CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Six Men Arrested for Fort Dix Attack

From The six men charged in connection with a plot to attack the Fort Dix military reservation were ordered held without bail on Friday by a federal magistrate. The men were arrested on Monday night after the authorities said they tried to buy machine guns from an informer working with the F.B.I. Prosecutors said the informer had infiltrated the group in March 2006 and helped the authorities tape the suspects training with automatic weapons, conducting surveillance of military bases in New Jersey and Delaware and vowing to kill scores of soldiers.

Christopher J. Christie, the United States attorney for New Jersey, has described the suspects as Islamic extremists who represent a new breed of threat: loosely organized domestic militants unconnected to, but inspired by, Al Qaeda or other international terror groups. Prosecutors argued Friday in United States District Court here that the men, who lived in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, would pose a danger to the public if released and, because they were all born overseas, were also a risk to flee the country.

Only one of the suspects asked for bail: Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, a cabdriver and American citizen who was born in Jordan. He is described in the criminal complaint as the main facilitator of the plan. His lawyer, Rocco C. Cipparone Jr., said Mr. Shnewer, 22, and his family had lived in the United States for decades, and his friends and relatives offered to put up four properties with $580,000 in equity for bail. Mr. Cipparone requested that Mr. Shnewer be placed under 24-hour house arrest at his family’s home in Cherry Hill, and said he could be fitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet to ensure that he did not stray. But R. Stephen Stigall, an assistant United States attorney, argued that given the seriousness of the charges, it would be dangerous to release him.

Mr. Stigall also asserted that house arrest offered the public little protection because Mr. Shnewer “was living in that same house” when the authorities said he was assembling the plan to attack Fort Dix. Joel Schneider, the United States magistrate judge, ordered that Mr. Shnewer, along with the five others, remain at the federal detention center in Philadelphia without bail. Mr. Shnewer, along with Serdar Tatar, 23, and three brothers — Eljvir, Shain and Dritan Duka, ages 23, 26 and 28 — face charges of conspiring to kill uniformed American soldiers, which carry a possible sentence of life in prison. The sixth suspect, Agron Abdullahu, 24, is charged with helping illegal immigrants obtain weapons, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He is scheduled to have a more detailed bail hearing on Thursday. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 12, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 11, 2007

CrimProf Spotlight: Jay Clark


This week the CrimProf Blog spotlights University of Cincinnati CrimProf Jay Clark. 

CrimProf Clark teaches Forensic Science and Criminal Law: Investigation and Discovery at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

CrimProf Clark has been representing the criminally accused in State and Federal courts for over 15 years in Southern Ohio. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Jay graduated from The Seven Hills School in 1981. He attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts where he received a B.A. in Business Management and B.S. in Economics, in 1985. In 1989 he graduated from the University of Cincinnati, College of Law. Jay is a 1996 graduate of the National Criminal Defense College and Advanced Cross Examination Program, in Macon, Georgia.

As a skilled, experienced, and aggressive trial lawyer Jay is actively involved in national, state, and local organizations with the common mission of providing zealous and effective representation to those accused of crime. Jay is on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, where he has served as Co-chair of the Strike Force since 1998. He is also currently the Chairman of the CLE Committee. He is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, where he is Vice-Chair of the Forensic Committee. He is a Past President and Board member of the Greater Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. [Mark Godsey]

May 11, 2007 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Seattle Face a Rise in Sex Offender Case

From Though police believe intensive supervision is the surest way to prevent repeat crimes by sex offenders, state Department of Corrections officials have quietly decided to ramp up caseloads for Seattle community corrections officers who oversee the state's largest concentration of high-risk rapists and child molesters.

Daily, these officers visit recently released sex offenders at their homes and workplaces, sometimes spending more than an hour in consultation with each, comparing notes with police and generally monitoring the felons' every move.

Now, they worry, supervision will be cursory, at best.

"In today's world, that's a pretty scary proposition," said Ton Johnson, president of the officers' union.

