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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Money for future Dallas DNA testing lost in Madoff scandal

Panic ensued at the Innocence Project of Texas when a powerful Wall Street investor was arrested this month and accused of swindling investors out of $50 billion.

One of the organizations that had invested with Bernard Madoff was the JEHT Foundation, which funds post-conviction DNA tests for Dallas County inmates who claim they are innocent. Without the funding, the Innocence Project would be faced with trying to raise capital in a bad economy and those seeking tests could face indefinite delays, if the testing could be done at all.

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December 26, 2008 in DNA | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Feds consider searches of terrorism blogs

Homeland Security Department may soon start scouring the Internet to find blogs and message boards that terrorists use to plan attacks in the USA.

The effort comes as researchers are seeing terrorists increasingly use the Internet to plan bombings, recruit members and spread propaganda. "Blogging and message boards have played a substantial role in allowing communication among those who would do the United States harm," the department said in a recent notice.

Homeland Security officials are looking for companies to search the Internet for postings "in near to real-time which precede" an attack, particularly a bombing. Bombings are "of great concern" because terrorists can easily get materials and make an improvised-explosive device (IED), the department said.

"There is a lot of IED information generated by terrorists everywhere — websites, forums, people telling you where to buy fertilizer and how to plant IEDs," said Hsinchun Chen, director of the University of Arizona's Artificial Intelligence Lab. Chen's "Dark Web" research project has found 500,000,000 terrorist pages and postings, including tens of thousands that discuss IEDs.

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

How To Prosecute a Shoe-Thrower

Muntadar al-Zaida, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush, will stand trial Dec. 31, the BBC reported Monday. He's being charged with "aggression against a foreign head of state," which carries a prison term of between five and 15 years. If a reporter here in the United States flung his footwear at, say, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, would he do time?

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December 26, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Border Patrol grows and so do concerns

Shortly after riding a U.S. Border Patrol dune buggy in Arizona's high desert 2½ years ago, President George W. Bush initiated a beefed-up border-security policy that some say has infringed on civil liberties -- and led to crackdowns around Port Angeles and Bellingham.

"We want our borders shut to illegal immigrants, as well as criminals and drug dealers and terrorists," declared Bush, who ordered the Border Patrol to hire 6,000 more agents by the end of this year.

In Blaine, at the U.S.-Canada border, the Border Patrol has nearly quadrupled in size -- from about 50 agents eight years ago to about 190 today. It's using its wealth of manpower to throw up roadblocks on highways and search buses dozens of miles from the nearest border.

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

Jewish group leader complains about Rubashkin treatment

A leader of one of the country’s most prominent Jewish groups complained to the U.S. attorney general Wednesday about the treatment of a former Iowa meatpacking executive.

The complaint centers on the government’s decision to deny bail to Sholom Rubashkin, the longtime leader of the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Ia.

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December 25, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is the Bush administration criminally liable for its lawlessness?

Whatever its other legacies, the Bush administration will be remembered for its contemptible disregard for the law in the post-9/11 war on terrorism. From the wiretapping of Americans without a court order to the waterboarding of suspected terrorists to the refusal to abide by the requirements of the Geneva Convention, many of the administration's policies can fairly be described as lawless.

But were they also criminal? Should officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, be put on trial, either in a court of law or in a forum like South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission? As the Bush administration nears its end, calls for such a reckoning are coming from civil libertarians and some supporters of President-elect Barack Obama. Some even argue that President Bush should be indicted.

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December 25, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New NYPD system alerts officers on the mentally ill

A day after the NYPD used a stun gun on an emotionally disturbed man, Iman Morales, volunteers meticulously cleaned blood from the sidewalk. Morales died when he fell from the second floor ledge in Brooklyn. (Newsday Photo / Ari Mintz / September 25, 2008)


The New York Police Department has a new alert system that lets officers know if they are responding to locations where police have previously been sent to deal with the mentally ill, an initiative sparked by the fatal 2007 shooting of a man who confronted officers with a broken wine bottle.

Under terms of the month-old initiative, a 911 dispatcher handling a "triggering incident" -- anything from a "shots fired" call to an assault in progress -- checks the address to see if it has been the scene of three previous incidents involving an emotionally disturbed person in the preceding 365 days, according to an internal NYPD order.

If so, the dispatcher tells responding officers about the previous incidents and sends to the scene an ambulance and the Emergency Service Unit, whose officers are best-trained to deal with the mentally ill.

A police patrol supervisor, who is usually armed with a portable Taser, is also sent to the scene. [Mark Godsey]

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December 24, 2008 in Mentally Ill | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

As Economy Dips, Arrests for Shoplifting Soar

Recently laid off from a job building trailers in Elkhart, Ind., Mr. Johnson came up a dollar short at Martin’s Supermarket last month when he went to buy a $4.99 bottle of sleep medication. So, “for some stupid reason,” he tried to shoplift it and was immediately arrested.

“I was desperate, I guess,” said Mr. Johnson, 25, who said he had never been arrested before. As the economy has weakened, shoplifting has increased, and retail security experts say the problem has grown worse this holiday season. Shoplifters are taking everything from compact discs and baby formula to gift cards and designer clothing.

