CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, August 12, 2006

CrimProf Robert Batey Discusses Claiming Mental Incompetence After A Guilty Plea

Batey_3From Stetson University College of Law CrimProf Robert Batey speaks to the St. Petersburg Times about Kristina Gaime's new motion stating she was not mentally competent when she accepted her plea deal in a 1999 murder-suicide plot.

In the midst of a custody dispute with ex-husband Stephen Rotell, Gaime was accused of drugging the boys, ages 6 and 8, loading them into her minivan with her and starting the engine in a closed garage.

By pleading guilty last year to second-degree murder and second-degree attempted murder, Gaime got a 20-year prison sentence, but she would likely only have to serve up to 12 years. The deal avoided a possible life sentence and spared Gaime's surviving son from having to testify against his mother.

Now Gaime, referring to herself in the third-person as the "defendant," says she is seeking "post-conviction remedies because she believes ... that she was not competent to stand trial and was not mentally competent at the time she entered a voluntary plea."

Legally, Gaime has a tough road ahead, said CrimProf Robert Batey. "It's common for these types of claims to be made," he said. "It's uncommon for them to succeed." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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

Friday, August 11, 2006

Weekly CrimProf Spotlight: Judy Olingy

JudyThis week, the CrimProf Blog spotlights CrimProf Judy Olingy of the University of Wisconsin Law School. 

Judy Olingy joined the Law School's Frank J. Remington Center in 1988. The focus of her work has been clinical legal education and federal criminal postconviction law. She primarily has worked in the Center's Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons Project (LAIP) where her students learn the practice and theory of lawyering as they represent their clients at the federal prison at Oxford, Wisconsin.

In their role as lawyers, students concentrate on the fundamentals involved in becoming reflective practitioners who are engaged in a problem-solving profession. In keeping with the law school's tradition of law-in-action, the students learn that the law is but one of the many tools they must use as lawyers in solving their clients' problems. In 2003, Prof. Olingy started the Clinical Semester course at the law school. Second and third year-law students enroll exclusively in the LAIP Oxford project during the fall semester for 13 clinical credits and a two credit seminar. The Clinical Semester affords students an immersion clinical experience in which they can concentrate on learning the practice and theories of lawyering.

Prof. Olingy obtained her undergraduate degree from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1977, and graduated from Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C. in 1980. After graduation, she engaged in private law practice, specializing in complex federal litigation and federal labor law. She joined the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a staff attorney in 1984. Thereafter, she worked as a trial attorney in the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington from 1985-1988. She first worked in the Fraud Section, prosecuting white collar fraud cases with multi-state connections; and later transferred to the General Litigation Section, where she counseled numerous federal agencies, engaged in international negotiations concerning jurisdictional questions surrounding international crimes, and continued to investigate and prosecute federal crimes.

Prof. Olingy had the opportunity to teach a course on American criminal sanctions at Justus Liebig Universitat in Giessen, Germany. As a result of that course, law students from Giessen have started participating in LAIP during the fall semester, under Prof. Olingy's supervision, as a means of fulfilling some practice requirements necessary for earning their law degrees. Prof. Olingy is married to Nick Chiarkas, the Wisconsin State Public Defender.

August 11, 2006 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission Fuels a Trend and a Debate

From The creation of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission fits in with a broader national inquiry into the moral responsibility of legal executions. In North Carolina, it was primarily those who work inside the justice system who helped bring about the commission.

It's an idea with appeal: Lawmakers in at least 12 other states - including Texas, where nearly half of all executions take place each year - are considering filing similar legislation next year, according to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

"North Carolina is now the center of gravity in the death penalty debate," says David Elliot of the coalition. "That's significant because the death penalty increasingly is a Southern phenomenon."

There are 188 convicts in North Carolina on death row. After the high-profile exonerations of death row inmate Alan Gell and "lifer" Darryl Hunt in the state, a judicial review committee found a proliferation of both large and small mistakes that cast a shadow on the state's justice system. For one: 80 percent of freed prisoners were exonerated because of faulty eyewitness accounts. That opened some eyes, including those of then-Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake.

"We realized we had a problem and that we needed to take a look at what was causing these wrongful convictions and how we might correct the mistakes that were being made," says Judge Lake, a conservative jurist and death penalty supporter who led the reform effort.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 10, 2006 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bullet Serial Numbering Bill Gains Support

From Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William J. Bratton added their support Wednesday to a bill requiring gun manufacturers to build handguns that would stamp bullet casings with serial numbers — an innovation intended to speed investigations by making it easier to link bullets to the weapons that fired them.

