CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, February 23, 2007

Weekly CrimProf Spotlight: Carrie Hempel

ChempelThis week the CrimProf Blog spotlights USC Gould School of Law CrimProf Carrie Hempel.

Carrie Hempel is a directing attorney for the USC Post-Conviction Justice Project, a clinical program that provides legal assistance to people who have been convicted of crimes and have exhausted their right to a court-appointed attorney. Professor Hempel’s recent work focuses on women convicted of killing abusive partners before evidence of battered women’s syndrome was accepted by the courts as a murder defense. She is an expert in post-conviction matters, gender and law, and criminal law.

Prior to joining USC Law in 1993, she practiced with Los Angeles and Minneapolis law firms and served as a fellow for the Center for Law in the Public Interest. She serves on the faculty of the National Association of Women Judges and is a member of the board of the Southern California American Civil Liberties Union. Professor Hempel also has served on the California State Bar's Standing Committee on Legal Services for Prisoners and as a clinical legal specialist for the American Bar Association's Central and East European Law Initiative programs in Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and Yugoslavia.

Professor Hempel teaches courses for the Post-Conviction Justice Project, Criminal Law, and a seminar on Gender, Crime and Justice. She holds a B.A. from USC and a J.D. from Yale University. She clerked for the Honorable Richard A. Gadbois of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. [Mark Godsey]

February 23, 2007 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cali AG Charges Investigator of Filing Dirty

From  The California Attorney General on Wednesday charged private investigator Kathleen Culhane with filing bogus documents to aid four death row inmate, calling the case one of the largest frauds ever perpetrated on the state's criminal justice system.

Kathleen Culhane was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Sacramento on 45 felony counts of forgery, filing false documents, and perjury.

"This is fraud at the highest level," Michael Farrell, a senior assistant attorney general, said after the arraignment. "This is someone who is trying to undermine the system."

Among the inmates for whom Culhane allegedly lied was Michael Morales, who was sentenced to death for the 1981 rape and murder of a Central Valley teenager.

Questions about the San Francisco private investigator arose a year ago when Morales petitioned the governor for clemency and prosecutors challenged the authenticity of several documents Culhane submitted on his behalf. His execution eventually was stayed over the state's lethal injection method, a matter unrelated to Culhane.

The attorney general's criminal complaint alleges that between November 2002 and February 2006 Culhane filed at least 23 fraudulent documents designed to aid Morales and three other death row inmates -- Vicente Figueroa Benavides, Christian Monterroso and Jose Guerra. Culhane was working as a staff investigator for the Habeas Corpus Resource Center in San Francisco in each case except that of Morales, when she was employed by the inmate's attorneys.

"She forged the signatures of those witnesses and jurors. Sometimes she completely made those documents up," Farrell said in court. "Her actions are an affront to the legal system."

Culhane's job was to find jurors and witnesses who may be favorable to the inmates and get them to sign declarations that could be used in their legal defense or requests for clemency. Her paperwork was then turned over to the inmates' attorneys and filed with the courts and the governor.

The counts against Culhane allege that she made up statements from real witnesses and jurors and forged their signatures, including six documents related to the Morales case. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey and tip from Lisa Carr]

February 22, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ohio Town Will Broadcast Criminal Cases

From Starting today, Mason Municipal Judge George Parker will broadcast criminal cases live on local cable stations. It's part of Parker's effort to educate the public about how the court system works, according to his staff.

"He's dedicated to the education of young people as related to the judiciary," said Clerk of Court William Scherpenberg. "He considers this an educational phenomenon. Students can tie into (the broadcast through) the school system and see what goes on in court."

Mason will likely be the first trial court in Ohio to broadcast live, according to an Ohio Supreme Court spokesman.

The experimental program will run for 60 days, then be re-evaluated. It does not cost taxpayer money. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 22, 2007 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

South Korean Men Shop for Spouses Outside of the Country

From More and more South Korean men are finding wives outside of South Korea, where a surplus of bachelors, a lack of marriageable Korean partners and the rising social status of women have combined to shrink the domestic market for the marriage-minded male. Bachelors in China, India and other Asian nations, where the traditional preference for sons has created a disproportionate number of men now fighting over a smaller pool of women, are facing the same problem.

The rising status of women in the United States sent American men who were searching for more traditional wives to Russia in the 1990s. But the United States’ more balanced population has not led to the shortage of potential brides and the thriving international marriage industry found in South Korea.

