CrimProf Blog

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

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alafair S. Burke Professor of Law Hofstra University School of Law

Burke Professor Burke teaches criminal law and criminal procedure subjects. Her research intersects criminal law and procedure and focuses on policing and prosecutorial policies. She has written about prosecutorial decision making, community policing and non-punitive responses to crime problems, and the criminal law's treatment of domestic violence, both in punishing batterers and in explaining the conduct of battered women. Professor Burke has published articles in the Michigan, George Washington, North Carolina, Washington, and William and Mary Law Reviews, among other journals.

Before joining the law school faculty in 2001, Professor Burke served as a deputy district attorney in Portland, Oregon, where she tried more than 30 criminal cases, primarily against domestic violence offenders, and helped innovate neighborhood-based prosecution methods. Professor Burke graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School, where she was elected to Order of the Coif, published a note on prosecutorial ethics in the Stanford Law Review, and was an articles editor of the Stanford Law and Public Policy Journal and a member of the Stanford Journal of International Law. She served as a law clerk to Judge Betty B. Fletcher of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Professor Burke serves as a legal and trial commentator for various television and radio programs. She is a member of the planning committee for the annual Northeast People of Color Conference. She is also the author of five critically acclaimed crime novels.

October 18, 2008 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LAPD blames faulty fingerprint analysis for erroneous accusations

Fingerprint The Los Angeles Police Department has acknowledged in a confidential report that people have been falsely implicated in crimes because the department's fingerprint experts wrongly identified them as suspects.

The 10-page internal report, obtained by The Times, highlighted two cases in which criminal defendants had charges against them dropped after problems with the fingerprint analysis were exposed. LAPD officials do not know how many other people might have been wrongly accused over the years as a result of poor fingerprint analysis and do not have the funds to pay for a comprehensive audit to find out, according to police records and interviews.

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October 18, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 17, 2008

ACLU: Federal death row inmates denied health care

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Death row inmates at the federal prison in Terre Haute are routinely denied access to medical, dental and mental health care, the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday in a letter to a governmental official.

One diabetic prisoner showing symptoms of high blood sugar had to wait two hours to be treated with insulin, the ACLU said after a yearlong investigation. And some prisoners with dental problems chose simply to have all their teeth removed rather than suffer pain while waiting for complicated procedures, it said.

The probe by the ACLU's National Prison Project uncovered "grossly inadequate" conditions that "fail to meet constitutional standards and jeopardize the health and safety" of the more than 50 inmates awaiting execution at the prison, the organization said in the letter to Harley Lappin, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

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October 17, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

First filings made for Ill. innocence petitions

CHICAGO - Lawyers at Northwestern University on Wednesday filed four petitions on behalf of exonerated former Illinois inmates, the first under a new law that would allow them to seek compensation from the state.

Under the law passed in September by the Illinois General Assembly, exonerees can apply to the county court of their conviction for compensation instead of waiting for a pardon from Gov. Rod Blagojevich. That county court may grant a "certificate of innocence."

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October 17, 2008 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In many US airports, guns are OK outside security

ATLANTA — Flying in the U.S. has been transformed since Sept. 11, with passengers forced to remove their shoes, take out their laptop computers and put liquids and gels in clear plastic bags. Yet it's perfectly legal to take a loaded gun right up to the security checkpoint at some of the nation's biggest airports.

An Associated Press survey of the 20 busiest U.S. airports found that seven of them -- Philadelphia, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco -- let people with gun permits carry firearms in the general public areas of the terminal.

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October 17, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why Abolition of the Death Penalty was Important

I wrote the introduction to today's topic, "Why abolishing the Death Penalty in New Jersey was Important" weeks ago, before the market crash and fear of a depression engulfed our country. It's understandable that everyone is focused on keeping their homes, their jobs and preserving their retirement savings. Not Troy Davis however. Troy Davis is waiting on death row in Georgia to be executed for a crime he likely did not commit. If he is executed and if he is innocent, he won't be the first innocent person put to death in the United States. And until the death penalty is repealed in 36 more states and by the federal government, he likely won't be the last.