Police departments across the country say that shoplifting arrests are 10 percent to 20 percent higher this year than last. The problem is probably even greater than arrest records indicate since shoplifters are often banned from stores rather than arrested.

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December 24, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Is the Bush administration criminally liable for its lawlessness?

Whatever its other legacies, the Bush administration will be remembered for its contemptible disregard for the law in the post-9/11 war on terrorism. From the wiretapping of Americans without a court order to the waterboarding of suspected terrorists to the refusal to abide by the requirements of the Geneva Convention, many of the administration's policies can fairly be described as lawless.

But were they also criminal? Should officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, be put on trial, either in a court of law or in a forum like South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission? As the Bush administration nears its end, calls for such a reckoning are coming from civil libertarians and some supporters of President-elect Barack Obama. Some even argue that President Bush should be indicted.

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

NYPD's "Operation Impact" Credited with Success in Tough Precincts

Along Linden Boulevard in East New York, the officers of Operation Impact patrol the Pink Houses with all the rigor of a military patrol, a clannish band of partners whose uniforms shout authority even when they do not speak.

They tread the maze of eight-story buildings, inspect the interior staircases, aim their flashlights into the nighttime darkness of rooftops and — on a recent frigid night — coat their lips with layers of ChapStick.

The police officers in this outpost in the eastern end of Brooklyn are part of a mini crime-suppression operation, one reliant on money, manpower and labor. They are the tip of the New York Police Department’s crime-fighting spear.

“We feel really proud of the job we’re doing here,” Officer Kevin Martinez, 24, said as he walked his beat in the Louis H. Pink Houses, a public housing project of 1,500 apartments in 22 buildings.

“When they see us here, they feel safe,” he said.

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December 24, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Actor Lillo Brancato Acquitted of Felony Murder

Amd_lillobrancatoA slain cop's sister cried junk justice last night after a Bronx jury acquitted actor-turned-junkie Lillo Brancato of murdering Officer Daniel Enchautegui.

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December 23, 2008 in Criminal Law, News, Trials | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How Effective is Drug Rehab?

Their first love might be the rum or vodka or gin and juice that is going around the bonfire. Or maybe the smoke, the potent marijuana that grows in the misted hills here like moss on a wet stone.

But it hardly matters. Here as elsewhere in the country, some users start early, fall fast and in their reckless prime can swallow, snort, inject or smoke anything available, from crystal meth to prescription pills to heroin and ecstasy. And treatment, if they get it at all, can seem like a joke.

“After the first couple of times I went through, they basically told me that there was nothing they could do,” said Angella, a 17-year-old from the central Oregon city of Bend, who by freshman year in high school was drinking hard liquor every day, smoking pot and sampling a variety of harder drugs. “They were like, ‘Uh, I don’t think so.’ ”

She tried residential programs twice, living away from home for three months each time. In those, she learned how dangerous her habit was, how much pain it was causing others in her life. She worked on strengthening her relationship with her grandparents, with whom she lived. For two months or so afterward she stayed clean.

“Then I went right back,” Angella said in an interview. “After a while, you know, you just start missing your friends.”

Every year, state and federal governments spend more than $15 billion, and insurers at least $5 billion more, on substance-abuse treatment services for some four million people. That amount may soon increase sharply: last year, Congress passed the mental health parity law, which for the first time includes addiction treatment under a federal law requiring that insurers cover mental and physical ailments at equal levels.

Many clinics across the county have waiting lists, and researchers estimate that some 20 million Americans who could benefit from treatment do not get it.

Yet very few rehabilitation programs have the evidence to show that they are effective. The resort-and-spa private clinics generally do not allow outside researchers to verify their published success rates. The publicly supported programs spend their scarce resources on patient care, not costly studies.

And the field has no standard guidelines. Each program has its own philosophy; so, for that matter, do individual counselors. No one knows which approach is best for which patient, because these programs rarely if ever track clients closely after they graduate. Even Alcoholics Anonymous, the best known of all the substance-abuse programs, does not publish data on its participants’ success rate.

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December 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

States putting criminal records online

Worried your daughter's new boyfriend might have a nefarious past? Want to know whether the job applicant in front of you has a rap sheet?

Finding out can be a mouse click away, thanks to the growing crop of searchable online databases run directly by states. Vermont launched its service Monday, and now about 20 states have some form of them.

The Web sites provide a valuable and time-saving service to employers and businesses by allowing them to look up criminal convictions without having to submit written requests and wait for the responses. And they're popular: Last month alone, Florida's site performed 38,755 record checks

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December 23, 2008 in Civil Rights | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Is Texas Changing Its Mind About the Death Penalty?

Texas has executed prisoners with a regularity and in record numbers that has earned the state worldwide attention. But, while Texas still led the U.S. in executions in 2008, juries in the state appear to have began to turn away from the ultimate punishment even for the most heinous crimes.

