CrimProf Blog

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chiquita Pleads Guilty to Paying Terrorists

From Chiquita Brands International pleads guilty to making protection payments to a terrorism group in Colombia.

As The Los Angeles Times reporter Josh Meyer tells Robert Siegel, the money went to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, which the U.S. government classified as a terrorist group in 2001.

Lawyers at Chiquita had warned the company about making the payments, which flowed through its Banadex subsidiary. The group had threatened Chiquita's workers in the region.

Chiquita sold Bananex in June 2004, but it continues to purchase Colombian bananas through the company today. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 20, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ohio Plans to Link All Courts to One Website

From Ohio Supreme Court hopes to launch an online site by December that within two years could contain legal records from all 385 Ohio courts - from the high court down through the municipals.

"Ohio cannot afford not to do this," said Chris Davey, spokesman for Chief Justice Thomas Moyer. "Under the current system, a person could commit domestic violence in Cuyahoga County and move to Medina County, and the courts would not have 100 percent ability to know about that previous offense."

The Ohio Courts Network - discussed within the legal community since 2003 but with nothing tangible to report to date - received a big boost last week when Gov. Ted Strickland included the idea in his state budget lineup.  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 20, 2007 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Wisconsin Man Freed By DNA Testing

From Steven Avery, who became the public face of efforts in Wisconsin to free wrongly convicted prisoners, was found guilty Sunday of killing Teresa Halbach in a verdict that made American legal history.

Avery is only the second person to be convicted of a serious crime after being freed from prison through DNA testing and the first such person to be subsequently convicted of killing someone, according to the national Innocence Project.

The verdict in the murder of Halbach, a 25-year-old photographer, means Avery, 44, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

The jury, which found Avery guilty of being a felon in possession of a gun in addition to first-degree intentional homicide, acquitted him of mutilating Halbach's corpse.

Avery's attorneys said the homicide and mutilation verdicts appeared inconsistent, and they indicated they would file court motions on that issue in coming weeks. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 19, 2007 in DNA | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

University of Miami Hosts Death Penalty Symposium

BaldusThe University of Miami School of Law is holding a symposium on the twentieth anniversary of McCleskey v. Kemp, where a panel of distinguished legal scholars, including Professor David Baldus, will explore the legacy of the McCleskey decision and whether it ultimately created an impenetrable barrier to the use of statistics in the context of the death penalty.  The symposium will also discuss the social, historical and statistical connection between race and the death penalty; the problem of unconscious racism will also be a central focus.

The symposium will feature:

  • Professor David C Baldus: Author of the Baldus study presented to the Supreme Court in McCleskey v. Kemp
  • Professor Stephen B. Bright: Former Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights
  • Christina Swarns: Director of the Criminal Justice Project of the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc.Professor
  • Donald M. Jones:A Professor at the University of Miami School of Law and a Leading Legal Scholar in the Area of Civil Rights [Mark Godsey]

March 19, 2007 in Symposiums | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

10 Iraqis' Clever Plan To Trick British Authorities: Switch Spots With a Visitor

From Ten Iraqis being held in a British military detention center in Basra carried out an audacious escape plan over the past several days: they switched places with visitors, British authorities said.

An 11th detainee was missing, but no one appeared to have been substituted for him, British authorities said. The detention center is at a British base on the outskirts of Basra.

The escape came to light on Thursday, when it became apparent that “one person was not who he said he was,” said a spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. The military began to investigate and found that nine other detainees were also substitutes. The real ones had walked out the door, apparently after swapping clothes with their willing stand-ins, British officials said.

The substitutions were carefully plotted, and the imposters “were remarkably well prepared,” the spokesman said. “They looked the same,” he said. “They knew the stories of the people they were substituting for. It was quite a sophisticated effort, very carefully planned.”

Because none of the detainees who escaped had yet been charged with a crime, the British military would not provide any details about their cases or the facility in which they were held, including its size or the length of time that they had been held there.

British officials said that security was now tighter, but that when detainees received visitors before, there had been little monitoring.“They are allowed a large number of visitors, and we are not allowed to stand over them when they are visiting them,” the spokesman said.

