July 14, 2007
Many Detainees were Prohibited from Making One Phone Call
From NYTimes.com: The number of immigrants detained by the United States has grown from 90,000 to 283,000 over the past five years, and many were improperly barred from making even a single phone call to a lawyer, congressional investigators reported this week.
Detainees' calls were completed 35 to 74 percent of the time each month between November 2005 and November 2006, according to the Government Accountability Office, Congress's audit arm.
The United States uses a criminal-detention model to hold immigrants, although most are charged with administrative violations of immigration laws. The detainees are not guaranteed the protections routinely provided to U.S. citizens or criminal defendants, including access to public defenders. As a result, federal authorities have agreed to 38 nonbinding detention guidelines with the American Bar Association as a form of due process, including providing telephone access to legal counsel.
"Without sufficient internal control policies and procedures in place, ICE is unable to offer assurance that detainees can access legal services, file external grievances and obtain assistance from their consulates," the July 6 GAO report said, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
July 13, 2007
Crimprof Spotlight: Andrew King-Reys
CrimProf King-Ries teaches Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Justice, and White Collar Crime. He has taught clinical and constitutional law.
He was a speechwriter for the Secretary of Education, Lauro Cavazos; a clerk for the United States Court of Appeals of the Eighth Circuit; and, for eight years, was a prosecutor, specializing in domestic violence cases, for the King County Prosecutor's Office in Seattle, Washington. Professor King-Ries is married, has a three-year-old son, and a ten-year-old dog.
Professor King-Ries graduated from Brown University in 1988 with a degree in History. He received his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was Order of the Coif and an editor on the Washington University Law Quarterly. [Mark Godsey]
July 12, 2007
Former Pizza Man Turned Serial Killer Sentenced to Death
From sfgate.com: A one-time pizza deliveryman was sentenced Tuesday to die for the slayings of 10 women and an unborn fetus over an 11-year period in areas plagued by a crack cocaine epidemic.
A jury in May recommended the death penalty for Chester Turner instead of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Superior Court Judge William R. Pounders, said there was overwhelming evidence against Turner and agreed with a jury's recommendation that he be put to death.
"I don't think any jury would arrive at a different conclusion and would, in any court, demand a death penalty," said Pounders, who called the killings "a level of cruelty rarely seen in murder trials. The cruelty unmitigated by years of watching the light of life disappear in the eyes of each woman."
Turner, 40, showed little emotion when he was sentenced and declined to say anything after several of the victims' relatives spoke. Outside of court, Turner's attorney John Tyre said nothing was accomplished by sending his client to death row.
"California spends a lot of money to put someone to death," Tyre said. "That money would be better served educating people (about crime) so things like this could be prevented."
The case will automatically be appealed.
Turner was convicted April 30 of 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder in the death of a 6 1/2-month old fetus. The mother, Regina Washington, 27, was strangled with an electrical cord behind a vacant house in September 1989. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Home for Troubled Young Women in Some Trouble of its Own
NYTimes.com: Troubled adolescent girls at the Columbia Training School, a state-run reform school, were shackled for 12 hours a day and forced to eat and to use the bathroom while wearing the shackles, according to a federal lawsuit filed here Wednesday by five of the girls against Mississippi officials, including Gov. Haley Barbour.
Another girl at the school was sexually assaulted by a guard, and three of the shackled girls were able to cut themselves even though they had been placed on suicide watch, according to the suit, filed in Federal District Court by the Mississippi Youth Justice Project.
Most of the 30-odd girls at the school are being held for nonviolent offenses like drug possession or shoplifting, and most suffer from a mental disorder.
Reports of what the lawsuit calls “widespread abuse” at the Columbia school and a similar institution for boys, the Oakley school, are not new. In 1977 a federal judge curtailed the use of isolation cells and pushed for the hiring of doctors; five years ago the State Legislature found numerous inadequacies; and four years ago the Justice Department discovered that young offenders were being hogtied, shackled, choked and beaten. The department sued Mississippi over those and other abuses, and a settlement was reached in 2005.
