CrimProf Blog

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

CrimProf Drury Stevenson Discusses Proposed Hate Crime Legislation

Stevensondru_2South Texas College CrimProf Drury Stevenson recently discussed proposed hate crime legislation in Congress that has some religious groups crying foul and some in the legal community questioning its necessity.

The American Family Association in June launched an e-mail campaign in opposition to companion bills in the House and Senate that would create a national hate crime law that seeks to protect victims of crime based on their "sexual orientation," among other categories.

"House bill H.R. 1592 and Senate bill S.B. 1105 would make negative statements concerning homosexuality, such as calling the practice of homosexuality a sin from the pulpit, a 'hate crime' punishable by law," the AFA
e-mail states. "This dangerous legislation would take away your freedom of speech and your freedom of religion."

"I think both sides of the debate have overstated their case," said South Texas College CrimProf Drury Stevenson with expertise in church-state issues. "I think the proponents have exaggerated ideas about how much difference the laws will really make, and the opponents are overstating how much interference there will be with normal church activities.

"It's just another chapter of the culture wars, where both sides are more worried about the principle of the thing than they are about the real results." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 31, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Cracking Down on Murderbilia

From Convicted murderers are profiting from their notoriety by selling "murderabilia" to the public. Texas Sen. John Cornyn has recently introduced legislation that will crack down on sellers of the merchandise and prohibit prisoners from profiting from it. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 31, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Fight Against Sex Offenders on MySpace, Facebook, and Other Sites

From Last week, 29,000 registered sex offenders were identified and removed from MySpace. And this week, the Connecticut attorney general said he was looking into a few cases of convicted sex offenders setting up profiles on Facebook, another popular site. Those on the front lines of the fight against predators on the Web, who use these sites to find young people and lure them to meet, say the battle is complex and will take a combination of education, high-tech security, old-fashioned investigative work, and cooperation among police, lawmakers, schools, parents, teens and the sites.

"This isn't going to be something that we just solve," said Chad Harms, an assistant professor at Iowa State University who serves on the advisory council for the Iowa Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. "This is a relatively new problem, and the light has only been shed on this issue in the last two to three years. In terms of combating this problem, this will be a continuous battle."

Facebook, like MySpace, has tools to allow users to customize privacy settings. Facebook officials could not be reached yesterday to comment on the investigation into sex offenders on its site or its efforts to police the site. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 31, 2007 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Emory Law Appoints New CrimProf Charles D. Swift

SwiftEmory Law is pleased to announce the appointment of new CrimProf Charles D. Swift, a prominent Navy lawyer, to the position of Visiting Associate Professor. Swift will join the Emory Law faculty in the fall of 2007 and will teach in the areas of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), criminal law, evidence, and military law.

Swift visited Emory University during the spring semester to deliver a lecture on U.S. detention policies in Guantanamo Bay and their implications for the rule of law. Swift said during his visit, he was impressed by the quality of the faculty, the facilities, and the students at Emory Law.

“What struck me most was Emory’s commitment to making a meaningful difference in both the development and daily practice of law,” Swift said. “When Emory expressed an interest in bringing that focus to the field of International Humanitarian Law, I knew immediately that I wanted to be part of the effort.”

Swift has extensive experience in the practice of military and international law during his service with the Department of Defense Office of Military Commissions. His well-publicized representation of Salim Hamdan, the driver of Osama bin Laden, brought Swift to the U.S. Supreme Court in the precedent-setting case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. In its decision, the Court ruled that the military commission being used to try Hamdan was illegal and that it lacked the protections required under the Geneva Conventions and U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Known for his dedication to preserving the rule of law during wartime, Swift has been honored by the American Civil Liberties Union with a Medal of Liberty and named by the as one of the most influential lawyers in America.

In addition to his teaching, Swift also will serve as Acting Director of Emory Law’s newly-established International Humanitarian Law Clinic, which will operate during the 2007-2008 academic year. Humanitarian law – also known as the law of conflict – governs the conduct of persons, states and non-state entities during armed conflict and has become increasingly important around the world with heightened news coverage of the Guantanamo Bay cases and the Rwanda genocide proceedings. More. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 30, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Voice of America" Airs Story About CrimProf Michael Scharf's War Crimes research Office

Scharf_sm "Voice of America" recently aired a story about the work of the Case Western Reserve University School of Law professors and students working with the Cox Center War Crimes Research Office. Led by CrimProf Michael Scharf, the War Crimes Research Office is assisting with the prosecution of Charles Taylor and other cases before the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and the new Cambodia Genocide Tribunal in Phnom Penh. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 30, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Woman Charged With Killing a Viable Fetus

From An Ocean City woman accused of killing a newly-delivered infant found in her home told a judge today she wasn't a flight risk because she eventually wanted to tell her side of things.

"I need to clear my name in this case," Christy Freeman, 37, told Worcester County District Court Judge Daniel R. Mumford during a bond hearing.