There has been no decision how to deal with the imposters, but they are likely to be charged with having assisted the escape, the military spokesman said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 18, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Summer CrimProf Job Opprotunity at the Seattle University Law School

Seattle University School of Law invites applications for visiting faculty to teach Criminal Law in its Summer 2007 term.  The Criminal Law course is a 4-credit course and is offered as an option to entering 1st year students.  For those students who exercise the summer option, Criminal Law is the only course that they take, and it is taught in a compressed schedule, meeting Monday through Thursday from either 3:00-5:10 p.m. or 6:00-8:10 p.m. from June 18th through July 26th

Compensation for summer visitors is $2500 per credit hour, for a total of $10,000 for Criminal Law and includes an extra $2000 to help defray travel expenses.  Housing is not provided, but assistance in finding housing is available.  Needless to say, summer in Seattle is a glorious time of year.

Seattle University School of Law, with 1,100 students and a current student-faculty ratio of 16-1, educates ethical lawyers who distinguish themselves through their outstanding professional skills and their dedication to law in the service of justice.  Faculty, students, and staff form a vibrant, diverse, and collaborative community that promotes leadership for a just and humane world. The Law School's commitment to academic distinction is grounded in its Jesuit Catholic tradition – one that encourages open inquiry, thoughtful reflection and concern for personal growth. Innovation, creativity and technological sophistication characterize our rigorous educational program, which prepares lawyers for a wide range of successful and rewarding careers in law, business and public service.

Seattle University, founded in 1891, continues a 450-year tradition of Jesuit Catholic higher education.  The University’s Jesuit Catholic ideals underscore its commitment to the centrality of teaching, learning and scholarship, of values-based education grounded in the Jesuit and Catholic traditions, of service and social justice, of lifelong learning, and of educating the whole person.  Located in the heart of dynamic Seattle, the University enrolls approximately 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students in eight colleges and schools.  Students enjoy a university ethos characterized by individualized faculty attention, a strong sense of community, a commitment to diversity, and an outstanding faculty. Seattle University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer.

If interested, please email a letter of interest and resume to:  Annette E. Clark, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, at [Mark Godsey]

March 18, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

OSU College of Law CrimProf Joshua Dressler Named Distinguished Scholar

070319_dresslerFrank R. Strong Chair in Law CrimProf Joshua Dressler is one of only six faculty members at The Ohio State University to be named a 2007 Distinguished Scholar. OSU President Karen Holbrook recently visited his class to personally present the Award.

The Distinguished Scholar Award recognizes exceptional scholarly accomplishments by senior professors and is particularly appropriate given Professor Dressler's widely adopted casebooks on criminal law and criminal procedure, and more than thirty influential and constantly cited law review articles.

In 2003, Professor Dressler founded, with his exceptional colleagues and inspired Moritz students, the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law (OSJCL), which soon became one of the top two leading specialty journals is criminal law. In what some say establishes him as first among equals in the field, he was asked by publisher McMillan to be editor-in-chief of the four-volume Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, a compilation of top scholars' analyses of the most important contemporary criminal law issues.

The OSU award also recognizes the character and collegiality that define extraordinary scholars. Throughout his academic career, Professor Dressler has demonstrated courage in taking on the most difficult criminal issues, both substantive and societal. Respect and civility characterize his commentary on and critiques of colleagues' work.

Professor Dressler is a generous mentor to younger scholars and he serves as a role model for students. Cheryl Collins Gutridege '03, who served as chair of the founding board of OSJCL, recounts, "Although it is very common for graduate students and faculty to collaborate in most areas of higher education, it is relatively rare in law school. Professor Dressler created a system where student participants in the OSJCL were essentially treated as peers in a peer-edited journal. This collaboration was the defining experience of my education at the Moritz College of Law."

In a note to the Moritz community that demonstrates his wisdom transcends criminal law, Professor Dressler expressed his thanks, "Receiving an award is largely a fluke... In all matters of life, luck - good or bad - has a lot to do with results. Things sometimes come together the way you want them to, sometimes they don't. Ultimately, what really matters, what we all really should hold on to in life, are friendships and kind words and deeds from others. I received the award because of kind words from within Moritz and outside and hard work by the Dean, Associate Dean Donald B. Tobin, and others (I don't know who all of the persons are who have participated). Those words and deeds are what mean so much to me, recipient or non-recipient." [Mark Godsey]

March 18, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Difficulty of Prosecuting Voter Fraud

From Allegations of voter fraud are not only difficult to prove, they're likely to prompt bipartisan debate.

