CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Civil complaint filed against San Diego officer in police dog's death Criminal Charges Possible

SAN DIEGO -- City Atty. Michael Aguirre filed a civil complaint Friday in San Diego Superior Court seeking damages from Officer Paul Hubka, whose police dog died of heat stroke after being left in Hubka's squad car.

Aguirre wants Hubka to pay the cost of acquiring and training a replacement for his dog. He said the cost exceeds $25,000. "Since 9/11, police dogs have become hard to replace because of the high demand for them worldwide," said Executive Assistant City Atty. Don McGrath.
Aguirre's announcement comes as the San Diego County district attorney is determining whether to file a criminal charge against Hubka under a law that makes it a crime to leave a dog in a car on a hot day. Hubka's dog, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois named Forrest, died when it was left in his squad car on a day when the temperature exceeded 100 degrees.

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August 9, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sacramento Hails Drop In Murdered Teens, Progress Vs. Gangs

The streets of Sacramento are claiming fewer young people.

In what authorities say may be a fragile sign of progress, fewer Sacramento County teenagers have been slain in 2008 than in any year going back at least a decade.

And the promising signs do not end there. According to Sacramento police and the county Sheriff's Department, the number of teenage shooting victims is down by about one-third over last year.

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August 8, 2008 in Gang Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cross Dressing and the Criminal

Drawing upon cultural studies, literary theory, and criminal law, Cross Dressing and the Criminal argues that cross dressing as a metaphor, as a sign, as a practice has the potential to subvert not only expectations about gender, but also about race, sexuality, class, and status. Taking up Judith Butler's suggestion that we could all benefit from serious play, and turning to the criminal arena, this essay conceptualizes a justice system in which officers, prosecutors, jurors, and judges engage in imaginative acts of cross dressing in cases where implicit biases may be present. Such imaginative acts, the essay argues, would not only have the salutary effect of foregrounding such biases. It would also allow decision-makers to override them. [Mark Godsey]

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August 8, 2008 in New Article Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Crime, Legitimacy, and Testilying

Crime, Legitimacy, and Testilying draws upon Tom Tyler's highly influential legitimacy theory (that perceptions of legitimacy play a crucial role in inducing voluntary compliance with the law) to make the novel but utilitarian argument that more policing of the police - by holding officers accountable for sanctionable and criminal conduct - is likely to have the counter-intuitive effect of reducing crime in the general population. The Article makes this argument by following Mari Matsuda's suggestion and looking to the bottom, i.e., adopting the perspective of those in minority and poor communities. From this (disad)vantage point, police actions that are normally associated with over-enforcement, such as racial profiling and the use of excessive force, also signal a type of under-enforcement. Except in the most egregious cases, law enforcement officers can engage in otherwise sanctionable conduct usually without fear of consequences; in short, officers themselves often operate in and benefit from a zone of under-enforcement. This in turn undermines police legitimacy and induces non-compliance with the law.

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August 8, 2008 in New Article Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

U.S. Prosecutors Feel the Heat, Want Protection

In the wake of three murders and the recent attack on a federal prosecutor in a New York courtroom, a group representing the nation's federal prosecutors is calling for stepped-up security, including home alarms, self-defense training and the right to carry firearms.

Additionally, the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, which represents the country's 5,400 federal prosecutors, wants secure parking for prosecutors, particularly those who handle dangerous criminal cases.

"Statistically, we are threatened more than judges," said Steve Cook, chairman of the NAAUSA security committee and a Tennessee federal prosecutor. "Security is a very important issue for us."

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August 7, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In lieu of DNA evidence, exoneration proves tougher

SAN DIEGO — It took more than four years of pure grunt work to free Timothy Atkins.

There was no DNA evidence to support Atkins' claims of innocence in a fatal Los Angeles carjacking. Instead, students at California Western School of Law pored over old police reports and searched for one critical witness whose false testimony had led to Atkins' 1987 conviction.

More than any other victory in the campaign to free the innocent, the work that secured Atkins' release symbolizes where the movement is heading, some of its key members say. Dogged investigative efforts such as this are likely to become more common, they say, as DNA is being used up in some of the oldest post-conviction cases, primarily because of uneven efforts by states to preserve it.

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August 7, 2008 in DNA | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Inmate 'too fat for execution'

COLUMBUS - A death row inmate scheduled for execution in October says he's so fat that Ohio executioners would have trouble finding his veins and that his weight could diminish the effectiveness of one of the lethal injection drugs.

