CrimProf Blog

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

Monday, November 20, 2006

O.J.'s "If I Did It" T.V. Special and Book Cancelled

The clouds have parted and the sun shines through--News Corp. has cancelled the O.J. Simpson T.V. special and book, "If I Did It," in which O.J. was to speak in hypothetical terms about how he would have committed the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.  I guess News Corp. realized that the chances of O.J.'s account being a real confession were about as likely as Steve Forbes being identified as the "anonymous author" of the attacks on Grenator Dob Bole and At Buchanan in "Election Colors," the "fictional" account of the 1996 Republican primary dedicated to lovely wife Telen Torbes, and beautiful daughters Tatherine, Tabina, Taberta, Taura and Telizabeth Torbes. [Michele Berry]  Find out what average Americans are saying about the cancellation of Simpson's confession book here

November 20, 2006 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

China: Innocent Man Exonerated, Causes China to Rethink Death Penalty

She Xianglin could have been executed for the murder of his wife.  He was charged with murder after police found an unidentifiable woman's body in a pond some weeks after Mr. She's wife disappeared.  But the judge, who had doubts about his case, sentenced Mr. She to 15 years in prison instead of adding his name to the thousands put to death each year.  He is one of the extraordinarily rare cases in China where a convicted murderer did not receive the death penalty.  Eventually, his wife turned up, alive, and farming pigs. And he was released from prison after 11 years wrongfully served.  Because of Mr. She's case, beginning in January, the Chinese Supreme Court will review every death sentence handed down in China.

From No one knows how many people are executed in China each year. That number is a state secret. However, Amnesty International estimates that at least 1,770 people were executed last year and 3,900 were sentenced to death — more than in the whole of the rest of the world put together. Chinese legal experts say that the actual number may be far higher.

The decision to restore to the Supreme Court the right to review all death sentences was motivated not only by a series of reports in the increasingly courageous Chinese media of miscarriages of justice. Debate about the widespread and arbitrary use of the death penalty has also raged in recent years.  China holds that the death penalty should be used sparingly. However, the number of capital crimes has more than tripled since China promulgated its criminal law in 1980, many of the additions being non-violent or economic crimes such as VAT and insurance fraud. Today nearly 70 crimes qualify as capital offences, ranging from stealing pigs or cattle to hooliganism. More from . . [Michele Berry]

November 20, 2006 in Capital Punishment, Exoneration Innocence Accuracy, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Flying Foreign Flag = Crime...

Unless an American flag is flying above it. Scofflaws face criminal penalties: a $50 fine and 30 hours of community service. From This is where we've arrived in this country: You have the constitutional right to burn an American flag, but you can get into trouble for simply flying a foreign one.  At least you can in the 30,000-person town of Pahrump, Nevada, which is close to Las Vegas and even closer to stepping over the line with an idiotic, intolerant and insulting ban on foreign (read: Mexican) flags. The town council voted last week, 3-2, to approve an ordinance that makes it illegal to display a foreign flag -- unless an American flag is flown above it. Pahrump resident Michael Miraglia proposed the ban because, he said, he got upset when he saw immigrant activists marching through U.S. cities last spring, waving Mexican flags. Mr. Miraglia told USA Today that he was especially miffed that "we had Mexican restaurants closed that day...For the record, I don't think people should wave flags of countries they left behind or celebrate one country while demanding rights from another. But just because you'd like to see a given outcome -- i.e., immigrants putting foreign flags in mothballs -- doesn't mean you should use the coercive power of government to bring it about. The end does not justify the means." More Commentary from . . . [Michele Berry]

November 20, 2006 in Civil Rights | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (1)

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals: Above "the Law"?

Above the law?  Well, it depends on what you consider "the law."  According to a Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) plurality, in Ex Parte Medellin: (1) an International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision (Case Concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals from March 2004) and (2) presidential directive from GW Bush ordering states to comply with that ICJ decision, do not constitute binding federal "law"--therefore, the ICJ Avena decision (holding that the US denied the rights to consular notification and consultation in violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention to 49 Mexican nationals (including Jose Ernest Medellin) sentenced to die in Texas and other states) and Bush directive, do not preempt the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Texas CCA is in no way bound to review a death row inmate's case.

