CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, January 22, 2005

CDC Recommends Anti-AIDS Drug Cocktail for Rape Victims

Long after health departments in foreign countries and in certain U.S. localities, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that rape victims and others accidentally exposed to AIDS recieve a drug cocktail to prevent infection.  In animal studies, it has proved to be effective in preventing infection. [Jack Chin]

January 22, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Spotlight: Dan Filler of Alabama

Filler_1 This week the CrimProf Blog splotlights Dan Filler of AlabamaFiller writes:
Despite a long standing interest in the law, and particularly criminal law, when I graduated from Brown University I had firmly decided not to attend law school. After a tedious summer working for a small law firm on the Oregon coast, I’d become convinced that a lawyer’s job was too boring. Thus, I packed my bags and moved to San Francisco for a life of anything but law. That plan worked for a while. I held down a job as the front desk clerk at the Bayside Motor Inn (on the evening shift) and, later, as a receptionist at what was then California First Bank. Scintillating as these jobs were, I finally capitulated to the law and joined Heller, Ehrman as a paralegal, working on an immense pro bono Native American land trust litigation. Finally, in 1987, I moved to New York, to Greenwich Village, and started at New York University Law School. I was one of those students that actually enjoyed law school, but I rediscovered that old passion – criminal law – while taking the Criminal Defense Clinic taught by Holly Maguigan and Steve Zeidman.

Passions must sometimes wait, however. First there was the matter of my clerkship, a post with Judge J. Dickson Phillips on the Fourth Circuit. There I fumed over the sentencing guidelines and the troubling influence of Judge Wilkins – who was simultaneously the chairman of the sentencing commission and the author of many guidelines opinions – on Fourth Circuit sentencing jurisprudence. Then there was the matter of my school debt. To address that problem, I signed on for two years at Debevoise and Plimpton in New York.

Finally, in the fall of 1993, I became an assistant public defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Working among other committed allies, I found incredible satisfaction battling in the trenches for my clients. I loved the work in a practical sense, honing sharp cross-examinations and developing complex cases theories, but I also felt connected with my inner William Kunstler. I was fighting the good fight. After four years, I moved to a brand new public defense shop, The Bronx Defenders. I was itching for a different challenge, though. I was ready to play the bet I’d been hedging all along: a trip to the meat market. There I met the University of Alabama, and it met me.

My scholarship has focused largely on the social production of law, and crime in particular (list here). Much of my work developed as part of my participation in an interdisciplinary research community, The University of Alabama Interdisciplinary and Interpretive Writing Group. My first full-length article was a qualitative empirical study of the Megan’s Law legislative debates. More recently I published another empirical piece on community notification, focusing on the disparate race effects of these laws, and the curious failure of any commentator or legislator to consider these predictable disparities. Somehow, everybody missed the fact that these laws (framed as a necessary response to white-on-white crime) would deliver the brunt of their force against African-Americans. One curiosity I discovered in this research is that the Megan’s Law race disparities are the smallest in the Deep South. I have also written about the construction of gun control as a juvenile justice issue, the use of a legislative indictment (the Starr Report) as a means of marketing law, and the conflation of pedophilia with terrorism in a campaign to smear Muslims. As committed as I was to criminal defense, I feel equally bound to a notion of honest, critical scholarship. I do my best to approach every issue with an open mind, placing my own orthodoxies under the microscope.

In the past few years, I've worked to mix my academic pursuits with that old passion.  I started a Capital Defense Clinic at the law school.  I am chairing the Alabama Assessment Team, for the American Bar Association's Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project.  And of course, I use my time in the classroom to present a more complex view of criminal law that most students in Tuscaloosa would otherwise discover.  Much like the religion in which I grew up, I try to teach that the only proper practice of criminal law is a critical one.

Each Saturday, CrimProf Blog will spotlight on one of the 1500+ criminal justice professors in America's law schools. We hope to help bring the many individual stories of scholarly achievements, teaching innovations, public service, and career moves within the criminal justice professorate to the attention of the broader criminal justice community.  Please email us suggestions for future CrimProf profiles, particularly new professors in the field.

