December 9, 2006
Neo-Nazi Crimes Double in Berlin
Neo-Nazi crimes in Berlin doubled from 52 to last year to 100 already this year. [Mark Godsey]
December 7, 2006
North Jersey Police Lack Machines to Stop Drunk Drivers
From northjersey.com: As the height of the holiday season approaches, police in several North Jersey communities say they soon might not be able to nab drunken drivers.
The reason: Replacement parts for Breathalyzer machines are no longer being made, and the state's highest court has kept police from employing newer technology.
Last year, at the direction of the state Attorney General's Office, police departments in 17 counties began replacing the five-decades-old Breathalyzer with the newer Alcotest, which spits out a paper reading of a driver's blood-alcohol level.
A ruling by the state Supreme Court this year forced New Jersey officials to halt the rollout, leaving four counties – Bergen, Passaic, Hudson and Essex – in DWI testing limbo.
Law enforcement officials are awaiting a ruling on the validity and scientific integrity of the new units. When that will occur – in a case that is more than a year old – is uncertain.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Jonathan Turley Discusses Meth Online Registries
From msnbc.com: Geroge Washington University Law School CrimProf Jonathan Turley discusses a new breed of criminal now is experiencing the notoriety of being outed online — people convicted of making or selling methamphetamine.
"It lets the community know that there’s someone like this in their community, because the likelihood of them going back and doing it again is high," said Georgia state Rep. Mike Coan, who is spearheading meth registry legislation. "It’s no different, really, from the sex offender (registry). If there’s one living near me, I want to know it."
The idea of posting the names of meth offenders online is gaining momentum. Four states have put in place laws to create Internet meth offender registries, two are putting final touches on similar laws, and several other proposed bills are in limbo until the state legislatures start the new session.
But critics say the registries raise legal questions, do little to protect the public and may have unintended consequences.
"The problem with these registries is that we’re creating a class of untouchables within our society who cannot rent apartments or secure employment," said Jonathan Turley, a criminal defense attorney and law professor at George Washington University. “When you diminish the likelihood that ex-felons can live and work in society, you increase the chances that they will return to criminal behavior.” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Lawyers Move to Dismiss Charges Against Alleged Terrorist Tortured in U.S.
From NPR.com: The lawyers representing accused terror operative Jose Padilla are asking a judge to dismiss the case against him. They say their client was tortured and brutalized while in a military brig in South Carolina.
They're presenting new evidence, including powerful photos and a videotape of Padilla being forced to wear sensory-deprivation gear. Listen . . . [Mark Godsey]
December 6, 2006
Feds Investigate Sexual Abuse in a Seattle Prison
From seattletimes.com:The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil-rights investigation into the King County Jail in Seattle, focusing on sexual abuse of inmates and on allegations of inadequate suicide prevention and contagious-disease control.
Lawyers from the department's Special Litigation Section met with jail and public-health officials Monday and will conduct a wide-ranging investigation that may be expanded beyond those topics. The county learned of the investigation in a letter received by King County Executive Ron Sims last month.
A report commissioned by the county and released two weeks ago found that a sexualized work environment, meager training and poor communication are among the root causes of the string of sexual-misconduct allegations against corrections officers with the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProfs Michael Scharf and Gregory McNeal's Hussein Blog Nominated for Award
"The Grotian Moment: Saddam Hussein Trial Blog," the creation of Case Western School of Law International CrimProfs Michael Scharf and Gregory McNeal, has been nominated for Best Law Blog in the 2006 Weblog Award.
The Weblog Awards are the world's largest blog competition, with over 1 million votes cast in the last three years. This year's edition is the biggest ever with 45 categories to choose from.
Grotian Moment is the only international law blog in the competition. You may vote once each day during the ten day voting period, December 7-16, 2006. [Mark Godsey]
Ghana CrimProf Henrietta Mensa-Monsu Discusses How Truth Commissions Can Help Bring Peace
From allAfrica.com: Ghana CrimProf Henrietta Mensa-Monsu discusses how a Commission on Truth and Reconciliation may help victims of conflicts in regions of Africa find justice.
The conflict in northern Uganda region has displaced over 1.7 million people now living in squalid conditions in internally displaced peoples camps. Gross human rights abuses including raping of women, brutally mutilating innocent civilians and forcefully conscripting children into rebel ranks has also characterised the 20-year long insurgency which has also left hundreds of innocent civilians dead.
Recently, peace talks between the government and the Lord's Resistance Army rebels started in the South Sudan capital of Juba, which is the most significant initiative for peace the region has seen for 20 years.
The war-affected community welcomed the talks and is willing to reconcile with their tormentors for the sake of peace. However, experts believe a comprehensive peace where communities will have to reconcile with each other is one way of addressing years of horrific suffering and human rights abuses. The government has also indicated its readiness to plan a process of national reconciliation.