But in a low-tax, low-spending state where, advocates say, care for troubled young offenders is a low public priority, abuses have persisted. At a legislative hearing last month there was testimony about guards’ making sexual propositions to the girls, shackling and other problems. Meanwhile, a recent report by a Justice Department official monitoring the settlement found persistent deficiencies, particularly in protecting the children from harm.
“When you look at adults who commit crimes or children who get into trouble, there’s not a lot of public pressure on politicians to do the right thing,” said Robert McDuff, a veteran Mississippi civil rights lawyer who helped draft the lawsuit. “And unfortunately the current administration has not paid the proper attention to correcting these problems.” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Underage Oral Sex Tape: Porn or Public Record?
From latimes.com: A controversy is brewing over distribution of the videotape that shows the young man engaging in oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he too was underage.
Wilson, 21, was sent to prison for 10 years because of the consensual liaison, something his supporters have called cruel and unusual punishment.
After the 2005 trial, Douglas County Dist. Atty. David McDade released more than 30 copies of the tape to state lawmakers and the media — saying, according to the Associated Press, he was required to do so by Georgia's open-records law.
Snippets of the videotape have been played on television news shows nationwide.
This week, Democratic state Sen. Emanuel Jones — who has called for Wilson's release — asked Georgia Atty. Gen. Thurbert Baker to investigate the tape's release, calling it a "disgrace."
The attorney general has not responded, but Wednesday, U.S. Atty. David E. Nahmias of Atlanta declared the tape "child pornography under federal law."
"Federal laws prohibit the knowing distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography — that is, visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct — under most circumstances," Nahmias said in a written statement. Those laws, he said, "trump any contrary requirement of the state's Open Records Act that may exist."
Nahmias' statement did not mention the Douglas County prosecutor. It said the U.S. attorney's office would "neither confirm nor deny" whether there was a criminal investigation related to the tape's release.
"We further advise anyone in possession of that videotape outside of law enforcement or judicial proceedings to return it to law enforcement or destroy it immediately," the statement said.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
July 11, 2007
Libyan Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentences for Dr. and Nurses Who Intentionally gave Children AIDS
From NYTimes.com: The Libyan Supreme Court today once again upheld the death sentences imposed on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who were accused of intentionally infecting more than 400 Libyan children with the AIDS virus in 1998.
The court rejected the results of a 2003 investigation by two of the world’s leading AIDS experts, which found that unsanitary medical conditions at Benghazi Children’s Hospital were to blame for the children becoming infected with HIV. The nurses and doctor have now been in jail for nearly a decade.
Still, their fate remained uncertain today, despite the court’s ruling on the one hand, and months of recent negotiations to secure their release on the other. The European Union and the United States have repeatedly pressed the Libyan government to free the six, and groups of Nobel laureates have visited Tripoli to plead their case with the Libyan leader, Moammar Ghaddafi. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Federal Court Questioning the Need for Secrecy Concerning Presidential Briefings
From nysun.com: A federal appeals court is expressing skepticism about the CIA's claim that its technique for briefing presidents is so sensitive that it must be protected from public scrutiny, even 40 years after the fact.
Two judges considering a lawsuit seeking access to so-called Presidential Daily Briefs provided to President Johnson during the Vietnam War era cast doubt yesterday on the spy agency's assertion that the way it updates the nation's chief executive is itself an intelligence method entitled to blanket secrecy under the law.
"It just doesn't compute to me," Judge Pamela Ann Rymer of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said as a three-judge panel heard oral arguments on the case.
