CrimProf Blog

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

Monday, February 20, 2006

Holocaust Denier Imprisoned for 3 Years in Austria

Historian David Irving got 3 years for denying the holocaust in Austria.  Is there a difference, I wonder, in punishing him for his opinions, and the negative reactions of Muslims to depictions of their Prophet?  Both acts are deeply offensive to some, clearly would be protected speech in the U.S.  Irving was punished by due process of law, not a riot, but perhaps that's a technicality.  I think the best distinction is the when-in-Rome argument.  You'd better be prepared to obey the laws in force where you are, even if they are not good.  But people in Land B can't expect compliance with their laws or customs in Land A.  So if Irving had peddled his nonsense in the U.S., he would have had the benefit of U.S. law, and Austria should not be able to punish him.  If Irving had burned a U.S. flag here, he could have expected a punch in the nose.  But if he did so in Austria, it would be different--I don't think any group can expect other groups to be as sensitive to their cultural traditions as they themselves are. [Jack Chin]

February 20, 2006 in International | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Kenneth Starr's Client Faces Execution Today

Former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr recently voiced concerns about the way the death penalty is being applied. Starr, who now serves as Dean of the Pepperdine Law School, is assisting in the representation of death row inmate Michael Morales, who is scheduled for execution today in California. Starr said, "Society is not equipped to handle death penalty cases because of resources. Large law firms are not willing at this stage to take these cases on, at a cost of many thousands of dollars, in order to make sure that if the public wants the death penalty, it is not administered with arbitrariness and caprice." More. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 20, 2006 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Out with the Sex, in with the New

In response to criticism and concern, the Spotsylvania, VA County Sheriff has suspended the policy allowing his deputies to receive sexual services in efforts to ferret out massage parlor prostitutes. [Mark Godsey]

February 20, 2006 in Law Enforcement, Sex | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Russia: Charges Over Anthrax-Infected Beef

War Have we gone far enough past the Cold War where it is OK to cite TASS?  If so, story here.  If not, never mind. [Jack Chin]

February 20, 2006 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mississippi: Sex Offenders in High Places

Jackson, Mississippi (AP): The state of Mississippi plans to plaster the names and faces of convicted sex offenders on billboard advertisements along local highways. The agency hopes to have as many as 100 billboards ready by summer with pictures and names of sex offenders who are currently in prison. The signs will include details about the prisoners' convictions. 

But Nsombi Lambright, head of the American Civil Liberties Union in Mississippi, raised the obvious question and concern. "Why is it necessary to put them on billboards if they're already serving?" she asked. It'll just be a big waste of money. Story from Findlaw. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 20, 2006 in Sex | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

This Week's Top 5 Crim Papers

Ssrn_10This week's top crim papers, with number of recent downloads from SSRN, are as follows:

(1) 160 Law, Science, and Morality: A Review of Richard Posner's 'The Problematics of Moral and Legal Theory'
John Mikhail,
Georgetown University - Law Center,
Date posted to database: January 24, 2006
Last Revised: February 6, 2006
(2) 142 Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate
John J. Donohue, Justin Wolfers,
Yale Law School, University of Pennsylvania - Business & Public Policy Department ,
Date posted to database: December 19, 2005
Last Revised: February 10, 2006
(3) 89 Giarratano is a Scarecrow: The Right to Counsel in State Capital Post-Conviction Proceedings
Eric M. Freedman,
Hofstra School of Law,
Date posted to database: January 6, 2006
Last Revised: February 1, 2006
(4) 79 The Second Death of Capital Punishment
J. Richard Broughton,
United States Department of Justice - Capital Case Unit,
Date posted to database: January 26, 2006
Last Revised: February 12, 2006
(5) 77 The Japanese American Cases - A Bigger Disaster than We Realized
Eric L. Muller,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - School of Law,
Date posted to database: February 6, 2006
Last Revised: February 15, 2006

