Saturday, August 4, 2007
From brownsvilleherald.com: Texas Tech CrimProf Dan Benson and University of Texas CrimProf George Dix discuss the legality of inmate Sostenes Morales contacting Juror Edgar Cantu who was one of the jurors who convicted Morales of murdering the man’s wife.
Texas Tech University CrimProf Dan Benson who specializes in criminal procedure, said juror information is confidential during an ongoing trial.
But because Morales contacted Cantu after the trial and did not threaten him in the letter, no laws were broken.
“There’s really no prohibition against it,” Benson said. “The jurors are not precluded from talking with someone about a case after it’s over.”
CrimProf George Dix said it’s possible that Morales obtained Cantu’s information from the case records the court kept.
“Sometimes, a defendant will have access to the record — he may act as lawyer, he may have it for a number of reasons,” Dix said.
But even if Cantu responded to the letter — something he said he doesn’t plan to do — his testimony could not be used in Morales’ appeal, Dix said.
“Information from a juror is almost certainly going to be of no legal significance,” he said. “The thought process of the jurors are not matters of which they are admitted to testify about. The ball is in his court" Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Friday, August 3, 2007
This week the CrimProf Blog spotlights University of Wisconsin School of Law CrimProf Pete Dewind.
Pete DeWind joined the clinical faculty of the Frank J. Remington Center in May, 1991. As director of the Restorative Justice Project, Prof. DeWind supervises students in facilitating face-to-face meetings or other forms of contact between victims and offenders, usually in cases involving severe violence. Prof. DeWind also supervises students in the Center's Family Law Project, which handles divorce and paternity cases for incarcerated parents.
In 1982, Prof. DeWind graduated with a B.S. degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1990, he received his J.D., also from Wisconsin. Before joining the Remington Center, Prof. DeWind worked in Green Bay, Wisconsin as a staff attorney for Legal Services of Northeastern Wisconsin.While in law school, Prof. DeWind earned the Phil Owens Memorial Award and the Gene and Ruth Posner Pro Bono Award, and received a Walworth County Bar Association Scholarship and Shaw Fellowship. In addition, in the 1989 NationalProducts Liability Moot Court competition in Cincinnati, Prof. DeWind's team finished first and received the award for best brief.
Prof. DeWind's service to indigents at the Remington Center and Legal Services represents a longstanding commitment: during law school, he interned at the Wisconsin Coalition for Advocacy, at the Center for Public Representation, and at a legal services program on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. [Mark Godsey]
Thursday, August 2, 2007
University of Maryland Law School Visiting Associate CrimProf Orde F. Kittrie spoke at the United States Department of Homeland Security about the connection between crime and the Southwest border on July 26. Kittrie's presentation was part of a day-long conference entitled "Southwest Border Crime: Understanding the Issues" which included audience members from all over the United States, including representatives of numerous state and local police agencies, the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, and the Defense Department.
Kittrie began his remarks by noting that "while the conventional wisdom among immigration hardliners is that unauthorized immigrants are disproportionately violent and a net drain on the U.S. economy, the conventional wisdom on the left is that illegal immigration is harmless, a kind of victimless crime."
"Neither is correct," said Kittrie. Kittrie said the evidence tends to show that unauthorized immigrants do not commit a higher proportion of crimes (other than immigration violations) than the rest of the U.S. population. Kittrie also said that unauthorized immigrants likely represent a net gain to the U.S. economy. He referred to a recent University of Arizona study estimating that the costs to the state of all unauthorized immigrants are about $1 billion per year but if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arizona’s workforce, economic output would drop annually by at least $29 billion, or 8.2 percent.
Kittrie emphasized, however, that these statistics do not mean that there is no need to fix the currently broken immigration system. "Although the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants to the U.S. are likely good people who do not commit crimes other than immigration violations and are a net benefit to the U.S. economy," said Kittrie, "the process by which they are currently entering the U.S. is causing great harm."
Kittrie explained that the collateral damage from the smuggling routes and criminal enterprises by which unauthorized immigrants enter the United States includes: rising levels of corruption among federal, state and local border officials; frequent theft of autos for use in transporting unauthorized immigrants; routes and techniques that terrorists can use to enter the U.S.; hundreds of deaths per year of unauthorized immigrants; increased infiltration into the U.S. of dangerous Mexican drug cartels; growth in violent street gangs such as MS-13; and environmental damage.
