CrimProf Blog

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

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dallas County probation program addresses addictions, bipolar disorder

Kimberly Armstrong says she has run from every drug program she was ever ordered to attend. But when she was sent to one offered by Dallas County probation aimed at treating both her drug addiction and bipolar disorder, she decided to stick with it.

"It seemed like a good program. So I thought I'd give it a chance," said Armstrong, 39, who has been sober and on her prescribed bipolar medications since April 8. She said she's stayed because people working with Dual Diagnosis care about her.

"To be honest, the thought of looking the judge in his face and him being disappointed in me keeps me on track," she said. "I want to be one of the statistics that makes it. I'm doing the best I can."

Continue reading

January 3, 2009 in Mentally Ill | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Groups sue Bush over last-minute rule changes

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence sued the Bush administration yesterday in hopes of stopping a new policy that would allow people to carry concealed, loaded guns in most national parks and wildlife refuges.

"The Bush administration's last-minute gift to the gun lobby, allowing concealed semiautomatic weapons in national parks, jeopardizes the safety of park visitors in violation of federal law," said Paul Helmke, the group's president. "We should not be making it easier for dangerous people to carry concealed firearms in our parks."

An Interior Department spokeswoman refused to comment on the lawsuit, saying the department does not discuss pending litigation.

Continue reading

January 2, 2009 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

'Lethal Warriors' in Iraq, linked to string of crimes back home

Reporting from Orange County and Colorado Springs -- They nicknamed themselves the Lethal Warriors, and during two tours in Iraq, the soldiers of the Army's 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry regiment confronted some of the war's cruelest fighting, hunting insurgents through the warrens of Baghdad and Tikrit amid roadside bombs, mortar fire and close-quarters firefights. By June 2007, in what one field commander called the "heart of darkness," the unit was losing a soldier a day in a body bag or on a stretcher. Over two tours, 33 of them had died.

On Nov. 30, 2007, Kenneth Eastridge, a wiry, heavily tattooed survivor of the fighting, found himself at a rough Colorado Springs bar called the Rum Bay, not far from the unit's Ft. Carson base. Eastridge, a high school dropout from the projects of Louisville, Ky., had joined the Army to escape what seemed the dead-end prospects of civilian life, only to run repeatedly afoul of Army rules and face a court-martial.

Continue reading

January 2, 2009 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Officials describe search for state's top forensic pathologist as tough

Officials are moving closer to hiring Mississippi's first medical examiner in more than a decade.It is progressing," said Sam Howell, director of the State Crime Lab. "They are looking at some candidates to be interviewed."

The medical examiner's post has been vacant since the mid-1990s. During that time, Dr. Steven Hayne performed most of the autopsies.

On Aug. 4, Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson sent out a letter, removing Hayne from the list of approved pathologists.

Simpson said then that the state planned to hire a medical examiner for the $200,000-a-year position.

Continue reading

January 2, 2009 in Evidence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Otis L. Sanford: Cops posing as kids just does not seem right

OK, I get it.

This is about creating a safe school environment and protecting students from the scourge of drug dependency.

It's about zero tolerance, or something close to it, for peddling even small quantities of drugs on or near a school campus.

It's about keeping kids from making a stupid mistake that they will regret, and perhaps pay for, the rest of their lives.

Continue reading

January 1, 2009 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Napolitano backs security tech

Gov. Janet Napolitano — President-elect Barack Obama's pick to run the Homeland Security Department — has strongly advocated using advanced security technology as a law enforcement tool, drawing praise from police and raising concern among civil liberties groups that warn about privacy invasion.

As Arizona's Democratic governor since 2003, Napolitano has:

• Pushed state police to use cameras that scan license plates of moving cars to find vehicles that are stolen or linked to a criminal suspect.

• Promoted "face-identification" technology that could help surveillance cameras find wanted people by comparing someone's face with a photo database of suspects.

• Signed a 2007 bill making Arizona one of 12 states that collect and store DNA samples of people accused but not convicted of certain crimes, including murder, burglary, sexual assault and prostitution.

• Proposed an optional state ID for legal citizens only that features a radio-frequency chip to allow authorities to read the card. State lawmakers blocked the effort this year.

Continue reading

January 1, 2009 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Sentencing Guidelines For Crack, New Challenges

Michael D. Thompson, a former crack cocaine dealer, thought he deserved a break.

Sentenced in 2000 to 15 years and eight months in prison, Thompson asked a federal judge in the District to release him, arguing that he had received an unfair sentence and has turned his life around behind bars, earning a general equivalency diploma and completing a commercial driving course.

Federal prosecutors said that was a terrible idea. Citing Thompson's criminal past and prison disciplinary record, which includes threatening a prison official with a knife, prosecutors argued in court papers that the 37-year-old poses a danger to the community and should complete his sentence.

Continue reading

January 1, 2009 in Sentencing Corrections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Judges rule three-strikes sentence unconstitutional

California's three-strikes sentencing law suffered a blow Tuesday when a federal appeals court struck down as unconstitutional a 28-years-to-life sentence for a sex offender who failed to register with local police at the correct time of year.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case of Cecilio Gonzalez back to federal district court in Los Angeles for resentencing after finding his 2001 penalty constituted cruel and unusual punishment, which is prohibited by the 8th Amendment.

