July 7, 2007
Is the Justice Department Losing Credibility?
From NPR.com: As Congress continues investigating allegations of politicization at the Justice Department, some current and former department employees say they fear that the scandal is hurting department morale and damaging the institution's credibility in the courts. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]
July 6, 2007
CrimProf Spotlight: Susan Beth Farmer
This week the CrimProf Blog Spotlights Penn State Dickinson School of Law CrimProf Susan Beth Farmer.
Professor Farmer, a former state antitrust law enforcement attorney, is actively engaged in researching and writing about the application of antitrust and trade regulation law within the federal system of the United States and within the international community. She is the chair of the Association of American Law School’s (AALS) section of Antitrust Law & Economic Regulation and, in that capacity, has planned and moderated the AALS program “Competition Without Borders: Antitrust Law & the Challenge of Globalization.” In 2005, she also planned and moderated the AALS Scholars’ Showcase program at the American Bar Association (ABA) Antitrust Section annual spring meeting.
In addition to these professional activities, Professor Farmer serves as a member of the advisory board of the American Antitrust Institute; as chair of the AALS Liaison Committee of the ABA Antitrust Section; and as chair of the Professional Education Committee of the ABA Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice Section. Professor Farmer recently lectured on international conspiracies at the 23rd Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime conference at Cambridge University and gave a presentation on the new United Kingdom sexual offenses law at the Pennsylvania & Delaware Valley Feminist Law Teachers 12th Annual Conference. She is currently co-editing the forthcoming The European Experience with Merger and Deregulation; in Competition Policy and Merger Analysis in Deregulated and Newly Competitive Industries with Peter Carstensen.
Professor Farmer’s teaching and research interests also include criminal law, with emphasis both on white collar crime and on the impact of the criminal justice system on women. Additionally, her teaching responsibilities have included development and supervision of our extensive curricular externship program in which students work in government law offices, judges’ chambers or for non-profit organizations. Professor Farmer has been a visiting professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh. [Mark Godsey]
July 5, 2007
TX Sex Offender Classification System is Getting a Make Over
From dallasnews.com: Starting this week, the state will dramatically change its system for classifying sex offenders, after years of complaints that the current risk assessment overpenalizes young, low-level offenders and lets some of the worst slip through the cracks.
But the new policy will apply only to sex offenders being discharged from prison, meaning those registered offenders already in the community won't get the chance to have their risk status revisited.
"If there's no re-evaluation, how can it be accurate?" asked Sam, an Austin-area sex offender who was charged with rape when he and his victim were teenagers. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Meet the Real Life Q
From USATODAY.com: The nameplate on his office door just says "Q."
His dreary, windowless workspace is no different from thousands of others here in the nation's capital.
But Rolf Dietrich is not your typical government bureaucrat.
He's the Homeland Security Department's gadget man, an MIT-trained engineer and onetime nuclear attack submarine commander who spends his days trying to come up with futuristic equipment that could be used to thwart terrorists for generations to come.
Unlike the clever James Bond movie character Q, who seemed to serve only 007, Dietrich serves tens of thousands of airport screeners, Border Patrol agents, Customs and Coast Guard officers and others tasked with preventing and responding to future attacks.
Most probably don't know Dietrich exists. Like the fictional Q, he works on some of the government's most cutting-edge safety and security projects — projects that could help the 180,000 men and women who work at Homeland Security. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
The True Rapist Indicted After an Innocent Man Serves Years in Prison
From ohio.com: A convicted rapist was indicted on charges of killing a woman in a separate crime that was initially blamed on another man who later received $1 million from the state in a wrongful incarceration settlement.
Earl Mann, 34, could face the death penalty if convicted in the 1998 strangulation death of Judith Johnson, 58, and the rape and beating of her then-6-year-old granddaughter in Barberton, 40 miles south of Cleveland.
The indictment Friday by a Summit County grand jury comes two years after prosecutors said new DNA evidence linked Mann to the crime scene. His children lived with their mother in a home near Johnson's.
The DNA evidence, taken from a cigarette butt that Mann had discarded at the Mansfield Correctional Institution, was collected by inmate Clarence Elkins, who had been convicted of killing Johnson, his mother-in-law.
Elkins, 44, was exonerated and freed in 2005 after serving nearly seven years of a life sentence. His then-wife raised more than $20,000 for private DNA tests and asked the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Innocence Project to investigate her husband's case.
The state later conducted its own DNA tests, concluding that Elkins could not have committed the crimes and awarded him the settlement.
Elkins said he does not understand why it took prosecutors so long to seek an indictment against Mann when "it didn't take them maybe a couple of hours to come after me."
