August 18, 2007
CrimProf James Cohen Discusses Padilla's Conviction
From suntimes.com: Fordham Law School CrimProf James Cohen recently discussed Jose Padilla's conviction for supporting terrorism.
Padilla, 36, who grew up in Chicago, and his foreign-born co-defendants, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi, were convicted Thursday of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas, which carries a maximum penalty of life.
CrimProf Cohen said the form likely cinched the case for many jurors. ''The fingerprints on the application, combined with the claim that Padilla's purpose was humanitarian when various Muslim charities are accused of being mere fronts for terrorism, adds up to a difficult defense,'' Cohen said.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Blog Spotlight: Penny White
This week the CrimProf Blog spotlights University of Tennessee School of Law CrimProf Penny White.
Before joining the faculty at the UT College of Law in 2000, Professor Penny White served as a judge in all courts of record in the state of Tennessee. As a circuit judge, Professor White presided over civil and criminal jury trials in Tennessee's First Judicial District. Thereafter, as a member of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, White heard and decided hundreds of cases involving state and federal constitutional law issues and state criminal law issues. As the youngest member of the Tennessee Supreme Court, Professor White participated in several decisions that have impacted Tennessee law, including decisions involving class actions, rights of tort victims, and capital punishment.
Since leaving the bench, Professor White has authored benchbooks for Tennessee Circuit, General Sessions, and Municipal Court Judges; has taught judicial education programs in 38 states; and has spoken and written frequently on the topic of judicial independence. She has served as a member of the faculty at the National Judicial College for 15 years where she teaches courses for judges on the subjects of evidence, criminal procedure, and judicial ethics.
She recently completed a one-year term as Chair of the Faculty Council at the National Judicial College. In addition, Professor White has served as one of the faculty on the College's Capital Punishment Improvement Initiative, a project that provides training and education to trial judges on the trial of capital cases. Professor White is also authoring portions of a Capital Improvement Initiative Manual, which will be used by judges all across the country who try capital cases.
Before taking the bench in 1990, White practiced law in state and federal court, successfully arguing a case, as a solo practitioner, in the United States Supreme Court in 1988. Professor White taught at three other law schools before joining the UT faculty, serving as Director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse while teaching at Washington and Lee College of Law, holding the William J. Maier, Jr. Chair of Law at West Virginia College of Law, teaching at Denver University College of Law, and visiting at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Her work has been published in numerous law reviews and legal publications. [Mark Godsey]
August 16, 2007
CrimProf Geoffrey Corn Discusses University Criminal Case
From chron.com: South Texas College of Law CrimProf Geoffrey Corn recently discussed the case in which a former chairman of TSU's Board of Regents and current member of President Bush's Cabinet Alphonso Jackson is expected to testify against ousted Texas Southern University President Priscilla Slade in her trial for financial mismanagement
Although it is unusual for someone in Jackson's position to be a witness in a criminal trial, it makes sense in the broader scheme of an unusual trial, said CrimProf Geoffrey Corn.
Because it is unusual for a university professor to be tried, those who would be familiar with her actions would be "similarly situated" in high posts, Corn said."The proof requirement of a case drives the witness list," Corn said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Proposed Bills to Stop Wrongful Convictions
Three bills in the California Legislature would help prevent wrongful convictions, such as the wrongful conviction of Herman Atkins who recently posted a video telling his story:
- Senate Bill 511 (Alquist) will require the electronic recording of police interrogation in cases involving homicides and other violent felonies.
- Senate Bill 756 (Ridley-Thomas) will require the appointment of a task force to draft guidelines for the conduct of police line-ups and photo arrays to increase the accuracy of eyewitness identifications.
- Senate Bill 609 (Romero) will require the corroboration of testimony by jailhouse informants.
The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice—a group of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and defense attorneys—has recommended all three reforms.
Stephen Colbert Interviewed 200th DNA Exoneree
Stephen Colbert recently interviewed the 200 th DNA exoneree, Jerry Miller. Watch the episode. . . [Mark Godsey]
August 15, 2007
Proposed Gun Stamp Law Could Lower Crime
From latimes.com: A proposed state bill requiring all new handguns to be stamped with microscopic identification tags could significantly decrease violence and shut down the illegal gun market if passed, proponents said in a news conference Tuesday.
The Crime Gun Identification Act, AB 1471, would require that lasers be used to create a "microstamp" of each gun's make, model and serial number that would become imprinted onto shell casings when a bullet is fired. The technology was demonstrated Tuesday by its co-inventor, Todd Lizotte, at the Los Angeles Police Academy.
