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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cocaine: Price Up, Purity Down

From USATODAY.com: Tough action by Mexico is driving down the cocaine supply in 26 U.S. cities, a recently declassified Drug Enforcement Administration analysis shows, an encouraging drop in narcotics crossing the border that law enforcement officials hope will continue.

As evidence of the short supply, prices have spiked sharply and purity has decreased since September 2006, says the analysis, which previously had not been made public. A gram of pure cocaine sold for about $118.70 in the spring, a 29% increase from last fall. Purity decreases when dealers add other ingredients, such as baby formula and sugar, to stretch the supply. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 15, 2007 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 14, 2007

CrimProf Blog Spotlight: Charles P. Bubany

BubanyThis week the CrimProf Blog spotlights Texas Tech Law School CrimProf Charles P. Bubany.

Admitted to practice in Missouri, Professor Bubany was a note editor for the Washington University Law Quarterly. He attended a year of graduate school at the University of Illinois College of Law, taught law at West Virginia University, was a Navy JAG officer, and practiced law in St. Louis before joining the Law School faculty.

At Texas Tech, Professor Bubany coached the School of Law's National and International Champion team of the 1987 ABA Client Counseling Competition. He received the Faculty Ethics Award in 1988, 1989, and 1994; the Outstanding Law Professor Award in 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003; the Texas Tech Continuing Education Award in 1990; and the Faculty Service to the Professions Award from the National University Continuing Education Association in 1991.

A regular teacher of continuing education classes dealing with criminal law subjects for lawyers and nonlawyers, Professor Bubany is co-author of a casebook, Texas Criminal Procedure, and co-editor of Texas Traffic Law and Related Statutes; 1999.  An N.A.I.A. All-American golfer in college, Professor Bubany is currently engaged in research for a book on Golf and the Law. [Mark Godsey]

September 14, 2007 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

CrimProf Robert Chesney Discusses "Terrorism and the Convergence of Criminal and Military Detention Models"

ChesneyWake Forest University School of Law CrimProf Robert M. Chesney will speak on “Terrorism and the Convergence of Criminal and Military Detention Models” at William & Mary Law School on Wednesday, October 10.

“In the wake of the 9/11 attacks,” argues Chesney, whose research focuses on national security and terrorism, “the traditional legal frameworks associated with both criminal and military detention have experienced considerable pressure to change.” Since neither of the traditional models adequately responds to the features of contemporary terrorism, Chesney asserts that the two models are converging in important ways: “On one hand, the criminal justice model has experienced pressure to become more prevention-oriented, a trend expressed primarily through an increasing embrace of association-based liability. On the other hand, the military detention model has experienced pressure to provide better safeguards against false-positives, a trend expressed both in criticism of association-based justifications for detention and in criticism of the procedural safeguards associated with detention decisions.”

Chesney is an associate professor at Wake Forest University School of Law specializing in national security law. A graduate of Texas Christian University and of Harvard Law School, he is the chair of the Section on National Security Law of the Association of American Law Schools, an associate member of the Intelligence Science Board, the book review editor of the Journal of National Security Law and Policy, the founder and moderator of "nationalsecuritylaw" (a listserv for professors and professionals), the editor of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security's National Security Law Report, and a member of the board of directors for the Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security at Duke University.

He has presented papers and lectures at a number of academic and military conferences, has received law of war training as a civilian guest at the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, and has participated in inspection tours of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in both 2005 and 2007.

Prior to joining the Wake Forest faculty in the fall of 2002, Chesney practiced in the litigation department of Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York City, where his clients included J.P. Morgan and the New York County Lawyers' Association. Before that, he clerked for the Honorable Robert D. Sack of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Honorable Lewis A. Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. [Mark Godsey]

September 13, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Article Spotlight: "Restoring the Grand Jury"

WashburnkFrom SSRN.com: Harvard Law School CrimProf Kevin K. Washburn recently published "Restoring the Grand Jury"  Here is the abstract:

In recent years, the grand jury has been overly criticized and underutilized. While many recent scholars have proposed reforms that would re-invigorate the grand jury, most of these reforms are ill-designed and unmoored to the historical purposes of the grand jury. In an era of plea bargains, the grand jury has the potential to serve a crucial role in insuring popular legitimacy in the criminal justice system. While much of the existing rhetoric about the grand jury is wrong, some criticism of the institution is certainly due.

