CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Loyola Law School Holds Celebrity Justice Conference

From High-profile Los Angeles trial attorneys told law students Thursday that lofty notions of jurisprudence, such as the presumption of innocence or burden of proof, are all well and good. But in defending clients, it's best to focus on how jurors actually think, they told a conference on celebrity justice at Loyola Law School.

For example, Richard Hutton, who specializes in cases of driving under the influence and was recently hired by Paris Hilton in her probation violation case, said it was easy to choose panelists for the clients he defends.

"You want to pick people in my little world…. that drink and drive," he said, to laughs from the students.

Hutton said he watches potential jurors on their breaks and notes the ones who smoke. "How many people do you know who smoke but don't drink, who are not going to" Alcoholics Anonymous?

The program — called the Fidler Institute on Criminal Justice — aims to give students a look at the "inner workings of the criminal justice system."

It was named for Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, a Loyola alumnus who is now hearing the Phil Spector murder trial and canceled the day's court proceedings to attend the event.

Fidler said he hoped to expand the program in coming years.

"My goal is to make Loyola the destination for anyone who wants to practice criminal law," he said.

The seminar brought together some of the top practitioners of criminal law, both prosecutors and defense lawyers, to discuss the craft of preparing and arguing a case. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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

Friday, May 18, 2007

CrimProf Spotlight: Stacy Caplow

ScaplowsmallThis week the CrimProf Blog spotlights Brooklyn Law School CrimProf Stacy Caplow.

Professor Caplow is the Director of the Law School's Clinical Education Program. A leader in the field of clinical legal education, she recently returned from a sabbatical where first she assisted Hong Kong University in developing a clinical program, and then spent a semester as a Fulbright Scholar at University College Cork, Ireland.

She has been the president of the Clinical Legal Education Association. She is also on the board of editors of the Clinical Legal Review. She is the co-author of Multidefendant Criminal Cases: Federal Law and Procedure (1998 & Supps. 1999, 2000).

Her background includes serving as Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division in the Eastern District of New York, and as Director of Training and Chief of the Criminal Court Bureau in the Kings County District Attorney's Office. She also was a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society. Professor Caplow has been a member of the faculty since 1976. [Mark Godsey]

May 18, 2007 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Baby Gets Gun Permit in Illinois

From Chicago newsman Howard Ludwig made some news when he applied for, and received, a gun permit for his son Bubba. Thing is Bubba is a baby. There are no age restrictions for a gun permit in Illinois, as the toothless baby picture on Bubba's Firearm Owners Identification Card shows. The card is for real. But the 10-month-old will have to wait a while before he can use it — to legally buy a gun.

Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 17, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Philip Heymann Testifies Before Committee

Heymann_new Harvard Law School CrimProf Philip Heymann ’60, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration and an expert in criminal law, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary yesterday on how to regulate and prevent illegal Internet drug sales.

"We believe that familiar law enforcement techniques directed at the sources, transporters, and retail sales networks of drug dealing will prove ineffective to deal with globalized, Internet-based systems of sales and distribution of drugs," Heymann said in his testimony. "Based on extensive discussions, we have developed recommendations designed to curtail illegal internet drug sales by targeting key points in the chain of Internet commerce."

He outlined legislation developed by the KINS Initiative -- a group of individuals from drug research institutes, law enforcement agencies, Internet service providers, and credit card companies -- that would strengthen cooperation between government agencies and ISP’s to block access to Web sites that illegally sell drugs, and would establish an independent monitoring group to identify and shut down such Web sites.

Heymann is the co-editor of "Drug Addiction and Drug Policy: The Struggle to Control Dependence," and director of the Center for International Criminal Justice at HLS, which frequently distributes policy recommendations to legislators and government officials. [Mark Godsey]

May 17, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Stuart Green Releases Lying, Cheating, and Stealing: A Moral Theory of White Collar Crime

Sgreen312Louisiana State University CrimProf Stuart Green recently released Lying, Cheating, and Stealing: A Moral Theory of White Collar Crime.

His book navigates the ambiguity of white-collar crimes by examining the underlying moral fabric and illuminating what conduct is worthy of punishment by criminal sanction.

More from OUPBlog. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 17, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

John Grisham Says the Death Penalty Should Be Abolished

From death penalty in the United States should be “abolished forever,” author John Grisham said Thursday in an interview with The Kansas City Star.

Grisham, whose books have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, emphasized he was expressing his personal views.

But in a news conference before the interview, he said supporters of capital punishment should consider how problematic it is to administer. A moratorium should be imposed, the author said.

“I think the system is so badly flawed that all executions should be stopped,” Grisham said.

Grisham was in Kansas City to speak at a dinner benefit for the Midwestern Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing legal aid to prisoners “with persuasive actual innocence claims” in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas. He said Thursday’s event would raise $100,000 for the cause.

