Saturday, December 3, 2005
There are a few stories out there on the phenomenon of sexsomnia, a sleep disorder inw hich people have sex while sleeping. Here's a story about a supposed prosecution where someone was acquitted of sexual assault on this ground. [Jack Chin]
Friday, December 2, 2005
From the Manchester Evening News: "POLICE in Greater Manchester will be able to drug-test suspected criminals before they are charged. Anyone arrested for an "acquisition" crime - such as burglary or street robbery - faces checks for heroin, cocaine or crack use under pilot powers given by the Home Office to three police forces. Those who refuse to give samples face fines of up to £2,500 or a three-month jail term. Nearly half of thefts, burglary and robberies in Manchester are believed to be committed by people taking class A drugs and police say the new powers would cut crime rates. They are also being used in South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. The test areas were chosen because they have the highest rates of drug-linked crime. Greater Manchester Police have been allowed since 2003 to test people charged with certain offences for Class A drugs. Last year that power was extended to include teenagers as young as 14.
Home Office figures showed that in 2004, 43 per cent of 3,440 people who underwent the tests were shown to have been taking crack, heroin or cocaine. Courts in the region can deny bail to anyone who tests positive but refuses rehabilitation. Acquisitive crime has fallen from 225,662 incidents in 2002-03 to just 171,468 in 2004-05. Ian Seabridge, assistant chief constable of GMP, said: "Breaking the connection between crime and illicit drugs is vital to reducing overall crime and making the streets of Greater Manchester a safer place. "We have known for a long time that a large proportion of crime is committed as a result of drug use. "This new power, enabling us to drug test people on arrest will mean that more drug users who offend will receive treatment and in turn, will stop their offending behaviour. If we can successfully remove the need to obtain drugs, we can continue to reduce the levels of offending." Rest of story.... [Mark Godsey]
Thursday, December 1, 2005
This essay explores the dialogic relationship between art and the law, and argues that an examination of Andy Warhol's Electric Chair paintings, and our collective response to the paintings, broadens the legal discourse on capital punishment in this country. The essay contends that the paintings, and their iconic status in our culture, call attention to our fascination with death in general, to state-administered death in particular, to the spectacle of capital punishment, and to our history of obtaining pleasure by gazing upon death. It also argues that Warhol poses an important question, one that implicates race and gender and religion and disability and age and comfort: Who are we comfortable visualizing in the chair?
Obtain the essay here. [Mark Godsey]
Texas' 14th Court of Appeals ruled that a prosecutor's dramatic courtroom reenactment of the stabbing death of a defendant's husband, on the couple's actual bloodstained bed, did not unfairly prejudice the defendant. The most controversial part of the appellate court's decision was its refusal to consider a DVD recording of the reenactment; instead the court relied only on the trial testimony that detailed the reenactment. Counsel for the Defendant, Wright, explained that because Wright's new trial motion was denied without a hearing, she never had the opportunity to present the DVD as evidence. The case is Susan Lucille Wright v. State. Full Story from Law.com. . . [Mark Godsey]
"Public opinion polls show that nearly two-thirds of Americans support the death penalty, but that is a significant drop from the peak, in 1994, when 80 percent of respondents told Gallup pollsters they were in favor of capital punishment. When asked if they would endorse executions if the alternative sentence of life without parole were available, support fell to 50 percent. Amid the refinement of DNA techniques and the sporadic release of inmates from death row because of uncertain guilt, a growing number of people tell pollsters they believe that innocent prisoners have been executed. Although the majority of cases over the past three decades have been upheld, legal errors and sometimes poor defense work revealed during layers of appeals have convinced many Americans that the system is imperfect." Full story from Washingtonpost.com. . . [Mark Godsey]
Case Professor Amos Guiora and Georgetown's Professor David Cole debate "Terror, Torture & National Security"
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
CIA Hasn't INTENTIONALLY Destroyed Evidence, Just Accidentally Used Black Highlighters for Many Years
"The court will hear arguments Dec. 7 in two capital cases, involving Kansas' death penalty law and rules for evidence convicted murderers can use to try to avoid a death sentence. A Jan. 11 argument is scheduled in a case that asks when people should get an additional chance to prove their innocence based on new evidence like DNA.
Because rulings usually take several months, O'Connor will probably not vote in those cases. Tie votes could be broken by O'Connor's successor...O'Connor has often been the swing vote in death cases, including a 5-4 decision earlier this year that overturned Alito's appeals court ruling against a Pennsylvania inmate." Here is a recap of the Roberts' Court's recent decisions in capital cases, from NYTimes.com. [Mark Godsey]
The long running case of John Demjanjuk is back in a Cleaveland courtroom. He was stripped of his U.S. citizenship, but a trial in Israel found insufficient evidence that he was a guard known as "Ivan the Terrible." The issue now is deportation. [Jack Chin]
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
The 1,000th Execution since the death penalty moratorium was lifted in 1976 will now take place on Friday, December 2, 2005. On Tuesday, the same day that the 999th execution occurred in Ohio, Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner granted clemency to Robin McKennel Lovitt, who was scheduled to be executed today. Governor Warner based his decision to commute Lovitt's death sentence to life in prison with no possibility of parole on the fact that evidence from Mr. Lovitt's trial was destroyed by a court employee before he exhausted his post-conviction remedies. The Commonwealth's laws require the preservation of such evidence until this process is complete. Story here. [Mark Godsey]
Despite tough regulations aimed at improving corporate governance, financial fraud is still on the rise around the world, and most is still detected by chance, a study from auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) showed on Tuesday. Globally, the number of companies that reported financial fraud increased 22 percent in the last two years, according to the PWC study, which conducted 3,634 interviews with corporate officers in 34 countries...For the roughly one-third which said they could quantify the cost of the fraud, the total losses exceeded $2 billion, or an average of $1.7 million per company...The survey showed that the most common methods of finding out about financial fraud were still accidental, like calls to hotlines or tips from whistle-blowers." Full story from NYTimes.com. . . [Mark Godsey]