CrimProf Blog

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Corporate Crime on the Upswing

Story here.   But stats may be result of greater detection efforts in recent years.  [Mark Godsey]

November 30, 2005 in White Collar | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CIA Hasn't INTENTIONALLY Destroyed Evidence, Just Accidentally Used Black Highlighters for Many Years

SCOTUS Soon to Hear More Death Penalty Appeals

"The court will hear arguments Dec. 7 in two capital cases, involving Kansas' death penalty law and rules for evidence convicted murderers can use to try to avoid a death sentence. A Jan. 11 argument is scheduled in a case that asks when people should get an additional chance to prove their innocence based on new evidence like DNA.

Because rulings usually take several months, O'Connor will probably not vote in those cases. Tie votes could be broken by O'Connor's successor...O'Connor has often been the swing vote in death cases, including a 5-4 decision earlier this year that overturned Alito's appeals court ruling against a Pennsylvania inmate." Here is a recap of the Roberts' Court's recent decisions in capital cases, from [Mark Godsey]

November 30, 2005 in Capital Punishment, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dan Markel in Slate on Wrongful Texas Execution

Here. [Jack Chin]

November 30, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

PA: Sex Offender Allowed Supervised Visitation With Baby

A sex offender whose child was taken away at birth will now be allowed supervised visitation with the child. Story here. [Jack Chin]

November 30, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Here's an amusing site of email posts by people toying with the senders of scam spam. [Jack Chin]

November 30, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Accused Nazi Guard back in Court

The long running case of John Demjanjuk is back in a Cleaveland courtroom.  He was stripped of his U.S. citizenship, but a trial in Israel found insufficient evidence that he was a guard known as "Ivan the Terrible."  The issue now is deportation. [Jack Chin]

November 30, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

1,000th Execution Moves to Friday

The 1,000th Execution since the death penalty moratorium was lifted in 1976 will now take place on Friday, December 2, 2005.  On Tuesday, the same day that the 999th execution occurred in Ohio, Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner granted clemency to Robin McKennel Lovitt, who was scheduled to be executed today.  Governor Warner based his decision to commute Lovitt's death sentence to life in prison with no possibility of parole on the fact that evidence from Mr. Lovitt's trial was destroyed by a court employee before he exhausted his post-conviction remedies.  The Commonwealth's laws require the preservation of such evidence until this process is complete. Story here. [Mark Godsey]

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

Corporate Fraud Mostly Detected by Luck

Despite tough regulations aimed at improving corporate governance, financial fraud is still on the rise around the world, and most is still detected by chance, a study from auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) showed on Tuesday. Globally, the number of companies that reported financial fraud increased 22 percent in the last two years, according to the PWC study, which conducted 3,634 interviews with corporate officers in 34 countries...For the roughly one-third which said they could quantify the cost of the fraud, the total losses exceeded $2 billion, or an average of $1.7 million per company...The survey showed that the most common methods of finding out about financial fraud were still accidental, like calls to hotlines or tips from whistle-blowers." Full story from . . [Mark Godsey]

November 29, 2005 in White Collar | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

9th Circ. Scarlet Letter Punishment Stands

On Monday the Supreme Court dismissed Shawn Gementera's appeal that his "scarlet letter" style punishment constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution and the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984.  He was convicted of stealing mail, and as a result, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco sentenced Gementera to stand outside a post office for 100 hours wearing a sandwich board that reads: "I have stolen mail. This is my punishment." He was also sentenced to serve two months in prison and three years of supervised release. The case is Gementera v. United States, 03-10103. Story here from . . [Mark Godsey]

November 29, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Techies, Drugs, and Rock n' Roll

So much for drug trafficking being the most lucrative crime, cyber-crime has taken over.  With increasing use of technology in developing countries, cyber-crime--which includes corporate espionage, child pornography, stock manipulation, extortion and piracy of all sorts--is growing at a speed that law enforcement can't catch. In 2004, cyber-crime yielded a $105 billion turnover, more than the drug trade for the first time in history. Story here from [Mark Godsey]

November 29, 2005 in Drugs, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Quoted CrimProfs

Stetson CrimProf Robert Batey in the Christian Science Monitor on whether death row inmates should get credit for personal rehabilitation while on death row; Rutgers CrimProf George Thomas in the Asbury Park Press on a local case in which a convicted killer may walk free due to a technical jurisdictional problem; Florida CrimProf Christopher Slobogin in the St. Petersburg Times on the plain view doctrine and in the Miami Herald on the Al-Arian case (a South Florida professor charged with terrorism); Northwestern CrimProf Ronald Allen in the Kansas City Star on Italy prosecuting CIA operatives in abstentia; and South Texas CrimProf Susan Crump in the Houston Chronicle on felony-murder charges being filed against a local school bus driver who recklessly killed a child while driving the school bus.  [Mark Godsey]

November 29, 2005 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Penn CrimProf Robinson to present at Illinois

Paul H. Robinson, the Colin S. Diver Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania will speak at the College of Law on Thursday, December 1 at 4:30 p.m. in the Faculty Lounge.  Professor Robinson will be participating in the College of Law's ongoing Criminal Colloquium, which brings some of the top scholars in the country to the law school to discuss their research.  Professor Robinson will be presenting his paper, "Intuitions of Justice," which he is co-authoring with Robert Kurzban. The Colloquium is presented by the Illinois Program in Criminal Law & Procedure.  For more information, visit