The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood), would only affect the manufacture of new semiautomatic handguns, but Bratton and others said it would aid officers in investigating gun violence.

Proponents say the etching technology would imprint each gun's serial number on bullet casings when the firing pin of the weapon struck the cartridge. They argue that such microscopic imprinting could not be easily tampered with because other identifying marks would reveal what gun fired the bullet. By cross-checking bullet casings with existing state databases on gun purchases, authorities say they could quickly figure out what gun had fired the bullets recovered from a crime scene.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 10, 2006 in Evidence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Zero Tolerance Programs are Backfiring

From "Zero tolerance" discipline policies that are enforced widely in U.S. schools are backfiring: They may be promoting misbehavior and making students feel more anxious, the American Psychological Association (APA) said Wednesday.The group called for more flexibility and common sense in applying the policies, reserving zero tolerance for the most serious threats to school safety.

Zero-tolerance policies spread in the 1990s as a tool to fight drug use and violence on campuses. Schools often suspend or expel students for having weapons or drugs, which can include over-the-counter medicine, says educational psychologist Cecil Reynolds of Texas A&M University. Verbal threats, fighting or sexual harassment also can get kids booted, he says. "There are cases such as the kindergarten boy who hugged two classmates. His teacher reported him for sexual harassment, and he was suspended."

"The 'one-size-fits-all' approach isn't working. Bringing aspirin to school is not the same as bringing cocaine. A plastic knife isn't the same as a handgun," Reynolds says. He led an APA panel that summarized research on the topic. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 10, 2006 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Central Florida Gets Tough on Truancy

From Truancy is out of control across Central Florida, and school officials in Orange and Osceola counties are turning to police and the state attorney for more help in convincing parents that their children must be in school.

Beginning with this year's start of school, parents of Orange and Osceola students with five unexcused absences in a month or 10 in three months may be in line for a serious talk with a law-enforcement officer.

The reasoning is simple. Educators say kids can't learn if they're not in school, and students and schools both end up with poor grades when the truancy rate is high. Law-enforcement agencies also cite a link between truancy and juvenile crime, drug abuse and teen pregnancy. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 9, 2006 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Violence is Increasing in Cali Bay Area

From A random, violent crime wave is sweeping the most urban parts of the Bay Area, producing 150 killings in Oakland, San Francisco and Richmond, and inspiring controversial initiatives to help stem the murderous tide.

In Oakland, where recent victims have included innocent grandmothers and teenagers, homicides are nearly on pace to shatter a 13-year record. This summer, killings are happening, on average, every three days.

"There is a new viciousness in street culture,'' said Andrés Soto, Alameda County health department's violence prevention coordinator. On Tuesday, a 17-year-old allegedly shot at an Oakland officer who killed the youth in return fire. "Violence as a first strike response is part of the national culture now.'' Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 9, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Donna K. Coker Joins New Criminal Law Review

Dcoker2_1 University of Miami School of Law Associate Dean CrimProf Donna K. Coker has been invited to join the Editorial Board of the New Criminal Law Review: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal ("NCLR"), which will take over from the Buffalo Criminal Law Review in early 2007.

The Buffalo Criminal Law Review has been in existence for 10 years, during which time it has quickly established itself as one of the leading journals in the field of criminal law. Academic interest in criminal law has expanded enormously over the last few years, however, and the new journal will reflect the range of this new scholarship – in theoretical and historical approaches as well as its increasing internationalism.

CrimProf Coker is a 1991 graduate of the Stanford Law School. She holds a B.S.W. degree from Harding University and an M.S.W. from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. After serving as a litigation associate in a major Palo Alto, Calif., law firm, Professor Coker became a lecturer and resident scholar at the Stanford Law School. She joined the Miami faculty in 1995. Combining her background in social work with her experience in the law, Professor Coker has become nationally known in the area of domestic violence. In addition, she has done consulting work in criminal law, particularly in domestic homicide cases, and in family law cases with regard to custody litigation when spouse abuse is alleged. She teaches family law and substantive criminal law, as well as seminars on domestic violence, race, gender, crime and the criminal justice system. [Mark Godsey]

August 9, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Retired Detectives are Volunteering to Review Cold Cases

From From Los Angeles to Maryland, the hot trend in cold cases is special units of retired detectives who are coaxed off the golf course to comb old files for new leads.

