CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, August 19, 2006

CrimProf Lee Stuesser Discusses the Defendant Testimony Decision

Stuesser2From University of Manitoba CrimProf Lee Stuesser discusses the decision of whether or not to let a defendant testify with 680 News Radio.

The decision whether to testify depends in large part on the type of case it is, said Stuesser.

If it's a question of identity, whether the suspect was involved in the crime, there's often little to be gained by testifying since the onus is on the Crown to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, there are cases that cry out for a defendant's testimony, such as sexual assault cases where consent is a key question.

Lawyers also approach cases differently depending on whether there is a jury, said Stuesser. In a jury trial, the Crown and judge can't make a negative comment if a defendant doesn't testify. But if it's a judge alone, they can consider the decision in limited circumstances where "the facts are such that call for an overwhelming response from the accused."Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 19, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Weekly CrimProf Spotlight: Robin Magee

Magee_1This week, the CrimProf Blog spotlights CrimProf Robin Magee of Hamline University School of Law.

"I believe, as the founders of this country espoused, that the greatest threat to law and order, peace and liberty is tyranny, not crime. I, therefore, believe that the highest calling of the lawyer is the call to fight against tryanny and government-sponsored or tolerated oppression. Thus, I struggle in my classes to instill in my students the knowledge of the law and the critical and analytical skills to hold the government (and everyone else) accountable to the rule of law and the rights of all people," CrimProf Magee stated.

Bringing perspective combined with current issues, Professor Magee teaches Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, Property, Police Practices, and a seminar on race and law at Hamline.

Prior to joining Hamline, Magee was a Bigelow Fellow and Lecturer of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. She has also served as a law clerk to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. While in private practice, Magee concentrated in the area of criminal, entertainment, and tax law.

Through a Bates Travel Fellowship, she was a research fellow at the University of Nairobi, where she examined Kenyan laws regulating the activities of U.S. companies operating in Kenya.

Professor Magee is involved with the Committee Seeking Equal Justice for the Minnesota Eight and serves on the executive board of the National Conference of Black Lawyers. [Mark Godsey]

August 18, 2006 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New School Holds Punishment Conference

The New School for Social Research in New York is holding a conference titled "Punishment: the U.S. Record" from November 30 to December 1. 

The conference plans to examine the foundations of our ideas of punishment, explore the social effects of current practices and search for viable alternatives to our carceral state. It is supported by the Russell Sage Foundation, the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Justice Initiative, the Ford Foundation and The J.M. Kaplan Fund and is also Cosponsored by the ACLU. More Information. . .

[Mark Godsey]


August 17, 2006 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Seattle Law Enforcement Defends Taser Use on a Deaf Man

From To Seattle police, it was a near-perfect use of a Taser -- subduing a man whose behavior might have forced a more violent confrontation, even a shooting, without the less lethal option. To Bob Ross' friends, his being electrically stunned last month was an excessive use of force brought on, they believe, because he is deaf and did not hear the officer's commands.

The department will examine whether training needs to be enhanced, but the officer's Taser use in this case was entirely appropriate, said assistant Seattle police Chief Clark Kimerer. He oversees the department's "less lethal" program, which includes Tasers, beanbag shotguns and training officers in defusing volatile situations.

"It strikes me that most officers, when confronted with that situation, would probably take similar action," Kimerer said. "The officer was in uniform, the facts about the subject's hearing disability were not known to her. She was reacting to behavior which was very troubling and threatening and needed to be dealt with." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 17, 2006 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jail Employee Accused of Placin Witnesses and Suspect in the Same Cellblock

From A former Marion County Jail employee is under investigation, accused of placing witnesses to two separate slayings in the same cellblocks as the suspects they were prepared to testify against.
La'Shawana Collins, 21, was fired Wednesday from her $20,461-a-year job as a jail clerk amid allegations she deliberately disregarded court orders and overrode jail safeguards that keep witnesses away from suspects.
"These witnesses were taken to jail with the expectation that they would be safe," Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said, "and the system put into place to protect them was deliberately overridden." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 17, 2006 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Feds Arrest 130 Heroin Smugglers

From Federal agents arrested more than 130 alleged drug traffickers from coast-to-coast Tuesday who U.S. officials said smuggled heroin from Mexico and offered phone-up home delivery like a takeout pizza shop.

Beginning before dawn, Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted arrest raids and searches, seeking up to 150 people, about half of them illegal aliens, according to senior drug enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the official announcement.

By early afternoon, the investigation had produced 131 arrests in 15 cities, from Charleston, S.C., to Los Angeles, based on 10 federal indictments and state charges, the officials said.

Officials said the ring grew its own poppies and refined them in Mexico and smuggled an unusually pure variety of black tar heroin across the U.S.-Mexican border, mostly in Arizona, with couriers on foot or in vehicles. Among other marketing strategies, the gang preyed on recovering heroin addicts. It sent street dealers out from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and operated outside methadone clinics where addicts receive treatment. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 16, 2006 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Las Vegas Starts Special Court For Curfew Violators

From Las Vegas Las Vegas gang problems intensify during the summer, police say, when teens are out of school. There were two shootings at the complex last year from May to early August. During the same stretch this year, the number rose to 11.