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October 16, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

False Confession: Devine on his 12 Years in Office

Outgoing Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine says he knows innocent people sometimes confess to crimes they didn't commit. He says it's one of the things he's learned in his time as the county's top prosecutor.

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October 16, 2008 in Confessions and Interrogation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ill. law school poised to help wrongly convicted on a shorter path to pardon, compensation

Marlon Pendleton was released from an Illinois prison in 2006 after DNA evidence exonerated him in the sexual assault for which he was convicted in 1993.

But nearly two years out of prison, Pendleton hasn't been pardoned for the crime, nor can he gain access to the state’s compensation system for those who have been wrongly convicted.

Like others who have been exonerated, Pendleton is caught in a lengthy backlog of pardon petitions awaiting the consideration of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

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October 16, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Drug Courts Offer Many Another Chance

15drug_600It was not your usual courtroom scene. For one thing, the judge choked up as he described one woman’s struggle with opiate addiction after her arrest for forging prescriptions.

Over the last three years, she had repeatedly missed court-ordered therapy and hearings, and the judge, J. Wesley Saint Clair of the Drug Diversion Court, at first meted out mild punishments, like community service. But last winter, pushed past his forgiving limit, he jailed her briefly twice. The threat of more jail did the trick.

Now she was graduating — along with 23 other addicts who entered drug court instead of prison. Prosecutors and public defenders applauded when she was handed her certificate; a policewoman hugged her, and a child shouted triumphantly, “Yeah, Mamma!”

In Seattle, as in drug courts across the country, the stern face of criminal justice is being redrawn, and emotions are often on the surface. Experts say drug courts have been the country’s fastest-spreading innovation in criminal justice, giving arrested addicts a chance to avoid prison by agreeing to stringent oversight and addiction treatment. Recent studies show drug courts are one of the few initiatives that reduce recidivism — on average by 8 percent to 10 percent nationally and as high as 26 percent in New York State — and save taxpayer money.

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October 15, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Drugs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Killer Cooey is executed

LUCASVILLE, Ohio -- Richard Wade Cooey III was executed this morning, forever silencing his personal argument that lethal injection is a cruel and flawed process that can cause an agonizing death.

Cooey, 41, was pronounced dead at 10:28 a.m., only a few minutes after being injected with a lethal flow of three drugs at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

"You (expletive) haven't paid any attention to anything I've said in the last 22 years, why would you pay any attention to anything I said now?" Cooey said with his final words

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October 14, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Macomb tests jury reform

The Michigan Supreme Court is debating whether to change how juries operate during trials -- and some Macomb County residents will be among the first to test the proposed rules.

For the next 14 months, jurors in Circuit Judge David Viviano's courtroom could be allowed to discuss the trial with each other before the case wraps up. And they'll be encouraged to submit questions to the judge in writing before a witness is excused.

The changes are part of a potentially statewide jury reform that aims to make jurors' jobs easier to understand.

"It's sort of to address human nature," Viviano said. "We tell people they can't talk to anyone -- not their spouses, not even the people they're serving with on the jury -- about the case while it's happening. That's counterintuitive to human nature."

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October 14, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Eyewitnesses still play key roles in cases where DNA, other evidence is lacking

The fallibility of eyewitness testimony revealed by DNA exonerations in Dallas County and nationwide is not a relic of the past. Police and prosecutors still depend on the same discredited identification procedures to ensure convictions today.

Police use these techniques in a variety of crimes from murders to robberies. The difference between today's cases and the 19 exonerations involving sexual assaults is that often there is no DNA to ensure guilt or innocence.

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October 14, 2008 in Eyewitness Identification | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Seattle police unit reaches out to the mentally ill

The former social worker on Ravenna Avenue Northeast used to help the vulnerable. Now, she's the one who needs help.