Kittrie noted that another cost of the current broken immigration system is the rampant abuse and exploitation of the estimated 12 million unauthorized immigrants currently in the U.S. Kittrie said that unauthorized immigrants’ reluctance to call the police lest they be deported is regularly exploited by unscrupulous employers, common criminals, battering spouses, corrupt government officials, and border vigilantes. When so many persons within the U.S. feel they have no choice but to suffer crimes in silence, said Kittrie, the unpunished crimes do not only harm the unauthorized immigrants. For example, unaddressed crimes in the labor area, such as the rampant nonpayment or underpayment of wages to unauthorized immigrants, can drive down wages for legal workers who are forced to compete with employer preferences for exploitable unauthorized immigrants. In addition, street criminals emboldened by success in committing crimes unreported by their unauthorized immigrant victims may go on to commit crimes against citizens. Kittrie concluded that the need for immigration reform is urgent, although not for the reasons focused on by the conventional wisdom.
From latimes.com: Jack McClellan publicizes his attraction to young girls, does the rounds of television news and talk shows, and cooperates with the police.
When Santa Monica police confronted him last week at a Jack in the Box — after he had been spotted in the children's section of the city's main library by a nervous mother who called police — he agreed to let officers photograph him.
On talk shows, he appears unshaven and a bit dazed, but unapologetic about his attraction to little girls, admitting he might have sex with them if it were legal and leaving his interviewers blanched with shock and revulsion.
According to authorities, the 45-year-old McClellan, who appears to live mostly out of his car and favor the Westside, has no arrest or conviction record in the United States. He is not a registered sex offender.
Yet he has the Santa Monica Police Department cautioning residents, the elite Special Victims Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department researching him and anguished parents in Internet chat groups trading alleged sightings and urging that he be run out of town.
"I've been doing child abuse and sexual assault cases for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this," said Sgt. Dan Scott of the sheriff's Special Victims Bureau.
Now, two Santa Clarita attorneys have filed court papers on behalf of their daughters to get a restraining order that would keep McClellan out of establishments in Santa Clarita where children congregate. Their petition for injunction, which is scheduled to be heard Friday in L.A. County Superior Court in Chatsworth, was triggered by McClellan's public statements that he might settle down in Santa Clarita. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
From ap.org: Defense lawyers rested their case Wednesday for one of Jose Padilla's co-defendants in their trial on terrorism support charges, clearing the way for a third defendant's attorneys to begin questioning a handful of remaining witnesses.
Padilla's attorneys have already told U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke they plan to call no witnesses in his defense. The case, now in its 12th week of testimony, could go to the jury within the next two weeks.
Two former co-workers of Adham Amin Hassoun, 45 - purportedly Padilla's recruiter for Islamic extremist causes - testified briefly Wednesday about his job as a computer programmer for a firm in Broward County, Fla. Neither was questioned about his alleged support for Islamic extremists, including al-Qaida.
"Your honor, we rest," said Hassoun lawyer Kenneth Swartz after calling seven witnesses since July 23.
The spotlight then shifted to Kifah Wael Jayyousi, 45, an engineer and former schools administrator in Detroit also accused of being part of the terror support cell. His defense is likely to take only a couple of days, said attorney William Swor.
All three defendants face life in prison if convicted on all counts, which include conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
From NYTimes.com: A tribunal in Cambodia charged the commandant of the main Khmer Rouge torture house with crimes against humanity on Tuesday, bringing the first charge in a long-delayed trial in the deaths of 1.7 million people in the late 1970s.
The commandant, Kaing Guek Eav, 64, known as Duch, was the leader of the Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh where at least 14,000 men, women and children were tortured and sent to killing fields. Only a handful survived.
Two weeks ago, prosecutors announced that they had submitted to the tribunal a list of five potential defendants for consideration by co-investigating judges, who are authorized to decide on filing formal charges.
The other four names have not been disclosed. In the charges on Tuesday, the judges said Duch had been placed in “provisional detention,” but did not explain. A small holding center was recently built on the grounds of the tribunal in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.
Duch has been the only major Khmer Rouge figure in custody, in a military jail in Phnom Penh on separate charges, since 1999 when a British photographer discovered him in rural Cambodia. He was working for a government agency and had become a born-again Christian. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
From latimes.com: In the most sweeping overhaul of congressional ethics rules since the Watergate era, the House on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill aimed at curbing the influence of lobbyists and repairing Congress' corruption-sullied image.
Democrats promised to pass the measure after they won control of Congress following a campaign that denounced the Republican "culture of corruption" on Capitol Hill.
The legislation is one of a number of accomplishments that the majority party, ridiculed by Republicans for its slim legislative record, hopes to deliver before lawmakers break at the end of the week for a monthlong recess. The Senate plans to approve an identical bill this week and send it to President Bush for his signature.
