CrimProf Blog

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

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Liptak Considers the Future of the Exclusionary Rule

In 1983, a young lawyer in the Reagan White House was hard at work on what he called in a memorandum “the campaign to amend or abolish the exclusionary rule” — the principle that evidence obtained by police misconduct cannot be used against a defendant.

The Reagan administration’s attacks on the exclusionary rule — a barrage of speeches, opinion articles, litigation and proposed legislation — never gained much traction. But now that young lawyer, John G. Roberts Jr., is chief justice of the United States.

This month, Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority in Herring v. United States, a 5-to-4 decision, took a big step toward the goal he had discussed a quarter-century before. Taking aim at one of the towering legacies of the Warren Court, its landmark 1961 decision applying the exclusionary rule to the states, the chief justice’s majority opinion established for the first time that unlawful police conduct should not require the suppression of evidence if all that was involved was isolated carelessness. That was a significant step in itself. More important yet, it suggested that the exclusionary rule itself might be at risk.

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January 31, 2009 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Law Enforcement, Search and Seizure, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

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.

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

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)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Craigslist Increasingly Used to Sell Drugs

Drug dealing on craigslist has become so rampant that the city's special narcotics prosecutor has asked the online trading post to curb the ads, the Daily News has learned.

Bridget Brennan's undercover investigators have bought drugs offered on craigslist personals from dealers ranging from a Citigroup banker to an Ivy Leaguer to a violent felon using a halfway house computer. In the past four years, her office has prosecuted dozens of dealers.

"Ski lift tickets are here for sale ... Tina Turner tickets ... best seats around!" Offers like these appear virtually every day on craigslist, and they are thinly veiled ads posted by people hawking cocaine (ski) or crystal meth (cristina or tina).

"Despite devoting considerable resources to prosecuting these cases, drug dealing is still thriving on craigslist," Brennan wrote craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster. Brennan said she was inspired to act by a recent agreement between craigslist and attorneys general from 40 states to curb prostitution ads.

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November 17, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Drugs, Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

San Francisco to Vote on Decriminalization of Prostitution

In this live-and-let-live town, where medical marijuana clubs do business next to grocery stores and an annual fair celebrates sadomasochism, prostitutes could soon walk the streets without fear of arrest.

San Francisco would become the first major U.S. city to decriminalize prostitution if voters next month approve Proposition K — a measure that forbids local authorities from investigating, arresting or prosecuting anyone for selling sex.

The ballot question technically would not legalize prostitution since state law still prohibits it, but the measure would eliminate the power of local law enforcement officials to go after prostitutes.

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October 23, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Law Enforcement, Sex | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reporter kept the focus on police torture

At this point, most people in Chicago probably accept as true the torture allegations against retired Chicago police commander Jon Burge and mostly wonder what took so long to indict him.

It's easy to forget that was not always the case.

From the time the accusations were raised in 1983 by attorneys for cop killer Andrew Wilson until fairly recently, the collective attitude in this city was of disbelief, of not wanting to believe such a thing possible and perhaps worse -- not caring enough to demand the truth.

Many people were responsible for changing those attitudes, but I'm going to focus on just one.

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October 22, 2008 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Reporter kept the focus on police torture

At this point, most people in Chicago probably accept as true the torture allegations against retired Chicago police commander Jon Burge and mostly wonder what took so long to indict him.

It's easy to forget that was not always the case.

From the time the accusations were raised in 1983 by attorneys for cop killer Andrew Wilson until fairly recently, the collective attitude in this city was of disbelief, of not wanting to believe such a thing possible and perhaps worse -- not caring enough to demand the truth.

Many people were responsible for changing those attitudes, but I'm going to focus on just one.

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October 22, 2008 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Violent Crime Reported Down in 2007

Data released Monday by the FBI show violent crime dipped slightly nationwide in 2007. That ended two years of increases in murders, robberies and other kinds of the worst crime in U.S. cities.

An estimated 1.4 million violent crimes were reported across the country last year - about 10,000 fewer, or a 0.7 percent drop, than 2006.

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September 16, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, DOJ News, Law Enforcement, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Prison Inmates using Cellphones to Continue Crime

Artdogcnn Chante Wright was set to testify against a career criminal when she was gunned down on the streets of Philadelphia in January. Investigators believe it was a hit ordered from prison, by an inmate using a cell phone.

Authorities across the country are trying to prevent similar crimes from occurring.

"We owe it to the victims to not allow inmates to continue to run their enterprises from behind our bars," says Maj. Pete Anderson, who commands a canine unit that sniffs out cell phones inside Maryland prisons.