According to Ms Henrietta Mensa-Monsu, a professor of criminal law in Ghana and a former commissioner on the Liberian Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, having a Truth and Reconciliation Commission would help victims seek justice and perpetrators take responsibility for their actions.
"It demands telling the truth and admitting mistakes. This is how people can reconcile with each other," she says.
But Prof. Makau Mutua, the chairperson of Kenya's Human Rights Commission in a paper presented by Gulu district chairman Nobert Mao said national reconstruction and reconciliation is not possible without truth and justice.
"It is my view that Uganda should first address its past and present crisis. This is the only route by which the current abominations that the LRA rebels have waged in the north can be permanently terminated," he says.
"That is why there is no model truth commission or peace process any where that Uganda can copy. Having had a truth commission already, Uganda needs to look beyond such an institution and think about a holistic approach to peace and reconciliation. Even if a truth commission was to be established, it would have to go beyond the narrow confines of violations of human rights."
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
December 5, 2006
Study: Young Men Experiment with Marijuana Before Alcohol
From post-gazette.com: Contrary to popular belief, smoking marijuana need not be a steppingstone between using alcohol and tobacco and experimenting with illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Researchers led by Ralph E. Tarter, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Pharmacy, found that nearly a quarter of the young men they studied used marijuana before they began drinking or smoking cigarettes.
It's the reverse of what's known as the "gateway hypothesis," in which drug use is thought to progress from alcohol and tobacco to marijuana to hard drugs.
The researchers determined also that the likelihood of developing a substance abuse problem was similar in youngsters who followed the traditional gateway drug use pattern and those who followed the reverse pattern.
"This is actually quite novel, this idea," Dr. Tarter said. "It runs counter to about six decades of current drug policy in the country, where we believe that if we can't stop kids from using marijuana, then they're going to go on and become addicts to hard drugs."
But the data doesn't support that contention, he noted. The findings were published in this month's American Journal of Psychiatry. Rest of article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Darryl Brown Moves to University of Virginia
CrimProf Brown attended the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as the executive editor to the Virginia Law Review. He then served as a Law School Faculty Research Fellow from 2001-05. He has also been a Visiting professor at University of Virginia, University of Georgia, and Rutgers law schools.
At Washington and Lee, CrimProf Brown currently teaches Criminal procedure; Evidence; Criminal law; Race & crime seminar; and White Collar Crime. [Mark Godsey]
SCOTUS Decides Lopez v Gonzales
From apnews.myway.com: The Supreme Court on Tuesday in Lopez v. Gonzalez made it easier for some immigrants convicted of drug possession under state law to remain in the United States rather than being subject to deportation.
In an 8-1 decision, the justices ruled in favor of an immigrant who pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting possession of drugs in South Dakota for telling someone where to obtain cocaine. While such a crime is a felony in South Dakota, most first-time simple possession offenses are punished as misdemeanors under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
The issue before the Supreme Court was the interpretation of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, which says immigrants found guilty of aggravated felonies are subject to deportation.
Conduct that is a felony under state law but a misdemeanor under the Controlled Substances Act is not a felony for purposes of immigration, stated the ruling by Justice David Souter. Treating a misdemeanor under the federal law as a felony "would be so much trickery."
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, declaring his colleagues' approach unpersuasive. "Whatever else 'illicit trafficking' might mean' in federal law, it must include anything defined as a drug trafficking crime," Thomas said.
The court dismissed the case of another immigrant whose case had been consolidated with that of Lopez. The court said its decision to accept the case of Reymundo Toledo-Flores had been improvidently granted. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
December 4, 2006
Farm Theft is on the Rise
From USATODAY.com: In a rising wave of rural larceny, thieves are tracking commodity prices to steal everything that grows, plows or sprinkles on the USA's farms.
California, the No. 1 state in agricultural production, reports the biggest problems. Theft rings that kept police busy last year chasing stolen artichokes, pomegranates and diesel fuel switched this year to nuts, avocados, citrus, tractors, irrigation pipe and copper wiring, says Bill Yoshimoto, the supervising prosecutor for a 13-county Central California task force on farm crime.
The task force arrested two men in a Sacramento warehouse Nov. 26 on suspicion of possessing 136,000 pounds of stolen almonds and walnuts valued at $403,000. The bust supplied leads in thefts this year of 14 truckloads of processed nuts worth $2 million, says Detective Vince Gallagher of the Merced County sheriff's department.
No national statistics are kept on rural thefts, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Yoshimoto estimates that crops and equipment worth $1 billion will be stolen nationwide this year.