"I'm angry. At the same time glad they're doing the right thing," he said. Elkins, who was convicted largely on the 6-year-old's testimony that he raped her, an account the girl later recanted, said he favors the death penalty and will attend Mann's trial.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh would not discuss evidence in the case. She said the investigation was deliberate and not rushed because Mann was already incarcerated. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
July 4, 2007
Michigan Police Illegal Fireworks Raids Fizzle
From detnews.com: In a summer when authorities are dealing with higher crime, more parolees and tighter budgets, hunting for illegal fireworks seems a luxury more police agencies say they simply cannot afford. Organized sweeps in years past yielded relatively few illegal fireworks, making it easier for authorities to keep such enforcement a secondary concern this year. "I don't have a lot of extra people around to do lower priority things like this," said Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans. "It's not that it's not important. It's just not as high on the radar screen. With any credible information about something, we'll look into it, but we're stretched way too thin." Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said he suspects there may be more illegal fireworks in his county this season, but it has to take a back seat to the high-profile crimes and other pressing problems his department faces. "We get inundated with complaints the day before and the day of," he said. "People need to understand we're trying to prioritize." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Organized sweeps in years past yielded relatively few illegal fireworks, making it easier for authorities to keep such enforcement a secondary concern this year.
"I don't have a lot of extra people around to do lower priority things like this," said Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans. "It's not that it's not important. It's just not as high on the radar screen. With any credible information about something, we'll look into it, but we're stretched way too thin."
Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said he suspects there may be more illegal fireworks in his county this season, but it has to take a back seat to the high-profile crimes and other pressing problems his department faces.
"We get inundated with complaints the day before and the day of," he said. "People need to understand we're trying to prioritize." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Homicide Surge in Eastern Cities May Be Due to Lack of Immigrants
From miamiherald.com: Baltimore, Philadelphia and other cities in a bloodstained corridor along the East Coast are seeing a surge in killings, and one of the most provocative explanations offered by criminal-justice experts is this: not enough new immigrants.
The theory holds that waves of hardworking, ambitious immigrants reinvigorate desperately poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods and help keep crime down.
It is a theory that runs counter to the widely held notion that immigrants are a source of crime and disorder.
"New York, Los Angeles, they're seeing massive immigration - the transformation, really, of their cities from populations around the world," said Harvard sociologist Robert J. Sampson. "These are people selecting to go into a country to get ahead, so they're likely to be working hard and stay out of trouble."
It is only a partial explanation for the bloodshed over the past few years in a corridor that also includes Newark, N.J., and Boston, but not New York City.
In interviews with The Associated Press, homicide detectives, criminal justice experts and community activists point to a confluence of other possible factors.
Among them: a failure to adopt some of the innovative practices that have reduced violence in bigger cities; the availability of powerful guns; and a shift in emphasis toward preventing terrorism instead of ordinary street crime. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
"Structural Reform Prosecution" Review
"In what I call a structural reform prosecution, prosecutors secure the cooperation of an organization in adopting internal reforms. No scholars have considered the problem of prosecutors seeking structural reform remedies, perhaps because until recently organizational prosecutions were themselves infrequent.
In the past few years, however, federal prosecutors have adopted a bold new prosecutorial strategy under which dozens of leading corporations have entered into demanding settlements, including AIG, American Online, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Computer Associates, HealthSouth, KPMG, MCI, Merrill Lynch & Co., and Monsanto.
To situate the DOJ’s latest strategy, I frame alternatives to the pursuit of structural reform remedies as well as five alternative ways prosecutors can pursue structural reform. To better understand what the DOJ accomplished by choosing to pursue structural reform and then doing so at the charging stage, I conducted an empirical study of the terms in all agreements the DOJ has negotiated to date. My study reveals imposition of deep governance reforms, consistent with the purposes of the Sentencing Guidelines, but also perceived prosecutorial abuses and some indications of overreaching. I conclude that given the breadth of prosecutorial discretion and the deferential, limited nature of judicial review, the guidance that the DOJ provides will chiefly define the future development of its emerging structural regime for deterring organizational crime.'"[Mark Godsey]
July 3, 2007
Homicide is Leading Cause of Death Among Pregnant Women
From cleveland.com: Homicide is a leading cause of death in America among pregnant and postpartum women, according to studies conducted in recent years. Statistics show that more pregnant women or mothers of newborns die at someone's hands than of any individual medical cause.
How many of these women lose their lives violently every year?
The toll is difficult to calculate given the lack of a uniform reporting system on pregnant murder victims, researchers said.
A national study published two years ago identified 617 homicides involving pregnancy between 1991 and 1999. A Washington Post analysis a year earlier uncovered 1,367 killings of pregnant woman and new mothers between 1990 and 2004. In both cases, the authors deemed the totals underestimates.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
July 2, 2007
Paying the Price for Stealing Someone's Heart
From latimes.com: Stealing someone's heart can cost you. Just ask German Blinov.
A jury has ordered Blinov to shell out $4,802 after he was sued by a husband from a Chicago suburb for stealing the affections of the man's wife.
Arthur Friedman used a little-known state law to mount the legal attack against Blinov. The alienation-of-affection law lets spouses seek damages for the loss of love. Only a handful of states still have such a law.