As this summer approached, police formulated new tactics: First, they decided to strictly enforce the city's curfew law by regularly raiding the Emerald Breeze and surrounding area to issue citations. The curfew law forbids children and teens under 18 from being outside and unsupervised after 10 p.m. on school nights, and midnight on weekends and during summer months.

But police - knowing that curfew citations rarely have been taken seriously by anyone in the system, from prosecutors to the offenders themselves - also realized they couldn't solve the problem alone, says Officer Robert Hubbard of the Bolden Area Command.

"We were wondering what we could do to stop this," says Hubbard, who serves on Metro's problem-solving unit. "We decided we needed to come at it from a different angle."

Along with prosecutors, defense lawyers, probation officers and Family Court Judge William Voy, they devised Curfew Court, a pilot program they hoped would help. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 16, 2006 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Mark Osiel Helps Yugoslavian Judges

Images2_2As the next round of war crimes trials gets underway in the former Yugoslavia, University of Iowa School of Law CrimProf Mark Osiel will help the judges prosecuting the accused to interpret international war crimes law.

Osiel will participate in a conference sponsored by the United Nations in Montenegro later this month and give a lecture addressing legal issues that might arise in the forthcoming trials of those accused of war crimes during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. The trials will be held in the national courts in the countries that have splintered from the former Yugoslavia.

Osiel will lecture on the rules in international law by which the criminal acts of military and paramilitary subordinates may be attributed to higher-ranking officers, including heads of state.

Osiel's lecture is part of a program sponsored by the United Nations Development Program's Transitional Justice Program on judicial reform and the rule of law. The UN's Transitional Justice Program is intended to strengthen the research, training, knowledge sharing and public information capacities of post-conflict social institutions and to provide access to justice for past mistreatments.  The means to achieve this will be to offer strategic policy advice assisting the government's efforts in addressing development, conflict prevention and justice issues.

Osiel is an expert in international law and human rights law. He has spoken at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and served as consultant to prosecutors of Gen. Augusto Pinochet and of perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. In addition, he regularly consults to governments in post-conflict societies on legal issues of transitional justice. His books include "Mass Atrocity, Collective Memory & the Law," "Obeying Orders: Atrocity, Military Discipline, and the Law of War," "Mass Atrocity, Ordinary Evil, and Hannah Arendt: Criminal Consciousness in Argentina's Dirty War" and "Trying Tyrants: Making Sense of Mass Atrocity."

August 16, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

CrimProf Mike Newton's Quote Attracts NY Times William Saffire's Attention

Newton_1Vanderbilt University Law School International CrimProf Mike Newton's quote in a backgrounder distributed this summer by the Council on Foreign Relations attracted the attention of New York Times columnist William Safire. Noting that proportionality in terms of military response is open to wide interpretation, Lionel Beehner, a staff writer for the Council on Foreign Relations, had quoted Professor Newton in an analysis of the doctrine of proportionality: “It's always a subjective test," Newton said, "but if someone punches you in the nose, you don't burn their house down.”

"That was an unexpectedly colorful figure of speech from a lawyer," Safire noted in a column published in the August 13 edition of the New York Times Magazine, that his researcher, Aaron Britt, tracked Newton down Baghdad, where he was finishing a stint as adviser to the Iraqi tribunal trying Saddam Hussein and other accused war criminals, for additional comment.

“The doctrine of proportionality for conducting war — the so-called jus in bello (“law in war”) — is one of the cornerstones of military professionalism," Professor Newton wrote Britt in an email quoted in the Safire column. "No responsible and lawful commander ever intentionally targets civilians. Israel in general is very clear in its targeting decisions and seeks to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties. So long as the attempt is to minimize civilian damage, then even a strike that causes large amounts of damage — but is directed at a target with very large military value — would be lawful.” [Mark Godsey]

August 15, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Scott Silliman Discusses Judge's Ruling to Allow CIA Agents to Wear Disguises While Testifying

SillimansFrom Duke University's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security Director and CrimProf Scott Silliman discusses U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle's decision to allow career CIA agents to testify in disguises and under fictictious names in the assault trial of a former civilian CIA contractor David Passaro charged with beating an Afghan detainee who later died.