Johnson might have been thinking of one supervised felon -- a crack-addicted man who called his corrections officer near midnight, sobbing that he'd been living in the bushes of a King County park, planning to rape a little girl. The man had gone so far as to buy a blowup doll, dress it in child's pajamas and practice on it.

Or another client who worked a regular job but occasionally felt he needed to rape somebody. Or another, with a history of violent sex assaults, who lured a woman to a hotel room and, after attempting to rape her, took several bites out of her body.

"The point was to have 25 of these offenders and supervise the heck out of them," said Iris Peterson, a community corrections officer who has spent 15 years working with such felons, all of whom were judged a high risk to reoffend. "They don't just show up at our office once a month and say hi -- these guys take a lot of time, and the concern is that we'll have too many offenders to meaningfully supervise."

In coming months, officials said, Peterson's current caseload of 20 could increase by 50 percent, to 30 offenders.

The move has yet to be formally announced, but Corrections officials said it would be phased in gradually and affect mainly the nine officers working Seattle's high-risk sex offender unit.

"The goal is to bring them into line with similar units elsewhere in the state," said Gary Larson, a spokesman for the agency. "Seattle was the only unit that did not have the caseload levels that would be expected." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 10, 2007 in Sex | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Drug Dealers Pedals Candy Flavored Drugs

From The names are cute and hip, but the products drug dealers are peddling with them are deadly nonetheless, according to police who are struggling to keep up with the latest gimmicks aimed at getting young kids hooked on narcotics.

"Cheese" – crushed nighttime cold tablets laced with heroin – has dominated the attention of local narcotics agents as the mixture infiltrates Dallas-area public schools. At least 21 young people have died by overdosing on the drug.

But authorities are on the lookout for other drugs with catchy names, too – especially candy-flavored methamphetamine that appears to be spreading from west to east across the U.S. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 10, 2007 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Conn. Plans to Modify Teen Statutory Rape Laws

From Attorneys and legislators have complained that the two-year age difference is too narrow and that teenagers experimenting with sex can be treated like sexual predators because of it. Others say a felony conviction stigmatizes teenagers who wouldn't otherwise have been arrested and makes it difficult for them to find work.

But a bill that would increase the allowable age gap between sexually active teens from two to four years is on its way to the Senate floor. If it is enacted, Connecticut's statutory rape law will be similar to those of surrounding states.

"It's young people having sex. Every parent in the world doesn't want it to be happening," said state Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, chairman of the General Assembly's judiciary committee, which introduced the proposed legislation.

"We're not saying it's good, we're just saying it shouldn't be a serious offense," he said.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 9, 2007 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Death Row Inmate ORders Pizza for the Down and Out as his Last Meal

From Just hours before his execution by injection, a Tennessee death row prisoner who was convicted of killing a police officer ordered his final meal -- pizza for a homeless person.

Philip Workman, 53, requested a vegetarian pizza be delivered to a homeless person in Nashville, Workman's attorney confirmed.

Riverbend Maximum Security Institution refused, said Riverbend spokeswoman Dorinda Carter.

"We can get some special things for the inmate but the taxpayers don't really give us permission to donate to charity," Carter said.

According to the state's protocol, a last meal's cost cannot exceed $20.

Workman was executed early Wednesday. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 9, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Men Take out Insurance Policies on the Down and Out

From Two men hatched a scheme to make hundreds of thousands of dollars by taking out insurance policies on down-and-out victims without their knowledge, then having them killed, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday at a federal death penalty trial.

One of the defendants, while eyeing a potential victim, confided to an informant ''I have a natural bum, a complete bum. ... I have $250,000 on that man,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said in his opening statement.

Richard James, 46, and Ronald Mallay, 61, treated their victims ''like meat,'' Capers said. ''They put prices on their heads.''

An attorney for James countered that the causes of the deaths were in dispute, and that the accused were framed by Guyanese immigrants who were persuaded to testify with promises of U.S. residency and leniency in their own criminal cases.

