CrimProf Blog

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Interrogation Upheld in Country Where Right to Counsel Unavailable

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Nov. 24 upheld the admission of statements elicited overseas by U.S. agents from suspects in the custody of a country that does not provide a right to counsel during interrogations. “[I]nsofar as Miranda might apply to interrogations conducted overseas, that decision is satisfied when a U.S. agent informs a foreign detainee of his rights under the U.S. Constitution when questioned overseas,” the court said (In re Terrorist Bombings of U.S. Embassies (Fifth Amendment Challenges), 2d Cir., No. 01-1535-cr(L), 11/24/08).

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December 9, 2008 in Criminal Law, False Confessions, Homeland Security, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Prosecutors warn against more budget cuts

Kentucky prosecutors warned yesterday that further state budget cuts could significantly disrupt prosecution of crimes and leave the state's court system in shambles.

"It's going to be chaos,'' said Christian County Attorney Mike Foster, a member of the Prosecutors Advisory Council, which held an emergency meeting in Frankfort yesterday. "It is the entire prosecutorial system for the state of Kentucky.''

Gov. Steve Beshear has asked all state entities -- including county and commonwealth's attorneys -- to draw up plans for how they would deal with a 4 percent budget cut for the remainder of the fiscal year.

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December 5, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Charge for Bernard Kerik

041213_kerik_vmedwidecDisgraced former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik's glib response to White House officials when he interviewed to be director of homeland security may land him in prison.

"Nope, it's all in my book," Kerik said when asked in 2002 if there was "anything embarrassing that he wouldn't want the public to know about." In "The Lost Son," Kerik admitted fathering a daughter while he was a soldier in Korea and said his mother, a prostitute, was murdered.

In a beefed-up indictment issued Tuesday, Manhattan federal prosecutors said Kerik should have owned up to his ties to a mob-linked contractor as well as his failure to pay taxes for a nanny he employed.

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December 3, 2008 in Criminal Law, Homeland Security, News, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lessons from Hurricane Katrina: Prison Emergency Preparedness as a Constitutional Imperative

Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters ever to strike the United States, in terms of casualties, suffering, and financial cost. Often overlooked among Katrina's victims are the 8,000 inmates who were incarcerated at Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) when Katrina struck. Despite a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, these men and women, some of whom had been held on charges as insignificant as public intoxication, remained in the jail as the hurricane hit, and endured days of rising, toxic waters, a lack of food and drinking water, and a complete breakdown of order within OPP. When the inmates were finally evacuated from OPP, they suffered further harm, waiting for days on a highway overpass before being placed in other correctional institutions, where prisoners withstood exposure to the late-summer Louisiana heat and beatings at the hands of guards and other inmates. Finally, even as the prison situation settled down, inmates from the New Orleans criminal justice system were marooned in correctional institutions throughout the state, as the judicial system in New Orleans ceased to function.

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December 2, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Roman Polanski Files for Dismissal of Criminal Case

LOS ANGELES, Dec 02, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Academy Award-winning film director Roman Polanski, through new lawyers, Chad Hummel of Los Angeles' Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, and Bart Dalton of Los Angeles, today filed a formal request with the Los Angeles County Superior Court to have the Court dismiss the criminal case brought against him more than 30 years ago in which he had entered a guilty plea to "unlawful sexual intercourse." The request was made on the grounds that judicial and prosecutorial misconduct had so distorted the legal process that the interests of justice can only be served with the complete dismissal of the case.

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December 2, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Circuit Court Finds Defendant Had Right to Cross-Examine Witness about Swastika Tattoos

The broad discretion that the Sixth Amendment confrontation clause provides to trial judges to control the presentation of evidence was abused when a federal district judge barred a defendant from cross-examining a government witness about the witness's swastika tattoos, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held Nov. 18 (United States v. Figueroa, 2d Cir., No. 06-1595-cr, 11/18/08).

The court reasoned that the witness's tattoos tended to suggest that the witness would lie in court about ethnic groups, including the one to which the accused said he belonged.

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December 2, 2008 in Criminal Law, Evidence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In a Brooklyn Parking Lot, the End of a Quiet Life

Funeral_2 The church custodian saw him first: a man alone in a parking lot, swinging a folding chair like an ax, bringing it down toward the windshield of a parked van and stopping, an inch from the glass. Then backing up and dancing around with the chair, a strange ballet. Then swinging again, over and over.

The custodian yelled for the man to stop, and turned and ran for help inside the Coney Island church, where police officers chaperoned the truants of Brooklyn and Queens.

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December 2, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Standing their ground: More citizens enforcing the law themselves

"I'm killing you right now! You shouldn't have looked at me, man! Go ahead. Say goodbye. Say goodbye. I'm blowing you away right here.''

But when the teen suddenly fled, Morelli's fear morphed to rage. Pursuing his attacker and dodging bullets in a high-speed car chase -- the action caught on a 911 tape -- Morelli was able to jot down a tag number that helped police track down the assailant.

"It was straight out of Clint Eastwood-type stuff,'' Morelli said later. "But I knew if I did nothing, nothing would happen.''

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December 2, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Plaxico Burress Turns Himself In On Gun Charge

Amd_plaxicoburressTroubled Giants star Plaxico Burress turned himself into a Manhattan precinct Monday morning where he is expected to be charged after accidentally shooting himself in the right thigh while drinking at a Midtown nightclub.

Walking with no sign of a limp from the bullet wound, Burress stepped out of a black Cadillac Escalade in front of the NYPD's 17th Precinct just after 8 a.m. Wearing dark jeans, a white collared shirt and a black jacket, he stared straight ahead as he walked and ignored shouts from an assembled group of reporters and fans.

His lawyer said the wide receiver would be arraigned at 1 p.m. at Central Booking and would plead not guilty to charges of criminal possession of a weapon.

