EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Friday, December 15, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Idaho

This is the thirteenth in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Idaho treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee. 

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December 15, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Hawaii

This is the twelfth in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Hawaii treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee. 

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December 14, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Georgia

This is the eleventh in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Georgia treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee. 

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December 13, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Florida

This is the tenth in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Florida treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee. 

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December 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: D.C.

This is the ninth in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why the District of Columbia treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.

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December 11, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Testimony of the Houlihan's Witnesses at the Willie "Pee Wee" Veasy Trial

In the most recent season of the Undisclosed Podcast, we covered the case of Willie Veasy ("Pee Wee"), who was convicted of murdering John Lewis ("The Jamaican"), in North Philadelphia, about 8 miles from the Houlihan's where Veasy worked. The murder occurred shortly before 10:00 P.M. on January 24, 1992, and the strongest evidence of Veasy's innocence is his time card from the Houlihan's, which showed him clocking in at 5:59 P.M. on January 24, 1992 and clocking out at 1:52 or 1:54 A.M. on January 25, 1992.

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December 9, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Delaware

This is the eighth in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Delaware treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.

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December 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Connecticut

This is the seventh in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Connecticut treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.

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December 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Thiru Vignarajah & the New Trials & Tossed 100+ Year Prison Terms For 2 Man Convicted of Killing a Prospective Witness

I hadn't noticed this Baltimore Sun article until seeing this tweet. The title of the article is provocative: "2 men sentenced to more than 100 years in killing of witness to receive new trial." Specifically, according to the article,

Derius Duncan, 27, and Clifford Butler, 25, were both convicted of first-degree murder of Ronald Givens* in 2015. But in an opinion issued on Feb. 2, the appeals court wrote that they should receive new trials because information was unfairly used against them from a proffer agreement Butler had made during the investigation.

So, what happened?

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December 6, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (15)

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Colorado

This is the sixth in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Colorado treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.

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December 6, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: California

This is the fifth in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why California treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.

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December 5, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Arkansas

This is the fourth in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Arkansas treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.

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December 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Arizona

This is the third in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Arizona treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.

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December 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Alaska

This is the second in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Alaska treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.

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November 30, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Alabama

This is the first in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Alabama treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.

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November 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project

I've done a few posts (here, here, and here) about the Cyntoia Brown case.

Brown, now 29, was a 16-year-old victim of sex trafficking in Tennessee in 2004 when she fatally shot Johnny Mitchell Allen, a 43-year-old real estate agent who solicited sex from her, according to court documents and multiple local reports. Brown — who admitted she killed Allen by shooting him in the back of the head — becomes eligible for parole soon after she turns 69.

In doing those posts, what I've realized is that perhaps the most significant legal change in Tennessee that can help Brown and other juvenile lifers in Tennessee is a change in Tennessee's "51-To-Life" Law, which I outlined in this post. So, let me break that down, and then I will start the "51-To-Life" Project (similar to the Prior Inconsistent Statement Project).

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November 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & Tennessee's Aberrational "51-To-Life" Law for Juvenile Offenders

Earlier today, I did a second post on the case of Cyntoia Brown.

Brown, now 29, was a 16-year-old victim of sex trafficking in Tennessee in 2004 when she fatally shot Johnny Mitchell Allen, a 43-year-old real estate agent who solicited sex from her, according to court documents and multiple local reports. Brown — who admitted she killed Allen by shooting him in the back of the head — becomes eligible for parole soon after she turns 69.

In that post, I noted that neither the trial nor the appellate court heard evidence regarding Brown's birth mother kidnapping her and engaging in other behaviors that should have been relevant to the sentencing decision. But I closed that post by noting that this evidence wouldn't in fact have been relevant under Tennessee's sentencing scheme. Why?

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November 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Evidence that Cyntoia Brown's Birth Mother Kidnapped Her Was Never Considered by a Court

On Wednesday, I did a first post on the case of Cyntoia Brown.

Brown, now 29, was a 16-year-old victim of sex trafficking in Tennessee in 2004 when she fatally shot Johnny Mitchell Allen, a 43-year-old real estate agent who solicited sex from her, according to court documents and multiple local reports. Brown — who admitted she killed Allen by shooting him in the back of the head — becomes eligible for parole soon after she turns 69.

One of the big questions in the Brown case is whether, given, her circumstances, she should have been given a sentence as a 16 year-old that doesn't even allow for the possibility of parole until well after she becomes a senior citizen. In making that determination, however, neither the trial nor the appellate court considered some key pieces of evidence.

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November 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cyntoia Brown and Prostitution Safe Harbor Laws for Minors

I've been getting a lot of questions about Cyntoia Brown

Brown, now 29, was a 16-year-old victim of sex trafficking in Tennessee in 2004 when she fatally shot Johnny Mitchell Allen, a 43-year-old real estate agent who solicited sex from her, according to court documents and multiple local reports. Brown — who admitted she killed Allen by shooting him in the back of the head — becomes eligible for parole soon after she turns 69.

In 2011, director Daniel Birman chronicled Brown's story in the documentary Me Facing Life: Seeking Redemption In Cyntoia Brown's Story. "The film gave insight on the physical, sexual and verbal abuse Brown suffered as a child before she was solicited for sex by 43-year-old realtor Johnny Mitchell Allen."

Subsequently,

Brown has completed her associate's degree and is now working on her master's. In December 2016, pictures of her receiving her associate's from Lipscomb University's in-jail program showed a hopeful Brown.

Cyntoia Brown's case calls into question several aspects of the criminal justice system. The first that I want to address is safe harbor laws limiting the criminal liability of minors who are arrested for prostitution.

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November 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Washington Becomes 1st State in Country to Create Rule Deeming Immigration Status Evidence Inadmissible

Back in 2009/2010, I did a series of posts about whether lawyers and/or judges should be able to question witnesses about their immigration status. After doing a number of these posts, I wrote an essay for the Northwestern University Law Review Online: "Crossing Over: Why Attorneys (and Judges) Should Not Be Able to Cross-Examine Witnesses Regarding Their Immigration Statuses for Impeachment Purposes." Subsequently, the Court of Appeal of California cited the article in finding that a trial court properly precluded defense counsel from interrogating a prosecution witness about his immigration status. But, as far as I can tell, no jurisdiction ever created a categorical rule precluding such interrogation...until now.

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November 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)