CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Professor Etienne University of Illinois College of Law

Etienne Professor Etienne received her bachelor's degree in History with honors from Yale University, and earned her law degree from Yale Law School. Following law school, Etienne clerked for Judge Diana G. Motz on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Before joining the faculty, she practiced criminal law in state and federal courts for several years.

Her select publications include "Understanding Parity As A First principle of Sentencing" (58 Stanford L. Rev., 2006); "The Ethics of Cause Lawyering: An Empirical Examination of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Cause Lawyers" (95 J. Crim. L. & Criminology, 2005); "The Declining Utility of the Right to Counsel in Federal Court: An Empirical Study on the Role of Defense Attorney Advocacy Under the Sentencing Guidelines" (92 California Law Review, 2004); "Remorse, Responsibility, and Regulating Advocacy: Making Defendants Pay for the Sins of Their Lawyers" (78 New York University Law Review, 2003). Her article, "Addressing Gender Based Violence in an International Context," appeared in 18 Harvard Women's Law Journal 139 (1995).

In 2004, Professor Etienne was awarded a Fulbright Grant to conduct judicial training on white collar crime in Senegal. She has made presentations at Stanford law School, the University of Chicago Law School, Northwestern University Law School, Yale Law School, University of Illinois College of Law, Fordham Law School, University of Oregon Law School, Notre Dame Law School and the American Bar Foundation. Professor Etienne was a Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago Law School during the 2007-2008 academic  year.  She is an Executive Board member of the AALS Section on Professional Responsibility.

September 13, 2008 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ROBERT BADINTER in conversation with NEAL KATYAL

Robert Badinter, the French Minister of Justice between 1981 and 1986, led the battle to abolish the death penalty in France. He became a militant abolitionist after watching one of his clients unjustly guillotined in 1972. Over the next decade, he fought the death penalty in the courts and saved six men from the guillotine. After the election of François Mitterrand in 1981, Badinter was named Minister of Justice and pushed through the legislation that abolished the death penalty.

Badinter's book, Abolition: One Man's Battle Against the Death Penalty, serves as a guidebook on the various legal and political strategies that can be used in the quest for abolition. With U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Badinter recently co-authored a book on the role of judges.

In a discussion about the death penalty, Badinter will be joined by Neal Katyal who recently won Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in the United States Supreme Court and who in July of this year agreed to serve as lead counsel for the State of Louisiana in asking the United States Supreme Court to reconsider its June decision abolishing the use of the death penalty for child rapists. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, will introduce the evening. He has written the forward for Badinter's book, Abolition.

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September 13, 2008 in CrimProf Moves | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Juvenile program 'a place of last resort,' not rehabilitation

Hennepin County is spending too much on residential treatment programs for juvenile offenders and could save money and get better results by leaving more young offenders with their families and placing them in daytime rehabilitation programs.

That's the finding of a study group made up of judges and corrections officials who recommend overhauling programs at the Hennepin County Home School.

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September 11, 2008 in Juveniles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

‘Governing Through Crime’

Rehearsing again the grim statistics of American crime and punishment is depressing. The Pew Center on the States reminds us that one in every hundred American is behind bars, a rate of incarceration far greater than in other developed countries. Incarceration is notably skewed along racial lines — one in nine black men aged 20 to 34 is serving time, as is one in 36 adult Hispanic men. Recent reports by the Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch show that, despite roughly equal rates of illegal drug use by race, black men are 12 times more likely than white men to be imprisoned for it. Although African-Americans make up 12 percent of the American population, they make up over 40 percent of the jail and prison populations.

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September 11, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Public defenders reject new cases

Public defenders are being hit so hard by budget cuts and growing caseloads that offices in several states are refusing to take on more cases because they say defendants' rights are being hurt. Other jurisdictions say they may follow suit.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that poor people charged with a crime have a right to a lawyer. In most states, taxpayers fund a public defenders' office that handles cases of people who cannot afford a private attorney. The American Bar Association cites studies saying a public defender can competently handle 150 to 200 cases a year.