As the United States has become more diverse, the grand jury has lost its role as “the voice of the community” and become instead a melting pot in which each community's voice is lost amid a cacophony of voices from other communities. Since a grand jury functions by majority vote and is now generally drawn from the entire jurisdiction, the grand jury no longer serves as a counter-majoritarian force of the local community against central authority.

The gradual homogenization of the grand jury may have had a particularly strong impact on minority communities where legitimacy issues are most serious. Ironically, it was well-intentioned efforts to insure diversity in criminal justice – through the rule that trial juries should be drawn from panels representing a “fair cross-section of the community” – that undermined the grand jury's role when this rule was unthinkingly imported into the grand jury context.

No jurisdiction is just one community, and no grand jury can serve its purpose of representing any community if it is drawn from all communities. The proper way to restore the grand jury is neither to manipulate grand jury evidentiary rules nor to adopt any other reforms that have been proposed in recent years, but instead to insure that the grand jury represents an actual community. Grand juries must be reconstituted so that each grand jury represents a neighborhood, an actual community of people who are concerned about local issues of criminal justice. [Mark Godsey]

September 13, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Polygamist Sect Leader Warren Jeffs Trial Begins

From NPR.com: The trial of Warren Jeffs is underway in St. George, Utah. Jeffs is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the nation's largest polygamist sect. The trial centers on the arranged marriage of an allegedly unwilling underage teenager to her cousin. But the case against the 51-year-old polygamist is not considered a slam dunk.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believes that in order for men to reach the highest degree of glory in heaven, they must have at least three wives. The man designated as the group's prophet holds enormous sway because it is he who decides whether a follower is worthy of more wives. This power is at the heart of the prosecution's case against Jeffs.

"That's their theory is that he wielded a great deal of religious mind control over his followers. And his word was the equivalent of the word of God, so If they didn't obey him, they were disobeying God," says Aric Cramer, a Utah criminal defense attorney who has followed the case closely.

The prosecution's case concerns a 14-year-old follower who was chosen by Jeffs to marry her 19-year-old cousin. Listen. . . [Mark  Godsey]

September 13, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Authorities Decided not to Pursue Hate Crime Charges against Suspected Torturers

NYTimes.com: Authorities decided Wednesday not to pursue hate crime charges in the kidnapping and weeklong torture of a black woman, instead going after the suspects, who are white, on state charges that carry stiffer penalties.

While federal civil rights or state hate crime charges remain an option, a state kidnapping count that carries a sentence of up to life in prison will provide the best chance for successful prosecution, officials said.

''As a practical matter, sentenced to life, what else can be done?'' U.S. Attorney Charles T. Miller told The Associated Press.

Six people face charges, including kidnapping, sexual assault and lying to police in the torture of Megan Williams, 20, at a remote hillside home in Big Creek.

State hate crime charges, which carry a sentence of 10 years, could come later, prosecutor Brian Abraham said. State sexual assault charges carry a penalty up to 35 years in prison.

The woman's captors forced her to eat rat droppings, choked her with a cable cord and stabbed her in the leg while calling her a racial slur, according to criminal complaints. They also poured hot water over her, made her drink from a toilet, and beat and sexually assaulted her during a span of about a week, the documents say.

Williams was not a random target, prosecutor Brian Abraham said Wednesday. She had a ''social relationship'' with one of the suspects, he said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 12, 2007 in Race | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Texas State Court Prevents State from Destroying Evidence That May Show an Innocent Man was Executed

From innocenceproject.org: A Texas state judge this morning issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from destroying evidence that could show whether a man was wrongfully executed in 2000.

On Friday, attorneys filed motions seeking DNA testing on critical evidence in the case and also seeking an immediate order to stop the state from destroying the evidence while the court considers the request for DNA testing. Today’s order, issued by District Court Judge Elizabeth E. Coker in San Jacinto County, granted the immediate request to block destruction of the evidence and set a hearing for October 3 on whether to conduct DNA testing in the case.