November 29, 2005 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 28, 2005

SCOTUS Reverses New Trial Order in Ohio Death Penalty Case

From Washington (AP): "The Supreme Court on Monday threw out a decision that erased the conviction and death sentence of a U.S.-British citizen in a fatal fire. Justices directed an appeals court to reconsider whether Kenneth Richey was wrongly convicted of the blaze in Ohio that killed a toddler nearly 20 years ago...Richey's lawyer, Kenneth Parsigian, said that investigators first said that the fire was caused by a faulty fan, and allowed the apartment manager to gut the building, with carpet and other potential evidence being hauled to the county landfill. The appeals court had found that Richey's lawyers at trial hired an unqualified forensic expert to investigate the fire and did not adequately challenge the state's handling of the investigation."  So the appellate court ordered a new trial, but now, the Supreme Court has ordered the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the case.  The case is Bradshaw v. Richey, 05-101 (opinion here), and it has attracted international attention, including petitions from the British Parliament, review by Prime Minister Tony Blair, and a letter in support of Richey from the late Pope John Paul II. Read more here. . . [Mark Godsey]

November 28, 2005 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law Professors Rate Alito for Judicial Independence

Cal Berkeley and Georgetown Law Professors Stephen Choi and Mitu Gulati have co-authored Choosing the Next Supreme Court Justice: An Empirical Ranking of Judicious Performance, a study on what they believe to be a more objective measure for evaluating judicial performance, compared the ABA's rating system.  The ABA relies on testimonials, an interview with the candidate, and an assessment of academics, while Choi and Gulati ranked judges based on the number of opinions each judge wrote consistent with an appellate court, how many times a judge was cited by other judges in opinions and dissents, and the number of times a judge sided with colleagues appointed by a president from the same political party.  The study focused only on judges in the U.S. Courts of Appeals in 2003, aged 65 or under.

Both Choi and Gulati admitted they were suprised when Alito ranked 16th out of 74 active appellate court judges, meaning he's in roughly the top 20% of appellate court judges for judicial independence.  He ranked fourth in neutrality. Story here from . . [Mark Godsey]

November 28, 2005 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

John Kerry Wins the Election!

For jury foreman, that is.  Story here. [Mark Godsey]

November 28, 2005 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

This Week's Top 5 Crim Downloads

Ssrn_6This week's top 5 crim papers, with number of recent downloads on SSRN, are:

(1) 173 Foreword: Limiting Raich
Randy E. Barnett,
Boston University School of Law,
Date posted to database: November 11, 2005
Last Revised: November 21, 2005
(2) 125 Property Rules and Liability Rules, Once Again
Keith N. Hylton,
Boston University School of Law,
Date posted to database: October 5, 2005
Last Revised: November 2, 2005
(3) 112 Prisons of the Mind: Social Value and Economic Inefficiency in the Criminal Justice Response to Mental Illness
Amanda C. Pustilnik,
Covington & Burling,
Date posted to database: August 26, 2005
Last Revised: September 8, 2005
(4) 111 Home as a Legal Concept
Benjamin Barros,
Widener University - School of Law,
Date posted to database: September 16, 2005
Last Revised: September 16, 2005
(5) 75 The 'Wildavsky Heuristic': The Cultural Orientation of Mass Political Opinion
John Gastil, Donald Braman, Dan M. Kahan, Paul Slovic,
University of Washington, Yale University - Law School, Yale University - Law School, Decision Research,
Date posted to database: October 28, 2005
Last Revised: November 3, 2005

November 28, 2005 in Weekly Top 5 SSRN Crim Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Article Spotlight: Stephanos Bibas

Stephanosbibas_1 Iowa CrimProf Stephano Bibas has posted Plea Bargaining Outside the Shadow of the Trial on SSRN.  The article was published in 2004 in the Harvard Law Review.  Here's the abstract:

Plea-bargaining literature predicts that parties strike plea bargains in the shadows of expected trial outcomes. In other words, parties forecast the expected sentence after trial, discount it by the probability of acquittal, and offer some proportional discount. This oversimplified model ignores how structural distortions skew bargaining outcomes, causing them to diverge from trial outcomes.

Part I of this Article explores the various structural forces that warp plea bargains. Agency costs, attorney compensation and workloads, resources, sentencing and bail rules, and information deficits all skew bargaining.

In addition, psychological biases and heuristics warp judgments. Part II applies recent research from behavioral law and economics and cognitive psychology to critique plea bargaining. Overconfidence, denial, discounting, risk preferences, loss aversion, framing, and anchoring all affect bargaining decisions. Skilled lawyers can partly counteract some of these problems, but they can also overcompensate. The oversimplified shadow-of-trial model of plea bargaining needs to be supplemented by a structural-psychological perspective. On this perspective, uncertainty, money, self-interest, and demographic variation greatly influence plea bargains.

Part III explores how to respond to the various structural and psychological influences that warp plea bargains. Reforming systems of defense counsel, bail rules, and the structure of sentencing rules, and increasing use of mediators and judges in bargaining could ameliorate some of these influences. Other problems, such as demographic variations in psychology, are very difficult to correct. These influences cast light on how civil and criminal bargaining differ in important respects.

Obtain the paper here.  [Mark Godsey]

November 28, 2005 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ganja and Crime in Jamaica

A prominent doctor in Jamaica says that widespread marijuana use in Jamaica significantly contributes to the high levels of crime in the country as well as to a disporportionate per capita percentage of Doritos consumption.  [Mark Godsey]

November 28, 2005 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Should Cops Carry Guns and get Involved Off Duty?

A number of off-duty cops have been killed by friendly fire, or gotten involved in situations that got out of hand.  Some departments now urge off-duty cops to call 911. [Jack Chin]

November 27, 2005 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)