The microstamp is designed to help law enforcement officials trace shell casings back to a gun's registered owner, said Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), who wrote the bill.
Opponents of AB 1471 -- mostly gun lobbyists, according to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- believe the technology is vulnerable to tampering and does not prevent unlicensed criminals from using the stamped guns.
"These bills come up every year and are under the guise of lowering crime but don't deal with the criminal element," NRA spokeswoman Ashley Varner told the Pasadena Weekly in March.
In letters to Assembly members, the Golden State 2nd Amendment Councilwrote that microstamping was "unproven technology" that could cause crime scenes to "easily be contaminated by a criminal throwing down a handful of shell casings he picked up from the local gun range." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
AZ Bans Text Messaging While Driving
From azcentral.com: The deaths of two Arizona women this week are shifting focus back on potential state legislation to ban the practice of text-messaging behind the wheel.
Peoria police investigators believe Ashley D. Miller, 18, of Glendale, drifted across the center line because she was text-messaging on her cellphone. Miller collided with Stacey A. Stubbs, 40, of Chino Valley, police said.
The deaths are the latest to highlight what has become a national debate as more states scramble to implement laws regulating the use of cellphones while driving. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Richard Klein Discusses the Heightened Interogation Standard of Prosecutors
Touro Law School CrimProf Richard Klein recently discussed the interviewing standatds of Prosecutors with regards to charged that the Nassau's chief homicide prosecutor improperly interrogated a woman on videotape, a tactic that he said led to the woman's wrongful indictment on murder charges
CrimProf Klein said prosecutors are held to different standards than police officers in interviewing clients.
"If a prosecutor can't say something in the grand jury, then one can make a legitimate claim that the prosecutor can't communicate those same thoughts to jurors via videotape," Klein said.
August 14, 2007
Store Owner Charged With Selling Nudity to a Child via a Comic Book
From NPR.com: Gordon Lee, owner of Legends Comic Book Store in Rome, Ga., goes on trial this week over whether he willfully gave a comic that depicted nudity to a child. His store took part in a downtown trick-or-treat celebration three years ago. Instead of candy, Lee handed out free comics. One of them had two drawings showing painter Pablo Picasso moving about his studio in the nude, his genitals clearly exposed. Lee was arrested a week later. The case worries the comic book industry, which fears limits on artistic expression. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]
Ohio Judge Tries to Fight CSI Effect
From oxfordpress.com: Jurors in Butler County, Ohio Common Pleas Judge Patricia Oney's courtroom have limited television viewing choices until the verdict is in. In fact, the Disney Channel may be the best bet.
For nearly a decade, judges, prosecutors and detectives have been experiencing the "CSI blowback" in local courtrooms. This has created an unrealistic expectation of what can and cannot be done with evidence in the minds of jurors, said Oney, who was a defense attorney before donning the black robe.
Oney has upped her standard instruction for jurors. Media coverage of the case is a given and routine instruction for judges, but she also has a list of fictional viewing "no-nos."
"So many shows now are pulled in part from cases all over the country," Oney said. "I don't want jurors watching them while they are in deliberation."
Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper said seminars in "dealing with the 'CSI' effect" are common in training conferences for attorneys, and last week before a murder case, Assistant Prosecutor Jason Phillabaum said "CSI" is to forensics as "Star Trek" is to space travel. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Activists Question Race and Media Coverage of Crime Stories
From boston.com: Activists are questioning why violent tragedies in urban centers like Hartford don't get the same media and government attention that has surrounded the recent slayings of a Cheshire mother and her daughters.
The Rev. Cornell Lewis, a Hartford minister, said yesterday that Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell's response to urban violence has been "slow as molasses."
Rell called for a review of the state's criminal justice system soon after the July 23 burglary and arson in suburban Cheshire. The crime left Jennifer Hawke-Petit and daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, dead.
State legislators also called for an investigation of the state's parole system after learning that the two suspects in the Petit killings were parolees. Lewis said similar responses are needed when young people die in Connecticut's inner cities. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
August 13, 2007
CrimProf Daniel Richman Joins Columbia University's Faculty
“The addition of these distinguished scholars to our faculty in areas of our traditional strengths solidify the school’s leadership position for innovative thinking about the most fluid and pressing issues of the moment, which are changing the face of domestic and international law,’’ said David Schizer, dean of Columbia Law School. “It underscores Columbia’s reputation as a school that drives new thinking and influences policy on a global scale."