When she's delusional, the 66-year-old can be violent toward neighbors. In two years, her neighbors have called police a dozen times.

As Seattle Police Officers Scott Enright and Suzie Parton pull up one afternoon in September, they can barely see her home behind a wall of overgrown blackberry bushes. They wonder if she will be calm, confused or even safe.

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October 14, 2008 in Mentally Ill | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Attacks by Teen Groups Rising in D.C. and Nation

D.C. police say they are seeing a growing number of teenagers and young adults traveling in groups to assault and rob unsuspecting citizens, a trend that mirrors crimes in cities across the country.

In an eight-hour period last week, five people were attacked by juveniles in separate incidents, including an armed carjacking, in the Southwest waterfront neighborhood. And in the past month, there have been between seven and 11 "pack robberies" in or near Adams Morgan in Northwest Washington, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said.

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October 14, 2008 in Juveniles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

20 Top Crime Stories

We’ve seen some amazing crime stories on News Gems lately. These Top Twenty from the past six months range from the jungles of Africa to a small town in Tennessee. Some are groundbreaking exposés while others tell stories from the perspectives of frightened witnesses, grizzles detectives, innocent victims, crafty smugglers, and terrified killers.

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October 14, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Supreme Court Rejects Obesity Appeal

ArtcooeyThe U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from an Ohio prisoner who argued he is too obese to be executed. Richard Cooey is scheduled to be put to death Tuesday.

The court denied his request for a stay without comment Monday. Cooey is 5-foot-7 and weighs 267 pounds.

State officials said prison staff examined Cooey's veins and found no problems that would interfere with the execution.

Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]

October 13, 2008 in Capital Punishment, Criminal Law, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Unprecedented Number of Federal Judges under Investigation?

U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent is the first federal judge to be indicted for alleged federal sex crimes, but he's only the latest in a string of jurists to face misconduct allegations in 2008, for behavior such as frequenting a topless club or lying under oath.

Nationwide, four other federal judges are being investigated for, among other things, taking cash from lawyers, using an escort service, posting nude photos on a personal Web site and abusing power in court.

The flurry of federal disciplinary activity appears unprecedented under the modern review system, established by Congress in 1980, according to experts and official court statistics.

``As far as I know, we've never had anything like this,'' said Arthur Hellman, a federal judicial disciplinary expert and professor at the University of Pittsburgh law school.

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October 13, 2008 in Criminal Law, News, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Intuitions of Justice: Implications for Criminal Law and Justice Policy

Recent social science research suggests that many if not most judgments about criminal liability and punishment for serious wrongdoing are intuitional rather than reasoned. Further, such intuitions of justice are nuanced and widely shared, even though they concern matters that seem quite complex and subjective. While people may debate the source of these intuitions, it seems clear that, whatever their source, it must be one that is insulated from the influence of much of human experience because, if it were not, one would see differences in intuitions reflecting the vast differences in human existence across demographics and societies.

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October 13, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Technology to track criminals will expand

As the economy tightens the reins on the rest of us, San Bernardino County is shortening its leash even more on a special few.

This is a group almost everyone is glad that someone is watching. It includes child molesters, wife beaters, drunken drivers and gang members.

The Board of Supervisors last week voted to expand the county's use of surveillance technology to track criminal offenders who are on probation or serving time on house arrest or weekends in jail.

Some of the technology includes global positioning satellite surveillance, home-based electronic monitoring and alcohol monitoring.

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October 13, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Assessing Capital Punishment Trends In The U.S.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal for a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal and said it needed more time to consider the fate of Troy Anthony Davis.

Davis was granted a stay of execution just hours before he was scheduled to be put to death.

For analysis, Farai Chideya discusses the Constitution and the death penalty with Carl Tobias, professor of law at the University of Richmond. [Mark Godsey]

Listen to  Assessing Capital Punishment Trends In The U.S.

October 13, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)