CrimProf Blog

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

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Tony Blair and "Tough on Crime"

In a recent interview, British PM Tony Blair argued that being tough on crime means implementing "preemption" programs to stop anti-social behavior at a young age.  "Because what people tell me - and I am not an expert on this -  is that even of the age of four or five, you can start to tell if children have got a disposition towards anti-social behavior. There are deep-rooted family problems."  He pointed to the need to expand nursery school programs and the Sure Start program as cutting down on future crime.  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

March 31, 2005 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Orders County to Stop Strip Searches

From  "An upstate New York county has been ordered to suspend a policy in which all detainees, including those arrested on misdemeanor and traffic charges, are required to strip naked in front of a corrections officer.  Northern District Judge David N. Hurd temporarily enjoined Montgomery County from enforcing its security policy and also granted class action status to plaintiffs alleging violations of their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. In a decision dated Friday, Hurd said the plaintiffs have demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits" and are therefore entitled to preliminary injunctive relief. Montgomery County, as a matter of jail policy, requires everyone admitted to the jail to strip in view of an officer of the same sex. The county had claimed that since officials were merely observing detainees and not performing body cavity examinations they were not conducting a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. But Hurd found the argument "one of semantics" and inconsistent with 2nd Circuit precedent."  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

March 31, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Alabama Proposes Criminalizing Slandering Political Candidates

An Alabama senator has introduced a bill proposing five year prison terms for individuals convicted of slandering political candidates.  [Jack Chin]

March 31, 2005 in Criminal Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Few Trials in Oklahoma

An Oklahoma newspaper reports that of over 12,000 felony and misdemeanor criminal cases filed in the year ending July 1, 2004, only 164 went to trial.  Most of the rest, of course, were disposed of in guilty pleas. [Jack Chin]

March 31, 2005 in Trials | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Why Is Identity Theft Rampant?

The's infographic here.  [Mark Godsey]

March 31, 2005 in News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Bad Luck Robbers Busted By Witness Half A World Away

A man in Australia who was trying out his new high speed internet connection randomly came across a webcam posted outdoors in England, and just happened to catch a robbery in progress at that moment.  He called the police in England and tipped them off, and the police made the bust.  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

March 31, 2005 in Technology | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

New Supreme Court Decision Today

From  "In Rhines v. Weber, No. 03-9046, the court held that a federal district court has discretion to stay a "mixed" habeas corpus petition containing both exhausted and unexhausted claims while the petitioner goes back to state court to exhaust the latter, thereby tolling the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's statute of limitations, before returning to federal court for review of the perfected petition, so long as there was good cause for the failure to exhaust, the unexhausted claims are potentially meritorious, and nothing suggests that the petitioner is dragging his feet."  [Mark Godsey]

March 30, 2005 in Supreme Court | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Washington Considers Mandatory Crime Reporting

A Washington legislator who was hit by a car while jogging and ignored by passing traffic has introduced legislation to require making a 911 call in serious criminal cases where there is no danger to the reporter; the bill has passed the House of Representatives.  Among the cases warranting such a change, say supporters, is a 2002 case where no less than 10 people observed a bound and gagged kidnap victim in the garage where she was being held, but no one reported the crime until after she was murdered. [Jack Chin]

March 30, 2005 in Criminal Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sting Nets U Wisc Professor

A University of Wisconsin professor was arrested after engaging in sexually explicit communications with a "14 year old boy" who was in fact a cop.  [Jack Chin]

March 30, 2005 in Criminal Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Article Spotlight: The Perfect Crime

Kalt_head Brian Kalt of Michigan State has posted The Perfect Crime, forthcoming in the Georgetown Law Journal, on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This article argues that there is a 50-square-mile swath of Idaho in which one can commit felonies with impunity. This is because of the intersection of a poorly drafted statute with a clear but neglected constitutional provision: the Sixth Amendment's Vicinage Clause. Although lesser criminal charges and civil liability still loom, the remaining possibility of criminals going free over a needless technical failure by Congress is difficult to stomach. No criminal defendant has ever broached the subject, let alone faced the numerous (though unconvincing) counterarguments. This shows that vicinage is not taken seriously by lawyers or judges. Still, Congress should close the Idaho loophole, not pretend it does not exist.