January 22, 2005 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Read Coverage of Columbia Sentencing Symposium

The Columbia Law Review is holding a symposium on Booker and sentencing this weekend that includes many of the stars in the field.  If you cannot attend, the Ex Post Blog, run by the Columbia's Federalist Society, will be posting play-by-play coverage of the event here.  [Mark Godsey]

January 22, 2005 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

State Judge Charged With Felonies for Court Conduct

Former Oklahoma Judge Donald Thompson has been charged with three felony counts of indecent exposure for allegedly using a penis pump to pleasure himself while sitting on the bench during open court proceedings.  Thompson recently resigned after the allegations came to light.  Authorities have performed DNA tests on the carpet, the judge's chair, a trashcan and the judge's robe.  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

January 22, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 21, 2005

Teleconference and Live Webcast on Booker Implications

On Thursday, January 27th, the ABA will present a 60-minute conference on the implications of Booker. You can listen to the conference via telephone or live audio webcast.  Participants include counsel for Fanfan and Hofstra CrimProf David Yellen.  It begins at 2 p.m. EST.  CLE credit is available.  Details.   [Mark Godsey]

January 21, 2005 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (3)

Federal Agencies Filled With Holders of Store Bought Diplomas

Story here of how federal civil servants and appointees have gotten hired and promoted based on store-bought diplomas. GAO Report here; Office of Personnel Managment press release here.  [Jack Chin]

January 21, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (3)

How Often Are Children Solicited For Sex Online?

The numbers are alarming.  The Numbers Guy with The Wall Street Journal has loads of studies and stats here.   [Mark Godsey]

January 21, 2005 in Sex | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

No Legal Help For Georgia's Death Row Inmates

From the LA Times:  "Seven inmates on Georgia's death row may be forced to represent themselves at hearings because the state is not required to provide appellate lawyers and a prisoners' advocacy group says it cannot help. Georgia is the only state that does not provide prisoners with lawyers after their initial appeals.  The state funds a resource center to help inmates in the second phase of their appeals. But its executive director, Tom Dunn, said his four-person staff was too overloaded to take the seven cases. One of the inmates, Gregory Lawler, has a hearing scheduled in a month. 'He's frightened,' Dunn said. 'They're all frightened. They want a lawyer.' Many states provide little funding for representation during phase two, the state habeas corpus petition, in which an inmate can raise legal issues from his or her trial such as prosecutorial misconduct or suppression of exculpatory material. But Georgia stands out when it comes to not providing legal representation, one expert said.

Story here. . . [Mark Godsey]

January 21, 2005 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Nationwide Crime Wave: Spongebob Thefts UPDATED

ANNOUNCEMENT James Dobson, leader of Focus on the Family, has condemned the cartoon character mentioned below as promoting the gay lifestyle among children.  The piece below was posted as depicting an amusing, rather trivial crime trend, and in no way was intended to promote or denigrate any particular sexual behavior or set of sexual behaviors among people or, for that matter, cartoon characters. [Jack Chin]


50 to 100 of several thousand inflatable Spongebob Squarepants balloons attached to Burger Kings as part of a promotion have been stolen by fans in at least 10 states.  One pair of theives was caught after trying to escape with the 6 foot Spongebob by hailing a taxi.  (Photo: Scene of a successful theft). [Jack Chin]  Evidently, these thefts are being taken seriously.  A New Orleans 17-year-old found in possession without a plausible explanation was charged with theft.  The inflatables are listed on eBay for up to $500. [Jack Chin]

January 21, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


The Confrontation Blog has a post on victimless prosecutions.  Crime & Federalism has a post on the Skakel appeal in Connecticut, one on older drivers, and one on Blood Alcohol and the Fourth Amendment.  CrimLaw has pictures of commonly abused prescription drugs.  GritsForBreakfast has a post on the cost of litigation to establish innocence, and one on the optional accuracy of forensic evidence.  TalkLeft has a post on shaming sanctions as punishment, and on segregation in California prisons. WhiteCollarCrimeProf has a post on Booker and Martha Stewart. [Jack Chin]

January 21, 2005 in Blog Watch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Homeless Man Charged with Trespassing after Posing as a High School Student for Three Weeks

Twenty-one year old Francisco Serrano posed as a student for three weeks at his former high school in Minneapolis, MN sitting in on classes, showering in the locker room, and sleeping in the theater.  Now that his posing scheme is up, he's facing trespassing charges.  Serrano attended the school two years ago as a sophomore, but never earned his diploma.  Throughout the three weeks, Serrano just blended in with the 2,300 student body.  Serrano's former phys-ed teacher saw him taking a shower in the locker room, but thought he belonged.  Alyssa Luftman, a senior, shared a table in study hall with Serrano.  "We came back from Christmas break and there was this new kid sitting at our table," she said. "We just assumed he was a new student...He never said anything to anyone."  More from [Mark Godsey]

