CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, March 18, 2006

UCLA Law Hosts "The Faces of Wrongful Conviction" April 7-9

From UCLA Law: Since 1990, over 200 people have been wrongfull convicted and exonerated in California. Join us as we discuss the issues surrounding wrongful conviction, highlighting the unbelievable and undeniably true stories of men and women from across the state.   



Registration Starts at $25. Offering 17.5 Hours of MCLE Credit (including Ethics and the Elimination of Bias)

March 18, 2006 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Alabama: Sealing of Criminal Records Unauthorized

Hundreds of criminal files were pulled from public view without authorization, said the Alabama Supreme Court, and must be returned, ruled the Alabama Supreme Court. The case is Mobile Press Register, Inc. v. Lackey --- So.2d ----, 2006 WL 573935 (Ala. Mar. 10, 2006).

March 17, 2006 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

FL: Sheriff to Mail Notices to Neighbors of Sex Offenders

If you live within 500 feet of an offender, or 1000 feet of a predator, then you will get a mailed notice  from the Brevard County Sheriff.  That's great, I guess, but a bit odd: Unless they travel exclusively by pogo stick, these folks should be able to go more than 500 or 100 feet.  Story here.

March 16, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UK: Cops Get Damages for Seeing Violent Crime Scene

The AP Reports: "A British court awarded six prison officers damages and legal costs reported to be in excess of 1 million pounds (US$1.75 million, euro1.45 million) Wednesday for "walking into a scene of gothic horror" where an inmate had strangled his cellmate and then disemboweled him."  Story here.

March 16, 2006 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Minnesota: More Seek to Seal Convictions

The growth of criminal databases and background check policies has encouraged many with old convictions to seek to have them sealed, as permitted by Minnesota law. Story here.

March 16, 2006 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New Article Spotlight: Computerized Search Decisionmakingg

UC Davis CrimProf Elizabeth E. Joh has forthcoming in the California Law Review: "Discretionless Policing: Technology and the Fourth Amendment" The abstract:

What if we could eliminate police discretion from traffic stops? What if a computer could accomplish what police officers do, with efficiency and accuracy, and more important, without racial prejudice? How would this technology work? Would its use be consistent with the Fourth Amendment? And if constitutional, would the public accept this automated enforcement? Could the war on drugs continue, once traffic stops became discretionless? This scenario isn't just a thought experiment. The technology and a plan to automate law enforcement exist, yet neither has received serious attention. An automated enforcement program would eliminate stops based not only on excessive speeding, but on nearly all the most frequently used justifications to stop drivers, including record checks and other vehicle code violations. If the war on drugs continued to exist, it would no longer use the traffic stop. Recent federal regulatory approval for the technical standards for the federal intelligent highway initiative shows that this is a real and practicable solution to the problem of police discretion in traffic stops, one that sidesteps entrenched difficulties in Fourth Amendment law and politics.

March 15, 2006 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

37 Year Old Woman Pleads guilty To Statutory Rape of 15 Year Old

The woman impregnated by her teen boyfriend, who then married him, pleaded guilty and got 9 months in jail Story here.

March 15, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Chatroom Featuring Child Molestation Shut Down

Victims include children as young as 18 months.  Story here.

March 15, 2006 in Sex | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Article Spotlight: The Effect of Joinder and Severance

Illinois CrimProf Andrew D. Leipold and Illinois economist Hossein Alikamar Abbasi are puiblishing The Impact of Joinder and Severance on Federal Criminal Cases: An Empirical Study in the Vanderbilt Law Review.  The abstract:

It is widely assumed that criminal defendants who face multiple charges in a single trial have a harder time prevailing than those who face several trials of one count each.  Conventional
wisdom also has it that a defendant who is joined for trial with other suspects is worse off than one who stands trial alone. Until now, these assumptions have never been tested empirically. Looking at nearly 20,000 federal criminal trials over a five-year period, this Article asks if the traditional beliefs are true, and if so, tries to measure the impact on trial outcomes of joining counts and defendants.

It turns out that joinder has a significant prejudicial effect on trials, although not quite the same effect that is usually assumed.  Using statistical models that control for a range of variables, the authors discovered that trial defendants who face multiple counts are roughly 10% more likely to be convicted of the most serious charge than a defendant who stands trial on a single count.  Surprisingly, however, joining co-defendants in a single trial had virtually no impact on the likelihood of conviction, at least in the aggregate.  Using the results of the empirical study, the article then reconsiders the competing policy issues that underlie the joinder and severance doctrine,
and explores the implications of the empirical findings.