Authorities began digging up property today around her Ocean City home in a homicide investigation that so far has turned up a tiny infant body and infant remains in two separate garbage bags.

Freeman has been charged under a law that makes it illegal to kill a "viable fetus."

Ocean City police discovered the latest evidence in two locations late last week. Infant remains were found wrapped in plastic bags and hidden in a trunk in a bedroom, and also inside a garbage bag in a small motor home on the property.

Freeman, who operates a local taxi service, lives at the home with her boyfriend and her four other children, police said. She is scheduled to have a bond hearing today. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 30, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

AZ Court Says Police Cannot Routinely Search Arrestee's Cars

From recommended by Flynn Carey: Police cannot routinely search the vehicles of people whom they arrest, the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled.

In a 3-2 decision, the high court threw out the drug-possession conviction of Rodney Gant. The majority said Tucson police illegally searched his car after arresting him outside the vehicle. The search found narcotics that eventually resulted in his conviction.
Justice Rebecca Berch, writing for the majority, said police have the authority in some circumstances to search a vehicle without a warrant. But she said those instances usually are limited to situations of police safety — such as looking for a weapon in the immediate area of the person being arrested — or where waiting for a warrant might result in destruction of evidence.
She noted, though, that Gant already was handcuffed and in the back of a patrol car. That, Berch said, means the Tucson Police Department violated Gant's Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.
Justice Scott Bales, writing the dissent, said his colleagues were misinterpreting the law. He said searches of vehicles are reasonable and legal when someone who has been in the car is legally arrested.

July 29, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Mike Sharlot Discusses HIV Consent Case

Sharlot_michael_lg_2From  University of Texas CrimProf  Mike Sharlot recently discussed the texas man who was charged with four counts of aggravated assault, because, police say, he had unprotected sex with the women without telling them he had HIV.

Now the four ex-girlfriends have the human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS, according to arrest warrant affidavits released Thursday.

CrimProf Sharlot said cases in which consent is a defense are rare. He used baseball as an analogy.

"Let's say you are playing baseball, lose your temper, and hit the catcher over the head. He committed to playing baseball, not being hit like that," Mr. Sharlot said. "There are rare instances," he said, when a person is blameless "if you bat a ball and hit another player and hurt them." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 29, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cities are Suing Gangs

From Fed up with deadly drive-by shootings, incessant drug dealing and graffiti, cities nationwide are trying a different tactic to combat gangs: They're suing them.

Fort Worth and San Francisco are among the latest to file lawsuits against gang members, asking courts for injunctions barring them from hanging out together on street corners, in cars or anywhere else in certain areas.

The injunctions are aimed at disrupting gang activity before it can escalate. They also give police legal reasons to stop and question gang members, who often are found with drugs or weapons, authorities said. In some cases, they don't allow gang members to even talk to people passing in cars or to carry spray paint.

"It is another tool," said Kevin Rousseau, a Tarrant County assistant prosecutor in Fort Worth, which recently filed its first civil injunction against a gang. "This is more of a proactive approach."

But critics say such lawsuits go too far, limiting otherwise lawful activities and unfairly targeting minority youth.

"If you're barring people from talking in the streets, it's difficult to tell if they're gang members or if they're people discussing issues," said Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. "And it's all the more troubling because it doesn't seem to be effective."

Civil injunctions were first filed against gang members in the 1980s in the Los Angeles area, a breeding ground for gangs including some of the country's most notorious, such as the Crips and 18th Street.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 29, 2007 in Law Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Justice Dept. Cracks Down on Medical Pot Clinics in Cali.

From The U.S. Justice Department is unleashing a potent new weapon in its battle against California's hundreds of medical pot clinics, threatening landlords with arrest and property seizures for renting to tenants who flout federal drug laws.

Intensifying its crackdown on pot sales that are legal under California law but illegal under U.S. law, agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency executed search warrants Wednesday in raids on 10 marijuana dispensaries across Los Angeles.

As agents were moving in, Los Angeles' City Council voted 11-0 to tentatively approve a one-year moratorium on more medical marijuana stores, which have exploded in number in the past two years.

Federal officials estimate there are 400 storefront and office operations selling medical marijuana in Los Angeles and L.A. County, up from 20 two years ago and more than double the number at the start of the year, DEA Special Agent Sarah Pullen says. Law enforcement officials contend the sales have become a source for recreational pot users. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 28, 2007 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 27, 2007

CrimProf Blog Spotlights David Boerner

DboernerThis week the CrimProf Blog spotlights Seattle University School of Law CrimProf David Boerner.

Professor Boerner currently serves as chair of the Board for Court Education, chair of the Washington Supreme Court’s Time for Trial Task Force, as well as serving as a member of the Washington Supreme Court's Jury Instruction Committee.

He has also chaired the Rules of Professional Conduct Committee of the Washington State Bar Association. In addition, he lectures frequently for groups such as the Washington Criminal Justice Institute, Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and the Federal Bar Association. He joined the faculty in 1981.