Now, that industry is seizing on an increasingly globalized marriage market and sending comparatively affluent Korean bachelors searching for brides in the poorer corners of China and Southeast and Central Asia. The marriage tours are fueling an explosive growth in marriages to foreigners in South Korea, a country whose ethnic homogeneity lies at the core of its self-identity.

In 2005, marriages to foreigners accounted for 14 percent of all marriages in South Korea, up from 4 percent in 2000.

South Korean news organizations have reported that many of the foreign brides were initially lied to by their husbands, and suffered isolation and sometimes abuse in South Korea. Partly in response, the Ministry of Health and Welfare is now moving to regulate the international marriage industry, which emerged so suddenly that the Consumer Protection Board can only estimate that there are 2,000 to 3,000 such agencies nationwide. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 22, 2007 in Sex | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Study Shows Problem With Suicides in Mass. Prisons

From An independent study of the state prison system, requested by the Department of Correction and due to be released tomorrow , has found serious shortcomings in the state's handling of inmates who are at risk of committing suicide.

The report, commissioned after a sharp increase in prisoner suicides in 2005 and 2006, concludes that prison policies and practices are contributing to the problem:

  • Guards and other staff members do not have enough training in suicide prevention.Guards fail to check frequently enough on some inmates at risk of suicide.
  • Some cells used to house suicidal inmates have not been stripped of features they could use to harm themselves.
  • Inmates under suicide watch become even more isolated because they are denied visits, showers, phone calls, and time outside their cells,
  • Ten inmates killed themselves in state prisons in 2005 and 2006.
  • Another prisoner was left brain dead by a suicide attempt.
  • Five of the 11 inmates had recently been on suicide watches, and six had documented histories of mental health problems.

Prisoner rights groups have repeatedly criticized the state prison system for failing to address the needs of inmates with mental illnesses. Lindsay M. Hayes , a national specialist in prison suicide prevention who wrote the report, said suicidal inmates are being punished instead of being helped.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 21, 2007 in Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Stanley Goldman Discusses Jurors' Letters

Goldman_1From Loyola Law School CrimProf Stanley Goldman recently discussed jurors' decision to write a letter to the judge after voting for their decision in Fagone murder case.

"We do believe that James was guilty of first-degree burglary, but thought that the homicide charge should be second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter," one juror wrote in a letter dated Dec. 14. "The law forced us to give a verdict we did not think was fair."

CrimProf Stanley Goldman, said the jurors were not flip-flopping on their decision. They were showing signs of maturity, he said. "They're saying, 'We followed the law, but we have enough of a conscience to do something about the punishment,' " he said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 21, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SCOTUS Decides Wallace v. Kato

Supreme_court_20_17From The US Supreme Court handed down its decision in Wallace v. Kato, where the Court held that the two-year statute of limitations for a false arrest action under under 42 USC 1983 begins accruing at the time of arrest.

Andre Wallace was arrested without probable cause in 1994, convicted, and released from prison in 2002 after an Illinois court reversed the conviction. He subsequently filed a civil rights lawsuit against the police officers involved, but his case was dismissed because he did not file the lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations. Wallace argued that two-year period began accruing when he was released from prison, but the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that false arrest claims accrue at the time of arrest.

The Supreme Court upheld this decision, holding "that the statute of limitations upon a §1983 claim seeking damages for a false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment, where the arrest is followed by criminal proceedings, begins to run at the time the claimant becomes detained pursuant to legal process." Full Decision. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 21, 2007 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fed Ct Says Detainees Cannot Challenge Detention

From A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., rules that detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have no right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts. The case is expected to move on to the U.S. Supreme Court. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 20, 2007 in Due Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SCOTUS Shows It Is Serious About One Year Filing Deadlines

Supreme_court_20_16From The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in Lawrence v Florida that a Florida death row prisoner lost an opportunity to challenge his conviction in the federal court system because he missed a one-year filing deadline.

In a 5-4 decision, the justices sided with the state of Florida against inmate Gary Lawrence, who faces execution for murdering a man who had moved in with Lawrence's wife.

Under the federal Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, death row inmates have one year after a conviction becomes final in state courts to petition the federal system to review the case.

Lawrence's lawyers say they stopped the clock from running on the state's one-year time limit by petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court. A majority of the court rejected that argument.

Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said the language of the law is clear and that the approach favored by lawyers for the death row inmate "would provide incentives for state prisoners to file ... as a delay tactic ... regardless of the merit of the claims asserted."