CrimProf Richman is a criminal law expert who sat on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s Homeland Security Policy Advisory Committee in the past. [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Wiliam Pizzi Compares El Paso Corruption to Corruption in Other Cities
From elpasotimes.com: University of Colorado Law School CrimProf William Pizzi Recently discussed the ongoing public corruption investigation in El Paso and how it is developing in a pattern similar to public corruption cases in other cities.
"Nothing that has happened there so far surprises me," said CrimProf William Pizzi. "They worked out with someone early on to plead guilty, they named several others being investigated and they are now working to put the whole package together."
Pizzi, was an assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey, said the next step in the investigation, which El Paso is in now, is rarely public and involves the vendors who were the alleged targets of corruption. It is a phase the public rarely sees, he said. "They start contacting vendors and asking them if they are defendants or victims," he said. "If they say they are victims, then there is some pressure for their cooperation."
The public corruption investigation began sometime in 2005, according to FBI officials. It became public in May 2006 when agents raided the offices of the National Center for Employment of the Disabled, now known as ReadyOne Industries. That was followed by searches at some private homes, private law offices and meetings with school board officials.
The community's awareness of the investigation heightened in May 2007, when the offices of County Judge Anthony Cobos and Commissioners Luis Sariñana and Miguel Terán were searched. Within days, the county chief of staff, John Travis Ketner, resigned. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf Jeffrey S. Parker Discusses Frivolous Fraud Case
From AMNews.com: George Mason University School of Law CrimProf Jeffrey S. Parker recently discussed the case in which Dr. Mark Capener turned the tables on the government and won nearly $300,000 in legal fees for what a Nevada federal trial judge found to be a frivolous health care fraud case.
CrimProf Jeffrey S. Parker said cases like the one against Dr. Capener -- prosecuted under a general 1996 health care fraud statute -- are not unusual. The statute sets a standard for criminal violations that requires the government to show that the doctor acted deliberately.
Instead, in many cases, "[the government] is just looking at CPT code usage and anybody out on the tail of the distribution is targeted for criminal prosecution," Parker said. "And that's not the same thing as intentional wrongdoing." If found guilty, doctors could face 10 years in prison, noted Parker, who assisted in Dr. Capener's suit. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
August 12, 2007
Guantanamo Prisoners on Hunger Strike and Being Force Fed
From observer.com: New details have emerged of how the growing number of prisoners on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay are being tied down and force-fed through tubes pushed down their nasal passages into their stomachs to keep them alive.
They routinely experience bleeding and nausea, according to a sworn statement by the camp's chief doctor, seen by The Observer.
'Experience teaches us' that such symptoms must be expected 'whenever nasogastric tubes are used,' says the affidavit of Captain John S Edmondson, commander of Guantánamo's hospital. The procedure - now standard practice at Guantánamo - 'requires that a foreign body be inserted into the body and, ideally, remain in it.' But staff always use a lubricant, and 'a nasogastric tube is never inserted and moved up and down. It is inserted down into the stomach slowly and directly, and it would be impossible to insert the wrong end of the tube.' Medical personnel do not insert nasogastric tubes in a manner 'intentionally designed to inflict pain.' Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Boston Cracks Down on Police Misconduct
From bostonherald.com: Boston police brass are stealthily hitting the streets in a sweeping crackdown on cops who fail to show up for lucrative paid details, talk excessively on their cell phones at job sites and commit other infractions that tarnish the badge, the Herald has learned.
Over the past two weeks, Superintendent Dan Linskey, chief of patrol officers, has been checking on cops on private details to ensure that they are on post, well dressed and not idling in air-conditioned cars, smoking in the street or having prolonged cell phone calls.
Any cop found not doing the job properly is reprimanded and asked not to turn in the $37-an-hour detail card for payment, Linskey said.
Justice Department Study Shows African Americans Disproportionately Victimized
From washingtonpost.com: Nearly half the people murdered in the United States each year are black, part of a persistent pattern in which African Americans are disproportionately victimized by violent crime, according to a new Justice Department study released yesterday.
The study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics also found that from 2001 to 2005, more than nine out of 10 black murder victims were killed by other blacks, and three out of four were slain with a gun. Blacks, who make up 13 percent of the population, were victims in 15 percent of nonfatal violent crimes.
The new findings underscore the enduring problem of crime that plagues many African American communities, even during a period when the incidence of violent crime dropped or held steady overall, according to criminologists and other experts.
Some experts said the study also illustrates that encounters with criminals are often more likely to turn deadly for black victims than for victims of other races, in part because black victims are more likely to be confronted with firearms. Rest of Article . . . [Mark Godsey]