CrimProf Blog

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

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Continuing debate over stop-and-frisk in New York City

In the New York Times, Heather MacDonald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, disputed the significance of recent data showing racially disparate impact of police stop-and-frisk practices:

Allegations of racial bias, however, ignore the most important factor governing the Police Department’s operations: crime. Trends in criminal acts, not census data, drive everything that the department does, thanks to the statistics-based managerial revolution known as CompStat. Given the patterns of crime in New York, it is inevitable that stop rates will not mirror the city’s ethnic and racial breakdown.

A series of letter writers dispute her conclusions. E.g.:

To Ms. Mac Donald, and perhaps many New Yorkers, the police’s singling out of “suspicious-looking” people for questioning because they live in “high crime” neighborhoods may seem like a low-cost, intuitively compelling approach to crime prevention. To the hundreds of thousands of innocent people stopped walking to school or work, running an errand for their families or simply visiting friends, these practices have the effect of undermining communities, damaging self-esteem and corroding trust.

July 3, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 2, 2010

"A first-cut criminal justice take on the SCOTUS Term that was"

Doug Berman's recap is at Sentencing Law and Policy. In part:

the Term had a significant number of little wins for criminal defendants, but the vast majority of cases that could have potentially produced huge wins for defendants ended up being losses (or dismissed cases) or wins via relatively narrow opinions.  My view here may be skewed a bit by end-of-term cases like Barber and Comstock and Dillon and Dolan and HLP which were defendant losses that would have been huge if they came out the other way, and also by rulings like Carr and O'Brien and Skilling which were defense wins on possibly the most narrow of the reasonably available grounds.

That said, it is probably accurate to describe the two potentially biggest and most consequential cases, Graham concerning Eighth Amendment restrictions on extreme prison terms and Padilla concerning Sixth Amendment standards for assessing the effectiveness of an defense attorney's pre-plea advice, as big wins for criminal defendants. 

July 2, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Chicago Mayor Offers Strict Gun Rules"

This A.P. story is on the website of the New York Times:

CHICAGO (AP) -- With the city's gun ban certain to be overturned, Mayor Richard Daley on Thursday introduced what city officials say is the strictest handgun ordinance in the United States.

The measure, which draws from ordinances around the country, would ban gun shops in Chicago and prohibit gun owners from stepping outside their homes, even onto their porches or garages, with a handgun.

Daley announced his ordinance at a park on the city's South Side three days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a right to own a gun for self-defense anywhere they live. The City Council is expected to vote on it Friday.

''As long as I'm mayor, we will never give up or give in to gun violence that continues to threaten every part of our nation, including Chicago,'' said Daley, who was flanked by activists, city officials and the parents of a teenager whose son was shot and killed on a city bus while shielding a friend.

July 1, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2)

"The Criminal Brain"

Steve Erickson at Crime and Consequences points to a series on NPR regarding psychopathy and the criminal law.

July 1, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wexler on Therapeutic Jurisprudence

David B. Wexler  (University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law) has posted Therapeutic Jurisprudence and its Application to Criminal Justice Research and Development on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This essay, based on the 3rd Annual Martin Tansey Memorial Lecture, delivered May 26, 2010, at the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin, and sponsored by the Association of Criminal Justice Research and Development, introduces the perspective of therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) and applies the perspective to several criminal justice issues, such as sentencing, probation, and parole. It calls for an academic-practitioner interdisciplinary and international partnership to enable the field to grow and flourish.

June 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chmura et al on an Experimental Measure of Selfishness as a Criminological Tool

Thorsten Chmura , Christoph Engel , Markus Englerth and Thomas Pitz  (University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics , Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods , affiliation not provided to SSRN and University of Bonn) have posted At the Mercy of the Prisoner Next Door: Using an Experimental Measure of Selfishness as a Criminological Tool (MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2010/27) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Do criminals maximise money? Are criminals more or less selfish than the average subject? Can prisons apply measures that reduce the degree of selfishness of their inmates? Using a tried and tested tool from experimental economics, we cast new light on these old criminological questions. In a standard dictator game, prisoners give a substantial amount, which calls for more refined versions of utility in rational choice theories of crime. Prisoners do not give less than average subjects, not even than subjects from other closely knit communities. This speaks against the idea that people commit crimes because they are excessively selfish. Finally those who receive better marks at prison school give more, as do those who improve their marks over time. This suggests that this correctional intervention also reduces selfishness.