"It's not as if PDBs have never been made public or they haven't been talked about," Judge Raymond Fisher said. He noted that some have been officially released and that a book, "Bush at War" by Bob Woodward, quotes from a CIA brief prepared on the day after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
A Justice Department attorney, Mark Stern, told the court that disclosing the amount of detail provided to presidents and "what sort of things they care about" could undermine national security. "This is the crystallization of intelligence," he said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Douglas A. Berman Testified regarding the Use and Misuse of Presidential Clemency Power
Ohio State University Moritz College of Law CrimProf Douglas A. Berman testified Wednesday, July 11, before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on the Judiciary regarding the “The Use and Misuse of Presidential Clemency Power for Executive Branch Officials.”
The hearing primarily included discussion of President Bush’s recent decision to eliminate the 2 ½-year prison sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff. Libby was sentenced to the prison term for lying to federal investigators.
Professor Berman, one of the country’s leading experts in sentencing law, is the sole creator and author of the widely-read and widely-cited web blog, Sentencing Law and Policy.
July 10, 2007
Cali May Cap Number of Inmates
From NPR.com: Federal judges who say the conditions in California's prisons are unconstitutional are considering a move to cap the number of inmates in the state. Pat Nolan, a former legislator in California and for 26 months an inmate in a California prison, talks with Madeleine Brand. Nolan is now the vice president of Prison Fellowship, which works with churches to minister to prisoners and ex-prisoners. Brand also talks to former inmates Keith Butler and Marilyn Austin-Smith about what it's like in California prisons. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
NY Crime Drop is due to. . . Efforts to Reduce Lead Poisoning?
From washingtonpost.com: Although crime did fall dramatically in New York during Giuliani's tenure, a broad range of scientific research has emerged in recent years to show that the mayor deserves only a fraction of the credit that he claims. The most compelling information has come from an economist in Fairfax who has argued in a series of little-noticed papers that the "New York miracle" was caused by local and federal efforts decades earlier to reduce lead poisoning.
The theory offered by the economist, Rick Nevin, is that lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States. It offers a unifying new neurochemical theory for fluctuations in the crime rate, and it is based on studies linking children's exposure to lead with violent behavior later in their lives.
What makes Nevin's work persuasive is that he has shown an identical, decades-long association between lead poisoning and crime rates in nine countries.
"It is stunning how strong the association is," Nevin said in an interview. "Sixty-five to ninety percent or more of the substantial variation in violent crime in all these countries was explained by lead."
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Sanjeev Anand Discusses Mountie Murders
From canada.com: University of Alberta CrimProf Sanjeev Anand recently discussed two additional arrest in the case of slain Canadian Mountie Brock Myrol.
CrimProf Sanjeev Anand said a murder charge can be laid if someone is suspected of assisting or even encouraging a murder."Any murder of a police officer is elevated to first-degree murder," he said.
Myrol and three other RCMP members were shot to death on a farm near Mayerthorpe by James Roszko, who then killed himself.
Dennis Keegan Rodney Cheeseman, 23, and Shawn William Hennessey, 28, face four counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of four RCMP officers near Mayerthorpe in 2005.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
July 9, 2007
Cali May Get More Access to Police Disciplinary Records
From sfgate.com: Legislation that would increase Californians' access to police disciplinary records by rolling back a 2006 state Supreme Court ruling appears to be dead for the year -- the victim of formidable law enforcement opposition.
To win passage in 2007, the measure by state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, needs to clear the Assembly Public Safety Committee by Friday. However, the panel's chairman has scheduled no further hearings on the bill, which has already passed the state Senate.
Although the measure, SB1019, has the support of many community groups, newspapers, city officials, the American Civil Liberties Union and some members of police review agencies, it is also opposed by dozens of law enforcement groups.
The fight dates back to 2003, when the San Diego Union-Tribune sought to attend an administrative appeals hearing for a deputy sheriff who had been fired.
The deputy's lawyers objected, saying that under state law, disciplinary procedures for law enforcement officers were personnel matters and thus closed to the public unless an officer wanted them open.