These retreaded sleuths usually work two days a week as unpaid volunteers to bone up on DNA evidence and other new wrinkles in a case. They combine science with their street savvy in questioning witnesses to relieve overloaded staff detectives of some of law enforcement's most tedious work.

Police agencies nationwide "are recognizing that these old cases are not to be filed away and lost," says Max Houck, director of a forensic science program at West Virginia University. "Many of them can be rejuvenated. Retired investigators have time to go back and reflect on interviews and photographs." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 8, 2006 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Oklahoma Lethal Injection Challenged in Federal Court

From Death by lethal injection faces a significant challenge in federal court today in Oklahoma City, with doctors contending that the state's method creates an unnecessary risk that a condemned inmate will suffer excruciating pain, in violation of the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Like challenges to lethal injection in several other states — including California — the one in Oklahoma contends that although lethal injection is supposed to be more humane than earlier execution methods, it often masks a painful death.

All of the suits allege that there is a significant possibility that an inmate does not receive enough of the first drug — a short-acting barbiturate — to be sufficiently sedated to not experience pain caused by the second two drugs, a paralytic and potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 8, 2006 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

L.A. Crime Decreases as Surrounding Area Crime Increases

A Times analysis of FBI statistics shows that crime rates rose in some outlying areas of California, such as San Bernardino County's high desert, at the same time they declined in many of Southern California's largest cities, led by a 36% drop in the rate of violent crime in Los Angeles.

Property crimes — including burglaries and car thefts — dropped 53% in Los Angeles while climbing 19% in Riverside County between 2000 and 2005. Property crime rates also rose in a quarter of large Orange County cities.ehicle theft increased dramatically in several cities, including Moreno Valley, 62%, and San Bernardino, 55%.

The analysis examined crimes per 100,000 people, taking into account population growth during the six years studied.

Even with the increases, these outlying cities recorded far less violent crime overall than Los Angeles. With 807 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, Los Angeles had one of the state's highest rates in 2005. But rates in several outlying cities, including Riverside, Ontario and San Bernardino, surpassed Los Angeles in property crimes, The Times analysis found. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 8, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 7, 2006

M&M Prison Artist Disciplined for Selling Paintings for Charity

From A prison artist in California who uses the dye from M&M’s for paint has been disciplined for what a prison official yesterday called “unauthorized business dealings” in the sale of his paintings. The prison has also barred the prisoner, Donny Johnson, from sending his paintings through the mail.

Mr. Johnson’s work has been on display for the last several weeks at a gallery in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Twenty of his paintings have been sold, for $500 each. Mr. Johnson had donated the paintings to the Pelican Bay Prison Project, a charity which says it will honor Mr. Johnson’s wish that it use the proceeds from the show to help the children of prisoners.

According to a “serious rules violation report” issued by the prison last month, Mr. Johnson ran afoul of a corrections department regulation that prohibits engaging in a business or profession without the warden’s permission. The regulation defines a business as “any revenue-generating or profit-making activity.”

Francisco Jacquez, the chief deputy warden at Pelican Bay State Prison, in Crescent City, Calif., said the violation could extend Mr. Johnson’s sentence or restrict his privileges. “There are some consequences, and that’s what we use to maintain discipline in prison,” Mr. Jacquez said, declining to be more specific. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 7, 2006 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Adele Bernhard Discusses the Difficulty for Exonerees to be Compensated for Time Lost

BernhardFrom Pace University Law School CrimProf Adele Bernhard explains that U.S. legal procedure does not assist wrongfully convicted exonerees in receiving compensation for the time lost in prison.

Herman Atkins spent eight years in a California prison for a rape he didn't commit. When prosecutors in Riverside County realized he was the wrong man, they got a judge to release him. But the goodwill ended there -- now that Atkins is suing for compensation for his lost years, prosecutors are fighting him hard. His chances of winning any money for what the 40-year-old son of a California Highway Patrol officer calls a police frame-up that ruined much of his adult life are far from certain.

"They often have no recourse because our legal procedures don't accommodate that kind of case," said Bernhard. "If the police hit Atkins with a flashlight, that's easy," Bernhard added. "But if police action results in you getting put in jail for 20 years, the law is far behind."

The issue over what Atkins needs to show to win reflects the hazardous legal landscape facing people nationwide who have been erroneously convicted.