To obtain the paper, click here.  [Mark Godsey]

March 30, 2005 in Scholarship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Top 5 Crim Papers on SSRN

Ssrn_22_1 The top 5 crim papers for this week, with number of recent downloads, on SSRN are:

(1) 863 A Model Regime of Privacy Protection
Daniel J. Solove, Chris Jay Hoofnagle,
George Washington University Law School, Electronic Privacy Information Center West Coast Office,
Date posted to database: March 11, 2005
Last Revised: March 11, 2005
(2) 261 Search Warrants in an Era of Digital Evidence
Orin S. Kerr,
The George Washington University Law School,
Date posted to database: February 11, 2005
Last Revised: February 22, 2005
(3) 125 Rethinking the Involuntary Confession Rule: Toward a Workable Test for Identifying Compelled Self-Incrimination
Mark Godsey,
University of Cincinnati - College of Law,
Date posted to database: November 19, 2004
Last Revised: March 16, 2005
(4) 119 An Introduction to the Model Penal Code of the American Law Institute
Paul H. Robinson, Markus Dirk Dubber,
University of Pennsylvania Law School, University at Buffalo School of Law,
Date posted to database: February 4, 2005
Last Revised: February 4, 2005
(5) 108 The Blakely Earthquake Exposes the Procedure/Substance Fault Line
Stephanos Bibas,
University of Iowa - College of Law,
Date posted to database: January 21, 2005
Last Revised: February 4, 2005

March 30, 2005 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Zealand Politicians Target Youth Crime

According to New Zealand National Party leader, Dr. Don Brash, people ages 10-16 are responsible for 25% of all crime in New Zealand.  In response, he announced the Youth Justice Policy to lower the age of criminal responsibility for youths from 14 to 12 and to hold parents responsible for their children's actions. The Youth Justice Policy would include supportive programs for parents to teach and encourage positive parenting, programs for schools to address truancy, second chances for young first offenders, stiffer penalties for repeat offenders, and more effective post relief supervision and rehabilitation programs.  New Zealand law currently provides family group conferences before sending a youth to Youth Court, but the new Youth Justice Policy also would limit the number of these conferences to two.  Dr. Brash reported that some youth offenders have had as many of 14 of these conferences before being sent to court; clearly this is an ineffective measure, he said.  The new policy's parental responsibility/involvement component adopts measures similar to British measures.  The program will require parents of juvenile offenders to attend counseling sessions and learn how to provide better parameters for their children--such as ensuring their regular attendance at school, enforcing a curfew, or prohibiting them from visiting certain places or people.  The British system of fighting youth crime has halved youth crime since 1998.  New Zealand hopes for similar or better results. More... [Mark Godsey]

March 30, 2005 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Colorado Death Penalty Decisions

The Colorado Supreme Court vacated two death sentences this week.  In one case, deliberating jurors consulted the Bible, reading the passage prescribing an eye for an eye as punishment.  (Opinion here).  In the other case, a jury was mis-instructed on a capital sentence based on felony murder.  The defendant was arrested and in handcuffs when a confereate killed a police officer; the jury was not correctly instructed on the underlying crime of burglary, so that the defenant could have been convicted of felony murder without being guilty of burglary.  (Opinion here) [Jack Chin]

March 29, 2005 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Texas Sues After 911 Failure

The State of Texas has sued the internet phone company Vonage after a customer was unable to reach 911 during an home invasion robbery.  Vonage requires separate sign-up for 911 services; Texas alleges that this was not made clear when the services are sold. [Jack Chin]

