CrimProf Blog

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

New Article Spotlight: Capital Punishment and the MPC

Zimring CrimProf Franklin Zimring of Cal has posted The Unexamined Death Penalty: Capital Punishment and Reform of the Model Penal Code on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

The American Law Institute has launched a revision of its Model Penal Code provisions on sentencing and punishment that will be comprehensive in almost all respects. Conspicuously missing from the new sentencing project, however, is any examination of the Model Penal Code's provisions on capital punishment.

This essay argues that a reexamination of capital punishment is both necessary and practical as part of the larger sentencing reform project. Avoiding the death penalty is unprincipled and would leave the Model Code's single weakest section standing while every other sentencing provision would be subject to scrutiny. Failure to consider capital punishment would also ignore forty years of radical change in both the penal policy of developed nations and the vocabulary of concern that had redefined the death penalty as an issue of human rights and limits of government power. Ignoring the death penalty would launch a reform effort that will ignore the punishment for murder while rethinking everything else.

Nothing short of terror at the political cost can explain this retreat from the natural boundaries of sentencing reform. Yet fears of a principled reexamination of §210.6 are not well founded. The Institute could both take a principled position on the death penalty itself and also recommend minimum standards for capital cases where the penalty remains. To ignore the most visible and troubling aspect of American criminal justice is a much greater threat to the legitimacy of the Model Penal Code revision project than to confront it.

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

September 6, 2005 in Capital Punishment, Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

UK To Criminalize Forced Marriages

The  "IMAMS and other clerics who carry out forced marriages face the threat of being charged with a criminal offence under proposals unveiled today.  Scottish Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm published a series of options which would make forcing someone into marriage a specific crime for the first time.  One option would catch all those who "facilitated a marriage, including those who solemnised the marriage or otherwise conducted the ceremony", providing they knew that the bride or groom were unwilling participants.  The offence could carry up to five years' imprisonment.  The move comes after a report warned that 85 people a year in Edinburgh are being forced into marriages.  The report from the Council of British Pakistanis in Scotland (CBPS) warned that dozens of women and men were suffering physical and mental abuse as a result."  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

September 6, 2005 in International | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 5, 2005

Michigan to Allow Prior Bad Acts for Propensity Inference in Child Molestation Cases

It will join California in following the federal rules in this respect.  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

September 5, 2005 in Evidence | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

TJ CrimProf Interviews Abu Ghraib Commander

Cohnthomas_jefferson Thomas Jefferson CrimProf Cohn's Interview with Abu Ghraib Commander Reveals Shocking New Details of Torture and War

From a press release:  San Diego – Explosive new accounts of the Abu Ghraib prisoner torture scandal have been unveiled in an in depth interview that Professor Marjorie Cohn of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law recently conducted with Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski. Karpinski was in charge of the prison in Iraq and is now the highest ranking officer to be demoted and sanctioned as a result of the scandal that occurred in the fall of 2003.

Earlier this month, Cohn interviewed Karpinski, who was reprimanded and demoted to colonel for failing to properly supervise the Abu Ghraib prison guards. In this interview, Karpinski explained how she was kept in the dark about the torture and discussed the chain of command that she says set the torture policy.  Cohn, who was honored this spring with the San Diego County Bar Association’s 2005 Service to Legal Education Award, is conducting scholarly research on criminal liability for torture of prisoners in U.S. custody stemming from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Cohn’s research addresses the criminal liability of interrogators and intelligence personnel, as well as command responsibility. She also is examining the obligations of the United States under the Torture Convention and the Geneva Conventions, and individual liability under federal statutes.

The interview with Karpinski as well as an article in which Cohn highlighted parts of the interview are available for public viewing on Cohn, who lectures throughout the world on international human rights, is a regular contributor to the Truthout Web site.

Cohn has arranged for Karpinski to speak at the law school in early November, close to the time that Karpinski’s new book will be published. Students and others who attend Karpinski’s lecture will hear her account of the corruption and graft of those who she alleges were responsible for much of the torture. They also will learn Karpinski’s perspective on how the torture scandal was covered up and why she was made the scapegoat.