The Texas Observer, the Innocence Project, the Innocence Project of Texas and the Texas Innocence Network filed motions in state court in San Jacinto County, Texas, seeking DNA testing on the only piece of physical evidence in the case – a hair from the crime scene – that could determine whether the hair matches Claude Jones, who was convicted of murder in 1990 and executed on December 7, 2000.

The hair, which was found on the counter in a liquor store where a man was shot and killed, was central in Jones’ trial and post-conviction appeals. An expert for the state testified at the trial that the hair was consistent with Jones’. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, narrowly upheld Jones’ conviction, in a 3-2 ruling where the majority specifically cited the hair evidence as the necessary “corroboration” to uphold the conviction.

The groups, represented by attorneys at Mayer Brown LLP, filed the court motions Friday after the San Jacinto District Attorney refused to agree to DNA testing – and also refused to agree not to destroy the evidence while courts consider whether DNA testing can be conducted.

"The judge today recognized that this case raises very serious issues about the integrity of the criminal justice system. We’re grateful that the state will not be able to destroy this evidence before DNA testing can be conducted,” said Nina Morrison, Staff Attorney at the Innocence Project. “We are hopeful that the judge will also see that it’s in everyone’s interests to conduct DNA testing that could resolve serious, lingering questions about this case. DNA testing could show that Claude Jones was guilty, or it could show that the state had no basis for executing him. The public has a right to know whether Claude Jones committed the crime for which he was executed, and today’s ruling moves us one important step closer to learning the truth.” Read More About the Case. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 12, 2007 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Exonerated Former Prisoner will Speak at "Guilty Until Proven Innocent" Panel Discussion

James Tillman served 18 years in a Connecticut prison for a rape he didn't commit. But through the efforts of the Innocence Project and DNA evidence, he was exonerated and released from prison last year. The state legislature recently awarded him $5 million as compensatory damages for his ordeal.

Tillman will be among those who will take part in an educational program, “Guilty Until Proven Innocent,”  at Quinnipiac School of Law from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

The event will be highlighted by a brief speech from Tillman about how he overcame his adversity. A panel discussion will follow, centering on the Innocence Project's findings and outlining how race, the criminal justice system, public policy and the media intersect at times for some distressing outcomes.

Karen Goodrow, director of the Connecticut Innocence Project, and Jeff Meyer, a professor of law at Quinnipiac, will be a part of the panel moderated by Stan Simpson, a journalism professional in residence in the School of Communications who also works as a columnist at The Hartford Courant and a radio talk show host for WTIC NewsTalk 1080.
         
The Innocence Project, based at Yeshiva University in New York for the past 15 years, has now exonerated more than 200 inmates through DNA evidence. The data from those cases reveal this chilling trend: 60 percent of the men exonerated by the IP are black men wrongfully convicted, like Tillman, of raping white women. In 40 percent of its cases, not only has the IP freed someone wrongfully accused, but it was able to identify the real assailant. The concern now is that there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of other cases similar to Tillman's. [Mark Godsey]

September 12, 2007 in Symposiums | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

CrimProf Stephen Bright Delievers Death Penalty Lecture

Bright_stephenIn conjunction with his visit to the University of Maryland School of Law, Distinguished Visiting CrimProf Stephen Bright will deliver a lecture entitled "Will the Death Penalty Survive in the 21st Century?"

Professor Bright is President and Senior Counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which provides legal representation to persons facing the death penalty and to prisoners challenging unconstitutional conditions in prisons and jails throughout the United States, especially in the South. The Center is also engaged in efforts to improve access to effective legal representation for criminal defendants and prisoners, and to advance judicial independence

During his tenure, Mr. Bright has represented persons facing the death penalty at trial, on appeal, and in post-conviction proceedings. He argued Amadeo v. Zant before the U.S. Supreme Court, in which a death sentence was set aside on the grounds of racial discrimination. He has also testified before committees of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives as well as of a variety of state legislatures. He has taught courses on capital punishment, criminal procedure, and prisoners’ rights at Yale, Harvard, Emory, Georgetown, Northeastern, and Florida State university law schools, as well as a course on international human rights law and capital punishment at St. Mary’s University School of Law’s Institute on World Legal Problems in Innsbruck, Austria.

