December 10, 2005
Federal Jury: 911 Fraudster Insane
A man who filed false paperwork claiming that his wife had died on 911, when in fact she was alive (but divorced from him) was acquitted by a federal jury. The evidence showed that the man was psychotic and delusional. [Jack Chin]
Cop Tasers Cop in Dispute over Snack
In Michigan, a cop tasered his partner as they argued over stopping for a soda. [Jack Chin]
3d Circuit to Review Mumia Abu Jamal Conviction
Story here. [Jack Chin]
Markel on Tookie Williams Clemency
Findlaw column here. [Jack Chin]
RI: 1983 Suit Rejected in Friendly Fire Death
The family of an African American police officer mistakenly shot by fellow officers who mistook him for a thug lost their civil suit against the city last week. The jury rejected the claim that the officers had been inadequately trained. [Jack Chin]
December 9, 2005
New Article Spotlight: No Penis, No Problem
CrimProf Kay L. Levine of Emory has posted No Penis, No Problem on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Accounts of female statutory rapists have begun to spring up everywhere, seemingly for the first time. Female teachers having sex with their male students, female bus drivers and coaches having sex with their male charges, female adults having sex with the boy next door - the stories abound. Is this a new breed of criminal? One might think so, given the gendered history of the statutory rape law, the legal scholarship from before and after the Supreme Court's Michael M. decision, and the enforcement policies over the past century, all of which assume that defendants are male and victims female. But in fact, the psychological and psychiatric literature suggests a long history of female sexual abuse and a wide array of female perpetrators. While societal scripts about appropriate behavior have kept us relatively in the dark about the nature and extent of women's abuse of boys, scientists have begun to document the motivations behind female perpetration and the experience of males as sexual abuse victims. Rather than continuing to rely on highly gendered notions of age-differential sexual experiences, legal scholars can and should use knowledge from these areas to help us understand and suggest responses to the "new" wave of crimes, criminals and victims in the statutory rape caseload.
Obtain paper here. [Mark Godsey]
December 8, 2005
Florida Professor Acquitted in PATRIOT Act "Test Case"
"A federal jury acquitted former Florida professor Sami al-Arian yesterday of conspiring to aid a Palestinian group in killing Israelis through suicide bombings, dealing the U.S. government a setback in its efforts to use secretly gathered intelligence in criminal cases against terrorism suspects. The trial was a crucial test of government power under the USA Patriot Act, which lowered barriers that had prevented intelligence agencies from sharing secretly monitored communications with prosecutors. The case was the first criminal terrorism prosecution to rely mainly on vast amounts of materials gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), whose standards for searches and surveillance are less restrictive than those set by criminal courts." Full story. . . [Mark Godsey]
UK: Law Lords Ban Torture Evidence
Atlanta Rape Exoneration--Served 25 Years
Story here. [Jack Chin]
Congress Agrees to Extend the PATRIOT Act
"Congressional leaders reached a deal Thursday to extend key provisions of the Patriot Act...Under the deal, 16 provisions set to expire at the end of the year will be extended for four more years...The deal marks Congress' first revision of the law...The provisions include the two most controversial elements -- secret FBI access to library and business records and roving wiretaps. Roving wiretaps involve the use eavesdropping devices that prevent a target from evading law enforcement officials by switching phones or computers. A "lone wolf" provision that sets standards for monitoring terror suspects who might be operating independently also survived...But the deal reached Thursday would force law enforcement to seek a court's approval before getting access to library and business records. 'Under existing law, a law enforcement agent could obtain these records, unilaterally, on a declaration of relevance," Specter said. "The conference report now requires a judge to review a statement of facts. And the court has to be satisfied that these records are relevant to a terrorism investigation.'" Read more. . . [Mark Godsey]
SF Cops Suspended for Video
A bunch of cops made an allegedly humorous video that involved homophobic, racist and sexist remarks. They've been suspended. [Jack Chin]
December 7, 2005
Criminal Blunder of the Week
Pizza guys gets his wallet stolen while off duty, delivers pizza next day and customer whips out pizza guy's stolen wallet and uses stolen credit card to pay for the pizza. Pizza guy calls police and customer/thief is arrested.
Interesting New 4th Amendment Case
From BNA.com: "A defendant "abandoned" her purse and wallet for purposes of the Fourth Amendment when she left them in her unlocked vehicle after running off the road in the middle of the night and did not contact police or make arrangements to retrieve the vehicle until the next day, the Utah Supreme Court held Nov. 22. The court said a contrary decision by the intermediate appellate court and the caselaw on which that court relied went astray by confusing Fourth Amendment and property law standards of abandonment. (States v. Rynhart, Utah, No. 20040115, 11/22/05).
December 6, 2005
Nude Photos of Jennifer Aniston
can't possibly be "illegal" if taken from a lawful vantagepoint with commercially available and commonly used equipment, can they? At least, they cannot violate a "reasonable expectation of privacy", right? But lawyers who filed a lawsuit described on The Smoking Gun say otherwise. This matter is slightly reminiscent of a U Penn student who photographed some other students in flagrante delicto, and then distributed those photos. At first the enterprising photographer was subjected to disciplinary proceedings, but the charges were ultimately dropped. [Jack Chin]
Stop, "Taser Time" in Indiana Leads to Lawsuit
After being pulled over for allegedly running a red light, submitting to sobriety tests and inconclusive breathalyzer tests, police officers informed 40 year-old Jennifer Marshall that she would be taken to jail unless she submitted to a chemical blood test. When Marshall told the officers she didn't know the meaning of submitting to a "chemical test" and that she wanted to make a phone call (to her attorney), the officers simultaneously denied Marshall permission to make the call. And when she wouldn't drop the phone on demand, the officers wrestled Marshall onto the hood of her car, declared "Taser time" and jolted Marshall's arm with the device. The incident was captured on the officers' cruiser camera, the video of which will be used in her suit for excessive use of force. . . [Mark Godsey]
Wily in Washington: State Trooper Goes "Panhandler" to Bust Drivers
CrimProfs John Strait of Seattle Law and John Junker of Washington Law say the tactic may have been sly, but it's perfectly legal. A Washington State Trooper posed on the side of the road wearing a cardboard sign that read, "Happy Holidays, Buckle Up," while keeping a close look to see if drivers were buckled up. If not, he radioed a fellow trooper down the road to make a stop. A few drivers even offered the trooper money, thinking he was a panhandler. In all, the ploy enabled the troopers to make 41 stops, give 30 tickets at $101 a piece, make six outstanding warrant arrests, and one drug arrest. Story. . . [Mark Godsey]
Lisker Wrongful Conviction Case
Last year, the LA Times reported on a potential wrongful conviction in a 1985 murder. Now, at a federal habeas corpus hearing, a police officer testfied that perhaps he left the bloody footprint which was critical evidence in the trial as he stomped around the crime scene. A forensic expert called by the prosecutors at time of trial, and whose testimony was characterized by a California court as conclusive, testified that the court had mischaracterized his testimony--his analysis did not neecessarily show the defendant committed the crime. Earlier, police submitted false statements in opposition to the defendant's parole. [Jack Chin]
Michigan CrimProf Yale Kamisar was quoted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the massive questionnaires for jurors in the Moussaoui case.
Case Western CrimProf Lewis R. Katz was quoted in the Akron Beacon Journal about a local case in which no direct evidence of guilt existed.
Law Review Focuses on Medical Marijuana Use
Lewis & Clark Law Review issue focused on Gonzales v. Raich. [Mark Godsey]
December 5, 2005
Delay Conspiracy Charge Tossed; Other Charges Upheld for Moment
Story here. [Jack Chin]