The newspaper was barred from the hearing and went to court. Last year, in its Copley vs. Superior Court decision, the state Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the public had no right to obtain records of administrative appeals in police disciplinary cases. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Bosnian Muslim War Crime Trials Begin
From washingtonpost.com: A former Bosnian army commander accused of letting his Muslim fighters kill dozens of Serbs and Croats will be acquitted if judges refuse to allow more witnesses to testify, prosecutors said Monday as his trial began.
Retired Gen. Rasim Delic, one of only a handful of Muslims indicted by the U.N.'s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, is charged with murder, rape and cruel treatment. Prosecutors say Delic failed to prevent foreign Islamic fighters known as mujahadeen gunning down prisoners and beheading others during the Bosnian war.
Prosecutors indicted him on the basis of command responsibility _ arguing he knew about the mujahadeen's crimes but failed to prevent or punish them.
"He had a duty to act," prosecutor Daryl Mundis said in his opening statement. "He failed in that duty and as a result crimes were committed and perpetrators were allowed to escape justice."
In order to speed the trial, judges curtailed the number of witnesses prosecutors can call to 55 from the 91 originally requested.
"If we are required to start the trial under these conditions, the likely outcome would be acquittal," Mundis told judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. "We are not in a position to be able to prove our case with 55 witnesses."
Prosecutors last week sought more time and witnesses, but judges insisted the trial start and said prosecutors could ask for more witnesses later.
Delic surrendered to the court after he was indicted in 2005 and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The tribunal is under increasing pressure from the United Nations, which pays the multimillion-dollar court bill, to finish its work quickly. The court is due to finish its trials by 2008 and round off all appeals and shut down in 2010. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
July 8, 2007
Ruling: You Must Actually Have Been Spyed on to Sue
From NPR.com: A federal appeals court has ruled that civil liberties groups have no standing to challenge President Bush's domestic eavesdropping program in court.
The court ruled that only people who can demonstrate that they've been spied on have the right to sue. The records of who's been wiretapped are top secret, so it's not likely that anyone would ever be able to demonstrate that he or she had been a target of the program. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]
Problems Surrounding Localizing Immigation Law Enforcement
From washingtonpost.com: Momentum to deputize local police as immigration agents across the United States grew after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. But law enforcement officers have been reluctant to oblige. They are concerned that taking on that role would both alienate immigrant communities -- where criminals or terrorists can gain a foothold or simply find a convenient hideout -- and undermine police obligations to ensure public safety.
Several jurisdictions, in fact, prevented their officers from enforcing federal immigration laws. By mid-2004, according to the National Immigration Law Center, more than 50 localities, including some of the country's largest cities, had enacted laws, resolutions or policies limiting such activity.
Now that the U.S. Senate has killed comprehensive immigration reform, the fate of 12 million illegal immigrants in this country remains in limbo. What seems absolutely certain is that public pressure will push local, county and state authorities to address what the federal government has failed to.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Investigation of Poor Health Care at Mother's Prison
From NYTimes.com: The authorities in California are investigating accusations that poor health care at a center where mothers serve prison terms with their young children led to the stillbirth of a 7-month-old fetus and endangered the lives of several children.
Staff logs, statements by prisoners and interviews with investigators, staff members and prisoners’ families depict a facility where inmates and their children were denied hospital visits and medications, and where no one kept adequate records of accidents involving injuries that included a skull fracture and a broken collarbone.
The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, one of several agencies investigating, is expected to decide this month whether to continue licensing the center, which houses nonviolent offenders, most convicted of drug crimes.
The problems at the center coincide with continuing intense scrutiny of health care delivery in California’s prisons. A court-appointed receiver was handed control of prison medical services more than a year ago after a federal court found widespread neglect and malpractice.
The 40-bed facility, located in San Diego and offered as an alternative to serving time in the customary penitentiary setting, has dormitory-style rooms for inmate and child adjoining shared living areas. It is run under the banner of the Family Foundations Program by a nonprofit contractor, Center Point Inc., which did not return calls seeking comment. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]