The bill would impose new rules on lawmakers and lobbyists, requiring reports on the campaign checks that lobbyists solicit from different contributors and denying congressional pensions to lawmakers convicted of felonies. It would even bar senators-turned-lobbyists from setting foot in the Senate gym.
"If there was one message that was abundantly clear based on the results of last year's election, it was that the American people want us to end the culture of corruption that has enveloped the legislative process," said Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. "We've heard that message loud and clear." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
From dailyreport.com: Scholars such Loyola Law School CrimProf Stan Goldman are now studying Paris Hilton and other young Hollywood celebrities.
Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but what began as fascination with a celebrity gone haywire turned into an honest-to-goodness, serious legal issue. And it also raises questions and concerns for anyone who may have to deal with high-profile cases or who would like to get a lower profile legal wrangle into the news media.
As the cable news networks covered Ms. Hilton’s June journey to court from the street and the air, a real legal issue emerged (giving us a chance to write about one of the wackiest celebrity meltdown stories ever). The esteemed legal journal E! Online quoted Stan Goldman, professor of criminal law at Loyola University Law School, wondering whether the Paris dustup might set a new legal precedent. E! included this quote in its coverage:
“It’s really bizarre that the most frivolous person in the Western world in the most frivolous case in which she didn’t know she has a license to drive might end up creating precedent that could affect thousands of prisoners and where they’re housed and how they’re housed for years to come.”
One has to wonder how much discussion took place inside the offices of the Hilton legal team about either the applicable legal issues or issues related to the inevitable media coverage. The legal issue as to whom, the judge or the sheriff, has the ultimate authority over decisions regarding housing of misdemeanor inmates came to a quick resolve—the judge asserted his authority in no uncertain terms.
But, the outcome to the underlying question—where does media coverage properly affect legal decisions—poses a far more difficult dilemma. Did the attorneys underestimate the media coverage, subsequent talking head reaction and the public’s anger? Absolutely. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
South Texas College CrimProf Drury Stevenson recently discussed proposed hate crime legislation in Congress that has some religious groups crying foul and some in the legal community questioning its necessity.
The American Family Association in June launched an e-mail campaign in opposition to companion bills in the House and Senate that would create a national hate crime law that seeks to protect victims of crime based on their "sexual orientation," among other categories.
"House bill H.R. 1592 and Senate bill S.B. 1105 would make negative statements concerning homosexuality, such as calling the practice of homosexuality a sin from the pulpit, a 'hate crime' punishable by law," the AFA
e-mail states. "This dangerous legislation would take away your freedom of speech and your freedom of religion."
"I think both sides of the debate have overstated their case," said South Texas College CrimProf Drury Stevenson with expertise in church-state issues. "I think the proponents have exaggerated ideas about how much difference the laws will really make, and the opponents are overstating how much interference there will be with normal church activities.
"It's just another chapter of the culture wars, where both sides are more worried about the principle of the thing than they are about the real results." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
From npr.com: Convicted murderers are profiting from their notoriety by selling "murderabilia" to the public. Texas Sen. John Cornyn has recently introduced legislation that will crack down on sellers of the merchandise and prohibit prisoners from profiting from it. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]
From washingtonpost.com: Last week, 29,000 registered sex offenders were identified and removed from MySpace. And this week, the Connecticut attorney general said he was looking into a few cases of convicted sex offenders setting up profiles on Facebook, another popular site. Those on the front lines of the fight against predators on the Web, who use these sites to find young people and lure them to meet, say the battle is complex and will take a combination of education, high-tech security, old-fashioned investigative work, and cooperation among police, lawmakers, schools, parents, teens and the sites.
"This isn't going to be something that we just solve," said Chad Harms, an assistant professor at Iowa State University who serves on the advisory council for the Iowa Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. "This is a relatively new problem, and the light has only been shed on this issue in the last two to three years. In terms of combating this problem, this will be a continuous battle."
Facebook, like MySpace, has tools to allow users to customize privacy settings. Facebook officials could not be reached yesterday to comment on the investigation into sex offenders on its site or its efforts to police the site. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Monday, July 30, 2007
Emory Law is pleased to announce the appointment of new CrimProf Charles D. Swift, a prominent Navy lawyer, to the position of Visiting Associate Professor. Swift will join the Emory Law faculty in the fall of 2007 and will teach in the areas of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), criminal law, evidence, and military law.