Mr. Bright has received numerous awards for his work against the death penalty and on behalf of those with limited access to justice, including the ABA’s Thurgood Marshall Award; the Brandeis Medal, presented by the Brandeis Society of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law of the University of Louisville; the Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty of the American Civil Liberties Union; and the Kutak-Dodds Prize of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association [Mark Godsey]

September 11, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LAPD Gets $3 Million to "Fight Terrorism"

From latimes.com: As part of an anti-terrorism effort, the Los Angeles Police Department is now equipping a helicopter and officers on the ground with devices capable of detecting potential radiological weapons or materials used in so-called dirty bombs.

Police Chief William J. Bratton said a new suitcase-sized device for one of the LAPD's helicopters can detect "radiation signatures" from up to 800 feet above ground. In addition, the LAPD bought six hand-held units that officers on the ground can use.

"Terrorism is all about getting them before they get us," the chief said.

The devices are among several items the city acquired with $3 million in Homeland Security funds that will enable the LAPD to better respond to a terrorist attack or natural disaster, Bratton said.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 11, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chicago Jury Finds All 5 Mobsters Guilty of Murder

From NPR.com:  Jurors cap the 10-week trial of five reputed Chicago mobsters with five guilty verdicts. The numerous charges in the case were related to nearly 20 murders that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s.  Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 11, 2007 in Organized Crime | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chicago Jury Finds All 5 Mobsters Guilty of Murder

From NPR.com: Jurors cap the 10-week trial of five reputed Chicago mobsters with five guilty verdicts. The numerous charges in the case were related to nearly 20 murders that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 10, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Phil Spector's Case May Go to the Jury

From npr.com: The jury in Phil Spector's murder trial may get the case Friday. If convicted, the famed rock music producer could face 15 years to life in prison.

Spector is accused of second-degree murder in the 2003 killing of actress Lana Clarkson. Prosecutors allege that Spector killed Clarkson, an actress who was working as a hostess at the House of Blues. From the outset, an array of defense attorneys have countered that Clarkson committed suicide.

The trial has lasted more than four months. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 10, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Questionable if Security Cameras are Aiding in Crime Detection

From wvgazetter.com: In Baltimore, police began using surveillance cameras in 2005. There are now 300 throughout the city, and police say violent crime has dropped by 15 percent in the places where the cameras are installed.

Prosecutors, though, aren’t impressed.

“We have not found that they affect the conviction rate at all,” said Margaret Burns, chief of governmental affairs for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office.

In 2006, the cameras led to nearly 2,000 arrests in Baltimore, according to figures from the state’s attorney’s office.

About a fourth of those arrests — 407 — led to guilty verdicts, while 386 resulted in charges being dropped because of insufficient evidence. Another 599 people were swiftly released because the quality of evidence — mostly surveillance camera tapes — was too poor to even file charges. The other cases are pending or have been resolved by, for example, the death of the defendant.

“It’s infrequent that we can actually associate the footage with the defendant,” Burns said. “You basically see a lot of people in sweatshirts and jeans and T-shirts. You don’t have any identifying characteristics you can use in court.” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 10, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Federal Judge Strikes Calls Portion of Patriot Act Unconstitutional

From washingtonpost.com: A federal judge struck down controversial portions of the USA Patriot Act in a ruling that declared them unconstitutional yesterday, ordering the FBI to stop its wide use of a warrantless tactic for obtaining e-mail and telephone data from private companies for counterterrorism investigations.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York said the FBI's use of secret "national security letters" to demand such data violates the First Amendment and constitutional provisions on the separation of powers, because the FBI can impose indefinite gag orders on the companies and the courts have little opportunity to review the letters. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 10, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

CrimProf Dennis Turner Discusses Forgetfulness vs. Recklessness

TurnerFrom daytondailynews.com:  University of Dayton CrimProf Dennis Turner comments on the Ohio Prosecutor's decision not to bring charges against an assistant principal who forgot her sleeping two-year old daughter in the car after changing her routine and stopping for doughnuts.  The daughter was discovered dead from heat stroke eight hours later in the vehicle.