Full Text:

March 15, 2006 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

N. California Innocence Project Hosts Top CA Appellate/Criminal Defense Attorney

Today, the Northern California Innocence Project is co-sponsoring a speech by Dennis Riordan, at Santa Clara University School of Law, to discuss developments in the Damien Echols case.  Riordan is Echols current counsel.

Here is some information about the Damien Echols case: In May 1993, three eight-year old boys, one sexually mutilated, were found murdered in a wooded area near West Memphis, Arkansas.  A year later, a jury convicted three local teenagers on the theory that they committed the murders as part of a Satanic ritual. The oldest defendant, Damien Echols – who was 18 years-old at the time of the crime – was sentenced to death.

Since that time, two prize-winning HBO documentaries (“Paradise Lost I” and “Paradise Lost 2:  Revelations”) and a book (“The Devil’s Knot”) have detailed the media frenzy surrounding the case and the lack of credible evidence against the three defendants.  The case has been called a modern-day Salem witch hunt, in which young, long-haired outcasts were wrongly condemned to quell a community’s fear and anger.

Dennis Riordan, Mr. Echols’ present counsel, will discuss new developments in the case, the constitutional issues, the procedural hurdles to obtaining a new trial in federal habeas corpus proceedings, and the DNA testing that may help establish Mr. Echols’ innocence.  The program will feature excerpts from the HBO documentaries.

Dennis Riordan, a criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, is known as one of the top appellate lawyers in the state.  His work includes the defense of former Black Panther Johnny Spain, the SF dog-mauling case, and the Ed Rosenthal (medical marijuana) defense.

Mr. Riordan’s lecture at Santa Clara University School of Law is co-sponsored by The Northern California Innocence Project, The Heafey Center for Trial and Appellate Advocacy, and The Center for Social Justice and Public Service.

The lecture will take place from 4:00 p.m. – 5:15 Bannan Hall, Room 241 (second floor).  Refreshments will be provided.  For more informarion contact Professor Margaret Russell at [Mark Godsey]

March 15, 2006 in Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

American University Law Hosts Homeland/International Security Conference

AmericanAmerican University Law School is proud to host Representatives from the Department of Energy, Department of State, Homeland Security and others to discuss Emerging Issues in National and International Security at EMININT 2006. The event will be held in Room 603 of American University’s Washington College of Law, 4801 Massachusetts Ave., NW, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Monday, March 20; and 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21.

Among the critical and timely topics to be discussed are oil security in a post-9/11 world; the War on Terror in the foreign media; cyber security; awarding governmental national security contracts; and immigration in an age of terror.

Contact: Kathy Thompson, WCL Public Relations, 202-274-4279; Cell Phone: 703-855-5556

For a detailed agenda click here. [Mark Godsey]

March 14, 2006 in Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"The Death Penalty on Trial: The Politics of Capital Punishment"

WsuWayne State University Law School is pleased to announce that Andrea D. Lyon, a nationally recognized expert on the death penalty, will deliver the 22nd annual I. Goodman Cohen Lecture in Trial Advocacy on Thursday, March 30, 2006.

Ms. Lyon’s lecture, "The Death Penalty On Trial: The Politics of Capital Punishment” will begin at 3 p.m. in the Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium at the Wayne State University Law School, 471 W. Palmer St., Detroit, MI 48202.

Andrea Lyon is currently Clinical Associate Professor of Law; Director, Center for Justice in Capital Cases; and Supervisor, Death Penalty Legal Clinic at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago.

Ms. Lyon joined the Cook County, Illinois Public Defender’s Office in 1976; by the end of her service she was chief of the Homicide Task Force, a 22-lawyer unit representing those accused of homicide. She has tried over 130 homicide cases and has defended more than 30 potential capital cases; she took 19 of those cases through the penalty phase. She won all 19 cases.

Prof. Lyon founded the Illinois Capital Resource Center in 1990. She was awarded the National Legal Aid and Defender Association’s Reginald Heber Smith Award for best advocate and she was given the Justice For All Award at the National Conference on Wrongful Conviction and the Death Penalty in 1998.

She received her J.D. from the Antioch School of Law and has taught at the University of Michigan Law School.

Professor Lyon’s lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available in Structure #1 across from the Law School on Palmer Street (corner of Cass) for $3.50.

March 14, 2006 in Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Congratulations CrimProf Kevin Cole, New Dean of San Diego Law

Cole_1Congratulations to CrimProf Kevin Cole who was named the new Dean of San Diego Law School.  Dean Cole, who has served San Diego Law for nearly twenty years, will step into his new position straight from his interim deanship at the law school. 