Grisham discussed his recent nonfiction book, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, which chronicled the Oklahoma case that resulted in the wrongful convictions of former minor-league baseball player Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. Williamson was sentenced to die; Fritz got life in prison.

Both were exonerated after spending years in prison. Williamson died of cirrhosis in December 2004, five years after being freed. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 16, 2007 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

States Calling for MySpace to Release the Names of Sexual Predators

From An untold number of sexual predators could be using the popular to lure children into dangerous face-to-face meetings, said attorneys general from eight states, including Ohio, who want to crack down on the Web site.

MySpace earlier this year said that it had worked with an online security company to discover hundreds of registered sex offenders with MySpace profiles and had taken steps to block their access to the site.

But that's not enough, said the attorneys general from Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Idaho, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Connecticut, who on Monday sent a letter to MySpace calling for it to reveal the names of those predators. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 16, 2007 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Investigation into Guards Breaking Juveniles' Bones

From authorities are investigating whether guards at state juvenile detention facilities broke the bones of 60 young offenders as a result of abusive tactics. The newly disclosed review comes amid spreading concerns about the treatment of teenage inmates.

The investigation is part of a criminal inquiry into the Texas Youth Commission, one of the nation's largest juvenile justice systems, with about 4,000 offenders. It was triggered by medical reports over five years showing inmates were treated for suspicious breaks, commonly the humerus, the long bone in the upper arm, according to Dr. Ben Raimer, who oversees commission health care services for the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Investigators suspect the arm injuries occurred when guards yanked offenders' arms upward while the limbs were shackled behind the youths' backs, said Jay Kimbrough, who has been appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to direct the state inquiry.

"There are enough of these injuries to cause us serious concern," Kimbrough said.

The review has grown out of a broader investigation of sexual abuse and physical assaults of inmates and other improper conduct by the staff. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 16, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Navy Lawyer Goes to Trial for Helping Detainees Get Lawyers

From Matthew Diaz, a Navy lawyer, goes on trial to face charges of leaking the names of Guantanamo detainees to a civilian human rights attorney. Diaz could get 36 years in prison if convicted for leaking the classified information. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

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

Crimprofs Robert Owen and Jordan Steiker Hosts Winning Death Penalty Cases Luncheon

Jsteikersg The University of Texas at Austin CrimProfs Rob Owen and Jordan Steiker will present “Winning Death Penalty Cases at the U.S. Supreme Court” at a noon luncheon sponsored by the Austin Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy on Thursday, May 17.

Professors Owen and Steiker will discuss their recent victories at the U.S. Supreme Court, leading to the reversal of Texas death sentences. Owen and Steiker co-direct the Capital Punishment Center which includes the Capital Punishment Clinic at UT Law.

Owen_robert The program will begin at 12 p.m. at Habana Calle 6 at 709 E. 6th St. in Austin. Lunch will cost $13 a person and $8 for students. CLE credit will be available. Please RSVP for the luncheon by going to or by calling David Weiser, ACS Austin Lawyer Chapter, at 512-322-0600

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) is one of the nation’s leading progressive legal organizations. Founded in 2001, ACS is a rapidly growing network of lawyers, law students, scholars, judges, policymakers and other concerned individuals. [Mark Godsey]

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

CrimProf Joseph Taylor Also Serves as a Judge

Judge_taylorUniversity of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law CrimProf Joseph Taylor served as a judge pro tem for two weeks in May at the Sacramento Superior Court. It was the 12 th straight year that he handled a criminal law calendar to compensate the local bench’s for it volunteer participation in Pacific McGeorge’s Trial Advocacy Program trials. Taylor presided over three jury trials and two felony preliminary hearings.

The trials involved a drug DUI with a prior conviction and hit-and- run; resisting arrest and unlawful conduct; and a methamphetamine DUI and under the influence charge. The hearings involved sexual battery and spousal abuse; and possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, and driving with a suspended license with four priors.

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

Monday, May 14, 2007

Article Spotlight: Self-Help as an Explanation for Violence Among Female Inmates

From Saint Louis University CrimProf M. Dyan McGuire recently published Self-Help as an Explanation for Violence Among Female Inmates: A Preliminary Assesment. By M. Dyan McGuire, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Saint Louis University, USA.

Data were gathered from 52 female inmates residing in two women’s prisons located in Missouri, USA, through semi-structured interviews in order to document the existence of violence among female inmates and to evaluate causes of such violence. Donald Black’s self help theory was used as a paradigm for evaluating causes of violence among female inmates. The results of this study suggest that violence among female inmates is more common than typically assumed.