In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said rejecting Lawrence's arguments is "neither a necessary nor a proper interpretation" of the law. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 20, 2007 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rutgers Hosts "Behind Bars: The Impact of Incarceration on Women and Their Families"

Smith_4Academics and practitioners will explore the impact and legal implications of incarceration on women and their families at the 2007 symposium of the Women’s Rights Law Reporter at Rutgers School of Law–Newark. “Behind Bars: The Impact of Incarceration on Women and Their Families” will take place from 12:30 – 4 pm on Wednesday, March 7, in the law school’s Baker Trial Courtroom.

Professor Brenda V. Smith of Washington College of Law, American University, will be the keynote speaker for the first panel, which will focus on women’s issues while incarcerated. These include special considerations with respect to women Pgenty inmates, their healthcare needs, religious beliefs, safety, status of federal and state legislation as it applies to these particular issues, and possible advancements that would achieve improvement for women in prison.

Professor Philip Genty of Columbia Law School will keynote the second panel. This panel will consider the impact of a woman’s imprisonment on her family unit. The discussion will include the role of federal and state laws such as the Adoption and Safe Family Act (“ASFA”), which applies to post-incarceration situations involving state and federal agencies.

The Women’s Rights Law Reporter, a quarterly journal of legal scholarship and feminist criticism published by students at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, is the oldest legal periodical in the U.S. focusing exclusively on the field of women’s rights law. Founded in 1970 by now-Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and feminist activists, legal workers, and law students and first published independently in New York City, the Reporter moved to Rutgers in 1972 and became formally affiliated with the law school in 1974. [Mark Godsey]

February 20, 2007 in Symposiums | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Using DMV Photo Databases to Detect Fraud

From At least seven states have or are working on enormous databases of driver’s license photographs. Coupled with increasingly accurate facial-recognition technology, the databases may become a radical innovation in law enforcement.

Other biometric databases are more useful for now. But DNA and fingerprint information, for instance, are not routinely collected from the general public. Most adults, on the other hand, have a driver’s license with a picture on it, meaning that the relevant databases for facial-recognition analysis already exist. And while the current technology requires good-quality photographs, the day may not be far off when images from ordinary surveillance cameras will routinely help solve crimes.

Critics say the databases may therefore also represent a profound threat to privacy.

“What is the D.M.V.?” asked Lee Tien, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a privacy advocate. “Does it license motor vehicles and drivers? Or is it really an identification arm of law enforcement?”

The databases are primarily intended to prevent people from obtaining multiple licenses under different names. That can help prevent identity theft and stop people who try to get a second license after their first has been suspended.

“The states are finding hundreds of cases of fraud each year in each state,” said J. Scott Carr, executive vice president of the Digimarc Corporation, which says it has sold biometric technology to motor vehicle departments in seven states and has a role in the production of more than two-thirds of all driver’s licenses in the United States.

But the databases can also be used for law enforcement purposes beyond detecting fraud.

A page concerning Mr. Howell, printed out from the “America’s Most Wanted” Web site, is taped to the wall of the investigators’ office here. It is a kind of trophy. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 19, 2007 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Terrorists Likely to use Mother of Satan Explosives

From Kirk Yeager makes bombs from the stuff found under kitchen sinks. He does it to help the FBI defend against what officials say is the next frontier for terrorists in the United States.

Ten years ago, peroxide-based bombs were mostly the work of young pranksters. But the easy-to-make yet deadly chemical cocktails were embraced in the late 1990s by Palestinian militants and suicide bombers bent on killing large groups of people.

Now, Yeager says, the "Mother of Satan" explosives are considered the most likely weapon that terrorists will use against the U.S., more so than a nuclear or radiological "dirty" bomb.

"Every serious terrorist group knows about them and knows how to make them," Yeager said. The forensic scientist heads the explosives unit at the FBI's laboratory in Quantico, Va., about 35 miles south of Washington.

"Bad guys are bombers. You don't have to have the level of sophistication to make a bomb that you need to get nuclear materials," Yeager said.

The bombs are made by mixing chemicals that are used in common household items, including hydrogren peroxide and paint thinner, and easily found at drug stores or hardware stores. Experts know them as TATP, short for triacetone triperoxide, and HMTD, or hexamethylene triperoxide diamine.  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 19, 2007 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Study Shows that many Sexually Abused Children Later Deny the Abuse

TlyonMore than 20 percent of sexually abused children who disclose abuse, later deny the allegations, according to a study by researchers at USC Gould School of Law and the University of California-Irvine; such as  USC Psych and CrimProf Thomas Lyon.