Lawyers for Richard Cooey argue in a federal lawsuit that Cooey had poor veins when he faced execution five years ago and that the problem has been worsened by weight gain.

They cite a document filed by a prison nurse in 2003 that said Cooey had sparse veins and that executioners would need extra time.

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August 7, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Texas Executes José Medellín

In a case that has drawn international attention, Texas executed José E. Medellín on Tuesday night in defiance of an international court ruling and despite pleas from the Bush administration for a new hearing.

The execution came just before 10 p.m. Central time, shortly after the United States Supreme Court denied a last request for a reprieve. Protesters for and against the death penalty clamored in the rain outside the Huntsville Unit, about 70 miles north of Houston, where Mr. Medellín was executed by lethal injection.

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August 5, 2008 in Capital Punishment, Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, International | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Oklahoma Co. Sheriff defends jail's conditions

A Justice Department report rips the Oklahoma County jail as a chaotic and largely unsupervised den of "unconscionable” violence, abuse and medical neglect.

Detailed in the federal report are jail deaths, excessive use of force and a "disturbing” incident in which a pregnant woman was handcuffed to a rail for 10 hours while giving birth to a premature baby.

The child died at a metro-area hospital.

The year-old report was delivered to Oklahoma County officials last week, and Sheriff John Whetsel quickly responded Monday that most of the problems the agency found have already been corrected.

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August 5, 2008 in DOJ News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Oxbow empty as jail crowds

Woodrow Burton is a "frequent flier" in the criminal-justice community. At 56, Burton has amassed a long history of arrests in Salt Lake County. But some of those busts have come without one thing: jail time. In a three-year span, Burton was nabbed 18 times, hauled to the county jail and released without ever spending a minute behind bars.

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August 5, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

State Medical Examiner Fired

WLBT has learned Dr. Steven Hayne will no longer be doing medical examinations for the state of Mississippi.

Hayne has conducted 80% of all criminal autopsies in Mississippi for more than 20 years.

We're told Dr. Hayne performed his last autopsy early Monday morning and received notice of his termination via fax at his Brandon office at noon.

Hayne has come under fire from the Innocence Project, which investigates cases of people wrongfully convicted of crimes.

Earlier this year, Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks were cleared in two separate child murders they were wrongfully convicted of in the 1990's. Hayne conducted the autopsies in both cases.

The Innocence Project asked the state board of medical licensure to revoke Hayne's license accusing him of providing false and misleading autopsy reports and testimony in criminal prosecutions.

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August 5, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Feds Charge 11 in Massive Identity Theft Scheme

The Justice Department said on Tuesday that it had charged 11 people in the theft of tens of millions of credit and debit card numbers of customers shopping at major retailers, including TJX Companies, in one of the largest reported identity-theft incidents on record.

The United States Attorney in Boston said those charged were involved in the theft of more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers.

TJX, of Framingham, Mass., which owns the Marshall’s and TJ Maxx chains, was the hardest hit by the ring, acknowledging in March 2007 that information from 45.7 million credit cards was stolen from its computers.

The charges focus on three people from the United States, three from the Ukraine, two from China, one from Estonia and one from Belarus.

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August 5, 2008 in Criminal Law, International, Organized Crime | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Federal Death Penalty Panel

As part of the annual meeting of the American Bar Association, the New York City Bar Association will host a panel on "The Crisis in the Federal Death Penalty," on Monday, August 11, from 10 a.m. to noon.  Besides myself, the panelists will be Hon. Frederick Block, U.S. District Judge, Eastern District of New York; Loretta E. Lynch, former U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of New York and currently a partner at Hogan & Hartson; and federal death penalty practitioner Jean Barrett of Ruhnke & Barrett.

The panel will explore the increase in federal death penalty prosecutions over the past eight years, especially in non-death penalty States.

The panel discussion will take place at the New York City Bar Association at 42 West 44th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues. [Mike Mannheimer]

August 5, 2008 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gotti Back in Court

John A. Gotti has been charged with conspiracy for his role in a sprawling cocaine trafficking operation and in three mob-related killings in 1980s and ’90s, the United States attorney’s office in Tampa, Fla., announced on Tuesday.

Mr. Gotti, 44, who headed the Gambino crime family for a time, was arrested at his home in Oyster Bay, N.Y., early Tuesday morning on the federal racketeering and murder conspiracy charges, and was expected to be arraigned in Manhattan federal court.

