February 4, 2006
LAPD using GPS Dart to Track Fleeing Felons
Story here; thanks to BoingBoing.
Court TV: Stupid Criminal Tricks
Kids Abducted Six Years Ago Found in Traffic Stop
A mom who stole her kids to avoid a court order was arrested when the kids were found in a traffic stop. Hats off to the cop who made that collar; he or she must read a lot of milk cartons.
Grampa Munster, Scottsboro, Sacco and Vanzetti Defender, Dies
RIP Al Lewis, Officer Leo Schnauser on Car 54 Where are You?, who, according to this obit, was a long time fighter against unjust convictions. According to ABC:
"Lewis' first political work was for the Sacco and Vanzetti defence committee. Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian anarchists, were executed in Massachusetts in 1927 for a double murder and robbery amid doubts about their guilt.
Lewis worked in the 1930s to free the Scottsboro Boys - nine black teenagers accused of raping two white women in another highly publicised case."
MD: Witness Intimidators Hammered
"Form a crime watch," citizens are urged if they don't like crime in their neighborhood. But reporting crime can induce retaliation. In Maryland, Federal Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced some drug criminals who attempted to firebomb a neighborhood activist's home to more than 80 years in prison. [Jack Chin]
Arsons Strike Alabama Churches
Who WIll Guard the Guardians: NASA IG Investigated
The NASA Inspector Geneal--the person in charge of making sure everyone has followedt he law and rules--is under investigation by an FBI-supervised presiential watchdog agency. The IG is suspected of not investigating complaints of retaliation against whistleblowers. [Jack Chin]
DNA Washed Away in New Orleans?
Inmates and their lawyers fear that exonerating DNA samples might have been lost in the storm and flood. However, authorities say that many Dna samples were saved from the basement of the Orleans Parish Criminal Court before the flood hit. [Jack Chin
MI: Teacher Criminal Records Checks Generate False Hits
A Michigan law designed to catch criminals working in the schools has identified many teachers as felons who in fact have no records. Similar names, ages and birthdates flag innocent teachers.
The Detroit Free Press reported:
The Michigan State Police ran the background checks on about 200,000 school employees, using identifiers such as name, date of birth, Social Security number, race and sex, said Tim Bolles, identification and criminal history section manager for the State Police.
The checks found more than 4,600 criminal offenses, of which 2,200 were felonies, the Associated Press has reported. Anyone with a sexual offense must be immediately fired. Employees with felonies and certain misdemeanors can keep their jobs only if their superintendent and school board take action to allow it.
The Michigan Education Association, a union that represents school employees statewide, said it had gotten about 200 calls on the subject in the last two days, mostly from employees who had been confronted with what they said was incorrect information. [Jack Chin]
February 3, 2006
UPDATED Convenience Store Etiquette 101
When you ask a convenience store clerk to microwave a friend's urine to help you pass a drug test: 1) don't use metal; and 2) don't use a hollow, fake penis known as the whizzinator. Because, as cooperative as the clerk wants to be, the clerk will become alarmed, think she is microwaving a severed penis, and call the police. Then you'll have more to worry about than losing your job. [Mark Godsey] BREAKING NEWS: Pair charged.
Director Arrested in Drag
A director of James Bond movies has been arrested for soliciting an undercover cop while dressed in women's clothing, testing once again the principle that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
February 2, 2006
Animal Cruelty Meets Drug Trafficking
From Findlaw.com: (AP) - NEW YORK- "Colombian drug dealers turned puppies into couriers by surgically implanting them with packets of heroin. Investigators believe the ring used the dogs, as well as human drug swallowers, to conceal millions of dollars in liquid heroin on commercial flights into New York City for distribution on the East Coast. Ten puppies were rescued during a 2005 raid on a farm in Colombia, the Drug Enforcement Administration said, while announcing more than 30 arrests. A veterinarian had stitched a total of 3 kilograms of heroin into the bellies of six pups. Three later died from infections after the drugs were removed. The surviving dogs "are still alive and well, we're told," said John P. Gilbride, head of the DEA's New York office. Colombian police said they adopted three dogs, one of which was being trained to sniff for drugs. It was unclear how many dogs might have been used in the overall smuggling scheme." Story. . . [Mark Godsey]
Findlaw's Supreme Court Awareness Survey
From Findlaw.com: "According to a December 2005 national survey conducted by FindLaw, only 43 percent of American adults can name at least one justice who is currently serving on the nation's highest court. Fifty-seven percent of Americans can't name any current U.S. Supreme Court justices.The percentages of Americans who could name each current justice were as follows:
- Sandra Day O'Connor - 27%
- Clarence Thomas - 21%
- John Roberts - 16%
- Antonin Scalia - 13%
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg - 12%
- Anthony Kennedy - 7%
- David Souter - 5%
- Stephen Breyer - 3%
- John Paul Stevens - 3%
The national survey used a representative sample of 1,000 adults nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points." [Mark Godsey]
February 1, 2006
In Brain Scans We Trust?