Swift visited Emory University during the spring semester to deliver a lecture on U.S. detention policies in Guantanamo Bay and their implications for the rule of law. Swift said during his visit, he was impressed by the quality of the faculty, the facilities, and the students at Emory Law.
“What struck me most was Emory’s commitment to making a meaningful difference in both the development and daily practice of law,” Swift said. “When Emory expressed an interest in bringing that focus to the field of International Humanitarian Law, I knew immediately that I wanted to be part of the effort.”
Swift has extensive experience in the practice of military and international law during his service with the Department of Defense Office of Military Commissions. His well-publicized representation of Salim Hamdan, the driver of Osama bin Laden, brought Swift to the U.S. Supreme Court in the precedent-setting case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. In its decision, the Court ruled that the military commission being used to try Hamdan was illegal and that it lacked the protections required under the Geneva Conventions and U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Known for his dedication to preserving the rule of law during wartime, Swift has been honored by the American Civil Liberties Union with a Medal of Liberty and named by the as one of the most influential lawyers in America.
In addition to his teaching, Swift also will serve as Acting Director of Emory Law’s newly-established International Humanitarian Law Clinic, which will operate during the 2007-2008 academic year. Humanitarian law – also known as the law of conflict – governs the conduct of persons, states and non-state entities during armed conflict and has become increasingly important around the world with heightened news coverage of the Guantanamo Bay cases and the Rwanda genocide proceedings. More. . . [Mark Godsey]
"Voice of America" recently aired a story about the work of the Case Western Reserve University School of Law professors and students working with the Cox Center War Crimes Research Office. Led by CrimProf Michael Scharf, the War Crimes Research Office is assisting with the prosecution of Charles Taylor and other cases before the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and the new Cambodia Genocide Tribunal in Phnom Penh. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]
From washingtonpost.com: An Ocean City woman accused of killing a newly-delivered infant found in her home told a judge today she wasn't a flight risk because she eventually wanted to tell her side of things.
"I need to clear my name in this case," Christy Freeman, 37, told Worcester County District Court Judge Daniel R. Mumford during a bond hearing.
Authorities began digging up property today around her Ocean City home in a homicide investigation that so far has turned up a tiny infant body and infant remains in two separate garbage bags.
Freeman has been charged under a law that makes it illegal to kill a "viable fetus."
Ocean City police discovered the latest evidence in two locations late last week. Infant remains were found wrapped in plastic bags and hidden in a trunk in a bedroom, and also inside a garbage bag in a small motor home on the property.
Freeman, who operates a local taxi service, lives at the home with her boyfriend and her four other children, police said. She is scheduled to have a bond hearing today. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Sunday, July 29, 2007
From azstarnet.com recommended by Flynn Carey: Police cannot routinely search the vehicles of people whom they arrest, the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled.
From dallasnews.com: University of Texas CrimProf Mike Sharlot recently discussed the texas man who was charged with four counts of aggravated assault, because, police say, he had unprotected sex with the women without telling them he had HIV.
Now the four ex-girlfriends have the human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS, according to arrest warrant affidavits released Thursday.
CrimProf Sharlot said cases in which consent is a defense are rare. He used baseball as an analogy.
"Let's say you are playing baseball, lose your temper, and hit the catcher over the head. He committed to playing baseball, not being hit like that," Mr. Sharlot said. "There are rare instances," he said, when a person is blameless "if you bat a ball and hit another player and hurt them." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
From latimes.com: Fed up with deadly drive-by shootings, incessant drug dealing and graffiti, cities nationwide are trying a different tactic to combat gangs: They're suing them.
Fort Worth and San Francisco are among the latest to file lawsuits against gang members, asking courts for injunctions barring them from hanging out together on street corners, in cars or anywhere else in certain areas.
The injunctions are aimed at disrupting gang activity before it can escalate. They also give police legal reasons to stop and question gang members, who often are found with drugs or weapons, authorities said. In some cases, they don't allow gang members to even talk to people passing in cars or to carry spray paint.
"It is another tool," said Kevin Rousseau, a Tarrant County assistant prosecutor in Fort Worth, which recently filed its first civil injunction against a gang. "This is more of a proactive approach."
But critics say such lawsuits go too far, limiting otherwise lawful activities and unfairly targeting minority youth.
"If you're barring people from talking in the streets, it's difficult to tell if they're gang members or if they're people discussing issues," said Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. "And it's all the more troubling because it doesn't seem to be effective."
Civil injunctions were first filed against gang members in the 1980s in the Los Angeles area, a breeding ground for gangs including some of the country's most notorious, such as the Crips and 18th Street.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]