September 8, 2007
NJ Police Department Shows Progress With Concern to Race
From nj.com: A court-appointed team monitoring the New Jersey Police's efforts to end racial profiling found the agency appears "to have reached a watershed moment" by correcting questionable tactics used during motor vehicle stops.
With the monitor's latest report, issued yesterday, Gov. Jon Corzine said "it's very close to the time" when he will ask a federal court to end oversight of the State Police that began in the wake of a 1998 shooting on the New Jersey Turnpike when two state troopers stopped a van carrying four minority men and riddled it with bullets. Three passengers in the van were seriously wounded and the event triggered a national debate on racial profiling. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
September 7, 2007
CrimProf Blog Spotlights Earl Dudley Jr.
Beginning in 1982, Earl Dudley taught trial advocacy seminars at the Law School while he was a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Nussbaum Owen & Webster. Then, in 1989, he became a full-time faculty member. Dudley's career, before he came to Virginia, was in private practice, except for two years when he was general counsel for the Committee on the Judiciary in the U.S. House of Representatives. At the Law School, Dudley teaches civil and criminal procedure, evidence, criminal law, constitutional law, and trial advocacy.
As a law student, Dudley was editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Review. After graduation, he clerked for Justice Stanley Reed and Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court of the United States. He serves on the Virginia State Bar Committee on Professionalism and was a member of the boards of directors of the Stuart Stiller Memorial Foundation, the Disability Rights Center, and the Center for the Study of Psychiatry. He was a public member of the ethics committee of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and he has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, as well as a faculty member of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy in programs in various cities.
September 6, 2007
DC Asks SCOTUS to Save Ban on Gun Ownership
From washingtonpost.com: The Washington DC asked the Supreme Court yesterday to save the city's ban on handgun ownership, saying an appeals court's decision overturning the prohibition "drastically departs from the mainstream of American jurisprudence."
If the court agrees to take the case, as most legal experts believe is likely, it could lead to a historic decision sometime next year on whether the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects an individual's right to own a gun or simply imparts a collective, civic right related to maintaining state militias
It is a question that has been hotly debated in the nation's courts and legislatures for years, and a decision by the Supreme Court to settle the issue could carry broad implications for local governments and thrust gun control as an issue into the 2008 elections.
The District argues in its petition that its law -- one of the strictest in the nation -- should be upheld regardless of whether the court sides with the individualist or collective legal theory. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
John Wesley Hall Installed as President Elect for the NACDL
John Wesley Hall, a 1973 graduate of our University of Little Rock Law School , was installed in August as President-elect of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers at the NACDL National Conference in San Francisco. He has served on the organization's Board of Directors for 14 years and as NACDL's Secretary, Treasurer, and Second and First Vice President.
Death Row Inmate Cleared by DNA will be. . . Retried?
From NYTImes.com: The scene in the tiny Noxubee County, Mississippi jail on a rainy afternoon has become almost commonplace. Kennedy Brewer, sentenced to death and locked up for 15 years for the rape and murder of a 3-year-old, was released on the strength of a DNA test showing that the semen in the rape kit was not his.
But Mr. Brewer is not free and clear. He is only out on bail.
In a move that appears to be novel, prosecutors intend to retry him for the crime.
Virtually no effort has been made to find the man who raped the girl, Christine Jackson, and dumped her body in a creek in Noxubee County, one of the most rural in the state.
This is the first time prosecutors have sought a new capital murder trial after a conviction was overturned by DNA evidence, said Peter Neufeld, director of the Innocence Project, a legal aid group based in New York that has used DNA testing to exonerate the wrongly convicted since 1992. Usually such cases are simply dropped. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
September 5, 2007
Largest Criminal Case From Iraqi War
From NPR.org: The leader of a Marine squad charged with killing 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha faces a military hearing at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Sgt. Frank Wuterich is charged with 18 counts of unpremeditated murder in what's been called the largest criminal case to emerge from the war in Iraq. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]
Highlighting DC's Serious Prisoner Reentry Crisis
Froms washingtonpost.com: About 2,000 prisoners come back to Washington DC every year -- an average of five a day. As many as 60,000 D.C. residents -- one in 10 -- are felons, 15,000 of them under court supervision.
They arrive at the homes of relatives, at halfway houses and shelters. One-third end up homeless or close to it. Seven out of 10 have abused drugs. Half don't have a high school diploma. Employers, landlords and even family members often avoid them.
Most emerge ill-equipped to stay out of prison. Two-thirds are re-arrested within three years. Forty percent are sent back to prison. This means more crime, more victims and more money spent to send them through the justice system again and again.
The District is the only jurisdiction in the country where the federal government has direct authority for supervising its felons, a legacy of the city's bankrupt '90s under Mayor Marion Barry (D).