Just being exonerated does not automatically bring compensation: The onus is on the ex-convicts to prove their cases under a patchwork of sometimes-tough legal requirements, even in states such as California that have unjust-conviction laws.

Since DNA evidence started clearing convictions in 1989, the compensation issue has become more acute. The new technology has helped to release 144 people nationwide between 1989 and 2003, according to a University of Michigan study. But the law often leaves them and the hundreds of other wrongfully convicted defendants without any other remedy. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 7, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

North Carolina Creates U.S.'s First Innocence Inquiry Commission

From North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley signed into law Thursday the creation of the country's first state panel to evaluate felons' innocence claims.

The N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission will start reviewing such claims Nov. 1.

The commission's proponents say it will address inadequacy in the current criminal appeals process. The panel will focus on determining whether a defendant received a fair trial as opposed to evaluating guilt or innocence. Several North Carolina inmates who were later exonerated had to file as many as 11 appeals before they were freed.

"As a state that exacts the ultimate punishment, we should continue to ensure that we have the ultimate fairness in the review of our cases," Easley said in a statement.

The eight-member panel will consist of a judge, prosecutor, defense lawyer and others. Five of the eight members must agree that a defendant deserves judicial review. Then a three-judge panel must unanimously agree that a defendant has presented "clear and convincing evidence" of factual innocence to be exonerated. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 7, 2006 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 6, 2006

CrimProf Sean O'Brien Wins ABA Journal Ross Essay Contest

Obrien_2 University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law Crimprof Sean O'Brien has been named the winner of the American Bar Association Journal’s Ross Essay Contest.

Sean O’Brien won for his essay titled “Finding Redemption,” which retraces a final conversation the professor had with Doyle Williams, a death row inmate facing the final hours of his life. O’Brien, who teaches criminal law, has represented countless death row inmates since working his first death penalty case in 1983. O’Brien hopes his essay will help humanize death row inmates.

“It’s way too easy to judge people and there’s a human tendency to consider yourself superior to others,” O’Brien said. “We should resist that as lawyers.”

O’Brien first met Williams in 1990 when he became director of the now defunct Missouri Capital Punishment Resource Center and, while not serving as his attorney, O’Brien had a close working relationship with Williams. In a self-deprecating tone, the essay brings to life the human side of one of this nation’s most contested issues. [Mark Godsey]

August 6, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Weekly Top 5 Crim Papers

Ssrn_17_13The top 5 crim papers for this week, with number of recent downloads, on SSRN are:

1 179 A Brief History of Information Privacy Law
Daniel J. Solove,
George Washington University Law School,
Date posted to database: July 10, 2006
Last Revised: July 27, 2006
2 101 Originalists, Politics, and Criminal Law on the Rehnquist Court
Rachel Barkow,
New York University - School of Law,
Date posted to database: June 22, 2006
Last Revised: July 13, 2006
3 84 The Multiple Dimensions of Tunnel Vision in Criminal Cases
Keith A. Findley, Michael Scott,
University of Wisconsin Law School, University of Wisconsin Law School,
Date posted to database: June 23, 2006
Last Revised: June 23, 2006
4 73 Well Excuse Me! - Remorse, Apology, and Criminal Sentencing
Jeffrie G. Murphy,
Arizona State University College of Law,
Date posted to database: June 23, 2006
Last Revised: July 25, 2006
5 70 The Death Penalty's Future: Charting the Crosscurrents of Declining Death Sentences and the McVeigh Factor
Scott E. Sundby,
Washington and Lee University - School of Law,
Date posted to database: June 15, 2006
Last Revised: June 21, 2006

August 6, 2006 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Iowa Supreme Court Upholds AIDS Spreading Conviction

From A man convicted of having unprotected sex with four people while knowing he carried the virus that causes AIDS was denied appeals Friday by the Iowa Supreme Court.

The court said Adam Donald Musser, who is serving 50 years in prison for criminal transmission of HIV, deserved a long sentence because intentionally exposing someone to the virus "is just like the first-degree robber who attempts to inflict serious injury on his victim."

The high court rejected several constitutional arguments in Musser's appeal, including that the state law requiring a carrier of HIV to notify a partner violates the First Amendment protection against forcing speech against one's will. The court ruled that the state law promotes a compelling state interest and is narrow enough in scope to be constitutional. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 6, 2006 in Sex | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)