Story. . . [Mark Godsey]
Convicts Encouraged to Join Military
Salon reports that the military is granting waivers to prospective enlistees with blemishes like drug dealing convictions on their records. [Looks like you can get to the whole story through a link here without registering]
87 year old Bride Marries 49 Year old Sex Offender
"Who are we to judge?" says the convict's lawyer.
Justice Alito's First(?) Vote
Is for a stay in a death case (order here). I'm not sure it is really his first vote, however, because of this order list. A bunch of them say "Justice Alito took no part" etc., but the first one (Crosby v. Rutherford) does not. It looks like he participated in that one. (John Marshall Crimprof Timothy O'Neill emails that Justice Alito was not a Justice when Crosby was decided, so there was no need to note his non-participation.) [Jack Chin]
Albany Law Conference on Capital Punishment Featuring Unabomber Ted Kaczynski's Brother
David Kaczynski, brother of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and executive director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, will be one of several speakers at an Albany Law School Public Forum on the moral and legal issues surrounding capital punishment.
The forum will feature other prominent speakers: Terence L. Kindlon, Esq., Kindlon and Shanks, P.C.; Alex Bunin, Federal Public Defender for Northern New York and Vermont, and Professor Daniel G. Moriarty, Albany Law School.
The event will be held on Thursday, February 9, at 5:00 p.m. in Room 200 on the second floor of the Law school's main building.
The forum is sponsored by the Albany Law School Civil Liberties Union, the ALS Democrats, and the ALS Black Law Student Association. For more information, contact Jeffrey Nieznanski at (518) 459-8614 or email@example.com. [Mark Godsey]
The Constitution Project's Death Penalty Initiative Releases "Mandatory Justice: The Death Penalty Revisited"
"[Yesterday], the members of the Constitution Project’s bipartisan, blue-ribbon Death Penalty Initiative released an updated set of guiding principles for reform of death penalty systems in the United States. [The Constitution Project is a "bipartisan nonprofit organization that seeks consensus on controversial legal and constitutional issues through activism and scholarship."] Timed to correspond with an important death penalty hearing in the Senate Judiciary Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights Subcommittee, Mandatory Justice: The Death Penalty Revisited examines problems and solutions relevant to all capital punishment systems in the United States.
“We all have different perspectives on the death penalty and the criminal justice system, but Mandatory Justice lays out the basic principles that simply must be part of any fair and accurate death penalty system,” said the Honorable Gerald Kogan, co-chair of the Death Penalty Initiative. “Given the great impact of these issues, both on our legal system and in the lives of so many Americans, the committee found it critical to identify both specific weaknesses and specific solutions relevant to any capital punishment system. The Constitution Project has once again drawn a bipartisan constitutional road map for us to follow.”
Justice Kogan is a former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court and the former Chief Prosecutor, Homicide and Capital Crimes Division, of Dade County, Florida. He co-chairs the Death Penalty Initiative committee with the Honorable Charles F. Baird, a former judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; and Beth A. Wilkinson, Esq., who was a prosecutor in the Oklahoma City bombing case. They have ably led the committee – which comprises current and former FBI officials, state attorneys general, religious leaders, victims of crime, and academics in addition to other experts and community leaders – through a multi-year inquiry into a topic of critical importance in American society.
The death penalty has received significant attention in recent months and years as problems with accuracy and fairness have surfaced repeatedly. New biological testing methods have exonerated many people previously convicted of capital crimes; serious mistakes and even misconduct in crime labs have called trial results into question; and continued problems with the quality of and resources for defense services plague many state systems.
In Mandatory Justice: The Death Penalty Revisited, the Death Penalty Initiative committee moves beyond philosophical differences about the death penalty itself, instead identifying specific improvements that can address some of these problems and ultimately serve all stakeholders in the system. The Constitution Project, renowned for its ability to move beyond politics and find broad political consensus on some of the most complicated constitutional and policy questions facing our nation today, once again provides a common-sense road map for reform.
The Constitution Project’s Death Penalty Initiative was established in 2000...In addition to the co-chairs, the Initiative is guided by a professionally and ideologically diverse committee of criminal justice experts, including CrimProfs Margaret Paris of Oregon Law; Professor Andrew E. Taslitz of the Howard Law; and David I. Bruck of Washington and Lee, who directs the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse.
The full text of Mandatory Justice: The Death Penalty Revisited is available at www.constitutionproject.org. [Mark Godsey]
BREAKING NEWS: CrimProf Marc Miller Joins the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
Emory CrimProf Marc Miller has accepted an offer to join the faculty at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, where he will be the Ralph Bilby Professor. Marc, a visitor at Arizona in the 2005-06 academic year, is an expert in sentencing, and is the co-author of a Criminal Procedure casebook and a Sentencing casebook. A graduate of the University of Chicago law school, he was at the Office of Legal Counsel before joining Emory law school in 1988. Carol Rose, a longtime Yale faculty member, also joined the Arizona faculty this year as the Lohse Chair in Water Law and Natural Resources. A warm CrimProfBlog welcome to both. [Jack Chin]