CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Marie Ashe Professor of Law Suffolk University Law School

Dep. Public Defender, Lancaster County Public Defender Office, Lincoln, 1980-83; Staff Attorney, Nebraska Advocacy Services, Lincoln, 1983-84; Private Practice, Sole, Lincoln, 1983-84; Supervisory Attorney, Civil Clinical Program - Nebraska, Lincoln, 1983; Director, 1984; Visiting Assistant Professor, Nebraska, 1984-85; Assistant Professor, West Virginia University, 1985-88; Associate Professor, 1988-90; Professor, 1990-92; Visiting Professor, Boston University, 1992-93; Visiting Professor, Suffolk, 1993-94; Professor, since 1994.

BA, Clark University; MA, Tufts University; JD, University of Nebraska

Bar Admittance:

Constitutional Law; Criminal Law; Jurisprudence; Law and Religion

Professional Activities:
Member, Order of the Coif.

[Mark Godsey]

October 4, 2008 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

State rule clarifies 60-day supply of medical marijuana

A new rule determining how much pot constitutes a 60-day supply for medical-marijuana users was finalized on Thursday, a decade after Washington voters passed an initiative legalizing marijuana for people suffering from terminal and debilitating illnesses.

The new state rule, which goes into effect Nov. 2, sets the supply limit at 24 ounces of usable marijuana plus 15 plants. Those who need more marijuana to manage their pain will have to prove they need it — though how they would do that remains unclear.

While the new, 60-day-supply rule is meant to clarify the law and help police officers determine legitimate amounts, medical-marijuana advocates say the amounts are unreasonable — especially the 15-plant limit — and put patients at risk of criminal prosecution.

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October 4, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence Among Teens

The death of a 16 year-old girl, shot and killed by her

17 year-old boyfriend in Oakland, California, epitomizes

the potential of interpersonal violence to escalate to a

tragic extreme (Contra Costa Times, 2008). Exposure to

interpersonal violence often begins in early adolescence

and continues into adulthood (CDC, 2006). In the US

alone, approximately 1 in 3 adolescent girls (estimates up

to 35%) is a victim of interpersonal violence (Bonomi

& Kelleher, 2007; CDC 2006 & 2007; Marcus, 2005).

This Focus attempts to bring to light various aspects of

a little-studied issue of critical importance, especially to


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

Mackerel Economics in Prison Leads to Appreciation for Oily Fillets

When Larry Levine helped prepare divorce papers for a client a few years ago, he got paid in mackerel. Once the case ended, he says, "I had a stack of macks."

Mr. Levine and his client were prisoners in California's Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex. Like other federal inmates around the country, they found a can of mackerel -- the "mack" in prison lingo -- was the standard currency.

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October 3, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Second Circuit Overturns Terrorism Convictions

Finding that a Yemeni cleric and his assistant had been deprived of a fair trial because of errors by the presiding judge, a federal appeals panel in New York on Thursday overturned their convictions in a prominent terrorism case once hailed by the Bush administration as a significant blow to Al Qaeda.

The appeals court judges found that the defendants, Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad and his aide, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, did not receive a fair trial because the trial judge, Sterling Johnson Jr., allowed the jury to hear inflammatory testimony and other evidence that prejudiced the defendants’ case.

The appeals panel sent the case back to the lower court, Federal District Court in Brooklyn, but in a highly unusual step, directed that it be assigned to a different judge.

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October 3, 2008 in Criminal Law, Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mistrial Motion Being Considered in Trial Of Sen. Ted Stevens

The trial of Senator Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska, teetered on the verge of a mistrial or even a dismissal of the charges on Thursday because of the discovery that Justice Department prosecutors had withheld information that they were supposed to turn over to defense lawyers.

Judge Emmit G. Sullivan dismissed for the day the jurors in the trial, in its second week, and hurriedly scheduled an afternoon hearing on whether he should dismiss the seven felony counts Mr. Stevens faces.