Ten men and one woman were sentenced to death in Texas in 2008, according to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. It was the lowest annual figure since the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty. Texas handed out more than 20 death sentences in each of 2003 and 2004. In 2005, the number fell to 14, and it has not risen above that annual figure since. "The need for revenge, for vengeance is being curbed, the appetite is no longer there," contends Robert Hirschorn, a nationally known Texas attorney and jury consultant who has helped pick juries for many prominent clients, including, most recently, millionaire real estate mogul Robert Durst, who was found not guilty of killing and dismembering his neighbor. 

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December 23, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facial recognition software gives Pierce County help in tough cases

The forgery and theft case had victims, a witness and decent surveillance images from an ATM. What it didn't have were any leads on who committed the crime. But instead of being tossed aside, as happens in so many property crime cases, the ATM images were e-mailed to Steve Wilkins at the Pierce County Sheriff's Department.

Wilkins, the department's forensic services supervisor, picked the clearest image and used new facial recognition software to compare it with 16 years' worth of prisoner mug shots taken at the Pierce County Jail.

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December 23, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Crime increases in some areas as economy fails

Nothing about the failed bank robbery here earlier this month was ordinary.

The suspect, a 51-year-old woman, does not fit the typical criminal profile. The weapon, a crudely assembled fake bomb — a tangle of wires protruding from a handbag — is not often a weapon of choice. And the demand, $50,000, was relatively modest by some criminal standards.

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December 22, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Man gets 13 months for molesting son

A former roving carnival worker will spend 13 months in prison for molesting his adult son, who has such severe mental and physical disabilities that he couldn't tell anyone what was happening to him.

Robert Lee Hutchinson, 41, had faced up to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of gross sexual imposition in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

Judge Neal Bronson said he gave consideration to Hutchinson's lack of a prior criminal record and that he had stepped forward to admit his guilt, as Hutchinson's lawyer, A. Aaron Aldridge, pointed out.

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December 22, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mistrial For Third Suspect In NYPD Murder Case

A mistrial has been declared in the case against Lee Woods for the murder of a police officer and for wounding his partner during a routine traffic stop, CBS 2 HD has learned.

Woods was the last of three men tried for their separate roles in the incident.

A juror in the trial fell ill last week during deliberation. That juror was unable to return.

At the beginning of the trial, the defense had stipulated that no alternate would be used while the jury had begun deliberating.

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December 22, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Andrew D. Leipold Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Illinois College of Law

Edwin Professor Andrew Leipold, the Edwin M. Adams Professor of Law, graduated summa cum laude in Public Relations from Boston University. He received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was a member of Order of the Coif and Editor-in-Chief of the Virginia Law Review. After graduation, he served as clerk to Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and to Justice Lewis Powell, Jr., of the United States Supreme Court. He then worked for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Philadelphia.

Since joining the faculty in 1992, Professor Leipold has been voted Outstanding Faculty Member eight times, and received the Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Teaching in 2000. Most recently, he served for two and one-half years as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. He has been a Visiting Professor at Boston College Law School and Duke University School of Law, where he was recognized with a Distinguished Teaching Award.

On October 1, 2007, Professor Leipold was appointed to a three-year term on the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts. Professor Leipold recently completed Volume 1 and Volume 1A of Federal Practice & Procedure: Criminal, set for publication from West in Spring, 2008.

Professor Leipold writes in the area of criminal law and procedure, and has served as a consultant to the Illinois Criminal Law Reform Commission, the Governor’s Truth in Sentencing Commission, and the Office of the Independent Counsel for the Whitewater Investigation. His most recent publication is entitled, "The Impact of Joinder & Severance on Federal Criminal Cases: An Empirical Study" (59 Vanderbilt Law Review). In 2005, he published "How the Pretrial Process Contributes to Wrongful Convictions" (42 American Criminal Law Review 1123), "Why are Federal Judges So Acquittal Prone" (83 Washington University Law Quarterly 151), "The Grand Jury Clause of the Fifth Amendment" (Heritage Foundation Guide to the Constitution), "Strategy and Remorse in Capital Trials"(80 Indiana Law Journal 47) and Volumes 1 and 1A in Federal Practice and Procedure: Criminal (3d ed.). His essay, "The Limits of Deterrence Theory in the War on Drugs," was published in a symposium issue of The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice at the University of Iowa, and he authored a chapter in Controversial Issues in Criminal Justice and Criminology. Other articles include "The Problem of the Innocent, Acquitted Defendant" (94 Northwestern University Law Review 1297, 2001), and "Constitutionalizing Jury Selection in Criminal Cases" (86 Georgetown Law Journal 945, 1998).

In August 2002, Professor Leipold delivered invited lectures—“Organized and White Collar Crime,” and “Introduction to American Criminal Procedure”—at the Ministry of Justice, Brasilia, Brazil, and at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil. [Mark Godsey]

December 21, 2008 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Final arguments for release of 911 call set for Monday

A Madison police detective testified Friday that release of the Brittany Zimmermann 911 call would jeopardize the search for her killer, though a public safety expert countered that release of such information typically helps solve homicides.

Madison detective John Summers said the recordings are evidence in the Zimmermann homicide case. Therefore there is "no question" they should not be released, Summers said.

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December 21, 2008 in False Confessions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)