November 27, 2006
Russia Fights Corruption by Convicting Crooked Prosecutors
From NYTimes.com: Two Russian prosecutors were convicted of corruption and sentenced Monday to four-year prison terms in a maximum-security prision for taking a $10,000 bribe from a construction company chief.
The verdict follows President Vladimir Putin's call last week for stronger efforts to combat corruption in law enforcement and judicial structures.
Although Russia has made fighting corruption a major goal, the problem has worsened at all government levels since Putin came to power in 2000. The global anti-corruption group Transparency International estimates that the level of graft has jumped as much as sevenfold since 2001.
Corrupt officials are estimated to take bribes of $240 billion a year, an amount almost equal to the state's entire revenue, a senior prosecutor said earlier this month.
Russia is near the top of Transparency International's scale of corruption, at No. 121 out of 163 in 2006, along with such countries as Rwanda and Burundi. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
The "CSI" craze has hit Miami, Vegas, NYC, jury boxes, and now, parenting. Many parents across the country are swabbing the insides of their children's mouths to get a DNA sample just in case they need it if the youngster is kidnapped, runs away, or suffers a terrible accident. The "insurance policy" of sorts they hope to never use. Kits are being distributed by private companies, police stations, and orthodontists, ranging in cost from free to $60, and including a photo, fingerprints, a collection swab, and a special envelope in which to put the DNA sample. Story from MSNBC.com. . . [Michele Berry]
Extended Stay for National Guard in New Orleans
After six crime-related deaths over Thanksgiving weekend, the New Orleans police chief plans to ask the governor to keep National Guard troops in New Orleans through June 2007. The Guard was supposed to end its stay at the end of 2006. Soldiers began patrolling New Orleans neighborhoods last June 2006 after five teenagers were killed in a shooting. The Guard focused on areas most devastated by Hurricane Katrina so police could focus on higher-crime areas. Since June, 300 National Guard troops have patrolled New Orleans and assisted in about 1,400 arrests. The soldiers cannot make arrests, but they can detain people until a police officer arrives. Story from washingtonpost.com. . . [Michele Berry]
Death Penalty News
Kentucky Supreme Court Upholds State's Lethal Injection Process: The Kentucky Supreme Court rejected claims by death row inmates that the state's lethal injection process risks wanton and excruciating pain in violation of the ban on cruel and unusal punishments. The Court upheld a 2005 lower court ruling similarly rejecting the claims of inmates Ralph Baze and Thomas C. Bowling. In its unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court held: "Conflicting medical testimony prevents us from stating categorically that a prisoner feels no pain. But the prohibition is against cruel punishment and does not require a complete absence of pain." Story from Death Penalty Information Center. . .
Mentally Ill on Death Row: There is growing concern among national mental health and legal organizations regarding inmates on death row who are severely mentally ill. Many of these inmates had been exhibiting clear signs of mental illness at the time of their crimes, and some, like Scott Panetti in Texas and Guy LeGrande in North Carolina, were allowed to represent themselves at trial, despite their bizarre behavior. Mr. Panetti, who was hospitalized 14 times for mental problems prior to his trial, represented himself in a cowboy suit and tried to subpoena Jesus Christ. The trial devolved at times into chaos and gibberish. Mr. LeGrande, who is scheduled to be executed on December 1, represented himself wearing a Superman T-shirt and called the jurors "Antichrists." UPDATE: Guy LeGrande's execution in North Carolina was stayed pending a 60-day mental health evaluation. Story from DPIC. . .
Florida Schedules Last Execution of 2006, Non-English Speaking Pro Se Inmate: The last execution scheduled for 2006 involves a Florida inmate, Angel Nieves-Diaz, who defended himself at his trial and needed an interpreter because he did not speak English. Diaz, a native of Puerto Rico, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1986 for a murder in connection with a robbery of a bar in Miami in 1979. The case sat idle for 5 years until an accomplice, who was already serving a life sentence, came forward implicating Diaz. The accomplice received another life sentence. Story from DPIC. . . [Michele Berry]
November 26, 2006
CrimProf Alan Young Discusses Shifting Burden of Bail to the Accused
From TheStar.com: Osgoode Hall Law School CrimProf Alan Young recently discussed the Canadian federal government's tabled legislation that would reverse the onus at bail hearings for those accused of serious crimes involving guns.
Instead of requiring Crown attorneys to establish why an accused person should not be released, the new law would shift the burden to the person charged to show why he or she should be granted bail.
"It's a part of the criminal justice process that's remained largely invisible to empirical research," said CrimProf Alan Young.
"Proposing reverse onus (provisions) is a complete shot in the dark, because we don't know if the current regime is effective," he said. "We don't have any real sense of compliance rates or the recurrence of violence while out on bail." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Michael Hoffheimer and Son Write "The Beatles and Philosophy"
University of Mississippi School of Law CrimProf Michael Hoffheimer and his 17-year-old son have co-authored a chapter in the book "The Beatles and Philosophy."
The contribution of Michael and Joseph Hoffheimer discusses the songs of Beatles member George Harrison and argues that Harrison's interest in Eastern philosophy added depth to the Beatles and helped change the course of Western popular culture.
Father and son agree that their work on the project was enjoyable. "My dad did most of the actual writing, but I compiled a chronology, contributed ideas and proofread," Joseph said.
The co-authors learned a lot about Harrison in writing the chapter. Professor Hoffheimer said he was surprised to find out that George the Beatle first saw a sitar while filming HELP! and soon was studying the Indian instrument and recording with it. Joseph added, "I learned a lot about George's post-Beatle career, such as his Concert for Bangladesh, which included Ravi Shankar, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Billy Preston and Ringo." [Mark Godsey]
This Week's Top Five Crim Papers
|(1)||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
|(2)||59||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
|(3)||46||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
|(4)||42||Disposing of Children: The Eighth Amendment and Juvenile Life Without Parole After Roper |
Hillary J. Massey,
Date posted to database: August 29, 2006
Last Revised: August 29, 2006
|(5)||40||Confirmation Bias in Criminal Investigations |
Barbara O'Brien, Phoebe C. Ellsworth,
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Psychology, University of Michigan Law School,
Date posted to database: July 5, 2006
Last Revised: September 22, 2006