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September 11, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Banks to Blame for Surge in Bank Robberies?

Bank robberies are up 50% this year, and the NYPD says it's the banks' fault, the Daily News has learned.

The number of bank jobs hit 265 by Sept. 2, compared with 177 by the same time last year.

Police say the problem isn't that crooks are working harder - it's that banks aren't doing enough to protect their money.

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September 11, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Execution halted amid rumors of affair between judge, D.A.

McKINNEY, Texas (AP) -- A death row inmate whose lawyers argued a secret romantic relationship between the judge and prosecutor tainted his trial has won a reprieve -- but not because of the alleged affair.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals postponed Charles Dean Hood's execution, scheduled for Wednesday, because it wanted to reconsider whether the jury instructions were flawed.

At the same time, the court dismissed claims Hood's attorneys filed that he was denied a fair trial because of what would be a legally unethical relationship between retired Judge Verla Sue Holland and former Collin County District Attorney Tom O'Connell.

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September 10, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says summer anti-gang programs decreased violence

Gang Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday credited a new summertime anti-gang program, which included special community events and extended nighttime hours at eight city parks, with a measurable drop in crime in some of the city's most violent neighborhoods.

Between the Fourth of July and Labor Day, the Summer Night Lights program offered special movie nights and other youth- and family-oriented events until midnight four nights a week, during peak time for gang activity and other juvenile-related crime.

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September 10, 2008 in Gang Violence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

1 jail cell. 2 inmates. 1 is killed. No one charged?

42263345 John Lambert dropped out of high school in his freshman year, battled addictions to cocaine and alcohol, and was in and out of treatment centers as well as court for minor scrapes with the law.

Last year, when he was locked up in Cook County Jail for possessing cocaine and violating probation, his frustrated family chose not to bail him out, thinking he was better off where he could not abuse drugs or alcohol.

That proved to be a fatal mistake.

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September 10, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Justice system discourages DNA testing

Recently, The Dispatch reported the story of Robert McClendon, an inmate freed after spending 18 years
in prison for a crime he didn't commit ("Ex-prisoner now officially innocent," Aug. 27).

He was exonerated after DNA testing showed that he wasn't the assailant in the rape for which he was convicted.
This story also brought to light that


has no law requiring that DNA evidence be retained or preserved. This has prompted a call for the legislature to rectify this shortcoming in the law.

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September 9, 2008 in DNA | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Circumventing Congress: How the Federal Courts Opened the Door to Impeaching Criminal Defendants with Prior Convictions

[From Jeffrey Bellin] Senior Appellate Court Attorney for the California Courts of Appeal and former prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C.

This paper does not reflect the views of the California Courts.

This Article spotlights the flawed analytical framework at the heart of the federal courts' approach to one of the most controversial trial practices in American criminal jurisprudence - the admission of prior convictions to impeach the credibility of defendants who testify. As the Article explains, the courts' flawed approach is the byproduct of their misplaced reliance on a five-factor analytical framework to implement the governing legal standard enacted by Congress in Federal Rule of Evidence 609. 

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September 9, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Requests Briefing on Motion for Rehearing in Kennedy v. Louisiana

You can view the order here. [Mike Mannheimer]

September 9, 2008 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fifth Circuit Reverses Conviction of Klansman for 1964 Killings

The Fifth Circuit on Tuesday reversed the 2007 conviction of reputed Ku Klux Klansman James Ford Seale for kidnapping related to the killings of two black teenagers in 1964. You can read the decision here and a related New York Times article here [Mike Mannheimer]

September 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Executing Justice in the Texas Courts

By Lawrence J. Fox

Word count: 668

They did not execute Charles Hood on June 17.  On that night, the State of Texas did the right thing for the wrong reason.  The execution was postponed not to cure a grave injustice, simply because the State of Texas ran out of time.  But the aroma of injustice remains just as strong as it did on that date.  Mr. Hood now faces execution on September 10, and if allowed to go forward, that execution will place a black mark on the ethics of the judiciary and the rule of law, one that can never be erased.