The witnesses ''are nothing more than bought and paid for,'' defense attorney Steve Zissou said in federal court in Brooklyn.

James, a former insurance agent, and Mallay, an ex-postal worker, are accused in the poisoning and shooting deaths of four victims, two in the United States and two in Guyana, since the 1990s. Both pleaded innocent to federal murder conspiracy charges. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 9, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Lewis and Clark Hosts "Architecture of Justice: An Integration of Victims' Rights"

Lewis & Clark Law School’s National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) will sponsor its sixth conference focused on the rights of crime victims in the criminal process. The conference, titled “Architecture of Justice: An Integration of Victims’ Rights,” is scheduled Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19.

The annual conference gives attorneys, advocates and policy makers a chance to hear the latest issues and success stories for the Crime Victims’ Rights Movement. Featured speakers include U.S. Department of Justice members John Gillis, director of the Office for Victims of Crime in the U.S. Department of Justice, and Mary Beth Buchanan, acting director of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 8, 2007 in Symposiums | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Sharon Beckman and Others Spoke at AALS Clinical Education Workshop

Beckman2During the first week of May 2007, the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) held a Workshop on Clinical Legal Education entitled "Challenging Assumptions."The Workshop's theme turned the standard motif of clinical training that encourages students to challenge their assumptions back towards the professors to challenge their own assumptions. 

At the 5-day conference held in New Orleans, numerous Boston College of Law Clinical Professors contributed.  CrimProf Sharon Beckman presented a current research project challenging the common assumption that criminal profiling is only a police practice by showing how even Justices of the United States Supreme Court resort to criminal profiling when resolving constitutional questions in criminal cases. 

Professor Evangeline Sarda and Lecturer in Law Lynn Barenberg (along with former BC Law Professor Carwina Weng) led an experiential workshop on identifying and testing individual and collective assumptions about race in clinical practice by linking how we construct our personal and professional identities to how we construct case theory and strategy--and the impact this has on teaching and supervision.  Professor Alexis Anderson led a working group of professors who teach in civil litigation clinics and facilitated their discussion of conference topics. [Mark Godsey]

May 8, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


More than 250,000 fugitives - including hundreds of suspected murderers and rapists - have managed to escape justice in New York and are still on the lam, the Daily News has learned.

After the hunt for a wanted drifter ended in the recent shooting death of a state trooper, The News obtained a breakdown of the quarter-million suspects who are ducking New York State authorities. The rogues' gallery includes 812 suspected killers, 537 accused rapists, more than 60,000 suspected drug offenders, 10,000 johns and nearly 11,000 people who skipped out on drunken-driving charges, The News found.

"These are big numbers," admitted John Grebert, executive director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police.

While a precise breakdown for the five boroughs was not available, authorities estimate that 37% of the tens of thousands of arrest warrants issued in the state over the past decade came from New York City.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 7, 2007

New Jersey Discovers that Megan's Law May Not Make Children Safer

From New Jersey's pioneering Megan's Law, which costs millions of dollars to alert citizens when sex offenders move nearby, may not make children safer, new research suggests.

A federally funded study under way in Trenton is trying to determine whether Megan's Law is worth the cost of its "enormously expensive" monitoring and enforcement requirements, said Phillip Witt, a consultant on the study.

A declining trend of sex attacks on children began before the law took effect and has continued, raising the suggestion that New Jersey's Megan's Law - one of the first laws of its kind in the nation - may not have influenced the trend, researchers say.

"We don't know whether Megan's Law really works," said Witt, who helped create the risk-assessment system used by New Jersey's courts to classify sex offenders.

"Just a few studies have looked at whether community notification laws are effective," he said. "I believe they have very little effect."

The 1994 law is named after Megan Kanka, a suburban Trenton girl who was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender living across the street. It has been a model for dozens of state laws across the country.