For these reasons, the CCA chose to follow Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 11.071 §5(a).  This Article confines the court's authority to consider the merits or grant relief of a death row inmate's successive state habeas writ application to the limited instances when the inmate could not have previously presented the claim because the legal basis for the claim was unavailable.  According to the CCA, the Bush directive and the ICJ's decision in Avena do not qualify as previously unavailable factual or legal bases for filing a successive writ.  Here are the plurality and concurring opinions in Ex Parte Medellin.  Full story from Texas Lawyer. . . [Michele Berry]

November 20, 2006 in Capital Punishment, International, Sentencing Corrections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Democrats Move Quickly to Make Ethics Proposal

From Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate, mindful that voters in the midterm election cited corruption as a major concern, say they are moving quickly to finalize a package of ethics changes for consideration as soon as the new Congress convenes in January.

Their initial proposals, laid out earlier this year, would prohibit members from accepting meals, gifts or travel from lobbyists, require lobbyists to disclose all contacts with lawmakers and bar former lawmakers-turned-lobbyists from entering the floor of the chambers or Congressional gymnasiums.

None of the measures would overhaul campaign financing or create an independent ethics watchdog to enforce the rules. Nor would they significantly restrict earmarks, the pet projects lawmakers can anonymously insert into spending bills, which have figured in several recent corruption scandals and attracted criticism from members in both parties. The proposals would require disclosure of the sponsors of some earmarks, but not all. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

November 19, 2006 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stunned UCLA Student Files Suit

From The UCLA student stunned with a Taser by a campus police officer has hired a high-profile civil rights lawyer who plans to file a brutality lawsuit.

The videotaped incident, which occurred after the student refused requests to show his ID card to campus officers, triggered widespread debate on and off campus Thursday about whether use of the Taser was warranted. It was the third in a recent series of local incidents captured on video that raise questions about arrest tactics.

Attorney Stephen Yagman said he plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing the UCLA police of "brutal excessive force," as well as false arrest. The lawyer also provided the first public account of the Tuesday night incident at UCLA's Powell Library from the student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a 23-year-old senior.

He said that Tabatabainejad, when asked for his ID after 11 p.m. Tuesday, declined because he thought he was being singled out because of his Middle Eastern appearance. Yagman said Tabatabainejad is of Iranian descent but is a U.S.-born resident of Los Angeles.

The lawyer said Tabatabainejad eventually decided to leave the library but when an officer refused the student's request to take his hand off him, the student fell limp to the floor, again to avoid participating in what he considered a case of racial profiling. After police started firing the Taser, Tabatabainejad tried to "get the beating, the use of brutal force, to stop by shouting and causing people to watch. Generally, police don't want to do their dirties in front of a lot of witnesses."

Watch the footage. . .  Rest of Article. . .  [Mark Godsey]

November 19, 2006 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

This Week's Top Five Crim Papers

Ssrn_17_23The top 5 crim papers for this week, with number of recent downloads, from SSRN are:

(1) 225 The Fourth Amendment in Cyberspace: Can Encryption Create a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy?
Orin S. Kerr,
George Washington University - Law School,
Date posted to database: September 4, 2006
Last Revised: September 5, 2006
(2) 153 Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Readiness for Rehabilitation
David B. Wexler,
University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law,
Date posted to database: September 8, 2006
Last Revised: September 14, 2006
(3) 106 Structural Reform Prosecution
Brandon L. Garrett,
University of Virginia - School of Law,
Date posted to database: September 20, 2006
Last Revised: September 24, 2006
(4) 58 Whimsical Punishment: The Vice of Federal Intervention, Constitutionalization, and Substantive Due Process in Punitive Damages Law
Jenny Miao Jiang,
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law (Boalt Hall),
Date posted to database: October 12, 2006
Last Revised: October 30, 2006
(5) 45 Finding Bickel Gold in a Hill of Beans
Douglas A. Berman,
Ohio State University - Michael E. Moritz College of Law,
Date posted to database: September 13, 2006
Last Revised: September 13, 2006

November 19, 2006 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)