Research shows that farmers report only one in 10 thefts, he says. Reported thefts in the Central Valley totaled nearly $9 million last year and will top $10 million in 2006, indicating $100 million in actual thefts there, he says. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Asia: the New Meth Powerhouse
Oregonlive.com: While Mexican cartels struggle to obtain chemicals needed to make meth, Asian meth traffickers retain easy access to ephedrine in the manufacturing countries of India and China. As a result, Asia has become a meth powerhouse that U.S. and international officials say could easily supply the United States.
"The risk is significant," said Mike Chapman, who ran the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's offices in East Asia until August. "Just by the sheer volume of methamphetamine that's being produced in this region, you would have to be naive to think that the stuff isn't going to make its way to the U.S."
Roughly 15 million of the world's 25 million users of crystal meth live in Asia, according to the United Nations. In the Philippines, where meth is known as "shabu," a government survey last year showed 10 percent of residents ages 10 to 44 had used the drug in the past six months. Fewer than 1 percent of Americans ages 12 and older reported using meth in the past year.
Asian crime syndicates meet the burgeoning demand by acquiring meth ingredients in bulk from India and China, home to eight of the world's nine leading manufacturers of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
The threat to North America was evident in August, when Indian police accused Canadian Gurdish Singh Toor, 29, of running an Indian-Chinese-Canadian network that procured hundreds of pounds of ephedrine for meth cooks in Canada. Toor spent his early years as a drug dealer in the Pacific Northwest. He was accused of selling 13,000 Ecstasy pills in Gresham in 2001 and later pleaded guilty. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
SCOTUS Let 55 Year Sentence Stand for Dealing Pot and Toting a Gun
From washingtonpost.com: The Supreme Court on Monday in Angelos v. U.S. let stand a mandatory 55-year prison sentence, condemned as excessive by the federal judge who imposed it, for a man convicted of carrying a handgun during three marijuana deals.
Record producer Weldon Angelos received the minimum sentence under the law _ a harsher sentence than a child rapist or a terrorist who detonates a bomb aboard an aircraft would receive, according to his attorneys. The justices, without comment, left the prison term undisturbed.
Angelos was convicted of 16 counts of violating federal firearms, drug and money laundering laws in 2003. The charges stemmed from his sale of three 8-ounce bags of marijuana to an undercover informant.
He had a gun but never brandished or used it. Nevertheless, the three counts of possession of a firearm in a drug transaction required the mandatory minimum sentence.
Four former attorneys general and 145 former prosecutors and judges wrote in support of a lighter sentence for Angelos. Even the sentencing judge, U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell, an appointee of President Bush, called the sentence "unjust, cruel and irrational." But he said the law left him no choice. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
December 3, 2006
Feds Use Terrorist Risk Rating System to Rank Travelers
From washingtonpost.com: Without notifying the public, federal agents for the past four years have assigned millions of international travelers, including Americans, computer-generated scores rating the risk they pose of being terrorists or criminals.
The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years.
The scores are assigned to people entering and leaving the United States after computers assess their travel records, including where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meal they ordered.
The Homeland Security Department notice called its program "one of the most advanced targeting systems in the world." The department said the nation's ability to spot criminals and other security threats "would be critically impaired without access to this data."
Still, privacy advocates view ATS with alarm. "It's probably the most invasive system the government has yet deployed in terms of the number of people affected," David Sobel, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group devoted to electronic data issues, said in an interview. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
This Week's Top Five Crim Papers
|(1)||110||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)||61||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)||51||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
|(4)||50||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
|(5)||49||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
CrimProf Jim Cohen Discusses NYPD Shooting of Unarmed Groom
From theday.com: Fordham Law School CrimProf Jim Cohen discusses the NYPD unleashing 50 bullets and shooting of an unarmed man on his wedding day.
Three days after the fatal encounter, it remains unclear what prompted the four detectives and one police officer to use deadly force while conducting an undercover vice operation at the club.
Police investigators have not interviewed the officers, in deference to a district attorney probe that could result in criminal charges, nor have the officers spoken publicly. A detectives' union lawyer, Philip Karasyk, has called the incident “a tragedy but not a crime.”
Union officials familiar with the officers' account say at least one undercover detective was convinced there was a gun in the car. They also allege that Bell defied orders to stop and used the vehicle as a weapon by bumping the undercover and ramming an unmarked police van.
Though Mayor Michael Bloomberg has suggested the amount of firepower used was “unacceptable or inexplicable,” it might not rise to the level of a crime, said Jim Cohen, a professor of criminal law at Fordham Law School.
“The number of shots fired doesn't mean anything, even though it seems a little shocking,” Cohen said. “We simply don't have enough information to draw any conclusions.” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]