“It’s very troubling,” said a clearly angry Judge Sullivan, who questioned whether someone in the department deliberately concealed the information. “If it wasn’t deliberate, it was gross negligence.”

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October 2, 2008 in Criminal Law, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Murders send city crime rate upwards

The city's crime rate jumped last month, led by a spike in murders, NYPD statistics show.

The murder rate rose nearly 77% to 46 homicides through Sept. 28, compared with 26 through the same date in September 2007.

Shooting crimes rose last month too, with the number of victims up 11% and the number of incidents up 10%, according to NYPD figures released Tuesday.

So far this year, the city has tallied 390 homicides, 11% more than the 350 recorded by the end of September in 2007.

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October 2, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge: No Internet for stalker

A local artist who pleaded guilty to cyberstalking has been given a sentence that includes writing “I will not interfere with the Plaza Central Art Krawl” 1,000 times.

Kevin Starr, whose real name is Herschel Crumbley, was accused of sending hundreds of damaging e-mails that purported to be from neighborhood leaders and business owners in an effort to sabotage the community's quarterly art crawl.

Starr was sentenced Sept. 25 to 18 months of probation and could face 45 days in jail if he violates any of the judge's orders.

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October 2, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Temple professor ponders role in Phila. parole review

The Temple University professor who hastily accepted Gov. Rendell's request Monday to conduct a "top-to-bottom" review of Pennsylvania's parole system knows very little about the new assignment or how long it will take to complete.

John S. Goldkamp, head of Temple's criminal-justice department, said yesterday that he planned to focus on how other states release violent offenders into society and whether those practices can be used here.

Rendell asked Goldkamp to take on the task in the wake of the second slaying in four months of a city police officer by a paroled felon.

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October 2, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Crime lab shutdown slammed as too fast

A group of scientists told the Detroit City Council on Tuesday that the closing of the police crime lab was hasty and left a slew of employees with tarnished reputations and job uncertainty.

Cathy Carr, 50, a senior forensic biologist, said the decision to close the entire lab has left her colleagues full of paranoia and stress.

Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. and Police Chief James Barren closed the lab, which employs about 68 people, last week after a preliminary audit indicated about a 10% rate of inaccuracies related to ballistics evidence testing involving firearms.

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October 1, 2008 in Evidence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

High court rebuffs Louisiana in child rape case

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court declined Wednesday to revisit its recent decision outlawing executions for people convicted of raping children.

The unusual request, from Louisiana and the Bush administration, was based on the failure of anyone involved in the case to take into account a federal law from 2006 that authorizes the death penalty for members of the military who are convicted of child rape.

The state argued that the case should be reopened because Justice Anthony Kennedy relied in part on what he called a "national consensus" against executing convicted rapists. The court split 5-4 in the June 25 ruling.

The justices, by a 7-2 vote, issued an amended opinion Wednesday that adds a footnote concerning military law, but otherwise leaves the essence of the decision untouched.

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October 1, 2008 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

When deadly force is justified

The Indiana law that justifies use of deadly force for people defending themselves, their home or others in danger is seldom used, but this week's case involving a Northwestside family brings it to the spotlight.

Sunday, Robert McNally put a chokehold on a naked intruder. The man died, and McNally faces no charges.

Law enforcement officials said McNally's actions were merited by the law, which does not require people to back away before defending themselves or someone else from serious bodily injury or a forcible felony.

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October 1, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SCOTUS Grants Cert. in Seven Criminal Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court today granted review in seven criminal cases.  Among the issues the Court will address are two Sixth Amendment issues:  whether a defendant whose Sixth Amendment right to counsel has attached and who has been appointed counsel must "accept" the appointment before he becomes unapproachable by the police; and whether the prosecution can use the fruit of a Massiah violation for impeachment purposes.

You can see the full list of cases, with links to related documents, here. [Mike Mannheimer].