But Natalie Friedman, the woman at the center of it all, says her husband asked her to have sex with other women and men — including Blinov — to spice up their relationship. Natalie Friedman supposedly began having feelings for Blinov, prompting her husband to file the lawsuit.
"This guy ruined my life — he backstabbed me," Arthur Friedman said. "What he did was wrong. And I did what I had to do to get my point across." Blinov does not deny having a relationship with Natalie Friedman while she was married. But he was surprised to learn he could be sued for it.
"German was not a pirate of her affections," said Blinov's lawyer, Enrico Mirabelli. "Her affections were already adrift." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Emmanuel Gross Discusses Israeli President's Plea Deal
From jpost.com: University of Haifa CrimProf Emmanuel Gross commented on Israeli Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz decision Thursday for a plea bargain agreement that he arranged with President Moshe Katsav in the state's lengthy and highly public investigation of numerous claims of sexual misconduct.
CrimProf Gross said he could not understand the drastic turnabout in Mazuz's decision. "I don't understand the reasons for it, the factors involved and certainly not its logic," he said in a TV interview. "From the point of view of someone not directly involved in the affair, this is one of the less attractive days for Israel and the institution of the attorney-general. The turnabout is absolutely illogical and absolutely unreasonable."
Rather than face a trial on charges including two counts of rape, the president has agreed to admit to committing an indecent act without consent through the use of pressure, sexual harassment and harassing a witness.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison - but Katsav will not spend a day behind bars, because the state has agreed to a one-year suspended sentence.
The president is also due to hand in his resignation from the office on Friday. His full seven-year term of office was due to end in two weeks. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Pakistani President Runs into Set Backs With Attempt to Remove Chief Justice
From ap.org: Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's attempt to remove Pakistan's chief justice received a setback Monday when a Supreme Court judge rejected government evidence and ordered a sweep of courts and judges' homes for spying devices.
Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry on March 9 for alleged misconduct, sparking a legal tussle that has fueled growing opposition to military rule.
Last week, the government filed a thick file of evidence against Chaudhry with the Supreme Court, which is examining the judge's appeal of his suspension.
But at a hearing Monday, the presiding judge rejected the documents and reprimanded a senior government lawyer for presenting "vexatious and scandalous" material.
Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday provided no details on the contents of the file, but referred to concerns raised by Chaudhry's lead counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan.
Ahsan said the file contained photographs taken inside Chaudhry's home as well as anonymous complaints and derogatory remarks about senior judges. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
July 1, 2007
SCOTUS May Plan to Impact Enemy Combatant Policy
From NPR.com: The Supreme Court's surprise decision this week to hear another case involving the rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees could have a profound impact on hundreds of prisoners there, and for U.S. policy on detaining enemy combatants. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]
No Driving Under the Influence of a Hangover in New Jersey
From nj.com: The severe symptoms of a hangover -- piercing headaches, body aches, dry mouth and upset stomach -- should no longer be your only concern after a night of drinking in New Jersey. Now there is the law.
In a ruling that expands the legal meaning of "under the influence," a state appeals court Thursday ruled a hangover is also an impairment -- whether it's from drinking alcohol, taking cocaine or other substances.
The judges, in a 3-0 decision, ruled a Cape May County driver, who had taken cocaine but was not intoxicated when police stopped him, was still a danger to other drivers. While the cocaine was no longer active it was the "proximate cause of his impaired behavior," the judges found.
Simply: drivers who are hung over from using cocaine can be considered impaired even if the drug is no longer in their systems.
Appellate Division Judge Thomas Lyons in a nine-page opinion explained: "While the defendant was not 'high,' he was physically impaired. As a result of ingesting cocaine, defendant's condition was such that his normal physical coordination was impaired so as to render him a danger to others on the highway."
The reaction to the decision was swift from experts in the field and lawyers in the case. They said could have an impact on alcohol-related DUI cases. None knew of a similar decision elsewhere in the country.
"The potential impact is enormous," said John Tumelty, who represented the driver, David Franchetta, in the case. "Where do you draw the line? Even though a guy is not high and a drug is not active in the guy's system, if he's tired and sluggish and hung over from previous use, does that makes him under influence? If they say a drug hangover makes you guilty, what about an alcohol hangover?"
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Alan C. Michaels Discusses the Limitations of Panetti
From gaurdian.co.uk.com: Ohio University Moritz College of Law CrimProf Alan C. Michaels recently discussed the limitations of the Panetti Supreme Court decision.
"The ruling was quite narrow and there are probably not very many defendants who will be able to stop their executions on the basis of this decision,'' said CrimProf Alan C. Michaels.
Panetti's lawyers say he believes that he is on death row because he preaches the word of God. The inmate says the state of Texas is in league with the devil and is using the murder of his wife's parents as a pretext to silence him.
Four courts have said he was competent when he fired his trial lawyers. A jury and two courts rejected his defense of not guilty by reason of insanity. Panetti personally argued that only an insane person could prove the insanity defense. He dressed in cowboy clothing and submitted an initial witness list that included Jesus Christ and John F. Kennedy. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]