The law requires sex criminals to report their whereabouts to law enforcement authorities, who must maintain a catalog of the offenders and notify residents when a high-risk offender moves nearby. The tracking and notification apparatus in New Jersey costs county and local governments millions of dollars. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 7, 2007 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Crimprof Darryl Brown Joins Virginia Law Faculty

Brown_darrylAn experienced former public defender and current Class of 1958 Alumni CrimProf at the Washington and Lee University School of Law Darryl Brown will join the Virginia Law faculty as a professor this fall. CrimProf Brown, who visited the Law School during the 2004-2005 school year, teaches criminal law, criminal adjudication, and evidence.

“I have a great fondness for Virginia because it’s my alma mater and I had a wonderful visit there two years ago,” Brown said. “My family’s looking forward to getting back to Charlottesville.”

After earning his law degree at Virginia, where he served as executive editor of the Virginia Law Review, Brown clerked for Delores K. Sloviter, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He was an associate at the law firm Kilpatrick & Cody in Atlanta from 1991-92 before working as an assistant public defender in Clarke County, Ga., and as a staff attorney at the University of Georgia School of Law Legal Aid Clinic from 1992-94. After teaching at Mercer University and Rutgers law schools, he became an assistant professor at the University of Dayton School of Law, where he served until joining Washington and Lee in 1999.

Brown received his master’s degree in American Studies from the College of William and Mary after earning his B.A. at East Carolina University. Before pursuing graduate work he briefly explored journalism, working as a copy aide at the Washington Post.

In the Public Defender’s Office of Clarke County in Athens, he also supervised University of Georgia law students and began working as an adjunct professor at Mercer University School of Law.

“Once I started practicing it, I really enjoyed both the scale of the litigation, in the sense that I could handle my own cases, and [that] the cases didn’t drag on for months or years, so I could see a lot of cases through,” Brown said, “and I liked being a double-check on the government.

“Every now and then you get one of those cases that you feel good about—actually correcting the system and keeping someone from getting wrongfully convicted. Much more often what you’re doing is dealing with people who are guilty of something and making sure that the system convicts them appropriately,” he added.

The Raleigh, N.C., native was also exposed to a new perspective on the indigent.

“Being in a public defender office, all of our clients were poor. I developed close working relationships with the kind of people I’d largely never met before,” he said. “It was an eye-opening experience to see what the lives of a lot of my clients were like.” Rest of Story. . . [Mark Godsey]

Brown’s research almost exclusively

May 7, 2007 in CrimProf Moves | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Amnesty Reports Number of Executions Fell Worldwide

From The number of executions worldwide fell from 2,148 in 2005 to 1,591 in 2006, a drop of more than 25 percent, Amnesty International (AI) revealed today in its annual report on global death penalty statistics.

In 2006, 91 percent of all known executions took place in China, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and the United States. AI recorded more than 1,000 executions in China in 2006, but figures on the use of the death penalty are a state secret in China and the true number is believed to be as high as 8,000. Iran executed at least 177 people, Pakistan at least 82, Iraq and Sudan each at least 65, and the United States 53.

In 1977, only 16 countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes. In 2006, the Philippines became the latest country to join the 99 that have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Many more, including South Korea, stand on the brink of abolition.

In Africa, only six countries carried out executions in 2006. Belarus is the only country that continues to use the death penalty in Europe. The United States is the only country in the Americas to have carried out any executions since 2003.

"2006 gave us cause to be optimistic about the prospect ultimately of global abolition," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "Around the world and here at home, there have been increasingly vocal calls to end the death penalty, and lawmakers are finally listening.

"However, it should be a continuing source of national shame that the United States remains on the list of the world's top executing countries. Amnesty International USA is doing its utmost to ensure that the United States is taken off the list of nations that retain the death penalty."

In 2006, New Jersey became the first state to institute a legislatively mandated moratorium on executions. Earlier this year, a New Jersey commission studying the administration of the death penalty recommended abolition. Several states have placed a hold on executions because of legal challenges and concerns relating to the lethal injection process. In the 2007 session, there were serious attempts at abolition in five state legislatures.