CrimProf Dennis Turner said Ohio's law is very clear: Charges of child endangerment require an act of recklessness, which requires an intentional act of putting the child's life at risk. "It appears from all the facts that she simply forgot, which does not meet the standard for recklessness," Turner said. "Prosecutor Don White knew that he had to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that she acted recklessly." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 9, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Dennis Turner Discusses Forgetfulness vs. Recklessness

TurnerFrom daytondailynews.com:  University of Dayton CrimProf Dennis Turner comments on the Ohio Prosecutor's decision not to bring charges against an assistant principal who forgot her sleeping two-year old daughter in the car after changing her routine and stopping for doughnuts.  The daughter was discovered dead from heat stroke eight hours later in the vehicle.

CrimProf Dennis Turner said Ohio's law is very clear: Charges of child endangerment require an act of recklessness, which requires an intentional act of putting the child's life at risk. "It appears from all the facts that she simply forgot, which does not meet the standard for recklessness," Turner said. "Prosecutor Don White knew that he had to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that she acted recklessly." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 9, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mass Domestic Violence Related Death Rise for Many Reasons

The murder of Massachusetts mother Elizabeth Cann by her ex-boyfriend last week was the 39th domestic violence-related death in Massachusetts this year, putting the state on track to set a grim 12-year milestone. If the violence continues at its current pace, Jane Doe Inc., a statewide coalition against domestic and sexual violence, estimates another 17 people will die before the end of year.

In more than a dozen interviews with the Herald, advocates, law enforcement and state officials said the following factors are fueling the bloodshed:

  • A clogged domestic violence emergency shelter system that leaves a mere 376 beds funded by the state Department of Social Services set aside for families who wish to escape a batterer and scarce affordable housing opportunities for people wishing to move out of shelters. The state Department of Transitional Assistance also funds shelter beds.
  • A disjointed state funding system for domestic violence shelter and support services that is spread over at least four state agencies
  • Understaffed anti-domestic-violence programs that have scaled back on community and legal advocacy, preventative programs, clinical services and financial and housing assistance for victims
  • A criminal justice system that relies heavily on victims to protect themselves through restraining orders or police action
  • Gaps in training on domestic violence for veteran police officers
  • A reduction in batterers’ programs statewide from 24 to 17 in five years due to low referral rates.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 9, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Article Spotlight: Taking a Stand on Taking the Stand: The Effect of a Prior Criminal Record on the Decision to Testify and On Trial Outcomes

T_eisenberg From elsblog.org and SSRN.com: Cornell Law School CrimProfs Ted Eisenberg and Valerie Hans recently circulateda paper entitled: "Taking a Stand on Taking the Stand: The Effect of a Prior Criminal Record on the Decision to Testify and On Trial Outcomes"  Here is the abstract:

This article uses unique data from over 300 criminal trials in four large counties to study the relations between the existence of a prior criminal record and defendants testifying V_hans at trial, between testifying at trial and juries' learning about a criminal record, and between juries' learning about a criminal record and their decisions to convict or acquit.

Sixty percent of defendants without criminal records testified compared to 45 percent with criminal records. For testifying defendants with criminal records, juries learned of those records in about half the cases. Juries rarely learned about criminal records unless defendants testified.

After controlling for evidentiary strength and other factors, statistically significant associations exist (1) between the existence of a criminal record and the decision to testify at trial, (2) between the defendant testifying at trial and the jury learning about the defendant's prior record, and (3) in cases with weak evidence, between the jury learning of a criminal record and conviction. For cases with strong evidence against defendants, learning of criminal records is not strongly associated with conviction rates.

Juries appear to rely on criminal records to convict when other evidence in the case normally would not support conviction. Use of prior record evidence may therefore lead to erroneous convictions. Prosecutors and judges should consider the increased likelihood of erroneous conviction based on use of prior convictions in decisions to prosecute and in evidentiary rulings. [Mark Godsey]

September 9, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)