CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, March 24, 2007

High Costs of Death Penalty Brings Georgia System to a Standstill

From the DPIC:  Because of the high costs of pursuing death penalty cases, Georgia's public defender system has run out of funds.  Most of state's 72 capital cases have been brought to a standstill.  The judge in one recent high-profile case has put off jury selection until September 10 because of the funding crisis.

The high-profile case involves Brian Nichols, who has been charged with the 2005 courthouse shooting that left a judge, and three other victims dead. Because the death penalty is being sought for Nichols, the case has cost the state's public defender system $1.4 million to date, an expense that has led the office to request $9.5 million in additional funding from the legislature to keep its operations running through the end of June 2007. (Nichols has agreed to plead guilty and accept life without parole if the death penalty option is dropped.)  Mike Mears, director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, which manages the public defender system, said the Nichols case "is testing the will of the state of Georgia with regard to whether or not the death penalty is worth the amount it costs."

Judge Hilton Fuller, who is presiding over the Nichols case, said the "issue of funding" and the "complexities of this case have prevented an orderly and uninterrupted" method of proceeding. The state has assigned five prosecutors to the case, and Fuller, who is personally overseeing the defense counsel's spending, has authorized four defense attorneys for Nichols.  Fuller said the Public Defender Standards Council had done all it could to pay expenses in the case, but he added, "We cannot expect it to provide funds that don't exist." At least one of the three private attorneys representing Nichols is billing the state at half the hourly rate he normally charges.

Georgia is not the only state grappling with the high costs of the death penalty. The Colorado House Judiciary Committee recently voted to abolish capital punishment and replace it with a sentence of life without parole. The state would reallocate money currently spent on capital punishment to help solve approximately 1,200 cold-case homicides. Colorado, which has spent $40 million on capital punishment in 30 years, has executed one person and two others are on death row. In Arizona, Maricopa County has been overwhelmed by a surge in death penalty cases. Officials there have said that prosecutors may not seek the death penalty in some cases to save money.

March 24, 2007 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Fitzgerald's Justice Ranking Rankles Chicagoans

Morning Edition, March 21, 2007 · U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, fresh from the Libby trial, shows up on a Justice Department's list of prosecutors who had not distinguished themselves. His fellow Chicagoans say that ranking is nonsense.  Listen to NPR report here.

March 23, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The CIA and Psychological Torture at SIU

CARBONDALE, Ill. — An historian who specializes in CIA covert operations, the global drug trade, colonial empires in Southeast Asia and the modern-day Philippines will visit Southern Illinois University Carbondale to talk about how the CIA developed and has used psychological torture.

Alfred W. McCoy, J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will begin his free, public lecture at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, in the auditorium of SIUC's Hiram Lesar Law Building. A reception will follow.

McCoy's talk draws on material from his most recent book, "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror," published last year by Metropolitan Books.

He will be available from 4:30 to 6 p.m. the day of the lecture at Rosetta Stone Bookstore in the Campus Shopping Center, 214 W. Freeman St., to sign copies of that book.

The CIA tried to block publication of McCoy's first book, "The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia," which explored links between opium and "The Company." Translated into nine foreign languages and now in its third edition, it has become a standard in studies of worldwide drug trafficking.

A later work, "Closer Than Brothers," published in 1999, focused on CIA torture training within the Philippine military, a book which led directly to his exploration of what 50 years of spreading and practicing psychological torture have done to America. McCoy maintains that so-called "no-touch" torture harms not just the victims but the perpetrators, too.

In an article for the political newsletter "Counterpunch," McCoy notes that Congressional hearings on the CIA's use of torture took place four times between 1970 and 1988, with no noticeable results. He hopes the photographs from Abu Ghraib and the widespread revulsion they engendered will at last force a change.

"Through these photographs from Abu Ghraib, we can see the reality of these interrogation techniques," he writes. We have a chance to join fully with the international community in repudiating a practice that, more than any other, represents a denial of democracy."

Sponsors of McCoy's lecture include the SIUC departments of anthropology, cinema and photography, history, psychology, sociology and women's studies, the University's Global Media Research Center and School of Law, the Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois, the Shawnee Green Party, the Unitarian Fellowship program committee and the Carbondale Friends Meeting.

March 23, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

New Article Spotlight

Lisa Kern Griffin of UCLA has posted Compelled Cooperation and the New Corporate Criminal Procedure on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

In response to the broad scope of the Enron-era frauds, the federal government has adopted novel strategies to manage the complexity of corporate criminal investigations. Chief among these innovations are the cooperation requirements set forth in the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Thompson Memorandum (along with its successor, the McNulty Memorandum) and the increased use of deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) between prosecutors and corporations. Under these current practices, the federal government has declined or deferred charges against firms themselves and has shifted liability to the employee level, indicting and convicting over one thousand individuals since the July 2002 creation of the Corporate Fraud Task Force. This Article explores a gap in the constitutional protections afforded those individual defendants. Prosecutors' dependence on compelled cooperation is expedient but has unexamined consequences: a bypass around corporate employees' Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and the potential to degrade self-regulation. These costs arise, in part, from the merger of public governmental investigations and private corporate compliance efforts.

Part I details the policies and practices of the "war on corporate crime," with a particular focus on the factors set forth in the Thompson and McNulty Memoranda and the terms of current DPAs. Part II discusses how the convergence of cooperation doctrine with the shift to individual targets results in significant unfairness for the individual employees compelled to incriminate themselves in the context of internal investigations directed by the government. That normative burden may not be offset by enforcement benefits. Although effective corporate crime prevention often requires the cooperation of insiders, the means used to obtain it may actually increase the difficulty of detecting fraud by discouraging oversight and minimizing recordkeeping. Part III argues that the government's pursuit of DPAs and application of a civil regulatory model to criminal enforcement creates distortions because individual liberty rather than a financial sanction is at stake, prosecutors do not engage in negotiated governance, and judicial oversight at the investigative stage is minimal.

Part IV addresses the constitutional implications of outsourcing corporate criminal investigations. Employees interviewed by internal investigators pursuant to the terms of a pending deferred prosecution agreement should enjoy immunity analogous to the Garrity shield that protects public employees. Several strands of Fifth Amendment theory are consistent with the argument that economic pressure such as the threat of job loss can rise to the level of constitutionally significant coercion. That pressure, although delegated to corporations to apply, may be attributed to the government as state action when a DPA is pending. As a practical matter, extending immunity may also enhance compliance investigations by privileging truthful information and the interests of good-faith employees.

Download the article here.  [Mark Godsey]

March 22, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Attempt to Repeal Death Penalty in Nebraska...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

CrimProf Wolfgang Mitsch Appeals Convicted Cannibal's Case to Germany's Highest Court

From University of Potsdam Crimprof Wolfgang Mitsch is appealing the murder conviction of a German man who admitted killing and eating an acquaintance he met over the Internet to the Germany's highest court, his attorney said Monday.

Co-Counsel Harald Ermel said he and Mitsch consulted with client Armin Meiwes before taking the move. It was not clear when the top court might consider the case.

Last month, Germany's Federal Court of Justice rejected as "clearly unfounded" Meiwes' appeal against his conviction and life sentence. Mitsch maintains that the sentence was disproportionate and violated the constitution.

Computer technician Meiwes was sentenced last May to life in prison after being retried and convicted for murdering Bernd Juergen Brandes in a case that both fascinated and appalled Germany.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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

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)