January 21, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

California Executes First Inmate in Three Years; Schwarzenegger's First

Early yesterday morning, CA executed 61-year-old Donald Beardslee, who was convicted and sentenced to death for killing two women during a drug deal more than 25 years ago.  More than 300 protesters were present at San Quentin for the execution.  The execution proceeded a few hours after Gov. Schwarzenegger rejected Beardslee's clemency petition for life in prison without parole and the Supreme Court rejected constitutional claims of cruel and unusual punishment and improper juror influence in rendering the death sentence.  This marked the first execution in California in 3 years, and the first during Schwarzenegger's term as Governor.  More... [Mark Godsey] 

January 20, 2005 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

FBI Kills Carnivore

The FBI has switched to commercially available computer software to read emails and trace computer activity among suspected criminals, terrorists and spies.  Prior to the switch, the FBI used a controversial custom-built surveillance program called "Carnivore."  According to FBI spokesman Paul Bresson, the FBI decided to abandon Carnivore because the commercially available computer surveillance software has significantly improved in effectiveness and is less expensive. More from MSNBC... 

I always thought that naming their original spy software a sinister name like "Carnivore" doomed it to failure from day one.  The FBI apparently needs some help in the PR department.  Perhaps if they had called it the "Happy Bunny Computer Program," civil libertarian groups would not have noticed.  [Mark Godsey]

January 20, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Exoneration Roundup

Cuffs_10 In an appeal to a single judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, a 30 day sentence for making a false rape accusation was affirmed; conviction could have brought a 40 year sentence to the person falsely accused.  Story here.   A Bristish woman convicted of making a false rape accusation was sentenced to eight months. Canada has started an inquiry into the David Milgaard case; convicted of a murder 36 years ago, he was released in 1991 and cleared by DNA in 1997. Here's an anti-death penalty editorial from the Indianapolis Star, emphasizing the number of wrongful convictions and exonerations.  [Jack Chin]

January 20, 2005 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Death for Child Rape

The Georgia legislature is considering making child sodomy a capital offense.  Of course, Coker v. Georgia held that rape of an adult woman cannot be made capital, but the Court has never returned to the issue of whether sexual abuse of a minor warrants death.  LSU CrimProf Stuart Green is quoted in the article talking about Louisiana's law which also provides for death for some crimes involving children.  [Jack Chin]

January 20, 2005 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

Lower Courts Dispute Meaning of Booker

The Berman Blog has a post that discusses how some lower courts are already in disagreement as to how Booker should be interpreted.  [Mark Godsey]

January 20, 2005 in Sentencing Corrections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Article Spotlight

ReddingVillanova Crimprof Richard Redding has posted What Do Juvenile Offenders Know About Being Tried as Adults?:  Implications for Deterrence on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

An underlying assumption in the nationwide policy shift toward transferring more juveniles to criminal court has been the belief that stricter, adult sentences will act as either a specific or general deterrent to juvenile crime. With respect to general deterrence - whether transfer laws deter would-be offenders from committing crimes - it is important to examine whether juveniles know about transfer laws, whether this knowledge deters criminal behavior, and whether juveniles believe the laws will be enforced against them. The current study is one of the first to examine juveniles' knowledge and perceptions of transfer laws and criminal sanctions. We interviewed 37 juveniles who had been transferred to criminal court in Georgia, obtaining quantitative as well as qualitative data based on structured interviewed questions. Four key findings emerged. First, juveniles were unaware of the transfer law. Second, juveniles felt that awareness of the law may have deterred them from committing the crime or may deter other juveniles from committing crimes, and they suggested practical ways to enhance juveniles' awareness of transfer laws. Third, the juveniles generally felt that it was unfair to try and sentence them as adults. Finally, the consequences of committing their crime were worse than most had imagined, and the harsh consequences of their incarceration in adult facilities may have had a brutalizing effect on some juveniles. The implications for general and specific deterrence are discussed.

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

January 20, 2005 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

"The Death Penalty and Mental Illness" Conference at Catholic

CatholicThe Catholic University of America Law Review will hold a symposium entitled "The Death Penalty and Mental Illness" on January 26th.  Speakers include Florida Crimprof Chistopher Slobogin and Skadden attorney Ronald Tabak, Co-Chair of the ABA's Death Penalty Committee, among others.  Details . . .  [Mark Godsey]

January 20, 2005 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U Florida Race & Law Curriculum Workshop

February 24-26, 2005.  Information here.  CrimProfs participating include Cynthia Lee and Kim Forde-Mazrui. [Jack Chin]

January 20, 2005 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Arizona Limits Jury Trials

The Arizona Supreme Court overruled a decades-old decision allowing jury trials in DUI, marijuana and other misdemeanor cases even where the potential sentence was six months or less.  Now, Arizona follows a modified version of the federal standard. Opinion here.  Thanks to University of Arizona 1L Flynn Carey for the tip. [Jack Chin]

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