Continue reading

December 31, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Emotions tested in a year of crime

The criminal landscape of 2008 reminded all of us how fragile — and strange — life can be.

It was a tragic year for police officers, with the Houston Police Department losing three to violent circumstances. As a result, Texas again led the nation for officer deaths in the line of duty.

2008 also was a tragic year for young children who apparently suffered at the hands of their parents — including a 3-month-old boy found stomped to death in a roadside ditch in Galveston and two Pasadena siblings whose burned bodies were found a week after they disappeared on Father's Day.

Continue reading

December 31, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Girding for new marijuana law, state offers enforcement tips

Police officers should issue tickets, similar to a building code citation, to anyone possessing an ounce or less of marijuana, under an advisory released by the state yesterday recommending ways to manage the law decriminalizing possession of the drug.

The law is effective Jan 2.

Violators may appeal the citation - a civil infraction - in court within 21 days or pay the $100 fine set by the statute. Municipalities would be responsible for collecting the fines, according to the recommendations.

Continue reading

December 31, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

N.Y. High Court Bars Surrogate-Elect Over Campaign Contributions

The Court of Appeals on Monday barred Nora S. Anderson from becoming Manhattan surrogate on Jan. 1 pending the outcome of Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau's prosecution of her for allegedly failing to accurately report contributions to her campaign this summer.

A 6-0 court suspended Anderson with pay effective Thursday, when the 10-year term she won earlier this year is to begin. The court gave no reasoning for its decision.

Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye took no part in the deliberations.

Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau will designate an interim judge to fill the opening by early January, said David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration.

Continue reading

December 30, 2008 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge-Elect, Indicted, Is Suspended by Court

The New York State Court of Appeals on Monday ordered the suspension of Judge-elect Nora S. Anderson while she faces criminal charges accusing her of committing financial fraud during her campaign to become a Surrogate’s Court judge in Manhattan.

The suspension will take effect on Thursday, the same day that Ms. Anderson was scheduled to take her seat on the bench, according to Gary Spencer, a spokesman for the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. A temporary replacement will be assigned by Ann Pfau, the state’s chief administrative judge.

The appeals court judges voted 6 to 0 to suspend Ms. Anderson, Mr. Spencer said. Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye did not participate because she is going to retire from the court on Wednesday and will not be on the bench when the suspension takes effect.

Continue reading

December 30, 2008 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Report: Police officer deaths down in 2008

Deaths of law enforcement officers in the line of duty fell sharply in 2008, with the number killed by gunfire reaching its lowest level in more than five decades, according to a report published Monday.

The statistics show 2008 has been "one of the safest years for U.S. law enforcement in decades," wrote two groups: the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Concerns of Police Survivors.

Based on preliminary data, the groups found that 140 law enforcement officers were killed in 2008 -- 86 of them accidentally and 54 intentionally.

Continue reading

December 30, 2008 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Study: Houston leads in homicides by black youths

As violent crime nationally slows in growth or declines, the United States is facing a dramatic — but hardly noticed — increase in murders by and of young African-American men, a Northeastern University study released today reports.

Between 2002 and 2007, the number of black male juveniles murdered nationally increased by 31 percent and the number of black perpetrators by 43 percent. The increases were even greater, the report said, when guns were used as weapons.

Focusing on the period between 2000-01 and 2006-07, the study found Houston at the top of a list of 28 U.S. cities, with a 139 percent increase in the number of young African-Americans suspected in killings.

Continue reading

December 29, 2008 in Juveniles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gov. Rod Blagojevich pardons 22 people

Marcus Lyons was so bitter after leaving prison in 1991 that he tried to nail himself to a wooden cross outside the DuPage County Courthouse.

On Friday, two decades after he was convicted of a rape he did not commit, Lyons was one of 22 people pardoned by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Lyons, 51, said he felt fortunate to have received clemency, knowing that a growing backlog has left hundreds of others waiting for decisions from the governor.

But Lyons, now living in Indiana, said he is still upset with police officers from Woodridge, where the crime took place in 1987. He said Friday's pardon can't return the one thing he wants most.

Continue reading

December 29, 2008 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

State senators study case of innocent man who died in prison

Legislators may change state law to recognize the innocence of a Fort Worth man convicted in Lubbock more than 20 years ago.

State Sens. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, and Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, may clarify how the state compensates and exonerates wrongfully convicted inmates who die in prison.

The work, along with recognition by Texas courts, could bring closure after 22 years to the family of Timothy Brian Cole and formally recognize what could be the country's first posthumous exoneration.

Continue reading

December 29, 2008 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pa. public-records law changing

Pennsylvania state, county and local governments will be operating under a new set of rules in 2009 when a new Right-To-Know Law goes into effect.

“The big difference is the burden of proving a record is not public is on the agency, rather than on the members of the public,” said Chambersburg Borough Secretary Tanya Mickey, who has been named the borough’s open records officer.

That will be another difference, with governments designating to whom those records should go, Mickey said. The borough’s updated policy and a form to request information soon will be available on Chambersburg’s Web site (, she said.

Continue reading

December 29, 2008 in Civil Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)