CrimProf Blog

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Ohio Innocence Project Wins Second Exoneration in Five Weeks

Cincinnati Law's Ohio Innocence Project, run by CrimProf Blogger Mark Godsey, has won its second exoneration in just over one month.  On Monday, Chris Bennett's guilty plea for aggravated vehicular homicide was overturned in an unanimous panel decision by the Fifth Ohio Appellate District. The OIP presented new DNA evidence (hair and blood samples from the passenger-side of the wrecked van) expert accident reconstruction testimony and psychiatric testimony, that: 1) Bennett was the passenger, rather than the driver, in the fatal 2001 accident; and 2) he only entered a guilty plea after suffering from psychiatric amnesia caused by severe head injuries he sustained in the accident and marked by memory loss.  Despite the Appellate Court's decision exonerating Bennett, he is still in prison and may be retried if the prosecution declines to drop all charges.  Coverage of the exoneration can be found in the Canton Repository, the Akron Beacon Journal, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Cincinnati Enquirer.   

January 24, 2006 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cybercriminals = Profit-driven Techies Who Think Big

In its 2005 Global Business Security Index Report, IBM explained that the environment of cyber-crime has shifted from general virus outbreaks, to more targeted and damaging profit-seeking ventures directed at companies rather than individuals.

From Security Focus: "Cybercrime is moving from broad ego-driven outbreaks to much smaller targeted attacks aimed at stealing sensitive data or extorting money from companies, IBM stated in its 2005 Global Business Security Index Report released on Monday. The company, however, saw a major increase in the number of targeted attacks, which generally are not well covered by the media. Between two and three targeted attacks were intercepted each week in 2005, according to a summary of the IBM report." [Mark Godsey]

January 24, 2006 in White Collar | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NY Gov. Pataki Proposes Stricter Sex Crime Laws

New York Governor George Pataki proposed stricter sex crime laws, which would increase sentences for sex crimes to as much as 25 years to life for some sex crimes, and to life in prison without the chance of parole for other sex crimes. According to the propositions, the minimum sentence for conviction of a sex crime against a child would be 25 years.  Adults convicted of a serious sex crime against a child under 13 years old could spend life in prison. [Mark Godsey]

January 24, 2006 in Sentencing Corrections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Quoted CrimProfs

Cincinnati CrimProf Blogger Mark Godsey is quoted in the Cincinnati Enquirer about the Ohio Innocence Project and the Clarence Elkins case, one of its recent exonerations.

CrimProfs Bennett Gershman of Pace Law and Laurie Levenson of Loyola Los Angeles are quoted in the San Jose Mercury News about a 727 case review conducted by the Mercury News into California Sixth District Court of Appeals cases from 2002 to 2005. This article gives a review of the errors found at every phase of the trial and in every part of the system, including the prosecutors, defense attorneys, trial judges, and the appellate court.

January 23, 2006 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ohio Innocence Project and Mark Godsey Featured

Another DNA Exoneration

Case Western Law School to Host Mock Congressional Hearing on NSA Wiretap Controversy

Case_wester On December 16, 2005, the New York Times broke the story that the Bush Administration had ordered the National Security Agency to monitor international telephone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens with potential al Qaeda links without obtaining warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court. The revelation set off a ferocious political and legal debate, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter promising a Congressional hearing. Meanwhile, lawyers for convicted terrorists are seeking to re-open their cases, claiming the government may have used evidence procured through unlawful wiretapping.

To help explore the legal, practical, and constitutional issues framing this controversy, Case Western Reserve University School of Law will present a mock Congressional hearing featuring two of the country's foremost experts on national security law: Professor Ruth Wedgwood of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and Professor David Cole of Georgetown University Law Center.

The event, part of the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center's International Debate series, will take place Thursday, February 9 from 4:30-6 p.m. in Room A59 of the law school, 11075 East Blvd. It is free and open to the public, and 1.5 hours of CLE credit is available, pending approval. It will be webcast live at:

More here.  [Mark Godsey]

January 23, 2006 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Boston PD Unveil New CSI-Inspired Investigative Unit

Story.  [Mark Godsey]

January 23, 2006 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

This Week's Top 5 Crim Papers

Ssrn_9This week's top 5 crim papers, with number of recent downloads from SSRN, are as follows:

(1) 442 Economic Analysis of Law
A. Mitchell Polinsky, Steven Shavell,
Stanford Law School, Harvard Law School,
Date posted to database: November 29, 2005
Last Revised: December 16, 2005
(2) 258 No, Capital Punishment is Not Morally Required: Deterrence, Deontology, and the Death Penalty
Carol S. Steiker,
Harvard Law School,
Date posted to database: November 28, 2005
Last Revised: December 5, 2005
(3) 155 The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law
A. Mitchell Polinsky, Steven Shavell,
Stanford Law School, Harvard Law School,
Date posted to database: November 17, 2005
Last Revised: January 4, 2006
(4) 129 Punishment, Deterrence, and Avoidance
Jacob Nussim, Avraham D. Tabbach,
Bar Ilan University - Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University,
Date posted to database: November 11, 2005
Last Revised: December 2, 2005
(5) 101 Proportionality as a Principle of Limited Government
Alice Ristroph,
University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ,
Date posted to database: November 23, 2005
Last Revised: November 29, 2005

January 22, 2006 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US Army Officer Convicted of Negligent Homicide

Story here. [Jack Chin]

January 22, 2006 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Taking of Pelham BVD: They're Not Wearing Any Pants

A number of NY pranksters (their site here) were arrested for disorderly conduct in the midst of a pantsless subway ride.  Here's the statute: NY Penal Law § 240.20 Disorderly conduct . A person is guilty of disorderly conduct when, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof:
1. He engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior; or
2. He makes unreasonable noise; or
3. In a public place, he uses abusive or obscene language, or makes an obscene gesture; or
4. Without lawful authority, he disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons; or
5. He obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or
6. He congregates with other persons in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse; or
7. He creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.  Disorderly conduct is a violation.

It is clearly not 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6.  There are no facts suggesting obstruction of pedestrian traffic (5).  The question, then, is the applicability of (7), a hazardous or offensive condition, without legitimate purpose.  If street mimes are legal (a big if), then street absurdist comedy should be also.  In any event, how is walking around in shorts hazardous or offensive?  From the photos what these people were wearing could be swim trunks or gym shorts, no naughtly bits showed.

Indeed, another provision of the Penal Law addresses indecent exposure, and it does not cover this.  Shouldn't that give rise to a "safe harbor"? See NY Penal Law Section 245.01: "A person is guilty of exposure if he appears in a public place in such a manner that the private or intimate parts of his body are unclothed or exposed. For purposes of this section, the private or intimate parts of a female person shall include that portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola. This section shall not apply to the breastfeeding of infants or to any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment."

My prediction: If challenged, the case will be dismissed; skits and protests have not been held to constitute disorderly conduct in the absence of some specific interference with pedestrian traffic or something else that arguably fits into one of the categories.  People v. Losinger 63 Misc.2d 577, 313 N.Y.S.2d 60 (City Ct. 1970);  People v. Mehdi, 29 N.Y.2d 824, 277 N.E.2d 673 (N.Y. 1971).

I mean, for crying out loud, the idea that seeing someone walking around in shorts would alarm New Yorkers is preposterous. [Jack Chin]

January 22, 2006 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)