"I see in Judge Boyle's statements his attempt to say this is an important trial and the public ought to be witness to it. Some media organizations began bracing for a fight months ago, expecting that much of the trial would be conducted secretly. But that hasn't happened and the CIA hasn't been subjected to much public scrutiny because it is "an assault case and nothing more," Silliman said

"What we're seeing in the Passaro trial is that the CIA as a government entity is trying to distance itself as much as possible from David Passaro by saying what he did he did outside the scope of what is expected of a CIA contractor," the professor said. "We have never thought that the outer lawyers of the (agency) would be peeled from the CIA in this case. It might be different if you were dealing with a CIA operative, an actual agent." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 15, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Homicide Rates Surge Across the Country From Cincinnati to Orlando and Houston to Columbus, Ohio, cities across the country are witnessing a rise in homicides, prompting police and other officials to take a hard look at what is fueling the bloodshed.
"I know misery loves company, and you guys in Indianapolis have lots of company with other cities that are experiencing the same surge in homicide," said James Alan Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University in Boston, where the number of homicides jumped from 64 in 2004 to 75 last year.
Nationally, the FBI reported a 4.8 percent spike in homicides from 2004 to 2005 -- the largest percentage increase in 15 years -- and the trend seems to have continued into 2006.
Marion County tallied 95 homicides from Jan. 1 through Friday afternoon, a clip that could make this the deadliest year since 162 people were slain in 1998.
Among other cities:
  • Cincinnati, with a population of about 308,000, logged 53 homicides as of Wednesday, putting it on pace to push past last year's total of 79. In 2004, there were 64 killings in that city.
  • Columbus, Ohio, had 102 murders last year, compared to 88 in 2004, and the problem isn't getting better. The city of 730,000 has seen at least 66 homicides since January -- three more than during the same time last year.
  • Houston, with more than 2 million people, had 201 homicides during the first half of the year, up more than 26 percent compared to the first six months of 2005.
  • Charleston, S.C., home to about 107,000 people, notched 13 killings as of Wednesday, surpassing its 2005 total of 11 with several months left in the year.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 15, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Panel Recommends Loosening Govt Regulations on Prison Pharmaceutical Testing

From An influential federal panel of medical advisers has recommended that the government loosen regulations that severely limit the testing of pharmaceuticals on prison inmates, a practice that was all but stopped three decades ago after revelations of abuse.

The proposed change includes provisions intended to prevent problems that plagued earlier programs. Nevertheless, it has dredged up a painful history of medical mistreatment and incited debate among prison rights advocates and researchers about whether prisoners can truly make uncoerced decisions, given the environment they live in.

Supporters of such programs cite the possibility of benefit to prison populations, and the potential for contributing to the greater good. Critics doubt the merits of pharmaceutical testing on prisoners who often lack basic health care. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 14, 2006 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Many States Attempting to Ease Offenders Back into Society

From Rhode Island is among the states beginning to make progress in easing offenders’ re-entry to society with the goal of bringing the revolving door to a halt, or at least slowing it. But sometimes it can be hard to see much of a difference.

The 1980’s and 90’s were an era of get-tough, no-frills punishment; inmate populations climbed to record levels while education and training withered. Prisoners with little chance of getting a job and histories of substance abuse were sent home without help.

Now a countertrend is gathering force, part of an unfolding transformation in the way the criminal justice system deals with repeat offenders. After punishment has been meted out and time has been served, political leaders, police officers, corrections officials, churches and community groups are working together to offer so-called re-entry programs, many modest in scope but remarkable nonetheless.

Inmates now meet with planners before their release to explore housing, drug treatment and job possibilities. Once the inmates are back outside, churches and community groups have been enlisted to take them by the hand and walk them through the transition home.

“What we’re witnessing is a great turning of the wheel in corrections policy,” said Ashbel T. Wall II, the Rhode Island corrections director. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 14, 2006 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Federal Ruling: Espionage Laws can be used to Prosecute Private Citizens

From In a ruling with potentially broad implications, a federal judge said Thursday that the Bush administration could use espionage laws to prosecute private citizens who gained access to national defense information.

The decision appears to be the first in which a court has found that citizens other than government employees can be charged for receiving and disclosing secret government information, experts said.
The ruling is a significant victory for the Bush administration, which has been trying to clamp down on media disclosures of anti-terrorism programs since the Sept. 11 attacks. At the same time, legal experts said, it could chill the ability of a broad segment of the public — including lobbyists, academics and journalists — to learn about the inner workings of government and expose misconduct or controversial programs of public interest. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 13, 2006 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Julian A. Cook III Joins University of Georgia School of Law

Images_64University of Georgia School of Law has added Julian A. Cook III as a new faculty member.

Having most recently taught as an associate professor at Michigan State University, Cook joins the law school with nearly 10 years of legal teaching experience. A former judicial clerk of Judge Philip M. Pro of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, Cook will instruct in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure and evidence. His other professional experience includes several years as an assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice for the District of Nevada and the District of Columbia, where he worked in the civil, narcotics and general criminal divisions and was a member of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Cook earned his bachelor's degree from Duke University, his Master of Public Administration from Columbia University and his law degree from the University of Virginia.

August 13, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

This Week's Top Five Crim Papers

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

1 108 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
2 95 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
3 82 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
4 74 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
5 70 Delegating Punitive Power: The Political Economy of Sentencing Commission and Guideline Formation
Rachel Barkow, Kathleen M. O'Neill,
New York University - School of Law, New York University - School of Law,
Date posted to database: June 1, 2006
Last Revised: June 19, 2006

August 13, 2006 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)