And how voter fraud complaints were handled is one the issues emerging from the growing furor over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Some of the attorneys who were dismissed were accused of failing to aggressively pursue Republican complaints of voter fraud. The White House concedes it passed along such complaints to the Attorney General's office.

John McKay, the former U.S. attorney in Seattle, said he was accused of mishandling voter fraud when he interviewed at the White House for a federal judgeship. The specific question: why he had mishandled the investigations into voter fraud connected to Washington's very close 2004 gubernatorial election. That election was won by a Democrat. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 17, 2007 in White Collar | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 16, 2007

CrimProf Spotlight: Markus Dubber

Dubber_markusAfter attending Harvard College and Stanford Law School, Markus D. Dubber served as a judicial clerk for Gerard Bard Tjoflat, then chief judge of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. After a year as a Bigelow Fellow at the University of Chicago, he began teaching at SUNY in 1993. In 2000-2001, he held a Humboldt Research Fellowship at the Institute of Legal Philosophy, University of Munich, and spent the fall of 2001 as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

Dubber is the founding director of the Buffalo Criminal Law Center and the founding editor of the Buffalo Criminal Law Review. He is a member of the American Law Institute and of the Editorial Board of the Law & History Review. [Mark Godsey]

March 16, 2007 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Study Results: Nearly Half of College Students Binge Drink or Abuse Drugs Once a Month

From Nearly half of America's 5.4 million full-time college students abuse drugs or drink alcohol on binges at least once a month, according to a new study that portrays substance and alcohol abuse as an increasingly urgent problem on campuses across the nation.

Alcohol remains the favored substance of abuse on college campuses by far, but the abuse of prescription drugs and marijuana has increased dramatically since the mid-1990s, according to the study released today by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.

CASA, which called on educators to move more aggressively to counter intensifying drug and alcohol use among students, first studied students' drug and alcohol habits in 1993. Today's report — the center's second on the subject — involved a survey of 2,000 student and 400 administrators as well as analyses of six national studies. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 15, 2007 in Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Brenda Blom Organized The First Community Justice Symposium

BblomFor University of Maryland School of Law Clinical CrimProf Brenda Bratton Blom, instilling respect for public service and access to justice is the building block of a legal education. To that end, Blom organized the first national conference on community justice, held at the law school.

The symposium attracted close to 300 academics, judges, lawyers, and representatives of nonprofit, community, and faith-based organizations to share innovative approaches to addressing crime and providing an effective alternative to the traditional criminal justice system.

"The symposium is about supporting a larger conversation in our society about criminalizing poverty," said Blom, associate professor at the School. "When we send someone to prison for a minor drug offense, can we live with that choice?"

"We're teaching students how to prosecute analytically and to look at the courtroom and ask who's coming through and what communities are being impacted," Blom added. "We're asking, 'What are the lawyer's skills that make a difference in a community's capacities to solve problems?'"

The morning keynote speaker, Elijah Anderson, PhD, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City, described how people living in dense urban areas sometimes view the world differently.

"Murder is so common in black neighborhoods that it barely makes the newspaper," he said. "You'll find the story in the back, back section of the paper. Black people say,'Well, when a white person is killed, that's front page news.' They see a huge discrepancy between how crime is covered in their neighborhood. And this really supports the idea of alienation in the inner city and the code of the street."

Anderson said many black men, poor and undereducated, search fruitlessly for work.

"We have so many people competing for jobs-white, black, immigrants, young, old-that the poor inner city male doesn't stand a chance," he said. "They're thrown back on the streets. The question a young man asked me many years ago still rings in my ears: 'Dr. Anderson, why is it so hard for me to get a job but so easy for me to sell drugs?'"  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 15, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Clinical Law Student Featured on CBS Show on Sex Offender Restrictions

From CBS Salmon Chase College of Law clinical student Margie Slagle was featured on the CBS Early Show's story about sex offender residency restrictions.  Watch Now. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 15, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Journalist Jeffrey Rosen Discusses NeuroLaw

From Journalist Jeffrey Rosen is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine. His article titled "The Brain on the Stand: How neuroscience is transforming the legal system" appeared in the March 11 issue.

It's about an emerging field of study called "neurolaw," which combines neuroscience and the law. He writes about how evidence from brain-scanning technologies are being used in the courtroom to explain away criminal behavior.