Cohn teaches Evidence, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and International Human Rights Law at Thomas Jefferson and frequently is called upon by national and local news media to serve as a legal analyst. She also is executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists, and serves on the Roster of Experts at the Institute for Public Accuracy. In addition, she was a legal observer in Iran on behalf of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and she has participated in delegations to Cuba, China, and Yugoslavia.  [Mark Godsey]

September 5, 2005 in CrimProfs, Homeland Security, International | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 4, 2005

11th Circuit: Georgia Jail's Strip Search Policy Ruled Unconstitutional

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Northern Georgia County's policy, mandating strip searches of all inmates booked into jail, violated the Fourth Amendment.  The case Hicks v. Moore, No. 03-13686, involved a woman, Janet Hicks, who sued the County's sheriff and jail supervisor after she was strip-searched in the jail, following her misdemeanor arrest for a domestic-violence dispute. 

According to the circuit's precedent for strip searches, found in Wilson v. Jones, 251 F.3d 1340, a strip search must be justifed by reasonable suspicion, a more stringent standard than required by the US Supreme Court.  So although the Court ultimately overturned the blanket strip search policy, it unanimously ruled that Hicks' strip search did not violate her Fourth Amendment rights because she was arrested for a violent crime giving reasonable suspicion that she may have been armed. More from [Mark Godsey]

September 4, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

This Weeks Top 5 Crim Papers

Ssrnlogo100_4 This week's top 5 crim papers, with number of recent downloads on SSRN, are as follows:

(1) 445 Search and Seizure: Past, Present, and Future
Orin S. Kerr,
The George Washington University Law School,
Date posted to database: July 14, 2005
Last Revised: July 14, 2005
(2) 401 Cultural Cognition and Public Policy
Dan M. Kahan, Donald Braman,
Yale Law School, Yale University - Law School,
Date posted to database: August 2, 2005
Last Revised: August 2, 2005
(3) 348 The Political Constitution of Criminal Justice
William J. Stuntz,
Harvard Law School,
Date posted to database: August 14, 2005
Last Revised: August 25, 2005
(4) 240 Exonerations in the United States, 1989 through 2003
Samuel R. Gross, Kristen Jacoby, Daniel J. Matheson, Nicholas Montgomery, Sujata Patil,
University of Michigan Law School, University of Michigan Law School, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Law School, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia,
Date posted to database: July 6, 2005
Last Revised: July 26, 2005
(5) 141 Aspects of the Theory of Moral Cognition: Investigating Intuitive Knowledge of the Prohibition of Intentional Battery and the Principle of Double Effect
John Mikhail,
Georgetown University - Law Center,
Date posted to database: July 27, 2005
Last Revised: September 3, 2005

September 4, 2005 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Hurricane Katerina Volunteer: LawProf Reports from Astrodome

LawProf Craig Jackson of Texas Southern reports here  about his stint as a volunteer at the Astrodome in Houston. [Jack Chin]

September 4, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Lexis Offers Free Books to Law Students Displaced by Katrina


LexisNexis' Law School Publishing group has implemented a plan to respond to the needs of law school students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. LexisNexis will provide free coursebooks to all displaced students enrolled in a law school class that requires a LexisNexis coursebook. LexisNexis will also provide free copies of relevant titles from our Understanding Series and our Q & A Series to all displaced students enrolled in a law school class that corresponds to a title in our Understanding and Q & A product lines.

To receive this assistance, an appointed school administrator (e.g., the registrar) must make this contact on behalf of the displaced student(s) who have been invited to participate in their Fall 2005 program. Requests must include:

  • Students' name
  • Mailing address
  • Email address (if any)
  • Phone number
  • Home law school
  • Author name & title of adopted LexisNexis coursebook
  • Fall 2005 course listing (to determine relevant study aid titles to send to each student).

Please send this information to: Lisa Hughes, LexisNexis Law School Sales Operations Manager, via email at, or via fax at 518-641-6090.

September 4, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

DOJ: Family Violence Statistics

The DOJ recently published a report on family violence statistics.  Some interesting findings:

"The rate of family violence fell by more than one-half between 1993 and 2002, from an estimated 5.4 victims to 2.1 victims per 1,000 U.S. residents 12 years old and older, reflecting the general decline in crimes against people during the same period, the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today.

Family violence accounted for 11 percent of all reported and unreported violence between 1998 and 2002. Of these offenses against family members, 49 percent were a crime against a spouse, 11 percent a parent attacking a child, and 41 percent an offense against another family member.

Seventy-three percent of family violence victims were female and 76 percent of persons who committed family violence were male. Simple assault was the most frequent type of family violence."

Full report here.

September 4, 2005 in DOJ News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

More on Rehnquist's Legacy

More on Rehnquist's legacy here and here.  A video of Bush's comments Sunday morning is here.  And here is coverage from the Chicago Tribune. [Mark Godsey]

September 4, 2005 in Supreme Court | Permalink | TrackBack (0)