October 1, 2008 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Third Circuit Requires Reasonable Suspicion for Border Searches of Sleeping Compartments

RcclradianceThe Fourth Amendment generally prohibits federal agents from conducting border searches of sleeping compartments on vessels unless the agents have reasonable suspicion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit announced Sept. 4 (United States v. Whitted, 3d Cir., No. 06-3271, 9/4/08).

The court framed the critical issue in the case as "whether the search of a cabin of a cruise ship sufficiently intrudes upon an individual's privacy to render it non-routine, so that reasonable suspicion of criminal activity is required." It also reported "a surprising dearth of authority on the matter."

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September 30, 2008 in Criminal Law, Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

D.C. Police Officers Carry iPhones, Panasonic Toughbooks

A Tucked in with their Tasers and service weapons, some District of Columbia police officers are now sporting iPhones.

An initiative spearheaded by Vivek Kundra, chief technology officer for the District of Columbia, is putting Apple's smartphone -- along with Panasonic Toughbook laptops -- into the hands of public safety responders in a bid to make it easier for the police force to respond to incidents and process crime reports.

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September 30, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

No Charges Expected in Dismissal of Attorneys

A Justice Department investigation offers a blistering critique of the political motivations that led to the firings of a group of United States attorneys in late 2006 but stops short of recommending criminal charges against former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales or others in the affair, officials said.

The Justice Department’s inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility have been investigating the firings since last year, trying to determine who in the Bush administration ordered the firings, whether the dismissals were intended to thwart investigations and whether anyone had broken the law in carrying out the firings or in testifying about them.

Officials with the department refused to discuss the report in advance of its scheduled release on Monday, though it has been the subject of Web reports since Friday. A lawyer for Mr. Gonzales declined to comment.

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September 30, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate U.S. Attorney Firings

23cnd_goodling65055An internal Justice Department investigation concluded Monday that political pressure drove the firings of several federal prosecutors in a 2006 purge, but said that the refusal of major players at the White House and the department to cooperate in the year-long inquiry produced significant “gaps” in its understanding of the events.

At the urging of the investigators, who said they did not have enough evidence to justify recommending criminal charges in the case, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey appointed the Acting United States Attorney in Connecticut, Nora Dannehy, to continue the inquiry and determine whether anyone should be prosecuted.

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September 29, 2008 in Criminal Law, DOJ News, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Colorado sex-crime database perplexes

When President Bush signed the Adam Walsh Act into law, it required states to contribute to a national database of sex offenders with more current and stringent registration requirements.

But states and American Indian tribes are having a tough time implementing some of the requirements of the 2006 law — such as making the names and addresses of juvenile sex offenders available on the Internet.

In Colorado, officials have met for more than a year to decide whether to comply with the Adam Walsh Act by July or lose $240,000 in federal funding.

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September 28, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Opponents of Tough Federal Sentencing Rules Take Up Heller for Help

The federal judge that sentenced Weldon Angelos to 55 years and one day in prison in 2004 said his hands were tied by mandatory-minimum gun laws, calling his own sentence "unjust, cruel, and even irrational."

Now a law professor and a group of Am Law 200 lawyers are challenging the sentence on unique grounds: that Heller v. District of Columbia, the case celebrated as a definitive victory for gun rights, protects Angelos and others like him convicted of gun crimes.

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September 28, 2008 in Sentencing Corrections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More hurt in spring prison riot than originally reported

The April riot that left two inmates dead at the U.S. Penitentiary in Florence lasted nearly a half-hour and injured six times the number of people the Bureau of Prisons announced at the time, according to an incident report obtained by the Rocky Mountain News.

Thirty inmates and a staff member were assaulted in the racially motivated brawl, a report written by a Bureau of Prisons investigator states.

When the riot occurred, prison officials said five people - all inmates - were injured.

They would not say how long the riot lasted.

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September 28, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)