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Prostitutes Apprehended Thanks to Craigslist.com
From NYTimes.com: Eight women were arrested on prostitution charges in New York, snared in a new sting operation by the Nassau County police that focuses on Craigslist.org, the ubiquitous Web site best known for its employment and for-sale advertisements but which law enforcement officials say is increasingly also used to trade sex for money.
Nassau County has made more than 70 arrests since it began focusing on Craigslist last year, one of numerous crackdowns by vice squads from Hawaii to New Hampshire that have lately been monitoring the Web site closely, sometimes placing decoy ads to catch would-be customers.
“Craigslist has become the high-tech 42nd Street, where much of the solicitation takes place now,” said Richard McGuire, Nassau’s assistant chief of detectives. “Technology has worked its way into every profession, including the oldest.”
Augmenting traditional surveillance of street walkers, massage parlors, brothels and escort services, investigators are now hunching over computer screens to scroll through provocative cyber-ads in search of solicitors.
In July raids, the sheriff of Cook County, Ill., rounded up 43 women working on the streets — and 60 who advertised on Craigslist. In Seattle, a covert police ad on Craigslist in November resulted in the arrests of 71 men, including a bank officer, a construction worker and a surgeon. Rest of Article. . . . [Mark Godsey]
September 4, 2007
Nebraska May Finally Stop Using the Electric Chair
From Omaha.com: The fate of Nebraska's electric chair will be on the docket today at the Nebraska Supreme Court. The high court will hear arguments on whether the electric chair, Nebraska's sole means of execution, is constitutional.
The case being argued involves an appeal filed by death-row inmate Raymond Mata Jr. But it also could affect the case of death row inmate Carey Dean Moore, who came within days of being executed in May.
The court cited the Mata appeal when it abruptly halted Moore's scheduled execution. The court said the legal questions surrounding the electric chair needed to be resolved before another inmate was put to death in Nebraska.
"We conclude that we acted prematurely in ordering a death warrant before resolving that constitutional question in State v. Mata," the court wrote on May 2, six days before Moore was slated to die.
Nebraska is the only state in which the electric chair is the sole means of execution. Many other states have switched to lethal injection, raising the question of whether Nebraska's chair now constitutes unusual, if not cruel, punishment. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Cali's Setencing Structure Will Probably Not Get Expected Overhaul
From sacbee.com: With the legislative session heading into the home stretch, an ambitious plan to overhaul California's criminal sentencing structure is facing dim prospects in the Governor's Office.
Two bills are circulating in the Legislature that would create a California sentencing commission with the ability to change the length of prison terms. But a spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suggested it is highly unlikely that either commission bill would get signed into law.
"We're open to debate, but the governor has serious reservations about what's being proposed in the Legislature," Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said in an interview. "He thinks that final authority (on sentencing laws) should be with elected officials who are accountable to the people."
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
CrimProf S. David Mitchell Writes Article Concerning Felon Exclusion Laws
Felon exclusion laws impact not only individuals, but also communities, according to a University of Missouri-Columbia CrimProf S. David Mitchell. By their suppressive nature, the legal statutes, which vary from state to state, have devastating socio-economic, political and legal effects on African-American communities nationwide, he contends.
"Most felons come from particular communities - lower socio-economic status communities and primarily communities of color," said S. David Mitchell. "The problem is that upon release, if you send that large percentage back into those communities, you're adding an increased layer of problems to a community that's already suffering. What you're sending back are voiceless and powerless individuals. Thus, the economic and political power of the community is limited."
In his article, "Undermining Individual and Collective Citizenship: The Impact of Exclusion Laws on the African-American Community," to be published this month in the Fordham Urban Law Journal, Mitchell discussed exclusion laws that prohibit convicted felons from exercising a host of legal rights - most notably the opportunity to vote. In addition to suffrage, which is most commonly debated among scholars and legal experts, Mitchell advocates that upon completion of their sentences, ex-felons should have all of their rights restored - especially those associated with social services; public and private employment; the opportunity to serve on a jury; and privilege to hold public office. He said restoration should take place without requiring burdensome processes or financial restitution, which are required in some states.
"When ex-felons have finished their time, they should have all of their rights automatically restored," Mitchell said. "Now, my detractors would say, 'Does that mean if someone is convicted of a sex offense crime, they should be allowed to hold a job in an education-related field?' No ... there are conditions; however, a greater relationship between the nature of the offense and the restrictions being applied should exist."
In examining the issue, Mitchell said his goal was to explore the "entire notion of citizenship and what it really means to be a United States citizen." He concluded the restoration of a cadre of rights is just as important as the right to vote. Restrictions only limit the quality of life and impede the successful reentry of individuals attempting to re-establish themselves in their communities.