June 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Puzzling through the doctrine and dicta of McDonald on the Second Amendment's limits"

Doug Berman has this interesting post at Sentencing Law and Policy on yesterday's Supreme Court decision.

June 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yesterday's criminal law/procedure cert grant

The Court granted review in Pepper v. United States, described by ScotusBlog as involving "whether a convicted individual’s rehabilitation after sentencing can support a lowering of the sentence under federal Guidelines."

June 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Opinion striking down Chicago handgun ban

McDonald v. City of Chicago is here. Here is the syllabus:

Two years ago, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. ___, this Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home. Chicago (hereinafter City) and the village of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, have laws effectively banning handgun possession by almost all private citizens. After Heller, petitioners filed this federal suit against the City, which was consolidated with two related actions, alleging that the City’s handgun ban has left them vulnerable to criminals. They sought a declaration that the ban and several related City ordinances violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. Rejecting petitioners’ argument that the ordinances are unconstitutional, the court noted that the Seventh Circuit previously had upheld the constitutionality of a handgun ban, that Heller had explicitly refrained from opining on whether the Second Amendment applied to the States, and that the court had a duty to follow established Circuit precedent. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, relying on three 19th-century cases—United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, and Miller v. Texas, 153 U. S. 535— which were decided in the wake of this Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause in the Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36.

Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.

567 F. 3d 856, reversed and remanded.

JUSTICE ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II–A, II–B, II–D, III–A, and III–B, concluding that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment right, recognized in Heller, to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense. Pp. 5–9, 11–19, 19–33.

Continue reading

June 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Top-Ten Recent SSRN Downloads

Ssrn logo are here. The usual disclaimers apply. 

Rank Downloads Paper Title
1 306 Padilla v. Kentucky: The Right to Counsel and the Collateral Consequences of Conviction
Margaret Colgate Love, Gabriel J. Chin,
Law Office of Margaret Love, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law,
Date posted to database: April 16, 2010 [2nd last week]
2 302 War and Peace in the Jury Room: How Capital Juries Reach Unanimity
Scott E. Sundby,
Washington and Lee University - School of Law,
Date posted to database: May 12, 2010 [3rd last week]
3 236 Vigilante Justice: Prosecutor Misconduct in Capital Cases
Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier, Stephen R. Greenwald, Harold Reynolds, Jonathan Sussman,
CUNY School of Law, Fordham University - School of Law, Private Practice, New York County Defender Services,
Date posted to database: April 5, 2010 [4th last week]
4 168 Public Safety, Individual Liberty, and Suspect Science: Future Dangerousness Assessments and Sex Offender Laws
Melissa Hamilton,
University of South Carolina - School of Law,
Date posted to database: April 5, 2010 [5th last week]
5 157 Two Kinds of Retributivism
Mitchell N. Berman,
University of Texas School of Law,
Date posted to database: April 20, 2010 [6th last week]
6 146 The State (Never) Rests: How Excessive Prosecutor Caseloads Harm Criminal Defendants
Adam M. Gershowitz, Laura Killinger,
University of Houston Law Center, Unaffiliated Authors - affiliation not provided to SSRN,
Date posted to database: April 5, 2010 [7th last week]
7 116 Bentham on Stilts: The Bare Relevance of Subjectivity to Retributive Justice
Dan Markel, Chad Flanders,
Florida State University College of Law, Saint Louis University - School of Law,
Date posted to database: April 14, 2010 [8th last week] 
8 112 The Swan Song of Universal Jurisdiction in Spain
Ignacio de la Rasilla del Moral,
Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University,
Date posted to database: April 16, 2010 [9th last week]
9 110 Intuitions of Punishment
Owen D. Jones, Robert Kurzban,
Vanderbilt University - Law School & Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology,
Date posted to database: April 19, 2010 [10th last week]
10 103 From TRIPS to ACTA: Towards a New 'Gold Standard' in Criminal IP Enforcement?
Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan,
Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition & Tax Law,
Date posted to database: May 4, 2010 [new to top ten]

June 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

High-security cases in low-security courtrooms

A Jurist story headlined UN announces opening of new Kenya courtroom for piracy trials highlights the problem. Kenya had previously announced that it would no longer accept Somali pirate cases.

June 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)