CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Robert Batey, a criminal law professor at Stetson University College of Law

Batey Robert Batey holds a bachelor's degree from Yale University and law degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Illinois. After one year as a teaching assistant at the University of Illinois College of Law and two years as an assistant professor at West Virginia University College of Law, Batey joined the law faculty at Stetson University in 1977. During his tenure at Stetson, Professor Batey visited for one semester at the University of Virginia School of Law and served for four years as Stetson's associate dean. He has written extensively on criminal justice, law and literature, and related topics. Since 1995, he has been a local coordinator for Families Against Mandatory Minimums. [Mark Godsey]

Robert Batey
Stetson University College of Law
1401 61st Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33707

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June 28, 2008 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cops: Grand Theft Auto video game inspired crimes

Teenagers who police say went on a video-game-inspired late-night crime spree were arraigned Thursday after they mugged a man outside a New Hyde Park supermarket and menaced motorists in Garden City with a baseball bat, a crowbar and a broomstick, Nassau police said.

The teens told detectives they were imitating the "Grand Theft Auto" video-game series where characters steal cars, beat up other characters and commit crimes, authorities said.

Police have identified at least three victims: a man they said was severely beaten during a robbery; a would-be carjacking victim; and a driver whose van was smashed with a bat.

Nassau Det. Lt. Raymond Coté said there are likely more victims who were attacked.

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June 28, 2008 in Juveniles | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Allow DNA tests to prove innocence and assure justice

WHEN AN INNOCENT person goes to prison, a guilty person roams our streets, free to victimize again.That is the practical reason we need to do all we reasonably can to make sure that the innocent aren’t convicted and that, if they are, those convictions are reversed and an investigation re-opened. The moral reason, of course, is that it’s wrong to imprison the innocent. We will never get those initial convictions correct 100 percent of the time, but there is a way we can improve our chance of identifying and correcting the errors. Our Legislature will have the opportunity to put it into place today.

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June 27, 2008 in DNA | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

High Court: No Death Penalty for Child Rape

In a closely divided opinion today, the Supreme Court found that while the crime of raping a child is a "revulsion" to society, it does not merit the death penalty.

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June 26, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (2)

Therapy Dogs Easing Stress for Victims of Violent Crime as They Prepare to Testify

These days, life is carefree for 5-year-old Lexi Lohr. But last year, something terrible happened to her. Mr. Chad. He did something bad … He was going to smack me," she recalled.

Mr. Chad is Chad Wiles, Lexi's former babysitter. He was accused of beating her.

To build a case, prosecutors needed Lexi to testify — a scary proposition for any victim of abuse, let alone a young child.

But officials in Carroll County, Md., had just added a new member to their prosecution team who would prove critical to the case: Buddy the therapy dog.

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June 26, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Case puts 'Stand Your Ground' law on defense

4850626mobley_embedded_prod_affilia More than five months after claiming self-defense in the fatal shooting of two unarmed men at a North Miami-Dade chain restaurant, Gabriel Mobley was arrested Thursday for murder.

Miami-Dade prosecutors believe the case is a key test of Florida's 2005 so-called Stand Your Ground law, which loosened standards for shooting in self-defense.

Mobley, 31, is accused of fatally shooting pals Jason Jesus Gonzalez, 24, and Rolando Carrazana, 24, in the parking lot of Chili's Grill & Bar, 5705 NW 173rd Dr., just past midnight on Feb. 28.

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June 26, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Politicians Respond to Kennedy

Angry politicians vowed to keep writing laws that condemn child rapists to death, despite a Supreme Court decision saying such punishment is unconstitutional.

"Anybody in the country who cares about children should be outraged that we have a Supreme Court that would issue a decision like this," said Alabama Attorney General Troy King, a Republican. The justices, he said, are "creating a situation where the country is a less safe place to grow up."

The court's 5-4 decision Wednesday derailed the efforts of nearly a dozen states supporting the right to kill those convicted of raping a child and said execution was confined to attacks that take a life and to other crimes including treason and espionage.

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June 26, 2008 in Capital Punishment, Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sexual Victimization in Local Jails Reported by Inmates, 2007

Presents data from the 2007 National Inmate Survey (NIS), conducted in 282 local jails between April and December, with a sample of 40,419 inmates. The report and appendix tables provide a listing of results for sampled local jails, as required under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-79).

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June 25, 2008 in DOJ News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Assembly panel kills bill to disclose LAPD disciplinary records

Despite lobbying efforts by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, an Assembly committee Tuesday killed a bill that would have cleared the way for the Los Angeles Police Department to make officers' disciplinary hearings and records open to the public.

The bill faced stiff opposition from many of the state's powerful police unions, which argued that the measure would compromise officer safety. LAPD Chief William J. Bratton, normally a Villaraigosa ally, pointedly chose not to take a position on the bill and Tuesday expressed concerns about it.

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June 25, 2008 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NYPD wants suspects to sign search consent form

The New York City Police Department wants suspects to sign a consent form before searching their homes or cars, a move that eliminates the need for a warrant and is meant to provide police a layer of legal protection, Newsday has learned.The initiative was put in place because consent searches are often challenged at trial - and jurors too often believe the suspect's claim that police never got permission to conduct the search, police sources said.At the same time, sources said, there has been concern within the NYPD about a handful of cases in which an officer's truthfulness was recently called into question.