How could this be?  Because until a lawyer in the office that prosecuted Charles Hood came forward just days before the original execution date, there was no proof of what had been long rumored and this lawyer now confirmed: Thomas O'Connell, the chief prosecutor of Mr. Hood was – at that time – engaged in a personal relationship with Verla Sue Holland, the judge who presided at the trial.

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September 9, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Eighth Circuit Rejects Second Amendment Claim

A machine gun and a sawed-off shotgun borne pursuant to membership in an informal militia unaffiliated with the state militia is not activity protected by the Second Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held Aug. 13 (United States v. Fincher, 8th Cir., Nos. 07-2514 and 07-2888, 8/13/08).

The court also ruled that possession of these weapons is not covered by the individual right to bear arms recognized in District of Columbia v. Heller, 76 U.S.L.W. 4631 (U.S. 2008).

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September 9, 2008 in Criminal Law, Guns | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mixed Verdict in London Terror Trial

08london600A lengthy trial centering on what Scotland Yard called a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners ended Monday when the jury convicted three of eight defendants of conspiracy to commit murder.

But the jury failed to reach verdicts on the more serious charge of a conspiracy to have suicide bombers detonate soft-drink bottles filled with liquid explosives aboard seven airliners headed for the United States and Canada.

The failure to obtain convictions on the plane-bombing charge was a blow to counterterrorism officials in London and Washington, who had described the scheme as potentially the most devastating act of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks seven years ago this week. British and American experts had said that the plot had all the signs of an operation by Al Qaeda, and that it was conceived and organized in Pakistan.

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September 9, 2008 in Criminal Law, Homeland Security, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Real commander needed for the war on drugs

Drugs Will America's ill-starred "war on drugs" and its expanding prison culture make it into the presidential campaign?

Standard wisdom says "no way."

We may have the world's highest rate of incarceration — with only 5 percent of global population, 25 percent of prisoners worldwide. We may be throwing hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders, many barely of age, behind bars — one reason a stunning one out of every 100 Americans is now imprisoned. We may have created a huge "prison-industrial complex" of prison builders, contractors and swollen criminal justice bureaucracies.

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September 8, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Are the mentally ill falling through the cracks?

Mentally_ill The Kia Johnson case -- in which a Wilkinsburg woman with mental illness was charged with killing a pregnant teenager and stealing her baby -- drew worldwide news coverage this summer.

That startling homicide, though, was just one of at least 10 serious incidents involving local residents with mental illness that have occurred in Allegheny County neighborhoods in less than a year. Known as sentinel events, they are tracked by the state Department of Public Welfare. Officials here and around the country are struggling with how to prevent such violence or other problems.

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September 8, 2008 in Mentally Ill | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ACLU suit targets Sheriff's Department

A lawsuit filed Friday in federal court accuses the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department of unlawful detentions and racial profiling of Latinos suspected of being undocumented immigrants.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Committee for Immigrant Rights of Sonoma County say the Sheriff's Department collaborates with federal immigration officials to stop and search people who appear to be Latino, interrogate them about their immigration status and jail them without legal basis.

"I would say that's all untrue," Sheriff Bill Cogbill responded Friday, though he had not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

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September 8, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Watch the Detectives" on A&E

Alg_copertinoThere are a million stories in the naked city - and NYPD detectives are finally getting a chance to tell their favorites.

Some 50 retired sleuths will give voice to their oddest or most haunting cases in an 11-week series, "Watching the Detectives," that debuts Sunday night at 9 p.m. on A&E's Biography channel.

"We asked them to tell their best bar stories. The characters in their cases are straight out of central casting," said Executive Producer Kevin Kaufman.

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September 8, 2008 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)