Cell phones have become the hottest contraband in prisons these days, authorities say. For $400 a pop, the phones can be used to run criminal enterprises, plan escapes and arrange for other illegal items such as drugs to be brought in.

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August 18, 2008 in Criminal Law, Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Texas School District Allows Teachers to Carry Guns in School

Pic_4 A Texas school district will let teachers bring guns to class this fall, the district's superintendent said on Friday, in what experts said appeared to be a first in the United States.

The board of the small rural Harrold Independent School District unanimously approved the plan and parents have not objected, said the district's superintendent, David Thweatt.

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August 15, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Law Enforcement, News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Facebook Becomes a Source of Evidence

Two weeks after Joshua Lipton was charged in a drunken driving crash that seriously injured a woman, the 20-year-old college junior attended a Halloween party dressed as a prisoner. Pictures from the party showed him in a black-and-white striped shirt and an orange jumpsuit labeled "Jail Bird."

In the age of the Internet, it might not be hard to guess what happened to those pictures: Someone posted them on the social networking site Facebook. And that offered remarkable evidence for Jay Sullivan, the prosecutor handling Lipton's drunken-driving case.

Sullivan used the pictures to paint Lipton as an unrepentant partier who lived it up while his victim recovered in the hospital. A judge agreed, calling the pictures depraved when sentencing Lipton to two years in prison.

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July 19, 2008 in Criminal Law, Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Will Some Felons Be Permitted To Own Guns After Heller?

N.Y. Sun.com: The Supreme Court's historic decision on the Second Amendment could make millions of felons eligible to own guns.

Under current federal law, the vast majority of felons are prohibited from so much as touching a gun or ammunition, on pain of punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

Some legal experts now say that the constitutionality of that law, known as the "felon in possession" law, was deeply undermined by the Supreme Court's decision Thursday in District of Columbia v. Heller.

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June 30, 2008 in Civil Rights, Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

NRA Targets Gun Bans after Heller Decision

NPR.org: Five cities and suburbs are facing lawsuits challenging their bans on handguns. When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark June 26 decision, rejecting Washington, D.C.'s ban on handguns, gun-rights lawyers swung into action.

As a result, the legal landscape for gun laws could face dramatic changes.

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June 30, 2008 in Civil Rights, Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Assembly panel kills bill to disclose LAPD disciplinary records

Despite lobbying efforts by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, an Assembly committee Tuesday killed a bill that would have cleared the way for the Los Angeles Police Department to make officers' disciplinary hearings and records open to the public.

The bill faced stiff opposition from many of the state's powerful police unions, which argued that the measure would compromise officer safety. LAPD Chief William J. Bratton, normally a Villaraigosa ally, pointedly chose not to take a position on the bill and Tuesday expressed concerns about it.

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

French Judge Aids in San Francisco Homicide Investigation

A French judge has arrived in San Francisco to oversee an unusual probe into the death of a French citizen whose stabbing has puzzled police investigators for more than a year.

Police have said they are handling the June 2, 2007, death of 36-year-old Hugues de la Plaza as a possible homicide, although they have also angered his acquaintances by suggesting he killed himself. The chief medical examiner's office has been unable to determine what caused the 36-year-old sound engineer's death.

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June 10, 2008 in International, Law Enforcement, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Immigration Prosecutions Hit New High

Immigration Federal law enforcement agencies have increased criminal prosecutions of immigration violators to record levels, in part by filing minor charges against virtually every person caught illegally crossing some stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to new U.S. data.

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June 2, 2008 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Memo on cops gets spotlight

A Chicago police internal affairs investigator has testified before a federal grand jury about a 2005 memo he wrote questioning whether his bosses ignored alleged misconduct that grew into one of the biggest corruption scandals to hit the Police Department, sources close to the investigation said.

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June 2, 2008 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Justification Theory of Police Violence

RACHEL HARMON
University of Virginia - School of Law

Northwestern University Law Review, Forthcoming
Abstract:     
The Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment doctrine regulating police violence, including its recent decision in Scott v. Harris, is unprincipled and indeterminate. The common law of justification defenses, by contrast, provides a well-established legal structure for determining when one person may justly use force against another.

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May 28, 2008 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Government Pushes Criminal Prosecution of Unauthorized Immigrant Workers

N.Y. Times: Waterloo, Iowa —  In temporary courtrooms at a fairgrounds here, 270 illegal immigrants were sentenced this week to five months in prison for working at a meatpacking plant with false documents.

The prosecutions, which ended Friday, signal a sharp escalation in the Bush administration’s crackdown on illegal workers, with prosecutors bringing tough federal criminal charges against most of the immigrants arrested in a May 12 raid. Until now, unauthorized workers have generally been detained by immigration officials for civil violations and rapidly deported.

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