Rosen is also the author of the book The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 14, 2007 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Racial Discrimination is at Issue With Kentucky Juries

From While the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear -- lawyers can't use race to pick a jury -- in Jefferson County, Kentucky, prosecutors are removing African-American jurors at a higher rate than white jurors, especially when the defendants are black. And defense lawyers are removing whites at much higher rates than blacks, in part because they say they are trying to even the playing field, a Courier-Journal analysis shows.

This is occurring while a commission of judges, lawyers and citizens tries to find why African Americans are underrepresented on Jefferson County juries.

The commission's works follows a 2005 Courier-Journal series that found that people who live in predominantly African-American areas of Jefferson County are less likely to serve on juries than those who live in mostly white areas.

University of Iowa law professor David Baldus said the data suggest "systemic racial discrimination" in how Jefferson County prosecutors and defense attorneys are choosing jurors.

"It's the same old story: Blacks are not welcome in the eyes of prosecutors and welcome in the eyes of defense attorneys," said Baldus, who has written extensively on the subject and consulted for courts on racial issues. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 14, 2007 in Race | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reports Founder in Which White House Originally Suggested Firing All U.S. Attorneys

From The White House suggested two years ago that the Justice Department fire all 93 U.S. attorneys, a proposal that eventually resulted in the dismissals of eight prosecutors last year, according to e-mails and internal documents that the administration will provide to Congress today.

The dismissals took place after President Bush told Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in October that he had received complaints that some prosecutors had not energetically pursued voter-fraud investigations, according to a White House spokeswoman.

Gonzales approved the idea of firing a smaller group of U.S. attorneys shortly after taking office in February 2005. The aide in charge of the dismissals -- his chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson -- resigned yesterday, officials said, after acknowledging that he did not tell key Justice officials about the extent of his communications with the White House, leading them to provide incomplete information to Congress.

Lawmakers requested the documents as part of an investigation into whether the firings were politically motivated. While it is unclear whether the documents, which were reviewed yesterday by The Washington Post, will answer Congress's questions, they show that the White House and other administration officials were more closely involved in the dismissals, and at a much earlier date, than they have previously acknowledged.

Seven U.S. attorneys were fired on Dec. 7 and another was fired months earlier, with little explanation from the Justice Department. Several former prosecutors have since alleged intimidation, including improper telephone calls from GOP lawmakers or their aides, and have alleged threats of retaliation by a Justice Department official. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 14, 2007 in Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

CrimProf George Dix Criticizes Texas Proposed Stand Your Ground Bill

GdixsgFrom the University of Texas CrimProf George Dix recently criticized Texa's New bill that would allow private citizens to take whatever means necessary to defend their lives and property from criminal intrusion — including the use of deadly force. The state legislature is currently considering the bill

The proposed law, which is likely to breeze through the state Legislature later this session, would protect private citizens from criminal prosecution or civil liability if they kill or injure an intruder threatening their home, business or vehicle. Currently, law only allows a property owner to use deadly force if all other ways of escaping the intruder have been exhausted.

Cases like this demonstrate that the “stand your ground” bill is an unnecessary piece of legislation, said CrimProf George Dix.

“I find it hard to believe that any Texas grand jury would indict someone who could legitimately claim self defense,” he said. “When you’re thinking about whether to shoot someone or not, I don’t think you’re considering the letter law.” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 13, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Alan N.Young Discusses The Ongoing Drama in Canada's Longest Murder Case

AlanFrom Osgoode Hall CrimProf Alan N. Young recently discussed the the attorney general’s decision to refuse to re-screen the central witness in Canada’s longest running and most expensive murder trial even though he committed perjury, concocted evidence, and hinted that his ability to recall information in a looming retrial would hinge on how much he got paid for it.

This isn’t the first murder case that has dragged on for years before someone eventually puts it out of its misery, says CrimProf Alan N. Young.

Part of the problem is that prosecutors and police develop fixed, subjective opinions about a suspect’s guilt and then scrape the bottom of the barrel to find evidence even when they can’t objectively succeed because they believe the suspect is guilty.

Then when the court of appeal quashes the conviction and sends it back for a new trial, they don’t decide that they might not have proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but simply try harder.

“There’s a very distinct standard of proof in criminal law,” says Young. “If the police and prosecutors don’t believe they meet that standard, even if they believe the person is guilty, the only solution is to walk away. You can’t have perfect justice. This is not the heavens. It’s the criminal courts.” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 13, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Marc Falkoff Reveals that Yemeni Detainees Should Have Been Released Years Ago

FalkoffFrom A U.S. lawyer and Northern Illinois University School of Law CrimProf Marc Falkoff revealed that the U.S. military decided years ago that some Yemeni detainees were eligible for release from the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, but they remain in prison until today.