February 20, 2006 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

9th Cir Condemns Secret State-Snitch Deals

In a spate of recent opinions, the 9th Circuit has taken aim at deals between prosecutors and witnesses that aren't disclosed to defense counsel. Senior 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Trott, who each year lectures new prosecutors on the perils of using criminals as witnesses, says he's glad the court is taking such a hard line. "Snitches are only interested in one thing: their freedom," he said. Covering up such a deal, Trott said, is a clear violation of a prosecutor's duty to follow the law. More from The Recorder. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 19, 2006 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Racial Profiling Statistics Lead to Police Reform

GarrettIn this article, Professor Brandon Garrett from Virginia Law's Center for the Study of Race and the Law, discusses how political pressure, lawsuits, and the U.S. Department of Justice's efforts to track and compile statistics on police-use of racial profiling, encouraged the New York Police Department to reform their policies. "This whole movement (away from NYPD's use of racial profiling) says interesting things about police and their openness to change, but also the circumstances where pressure can lead to something more constructive, even in situations where it seemed like lawsuits were doomed to fail," Garrett said.

He explained that class-action lawsuits challenging racial profiling were often doomed to fail, because Fourth Amendment jurisprudence often clashes with these suits' use of equal protection theories to demonstrate that race is a motivating factor for police action.  After all, "reasonable suspicion" has been defined to include something as subjective as spotting someone in a neighborhood where the individual appears to be out of place. In short, police are allowed to use race as one, but not the only factor.  For example, in one case, police stopped all young black men in a mostly white town, looking for cuts on their hands, after an elderly woman was raped by a man matching that description. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a dismissal of the case because the stop was based not only on race but on sex and age. Nevertheless, the public and political pressure that these suits have provoked, has encouraged such police reforms, not only in New York, but also in Florida and Ohio. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 19, 2006 in Race | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Alaska: Suspicionless Frisks Argued in Supreme Court

What if someone in a high crime area engages in no behavior giving rise to reasonable suspicion or PC, but the police want to frisk them anyway during consensual questioning?  No good, according to the Alaska Court of Appeals (opinion here), but the prosecution has appealed. [Jack Chin]

February 19, 2006 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Another Article on the CSI effect

Here.   "There is no debating, however, one clear, very widespread result of these programs: The justice system is now facing what legal experts call, "the CSI effect," a TV-bred demand by jurors for high tech, indisputable forensic evidence before they will convict. " But it is debatable; here's a story about research done by criminal defense lawyer turned media prof. Kimberlianne Podlas at UNC-Greensboro debunking the CSI effect.  [Jack Chin]

February 19, 2006 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Boston: Police Use Broken-Windows Theory to Fight Crime

Boston cops will soon be slapping fines of up to $300 for "quality-of-life crimes" such as loud parties and allowing abandoned cars to litter neighborhoods. Acting on the broken-windows theory that urban decay feeds on itself, Boston city officials touted a new ordinance system designed to speed up the punishment for quality-of-life crimes that are rarely prosecuted or that clog up the courts and police resources. Issuing a summons now for something like letting junk cars pile up might take three trips to court before a hearing is even held, but now police will be able to issue $20 fines on the spot. More from the Boston Herald. . . [Mark Godsey]

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

Forfeitures Returned to Communities

Now here's an interesting idea: Take forfeited drug profits and other property seized from criminals and use it for the benefit of local communities.  It now often seems that the reward for living in a high-crime area is that  people and dollars somehow flow elsewhere. [Jack Chin]

February 19, 2006 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Drug Lords in Indian Country

The New York Times has an interesting story on drug dealers in Indian Country.  The close-knit communities and distinct jurisdiction help criminals avoid investigation and prosecution.  Story here. [Jack Chin]

February 19, 2006 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

White Supremacist Dopers Arrested after 15 Years as Fugitives

Two brothers wanted since the early 1990s for weapons and explosives chagres were arrested in New Mexico. "Military-style helmets, bullet-resistant vests and a marijuana-growing operation were found on the property that was heavily guarded by motion detectors and dogs, officials said.  . . . the two also might have tried to domesticate mountain lions."  Story here.

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