The study, published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that denials were especially likely among younger children, children abused by someone living in the home, and children whose mothers were unsupportive.

“The results suggest that sexually abused children are highly vulnerable to various pressures to deny their abuse, particularly when those pressures come from people close to them” said Thomas Lyon, a professor of law and psychology at USC who co-authored the study.

The study, which looked at a large group of Los Angeles juvenile court cases, is among the first to look at recantations among children who are sexually abused.

“Some researchers have begun to question the assumption made by clinicians and others who work with sexually abused children that children are reluctant to disclose abuse,” said Lyon. “This study supports the classical view - even when children overcome barriers to disclosure, they are still susceptible to pressures.”

The researchers did not find any evidence to support the belief that retraction is a sign that the original allegations were false.  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 19, 2007 in Sex | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Italy Indicts American CIA Agents

From An Italian judge indicted 26 Americans on Friday, most of them C.I.A. officers, in what will become the first trial of the American program of secretly whisking away terror suspects. Italy’s former top spy was also indicted.

Despite the indictment, issued by a judge in Milan, it is unlikely that any of the Americans, one of whom is an Air Force colonel, will ever face trial here. The trial is expected to take place in June.

The indictments came in connection with the case of a radical Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr. The cleric, known as Abu Omar, disappeared near his mosque in Milan on Feb. 17, 2003, and said he was kidnapped.

He was freed this week from jail in Egypt, where he says he was taken and tortured.

The indictment marked a turning point in Europe, where anger is high at the American program of “extraordinary renditions,” an aggressive policy of seizing suspected terrorists on foreign soil and interrogating them at secret locations in a third country. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 18, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Stanley Goldman Discusses Embezzlement and Prosecution

GoldmanFrom Loyola Law School CrimProf Stanley Goldman recently discussed former Fresno District Attorney Gordon Spencer agreement to a civil settlement Thursday that requires him to repay the cost of a SUV he inappropriately used. The deal also puts an end to a series of investigations launched by the California Attorney General's Office last year.

Calling the former district attorney's actions "wrongful," Deputy Attorney General Barton Bowers said Thursday it was clear that for almost a year, Spencer violated state law and the terms of a state grant by driving a 2005 Ford Expedition that was supposed to be assigned to another employee.

CrimProf Stanley Goldman, a criminal law expert, said the case is a classic example of embezzlement. "It's a standard thing for people to be prosecuted for claiming reimbursement for something you didn't deserve." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 18, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NEPOC 2007 at Southern New England Law School

The NEPOC 2007 entitled "Moving Forward or Moving Backward?: Criminal Justice and Immigration in the 21st Century will be located at the Southern New England School of Law September 14-15.  Announcing Professor Charles Ogletree will be the Kellis E. Parker Keynote Speaker. 

Two areas of law are undergoing dramatic transformations: criminal justice and immigration.  Powerful forces such as the stresses of globalization and the ever-increasing diversity of the American population demand change. 

This conference will explore the hope and the dangers of these legal evolutions with panels on community criminal justice, national security and the risks of discretion, immigration controversies on the local and global levels, and the increasing intersections of criminal law and immigration law.  Please join us for outstanding discussion of these pressing issues, particularly as they pertain to communities of color, here and abroad.

In addition, we are continuing our strong tradition of supporting and building the community of color in the legal academy.

  • This year we are honoring faculty of color in the Northeast who have been in the legal academy for more than twenty-five years.
  • We are currently accepting nominations of outstanding legal scholar / activists for the annual Haywood Burns / Shanara Gilbert Awards. 
  • We are starting to schedule works in progress sessions on any legal topic.  These sessions are excellent opportunities to receive constructive feedback on drafts in a safe setting.  We strongly encourage junior faculty to consider presenting.   
  • We will also have formal mentoring workshops.

If you are interested in making a nomination, doing a work in progress, commenting on a work in progress or have any questions, please visit the conference website at or please contact:

  • Professor Elaine Chiu, St. John’s University School of Law at 718-990-6657 or at or
  • Dean Robert V. Ward, Jr. at or at 508-988-9600 x.170 

[Mark Godsey]

February 18, 2007 in Symposiums | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)