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June 25, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty for Child Rape

The Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, on Wednesday that sentencing someone to death for raping a child is unconstitutional, assuming that the victim is not killed.

“The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court. He was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

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June 25, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cameras to watch for crime Cincinnati police getting eyes on 120 locations

It's the first step toward a system that eventually could send real-time video to officers' in-cruiser laptops as well as instantly read license plates and run them through motor vehicle registration.Some of the cameras also might have gunshot-recognition sensors, which turn the cameras toward the direction of the shots and zoom in.Call takers and dispatchers in the 911 center, when a crime is reported, will be able to check any nearby cameras to immediately describe what they can see, while officers are still on the way

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June 24, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Says Right to Counsel Begins With First Appearance Before Judge

Supreme_court4 A defendant's Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches at his first appearance before a magistrate, whether or not the prosecutor is also on hand, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

The Court's 8-1 decision in Rothgery v. Gillespie County, Texas, came as the justices began their final week before adjourning for the summer. The justices will take the bench again on Wednesday and possibly one other day this week.

The ruling in Rothgery dealt with a Texas "magistration" procedure under which a defendant goes before a magistrate judge, has bail set, and can be imprisoned -- all without the involvement of a prosecutor or the appointment of defense counsel.

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June 24, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NIJ In-Custody Death Study: The Impact of Use of Conducted Energy Devices

An expert panel of medical professionals found no conclusive evidence of a high risk of death or serious injury from the direct effects of Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs), such as Tasers.The panel is studying deaths related to the use of CEDs. In an interim report, the panel said that law enforcement agencies need not stop using CEDs, but cautioned that they should be used reasonably and only after proper training. Law enforcement agencies that use CEDs report reduced injuries to officers and suspects alike. However, deaths and serious injuries of suspects also occur.

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June 24, 2008 in Taser Use | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Google Search Data to Help Define Obscenity?

Judges and jurors who must decide whether sexually explicit material is obscene are asked to use a local yardstick: does the material violate community standards?

That is often a tricky question because there is no simple, concrete way to gauge a community’s tastes and values.

The Internet may be changing that. In a novel approach, the defense in an obscenity trial in Florida plans to use publicly accessible Google search data to try to persuade jurors that their neighbors have broader interests than they might have thought.

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June 23, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Doubting Case: Prosecutor Helped the Defense

12da_1901 The Manhattan district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, had a problem. The murder convictions of two men in one of his office’s big cases — the 1990 shooting of a bouncer outside the Palladium nightclub — had been called into question by a stream of new evidence. So the office decided on a re-examination, led by a 21-year veteran assistant, Daniel L. Bibb.Mr. Bibb spent nearly two years reinvestigating the killing and reported back: He believed that the two imprisoned men were not guilty, and that their convictions should be dropped. Yet top officials told him, he said, to go into a court hearing and defend the case anyway. He did, and in 2005 he lost.

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June 23, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Court: Juveniles have right to jury trial

Juvenile offenders in Kansas have a constitutional right to a jury trial, the state’s highest court declared Friday in a decision that could force prosecutors to retry hundreds of cases.

The ruling has Douglas County court officials trying to figure out how their system will be affected.

“Quite frankly, we don’t know,” the district court’s administrative judge, Robert Fairchild, said. “If (jury trials) increase dramatically that will certainly affect the way we do business.”

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June 23, 2008 in Juveniles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Price of Leniency

The June 12 news story "New Criminal Record: 7.2 Million," on the number of people under supervision in the nation's criminal justice system, reported on the financial burden of running correctional systems without mentioning the savings resulting from crimes averted. Experience suggests that shortened sentences and reduced supervision of offenders released from prison carry a higher cost, especially in human terms, than the savings these shortsighted policies generate.

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June 23, 2008 in Cost of Crime | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SCOTUS Clarifies When Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel Attaches

The Court decided Rothgery v. Gillespie County today.  In an 8-1 decision, the Court held that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel attached after the Petitioner was arraigned before a magistrate -- that is, when the magistrate determined there was probable cause to charge him with a criminal offense -- even though he was not indicted until six months later.  Only Justice Thomas dissented.

The virtual unanimity, however, masks a deeper division on the Court.  Rothgery was out on bond until he was indicted.  He claims he was harmed by the deprivation of counsel in that, once he was indicted, he was rearrested and jailed for three weeks until his appointed counsel proved to the prosecutor that Rothgery did not violate the criminal statute at issue (essentially, it was a felon-in-possession statute, and Rothgery had never been convicted of a felony).  In a separate opinion joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Scalia, Justice Alito cautioned against reading the decision too broadly.  It held only that the Sixth Amendment attached for Rothgery; but it did not hold that any Sixth Amendment rights were violated.  Since the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is essentially a trial right, the concurrence pointed out, it remains to be seen whether Rothgery's claim was cognizable, given that he was never tried. [Mike Mannheimer]

June 23, 2008 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Man cleared by DNA test seeks to clear record

DALLAS — The Innocence Project on Friday asked a Texas court to toss out the convictions that sent an innocent man to prison for 25 years and keeps him on probation today. DNA testing last year showed Steven Phillips was innocent of a 1982 sexual assault and burglary. In January, additional testing found that DNA evidence from the rape matched another man, Sidney Alvin Goodyear, who died in prison about a dozen years ago.

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June 22, 2008 in DNA | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)