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

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New trial ordered in 1991 Buddhist temple killings

A federal court of appeals on Thursday overturned the conviction of a West Valley man found guilty of killing nine people at a Buddhist temple west of Phoenix in 1991.

Jonathan Doody was one of two youths convicted of the infamous temple murders, and he has been serving nine life sentences in state prison since his conviction in 1994.

But, on Thursday, a panel of three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that detectives from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office forced a confession from Doody. The judges sent the case back to Maricopa County Superior Court for a new trial.

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November 29, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Guilty verdict in MySpace suicide case could chill Internet speech

A high-profile Internet legal case that just concluded here will have a chilling effect on users of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook if the verdict holds up on appeal, legal experts say.

A Los Angeles jury on Wednesday convicted Lori Drew – the defendant in the so-called "MySpace Suicide Case" – of three counts of illegally accessing computers. But the six-man, six-woman panel could not reach a unanimous verdict on the single count of conspiracy.

The case drew national attention because Ms. Drew had created a phony MySpace profile of a teenage boy who criticized a 13-year-old girl who subsequently hung herself.

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November 28, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Neighbor Guilty in MySpace Hoax Case

A suburban mother was found guilty today of minor misdemeanor charges for her role in an online hoax that prosecutors said led to the suicide of her teenage neighbor.

Lori Drew, 49, was convicted on three misdemeanor counts of unauthorized access to computers in a case that drew nationwide attention both for its novel use of a computer hacking law to combat alleged cyberbullying and for its tales of suburban neighborhood rivalries and teenage suicide.

The jury could not reach a verdict on a single felony conspiracy charge. Drew, who lives in a suburb of St. Louis, was acquitted of several felony counts of unauthorized access to computers in order to inflict emotional distress on 13-year-old Megan Meier.

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November 27, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Complaint filed over Long Island police policies

Hispanic advocates claimed Tuesday that the Long Island police department that investigated the killing of an Ecuadorean immigrant fails to adequately investigate crimes committed by whites against Latinos.

In a complaint to the U.S. Justice Department, the national advocacy group Latino Justice contended that the Suffolk County Police Department discourages Latinos from reporting crimes.

Police and county officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but they have repeatedly said since the Nov. 8 killing of Marcelo Lucero that crime victims are not asked about their residency status.

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

In Cities, the Fight Against Terrorism Walks the Beat

In May, a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer stopped a car for speeding. He noticed that the driver was sweating and gripping the steering wheel nervously, while refusing to answer basic questions. In May, a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer stopped a car for speeding. He noticed that the driver was sweating and gripping the steering wheel nervously, while refusing to answer basic questions.

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Butchering Statutes: the Postville Raid and the Misinterpretation of Federal Law

On Monday, May 12, 2008, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement led an immigration raid at the Agriprocessors, Inc. meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. The local U.S. Attorney's Office pursued criminal complaints against approximately 300 migrant workers. The raid at Postville remains the nation's largest criminal immigration raid. I aim to provide a detailed and accurate account of the investigation of Agriprocessors, the raid, the criminal prosecutions, the sentencings and the aftermath. In so doing, I argue that a confluence of factors explain the number of individuals arrested and the accelerated criminal proceedings.

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

2nd Circuit Upholds Warrantless Extraterritorial Searches of U.S. Citizens

A federal appeals court in Manhattan upheld the convictions on Monday of three Al Qaeda operatives in a ruling that bolsters the government’s power to investigate terrorism by holding that a key Constitutional protection afforded to Americans does not apply overseas.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holds for the first time that government agents may obtain admissible evidence against United States citizens through warrantless searches abroad.

The searches must still be reasonable, as the Constitution requires, Judge José A. Cabranes wrote, adding that the government had met that standard in its search of the home and monitoring of the telephone of one defendant, Wadih El-Hage, a close aide to Osama bin Laden, who was a naturalized American citizen living in Nairobi, Kenya.

“The Fourth Amendment’s requirement of reasonableness — but not the Warrant Clause — applies to extraterritorial searches and seizures of U.S. citizens,” the judge wrote.

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November 24, 2008 in Criminal Law, Homeland Security, International, Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Budget cuts hamper abilities of prosecutors across U.S.

A sour economy is forcing sharp cuts in law-and-order budgets, district attorneys say, hampering their ability to prosecute criminals and secure appropriate sentences for some types of crimes.

The cuts include treating drug-related felony crimes as misdemeanors, dismantling specialty units that prosecute domestic violence and child abuse, and placing prosecutors and staff on unpaid leave to save money.

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

Experts: Bad Economies Don't Cause Crime Waves

Bonnie There are few outlaws in the United States as famous as Bonnie and Clyde — a young couple, with no jobs or prospects, driving across the country robbing banks and killing police officers to make ends meet during the Great Depression.

It's an indelible image of what people will do during desperate times. For a while, Bonnie and Clyde were almost American heroes.

There's only one problem: The Depression years had very little crime.

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

Boy's constitutional rights forgotten during interview

The video of the now-infamous 8-year-old in St. Johns is chilling.

"Did you shoot your dad?" a sheriff's deputy asks the pajama-clad boy, at the end of an hourlong interview in which he was led ever-so-gently down the primrose path.

The boy rubs his eyes and he covers his face. "I think so," he says softly.

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

Saturday, November 22, 2008

'Ionia' Challenge to Corporate Criminal Liability

Mark Twain once reportedly observed that "everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." The same could be said of corporate criminal liability.

In recent years, the corporate defense bar has frequently complained about the low threshold for vicarious corporate criminal liability and the resulting imbalance of power between the government and companies under investigation. However, since potential corporate criminal defendants typically resolve such investigations without a trial, opportunities to challenge the broad scope of corporate criminal liability are rare.

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