The results also suggest that Black’s theory may account for the large amount of violence associated with homosexual relationships but is unable to explain the existence of predatory violence aimed at forcibly acquiring property or accomplishing sexual assault. Prison policies including those prohibiting homosexual conduct and the apparent de facto policy of punishing everyone involved in a fight may be unwittingly contributing to the problem of violence among female inmates. Possible reforms that might be helpful are discussed and analyzed. [Mark Godsey]

May 14, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bill Passed to Help Stop Identity Theft

From The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee recently unanimously approved a pair of bills that aim to bolster consumers' protection against misuse of their social security numbers and computer-borne spyware.

The two bills, known officially as the Social Security Protection Act of 2007 (HR 948) and the Securely Protect Yourself From Cyber-Trespass, or Spy Act (HR 964), respectively, are now headed to a House-wide vote in the coming weeks.

"Identity theft is a scourge on the American consumer; it exacts a heavy financial toll on individuals and on businesses," Congressman John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and Chairman Committee on Energy and Commerce, said in a statement on the bills, both of which he helped sponsor. "These two bipartisan bills strike a blow against this problem in a fair and balanced manner."

The Social Security Protection Act of 2007 -- first proposed by Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat -- makes it illegal to purchase or sell social security numbers in a manner that violates Federal Trade Commission (FTC) anti-fraud regulations.

Among the recent amendments made to the bill before its approval were a number of exemptions to the rules to help law enforcement, national security, public health or safety, and credit verification organizations utilize the numbers for purposes of identification. The bill would also preempt similar state laws if passed, and provide for enforcement of the rules by individual state attorneys general.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 14, 2007 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

SCOTUS Decides Schriro v Landigan

From The Supreme Court recently decided Schriro v Landigan.

Respondent Landrigan refused to allow his counsel to present the testimony of his ex-wife and birth mother as mitigating evidence at his sentencing hearing for a felony-murder conviction. He also interrupted as counsel tried to proffer other evidence, and he told the Arizona trial judge he did not wish to present any mitigating evidence and to “bring on” the death penalty.

The court sentenced him to death, and the sentence was affirmed. The state postconviction court rejected Landrigan’s claim that his counsel was ineffective for failing to conduct further investigation into mitigating circumstances, finding that he had instructed counsel at sentencing not to present any mitigating evidence at all. Landrigan then filed a federal habeas petition under 28 U. S. C. §2254. Exercising its discretion, the District Court refused to grant him an evidentiary hearing because he could not make out even a colorable ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim.

The en banc Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that Landrigan’s counsel’s performance fell below the standard required by Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668 .

The Supreme COurt held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to grant Landrigan an evidentiary hearing. [Mark Godsey]

May 14, 2007 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Two Immigrants Claimed to be Drugged By US Government

From In Los Angeles, the unusual case of two immigrants whose deportations were botched by U.S. immigration officials has allowed a rare glimpse into internal proceedings within the Department of Homeland Security.

The men say that U.S. immigration officials drugged them in order to ease their removal from the country — but airline officials ultimately put a stop to the deportations.

Both immigrants are back in Los Angeles, appealing their deportations. And they've now obtained government medical records that seem to confirm their accounts.  Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 13, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Washington Supreme Court Upholds Police Tricks to get DNA

From Seattle police detectives' elaborate trick to get a murder suspect's DNA was upheld Thursday by the state Supreme Court, a ruling that could give police more leeway and raise privacy concerns.

The 6-3 majority found that the DNA evidence was properly used against John Athan, who was convicted in 2004 of killing a 13-year-old Magnolia girl more than two decades earlier.

"Although the ruse used by detectives in this case violated certain statutes, it was not so outrageous or shocking as to warrant dismissing the case," Justice Charles Johnson wrote.

Athan licked a return envelope a few years ago because he thought he was taking part in a class-action lawsuit over parking tickets. Instead, he'd fallen for a police trick -- a letter from a fake law firm -- aimed at getting a sample of his DNA.

On Thursday, the court found that "no recognized privacy interest exists in voluntarily discarded saliva." What police did was similar to collecting DNA after someone spits on the sidewalk or leaves a cigarette butt in an ashtray, Johnson wrote.

The court also had no problem with police posing as attorneys in the case, because the letter did not ask Athan to provide any information that a lawyer would be required to keep confidential.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

May 13, 2007 in DNA | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Stephen Gottlieb Discusses NY Death Penalty on NPR Affiliate

WAMC-FM, an Albany, N.Y. NPR affiliate, aired Albany Law School CrimProf Stephen Gottlieb's commentary about reinstating the death penalty in New York state. 

Professor Gottlieb is the author of Morality Imposed: The Rehnquist Court and Liberty in America. He is also a member of the Board of the New York Civil Liberties Union and served in the US Peace Corps in Iran. Read Commentary. . . [Mark Godsey]

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