"Lawmakers are finally realizing that the death penalty is an ineffective crime prevention measure that drains resources away from the community and does little to deter violent crime," said Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, director of Amnesty International USA's Program to Abolish the Death Penalty. "There is also a growing awareness of the racial bias, arbitrariness, and fallibility associated with the administration of the death penalty and many are seriously questioning the wisdom of retaining such a system." Rest of Release. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 7, 2007 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

FBI Investigates 1997 Cuban Bombing

From FBI agents recently traveled to Havana to try to gather evidence about a 1997 hotel bombing in the Cuban capital that might be linked to Luis Posada Carriles — a Cuban exile and a former CIA informant.

Government sources say the unusual trip by FBI investigators was motivated by an investigation of Posada by a federal grand jury in New Jersey. Posada falls under the grand jury's jurisdiction because he is thought to be connected to two New Jersey men implicated in the 1997 bombing.

The 79-year-old Posada is the Leonard Zelig of U.S.-Cuban relations. It seems that wherever there have been turning points between Washington and Havana, Posada has been there. He is militantly opposed to Fidel Castro and has been trying to topple his regime — even trying to assassinate him — for more than 40 years. He was a Bay of Pigs veteran and a former CIA operative and, more recently, because of his anti-Castro activities, an international fugitive.

The Department of Justice has been torn about how to handle him. The Bush administration has been handling him with kid gloves, in part because of his past relationship with the U.S. intelligence community. He is also very popular in the influential Cuban-American community, which sees him as an anti-Castro crusader. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 6, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Study Shows that Caribbean Nations Have World's Highest Murder Rate

From Caribbean nations, which most Americans perceive as sun-soaked paradises, are overwhelmed by the economic toll of the world's highest murder rates and need international help, according to a report released Thursday.

A one-third reduction in the region's murder rate would more than double its per-capita economic growth, according to the study by the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Caribbean nations have been battling drug-fueled crime by bolstering their police forces, but the report says crime rates are so bad that Caribbean governments need help from rich nations and multilateral institutions.

"The report is a starting point of putting crime on the development agenda," said Caroline Anstey, the World Bank director for the Caribbean.

The high crime rate not only is killing young people and adding to the cost of business, but it also keeps tourists in safe beach enclaves rather than having them spend more money exploring other parts of the Caribbean, Anstey said.

The overall murder rate in the Caribbean is 30 per 100,000 people, compared with 26 in Latin America and seven in the United States. Those numbers are from 2002, the last year for which worldwide comparisons are available, and murders since have since risen in the Caribbean and declined in some parts of South America, according to the 231-page report.  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 6, 2007 in Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kansas Keeps Lowering the Cost and Quality of Prison Food

From A thin puddle of sloppy joe mixture stares up from the plastic tray, not far from a purplish lump of bread pudding and small pool of mustard greens.

It's lunchtime at the Sedgwick County, Kansas Jail. The food's not pretty, but many would argue it's not supposed to be.

What it is, is cheap -- likely no more than 40 cents' worth of food in all.

Like many governmental entities, Sedgwick County has significantly reduced the amount it spends to feed inmates.

Last year, the county contracted with a local company, Wichita Canteen, to feed prisoners for $1.23 per meal, from which labor, profit and other costs are taken.

In February, it made a deal with the Louisiana-based ABL Management to do the same job for $1.01. With the jail serving about 3,900 meals a day, that's a savings to the county of several hundred thousand dollars a year.

The contract change attracted little attention at the time. But last week, county commissioner Gwen Welshimer ate lunch at the jail and told The Eagle it was "not something you'd serve humans."

Another commissioner, Kelly Parks, said he ate 80 percent of his jail meal. But he told The Eagle he found a small piece of plastic in one of his meatballs, and suffered from heartburn that afternoon.

Despite their experiences, neither commissioner thinks the county needs to spend more money on inmates' meals. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 6, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)