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August 5, 2008 in Criminal Law, Organized Crime | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 4, 2008

3rd Circuit Rules Media Has Right to Juror Names

In a ruling that could have far-reaching effects on the handling of high-profile trials, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the media has a presumptive right of access to the names of jurors, and that a Pittsburgh federal judge erred when he sought to empanel an anonymous jury in the corruption trial of former Allegheny County coroner Cyril H. Wecht.

"The prospect that the press might publish background stories about the jurors is not a legally sufficient reason to withhold the jurors' names from the public. Although such stories might make some jurors less willing to serve or more distracted from the case, this is a necessary cost of the openness of the judicial process," 3rd Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith wrote in United States v. Wecht.

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August 4, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gathering seeks ways to ease inmates back into society

Local leaders discussed the issue and different approaches to ease the transition during yesterday's kickoff of the National Forum on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, which continues through tomorrow at the Marriott Louisville Downtown.

The forum, whose theme is "No More Victims -- Standing Up to Violent Crime," will have workshops on various topics, including gang violence, campus security and using technology to fight crime.

Yesterday's presentation focused on partnerships between local, state and federal agencies.

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August 4, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Press Release

August 4, 2008


Janet LeMonnier    973-642-8724 (office) – 973-985-3165 (cell)

Mark Denbeaux     201-214-6785 (cell)
Joshua Denbeaux
  201-664-8855 (office) – 201-970-6534 (cell)

Decision Based on Nationality, Not Level of Danger: Detainees with Strongest Ties to Al-Qaeda and Taliban Released as Quickly as Those with Weakest Connections

Newark, NJ —Today Seton Hall Law delivered a report to the Senate Judiciary Committee that reveals the U.S.government decided to release detainees at GuantánamoBayaccording to their nationality rather than to the strength of their ties to terrorist groups or to the presumed threat they presented to Americans here and abroad.

In his written testimony to the Committee, Professor Mark P. Denbeaux, director of Seton Hall Law’s Center for Policy and Research stated, “…the Center sought to determine how evidence gathered against any given detainee influenced the decision whether to release him. Center researchers expected to find that the detainees who presented the greatest threat would have been released last, or would still be held at Guantánamo. 

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August 4, 2008 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CA Court Upholds Medical Marijuana Program Against Supremacy Clause Challenge

A state appeals court upheld California's 12-year-old medical marijuana law Thursday, rejecting two counties' arguments that allowing patients to use the drug with their doctor's approval condones violations of federal narcotics laws.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego dismissed challenges by San Diego and San Bernardino counties, which objected both to the 1996 marijuana initiative and to recent legislation requiring counties to issue identification cards to users of medical pot.

The cards protect their holders from arrest by state or local police for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government can enforce its drug laws, which ban marijuana use and cultivation, against patients and their suppliers in California and the 11 other states that have legalized medical marijuana under their own laws.

But in Thursday's ruling, the appeals court said states remain free to decide whether to punish drug users under their own laws.

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August 4, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

S.F. fund aids teen felons who are illegals

As San Francisco's juvenile justice system shielded young illegal immigrant felons from possible deportation, Mayor Gavin Newsom's office gave grants totaling more than $650,000 to nonprofit agencies to provide the underage offenders with free services - everything from immigration attorneys to housing assistance to "arts and cultural affirmation activities," city records show.

Newsom has said the city began its policy of not referring young immigrant offenders to federal authorities for deportation under previous mayors, and that he reversed the practice after he became aware of it this year. However, in 2006, the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice - a community outreach arm of Newsom's office - created a grant program specifically designed to assist, rather than deport, "undocumented, unaccompanied and monolingual" immigrants who were in the custody of the city's Juvenile Probation Department or on juvenile probation, according to city documents.

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August 3, 2008 in Juveniles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Removed From 'Jena Six' Case

The judge overseeing the criminal cases for the remaining Jena Six defendants was removed against his will Friday for making questionable remarks about the six black teenagers charged. They're accused of a December 2006 attack on a white high-school classmate in the central Louisiana town of Jena that led to widespread protests.

Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. had acknowledged calling the teens "troublemakers" and "a violent bunch" but insisted he could be impartial. Judge Thomas M. Yeager, who was asked by defense attorneys to review the case, found there was an appearance of impropriety and took Mauffray off the case.

"The right to a fair and impartial judge is of particular importance in the present cases," Yeager wrote.

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August 3, 2008 in Race | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)