“Some of your countrymen were cleared for release by the U.S. military years ago. Just days ago, after we threatened legal action, the Pentagon revealed previously classified information to us – the names of Yemeni prisoners at Guantánamo who are eligible for immediate transfer back to Yemen, including three of my clients. Some of the men on the military’s list were eligible to return to their home countries at least as early as June 2004,” noted CrimProf Falkoff, who for the past three years has represented 17 Yemenis being detained by the U.S. military at Guantánamo Bay.

According to a list the Yemeni government received from the U.S., approximately 107 Yemenis remain at Guantánamo; however, lawyers and human rights activists say 150 Yemeni detainees remain at the camp.

“Fully one-third of the Saudis are back in Saudi Arabia, more than half of the Afghanis are home with their families and every single European national has been released from Guantánamo. Yet, more than 100 Yemenis remain at the prison – sitting in solitary confinement on steel beds, deprived of books and newspapers, slowly going insane,” Falkoff confirmed.

He added, “The U.S. doesn’t hear the voices of the Yemeni people. You aren’t speaking loudly enough to your representatives, pressuring them to reach an agreement with the U.S. for the repatriation of your citizens. With respect, some of us are concerned that your politicians don’t feel obliged to negotiate the return of your sons and brothers.”

Falkoff criticized the Yemeni government, which so far has failed to reach an agreement with the U.S. to return the Yemeni detainees. “We lawyers have been frozen out of the process, so we can’t tell you exactly what the hold-up has been, but the Yemeni government appears to be anxious that a handful of these more than 100 detainees don’t have adequate proof that they are Yemeni citizens.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 13, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Monday, March 12, 2007

New Study States that Over Confident Witnesses Can Hurt More than the Under Confident

A new study authored in part by a University of California Professor Robert J. MacCoun of public policy and law throws cold water on a common theory that a confident witness who errs in trial testimony is still more credible than a less confident witness who similarly slips up.

The researchers concluded that self-assured witnesses who make a mistake - even on issues of little importance - undermine their credibility by raising doubts about their competency, their ability to judge their own abilities and their motivations.

"People giving testimony, or advice, or opinions should therefore be careful to express appropriate degrees of confidence in their assertions," the researchers write in a summary of their report in the January issue of the journal Psychological Science. "Otherwise, the 13th stroke of the clock will cast the other 12 in doubt."

The researchers included Robert J. MacCoun of UC Berkeley, a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy and at the School of Law (Boalt Hall); Elizabeth Tenney, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Virginia; Barbara Spellman, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia; and Reid Hastie, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago.

MacCoun said the team's findings challenge the frequent tendency of attorneys to pressure their witnesses to project a strong sense of confidence and to minimize the use of hedges like "I think" or "maybe." Academic experts encounter similar pressures when asked to testify before policy makers, he said. But this first-of-its-kind study shows that such a strategy can backfire if a cocky witness gets caught in a mistake. Rest of Story. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 12, 2007 in Reports | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Police Brutality on the Streets of Zimbabwe

From Police assaulted and tortured Zimbabwe's most prominent opposition leader after breaking up a protest prayer meeting, leaving him with deep gashes on his head and shoulders, colleagues said Monday.

The organizers of the ''Save Zimbabwe'' meeting -- an alliance of opposition, civic, church leaders and student and anti-government groups -- said lawyers reported that Morgan Tsvangirai fainted three times after being beaten by police. The Save Zimbabwe Campaign also said another opposition leader, Lovemore Madhuku, was taken to the main Harare hospital early Monday after collapsing from police assaults. He was reported in serious condition.

At least four other opposition and civic leaders were beaten and tortured in custody, the campaign said.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change said his wife was allowed to see him Monday in a suburban jail and reported the wounds. Susan Tsvangirai reported her husband was heavily bandaged, said his deputy, Movement for Democratic Change vice president Thoko Khupe. Some of the wounds were sutured and an eye was badly swollen.

''This is not consistent with the normal police brutality we have witnessed. The injuries were deliberate and an attempt to assassinate him,'' said Eliphas Mukonoweshure, another top opposition official. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 12, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)