Before joining the San Diego Law faculty in 1987, Dean Cole was executive editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and practiced law in Philadelphia. He teaches and writes primarily in the areas of evidence, and criminal law and procedure. He served as reporter for the Committee on Forfeiture in Drug Offense Cases of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. He is the co-author of both the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Handbook (Shepard's/McGraw-Hill) and the Federal Sentencing and Forfeiture Guide (Del Mar Legal Publishers).

Congratulations to Dean/CrimProf Cole on his new position! [Mark Godsey]      

March 13, 2006 in CrimProf Moves | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

St. Thomas U's Fraud Update Webpage

Here.   News, cases, links, etc.

March 13, 2006 in White Collar | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Life without Parole for Child Offenders

Human Rights Watch report here.

March 13, 2006 in Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Tulane CrimProf Challenges the Constitutionality of Louisiana's Indigent Defense Funding

MetzgerIn response to New Orlean's struggling public defender system, Tulane CrimProf Pamela Metzger filed a suit last Thursday asserting that the state's method of funding indigent defense was unconstitutional. Louisiana is the only state to finance its public defender system primarily through traffic tickets and other court fines — a financing method criticized as unreliable and inadequate at the best of times, and only exacerbated since Hurricane Katrina.

Professor Metzger said that the system created "an irreconcilable conflict of interest" for the defender's office, violating defendants' state and federal constitutional rights to effective counsel. She said indigents' defense either "could aggressively pursue the imposition and collection of fines and fees in each individual case, thereby providing its office with additional and desperately needed funding," or the office could decline to pursue such fees, which "would provide zealous representation to the individual client but forsake funds vitally necessary" to the office's other and future clients. Story from LA Times [Mark Godsey]

March 12, 2006 in Criminal Justice Policy, CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Quoted CrimProfs

Case Western CrimProf Maxwell Mehlman is quoted in this article from the PA Centre Daily Times about how the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and improved DNA technology have aided in solving cold cases throughout Ohio.  With a recent grant worth more than $600,000, the Ohio Attorney General's Office is funding what it calls "cold case squads.'' The teams allow police to identify older, DNA-related cases and spend more time re-examining evidence with the help of crime labs.

Loyola CrimProf Laurie Levenson is quoted in this article from the San Jose Mercury News about the difficulty prosecutors face in securing death sentences for victims who were serving prison time for violent crimes.  If prosecutors use a jailhouse informant, and jurors hate the informant, they won't vote for the death penalty, she says, referring to federal prosecutors' efforts to secure death sentences for members of the violent Aryan Brotherhood prison gang.

Duquesne CrimProf Ken Hirsch is quoted in this article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about a PA Commonwealth Court's decision to allow money with high concentrations of drug residue to be seized and ultimately forfeited, even though no drug charges were filed against its owners, yet.  "Confiscation has become a more valuable tool in the drug trade than criminal charges," Hirsch said. "You take the money away, you put a dent in their business."

Cleveland State CrimProf Adam Thurschwell is quoted in this article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer about a Cleveland city service called Employment Connection.  The service is part of a larger, two-year old program, Providing Real Opportunities for Ex-Offenders to Succeed, run by Cleveland's Workforce Development Division.  Employment Connection has been criticized for part of its free service, which provides employers with letters about candidates who are qualified to fill the employers' vacancies.  But the letters don't mention the candidates' status as ex-offenders, in hopes of getting employers to at least evaluate the ex-offenders in person before rushing to judgment based on their past records.

South Texas CrimProf Susan Crump is quoted in this article from the Houston Chronicle about the defense and prosecution's use of the former Enron CFO's (Andrew Fastow) wife (Lea Fastow) in the Enron (Lay/Skilling) Trial.  Lea Fastow has been used by both the government to get her husband on the stand and the defense to try to discredit him once he got there. Crump notes that usually the use of a spouse triggers settlements; so she considers this instance an exception to the norm.

[Mark Godsey]

March 12, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reader Survey

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March 12, 2006 in About This Blog | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Failed Appeals Court Nominee, Former White House Staffer, Arrested.

UNC, Duke Law grad Claude Allen, former Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, was arrested for a large scale shoplifting scheme in Maryland. Here's his resume; here's C. Boyden Gray's criticism of the Senate's failure to confirm him to the 4th Circuit, here's a review of his performance at his confirmation hearing; he failed to account for his references to "the queers."

March 12, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Corrections Corporation of America Put Human Waste in Inmate Food

Or at least some ex-employees did, the company admits.  Inmates were forced to eat the food or go hungry.

March 12, 2006 in Sentencing Corrections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)