"Most people tend to focus solely on the denial of the right to vote, which is incredibly important. But I think it's a narrow view, which is why I discuss what it means to be a citizen - particularly for African Americans and other underrepresented groups," said Mitchell, who also is a sociologist. "Citizenship is more than just an opportunity to cast a ballot. Voting is important, but if I can't have a home, can't feed my family and don't have a job, do I really feel like an American citizen? If an ex-felon can't earn a living, then why would he or she adopt the values of society upon being released? If you're not allowing them back into society fully, then why should they adopt our rules? They have no reason to uphold the laws, and there becomes a greater propensity to re-commit crimes." [Mark Godsey]
September 3, 2007
CrimProf David M. Crane Participated in Drafting a Declaration Calling for the Arrest of International Criminals
A meeting of most of the living international criminal prosecutors—from Nuremberg to the International Criminal Court—yielded a joint declaration of nine international prosecutors, including Syracuse University College of Law Crimprof David M. Crane, calling for an end to the “impunity by perpetrators of crimes of concern to the international community.”
The statement was written and signed on Aug. 29 as part of the International Humanitarian Law Dialogs co-sponsored by Syracuse University College of Law at the famous Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York. The International Humanitarian Law Dialogs marked the 100th anniversary of The Hague Rules of 1907, the cornerstone of the laws regulating armed conflict today.
“It was a historic moment to see nearly all of the living international prosecutors from Nuremberg to the International Criminal Court together at the dialogs,” Crane said. “It shows that the legacy of Justice Robert H. Jackson, who had close ties to Syracuse University and its College of Law, lives on in their work around the world.”
Crane, who is the former chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, was among the lead discussants in the day-long event and signers of the Chautauqua Declaration. Also present were two of the three remaining prosecutors of the historic International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg: Henry King and Whitney Harris. Other participants were Luis Moreno-Ocampo (Prosecutor, International Criminal Court), Stephen Rapp (Chief Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone [SCSL]), Hassan Jallow (Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda), Robert Petit (Co-Prosecutor, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia), David Tolbert (Deputy Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and Sir Desmond DeSilva (former Chief Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone).
The Chautauqua Declaration included the signatories’ assertions that pursuit of international justice is not a choice but a matter of law. Specifically, the document calls on the arrest of international criminal indictees Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic, Felician Kabuga, Joseph Kony, and Ahmed Harun among others “sought by international justice.” [Mark Godsey]
Texas Governor Stops an Execution
From NPR.com: Thursday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry stopped the execution of a death row inmate who was scheduled to die hours later. It was a rare move for a state that has executed more inmates than any other. It came after media reports and pressure from the European Union to halt the execution.
Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]
Many Murder Victims Have Criminal Records
From USATODAY.com: A spike in murders in many cities is claiming a startling number of victims with criminal records, police say, suggesting that drug and gang wars are behind the escalating violence.
Police increasingly explore criminal pasts of homicide victims as well as suspects as they search for sources of the violence, which has risen the past two years after a decade of decline, according to the FBI's annual measures of U.S. crime.
Understanding victims' pasts is critical to driving crime back down, police and crime analysts say. "If you are trying to look at prevention, you need to look at the lives of the people involved," says Mallory O'Brien, director of the Homicide Review Commission in Milwaukee. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
September 2, 2007
Chicagoans Romanticize Mob Culture
From washingtonpost.com: "There he is, there's Calabrese and there's the Indian and there's Joey the Clown," said Lee Anne Roggensack, excitedly pointing out three of the elderly defendants in the Family Secrets mob conspiracy trial, where closing arguments conclude Thursday.
The 10-week trial has spawned a subculture of its own: Chicagoans who feel as if the mob was a shadowy but ever-present force as they grew up in this city, and who wanted to see some of its most flamboyant characters in the flesh -- and put behind bars.
Decades after its heyday, the Chicago mob is still famous around the world. Untouchable Tours buses weave through the city daily, showing the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and other notorious locales. When the Biograph Theater reopened last year, much was made of its fame as the spot where federal agents gunned down John Dillinger.
Mobsters are often romanticized and glorified, but most people at the trial had a decidedly negative view of the five defendants -- Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Paul "the Indian" Schiro, James Marcello, former cop Anthony Doyle and Frank Calabrese Sr. -- who among them are charged with 18 murders, racketeering, extortion, loan-sharking, gambling and other crimes. The alleged victims include Outfit members Michael and Anthony Spilotro, brothers who were beaten and buried alive in an Indiana cornfield in 1986.
"It's been undermining the integrity of our city forever," said Pat Reynolds, 73, who spent 24 days in the courtroom and fears that a planned vacation to Telluride, Colo., will make her miss the verdict. "I've always had to explain my city, that it's wonderful and beautiful in spite of this." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]