March 29, 2005 in Technology | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Ohio Innocence Project News

Here and here are reports on the latest Ohio Innocence Project case, based on DNA, litigated by my co-blogger Mark Godsey. The defendant was sentenced to life based on the eyewitness testimony of a six-year old girl who saw the perp for a short period of time in the dark.  DNA tests prove that two men, and not the defendant, committed the crime.  [Jack Chin]

March 29, 2005 in Exoneration Innocence Accuracy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sailor Charged With Crime for Refusal to Ship Out

A sailor from New York who refused to board his ship headed for the Persian Gulf because of his opposition to the Iraq war has been charged with a criminal offense.   When arrested, he wore a t-shirt saying "Like a Cabinet Member, I resign." Also last week, Canada denied political asylum to a U.S. deserter opposed to the war. [Jack Chin]

March 29, 2005 in Criminal Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Blocks an Execution on Grounds of Unclear Jury Instructions

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stopped the execution of Steven K. Staley, 42, which was scheduled for March 23.  He was granted reprieve five hours before he would have been executed, on the grounds that the jurors in his 1991 trial were given unclear instructions regarding whether they had to recommend Staley for the death penalty.  Staley was convicted for the 1989 killing of a restaurant manager in Forth Worth, TX; the killing was part of a robbery gone wrong.  Staley committed the crimes while on the lam from a Denver halfway house.  In other attempts to stop the execution, Staley's defense team argued to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that Staley shouldn't be executed until his mental competency was fully reviewed in court.  According to the defense's expert, even Staley may have met the Supreme Court's standards that 1) he was aware that he was going to be put to death and 2) why he was going to be put to death, he is still psychotic--Staley claims that he invented the 1969 Chevrolet Impala and that he works part-time as a secret agent. The TX Court of Criminal Appeals sent Staley's case back to the trial court. More... [Mark Godsey]

March 29, 2005 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Capital Cases Pending in the Supreme Court

The DPIC has summaries of the 3 capital cases currently awaiting oral argument or decision in the Supreme Court here.  [Mark Godsey]

March 29, 2005 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 28, 2005

Crime-Ridden Prince George Apartment Complexes in Maryland: A Microcosm of Nationwide Crime Problem

Prince George County, Maryland Executive Jack B. Johnson reports that about 24 dilapidated apartment complexes generate most of the county's crime.  Johnson (D) told a local radio station (WTOP) that if these complexes fail to better secure their facilities, with better lighting and security guards, among other measures, he will encourage the use "of eminent domain to tear down some of these complexes."  According to Johnson, some of the complexes even allow people whose names aren't even listed on the leases to live in the units, deal drugs, and carry guns.  The Washington Post reports: "Johnson first raised the possibility of tearing down crime-ridden apartment complexes in January in his midterm address. He said then that a report, written by [Police Chief Melvin] High, identified 10 locations that accounted for 117,000 of the 500,000 calls for service received in 2004. The police department later said the figures were incorrect and taken out of context."  Back in the 60s, when they were built, most of these complexes were prosperous apartments, built to accommodate DC residents who no longer wanted to live in the city.  But by the late 90s, they were considered "breeding grounds for poverty and crime" and "warehouses of misery."  County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D), introduced a policy to city government to encourage their owners to tear down the units instead of rehabilitating them.  His theory, shared by Executive Johnson, is that if the number of these complexes are reduced--and their tenants forced to live elsewhere--this group of individuals responsible for a considerable portion of the County's homicides, robberies, and carjackings, would be dispersed, eventually improving the image and safety of the community held hostage by this concentrated group of criminals. The full story from Washington Post [Mark Godsey]

March 28, 2005 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

2006 US News Law School Rankings

The early scoop on the US News Law School ranking are available here.  (thanks to Volokh Conspiracy and TaxProf Blog for the tip) [Mark Godsey]

March 28, 2005 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | TrackBack (1)