nazi war criminal arrested in Australia

Story here. [Jack Chin]

July 12, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

LA Times on the Burden of a Criminal Record

Story here. [Jack Chin]

July 12, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Barry Scheck and David Dow on the Houston Crime Lab

Oped here about intentional falsification of evidence. [Jack Chin]

July 11, 2005 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Pennsylvania to Allow Jury Note Taking

Story here. [Jack Chin]

July 11, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Addicts Turning to White Collar Crime

AP reports that the ability to stay awake for days at a time caused by meth use puts users in a good position to commit identity theft and other white collar crimes. Story here. [Jack Chin]

July 11, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Military Judge Throws Out Abu Ghraib Prison Abuser's Confession for Involuntary Waiver of Miranda

Talkleft says:  "Lynndie England, the accused prisoner abuser, accomplished what is usually a herculean task: she persuaded a judge that she did not knowingly and voluntarily surrender her right to remain silent."  Story here.  [Mark Godsey]

July 11, 2005 in Confessions and Interrogation | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Article: Stats on Recent Exonerations

Samuel Gross, et al., has posted Exonerations in the U.S.:  1989-2003, on SSRN.  This is the most complete coverage of the recent innocence revolution to date.  Here's the abstract:

In this paper we use reported exonerations as a window on false convictions generally. We can't come close to estimating the number of false convictions that occur in the United States, but the accumulating mass of exonerations gives us a glimpse of what we're missing. We located 340 individual exonerations from 1989 through 2003, not counting at least 135 innocent defendants in at least two mass exonerations, and not counting more than 70 defendants convicted in a series of childcare sex abuse prosecutions, most of whom were probably innocent. Almost all the individual exonerations that we know about are clustered in the two most serious common felonies: rape and murder. They are surrounded by widening circles of categories of cases that include false convictions that are rarely detected, if ever: rape convictions that have not been reexamined with DNA evidence; robberies, for which DNA identification is useless; murder cases that are ignored because the defendants were not sentenced to death; assault and drug convictions that are forgotten entirely; misdemeanor convictions that aren’t even part of the picture. Judging from our data, any plausible guess at the total number of miscarriages of justice in America in the last fifteen years must run to the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, in felony cases alone.  We can, however, see some clear patterns in those false convictions that have come to light. For rape the dominant problem is eyewitness misidentification - and cross-racial misidentification in particular, which accounts for the extraordinary number of exonerations in rape cases with black defendants and white victims. For murder, the leading cause of the false convictions we know about is perjury - including perjury by police officers, by jailhouse snitches, by the real killers, and by supposed participants and eyewitnesses to the crime who knew the innocent defendants in advance. False confessions also played a large role in the murder convictions that led to exonerations, primarily among two particularly vulnerable groups of innocent defendants: juveniles, and those who are mentally retarded or mentally ill. Almost all the juvenile exonerees who falsely confessed were African American. In fact, one of our more startling findings is that 90% of all exonerated juvenile defendants were black or Hispanic, an extreme disparity that, unfortunately, is of a piece with racial disparities in our juvenile justice system in general.  Nearly a quarter of exonerated defendants had been sentenced to death, despite the fact that death row inmates make up only about one-quarter of one percent of the population American prisoners, and a much smaller proportion of the those who pass through our prisons over time. This appears to reflect two simultaneous patterns: capital defendants are more likely to be convicted in error, and false convictions are more likely to be detected when the defendants are on death row. That means that capital defendants who are not sentenced to death, or defendants in similar murder prosecutions in which the death penalty was not sought, may be in the worst position of all: they may suffer the same high risk of false conviction as death row inmates, but get no benefit from the comparatively high chance of exoneration after conviction.

Obtain paper here.  [Mark Godsey]

July 11, 2005 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy, Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

This Week's Top 5 Crim Papers

Here are this week's top 5 crim papers on SSRN, with number of recent downloads:

(1) 186 Financial Scandals and the Role of Private Enforcement: The Parmalat Case
Guido Alessandro Ferrarini, Paolo Giudici,
Università degli Studi di Genova - Law School, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano - School of Economics,
Date posted to database: May 27, 2005
Last Revised: June 9, 2005
(2) 174 Victims, Survivors and the Decisions to Seek and Impose Death
Wayne A. Logan,
William Mitchell College of Law,
Date posted to database: May 2, 2005
Last Revised: May 6, 2005
(3) 141 Law and Emotion: A Proposed Taxonomy of an Emerging Field
Terry A. Maroney,
New York University - School of Law,
Date posted to database: May 20, 2005
Last Revised: June 15, 2005
(4) 97 Privacy vs. Piracy
Sonia Katyal,
Fordham University School of Law,
Date posted to database: May 12, 2005
Last Revised: June 27, 2005
(5) 90 Gender, Race, and Risk Perception: The Influence of Cultural Status Anxiety
Dan M. Kahan, Donald Braman, John Gastil, Paul Slovic, C. K. Mertz,
Yale Law School, Yale University - Law School, University of Washington, Decision Research, Decision Research - General,
Date posted to database: May 16, 2005
Last Revised: June 22, 2005

July 11, 2005 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Wisconsin Adopts Recorded Interrogations Requirement for Juveniles

Due to the work of Wisconsin State Public Defender Eileen Hirsch, and a host of amicus briefs filed by, among others, Northwestern University’s Bluhm Legal Clinic and the Wisconsin Innocence Project, the Wisconsin Supreme Court exercised its superintending authority this week to require that all future custodial interrogations of juveniles be electronically recorded when feasible, and without exception when the interrogation occurs in a place of detention.  Audio recordings meet the requirement, but video is preferable.  The Court did not say what the decision means for custodial interrogations of adults (although one of the dissenting justices quoted Bob Dylan: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”).  The decision makes Wisconsin the third state to have some form of judicially-mandated electronic recording (after Alaska and Minnesota).  A few state legislatures, including Illinois, New Mexico, and Maine, have recently taken action on electronic recording, and a number of others have bills pending. 

The name of the case is State v. Jerrell C.J. and can be found here.   Newspaper article here.  [Mark Godsey, thanks to WIP attorney Byron Lichstein for this content]

July 10, 2005 in Confessions and Interrogation, Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)