July 27, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dean John Carroll Says Alabama Death Penalty Needs Work

From Alabama's death penalty law has flaws that should be addressed, says John Carroll, dean of the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

Open dialogue with state officials about some suggested reforms is needed, Carroll said during Tuesday's Kiwanis Club of Birmingham luncheon at The Harbert Center.

"It's a difficult topic because it involves huge emotions," said Carroll, who has defended people in and presided over death penalty cases in the past. In some instances, such cases involve politics, he said.

Carroll said 195 people in Alabama have been sentenced to death. In 2005, Alabama sentenced more people to death than Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee combined, he said. Since 1976, seven people sent to Death Row in Alabama and 120 elsewhere in the country have been exonerated, he said.

Carroll was a member of the American Bar Association's death penalty assessment team for Alabama from 2005 to 2006. Some reforms the team suggests include:

Revamping indigent defense services at trial and on direct appeal. Problems include the lack of training for lawyers on death penalty case procedures and caps on fees for appeal ($2,000) and post-conviction ($1,000).  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 26, 2007 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Evidence Destruction Hault in Colorado

From Colorado lawmakers and criminal-justice advocates called Wednesday for law enforcement officials statewide to halt destruction of biological evidence in major felony cases while legislative leaders pursue new laws to protect crime-scene specimens.

"We've got to make sure we've got the right people in prison and that victims can get justice," said state Rep. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, who is crafting a bill to preserve DNA and other forensic samples in murders and rapes for decades and provide penalties for trashing it.

Added state Sen. Ken Gordon, D-Denver: "We just can't tolerate negligence in this area." 

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 26, 2007 in Evidence | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Santa Clara Law Hosts Training Program for Death Penalty Attorneys

Defense lawyers with pending capital cases will come to college at Santa Clara Law on Aug 4 for a six-day intensive training program with some of the nation's leading death penalty attorneys.

The 17th annual  Death Penalty College offers intensive training where defense lawyers discuss their cases in small-group workshops. The Death Penalty College is presented by Santa Clar University, the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, and the California Public Defenders Association and co-sponsored by the American Bar Association's Death Penalty Representation Project

The workshop sessions, which begin Aug 4 and continue through Aug. 9, are not open to the public because of lawyer-client privilege. (Faculty will be available for media interviews.)

"The college fosters a feeling of cooperation and community among participants and faculty who are united in the common goal of saving lives," said Ellen Kreitzberg, director of the Death Penalty College and professor of criminal law at Santa Clara University School of Law. “Every criminal defense attorney faces his or her greatest challenge in the representation of a person charged in a capital case," said Kreitzberg who directs the program. This program is unique in that lawyers work on their actual cases and not on a casebook hypothetical.

The SCU law school program has consistently attracted leading death penalty attorneys from across the country.

The Death Penalty College has been approved for 36 hours of minimum continuing legal education credit by the State Bar of California. Participants pay tuition to attend the program, and death penalty attorneys volunteer as faculty. The college focuses on helping attorneys learn how to prepare and present the penalty phase of a death penalty case, which is held after a guilty verdict has been reached in a criminal trial. During the penalty phase, a jury considers factors that shape a defendant's life.

[Mark Godsey]

July 26, 2007 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Army Major Suspected of Taking Bribes

From An Army major is in jail, awaiting a hearing Wednesday in San Antonio on charges that he accepted up to $10 million in bribes from Defense Department contractors seeking to do business in Iraq and Kuwait. Maj. John Cockerham and his wife, Melissa, face up to 40 years in prison.

Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 25, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fordham University Remembers CrimProf Abraham Abramovsky

AabramovskyFordham University mourns the passing of distinguished CrimProf Abraham Abramovsky.

Professor Abramovsky joined Fordham Law in 1979. He is known to thousands of students and alumni as a tireless advocate for the rights of the accused, a gifted and passionate teacher, and a dedicated mentor.

Professor Abramovsky was best known for his work in teaching, studying, and practicing criminal law. In addition to his work as a scholar, he was an internationally renowned criminal defense attorney and frequently consulted on cases. This rich experience informed his teaching. He often said his goal was to help students think critically about the criminal justice system, by focusing on the way that it is practiced every day in the courts and on the impact it has on the rights of the accused.

Professor Abramovsky also was an expert in Jewish law. He imparted his deep knowledge in this area to hundreds of students through his immensely popular Jewish Law elective course and by advising many students in independent studies.

In the 2000 publication, Millennial Tribute: Honoring the Fordham Law Faculty, Professor Abramovsky credited his father’s influence with his decision to pursue the law. "My father was one of the best-known criminal lawyers in Israel. Even though I lost him when I was eight years old, he is still my hero and really influenced my decision to go into law." The legacy of passionate attorneys continues in the Abramovsky family. Abe’s daughter Aviva is an assistant professor at Syracuse University College of Law. His sons Dov and Abba ("Bucky") both graduated in Fordham Law's class of 2007. Abe’s son Ari is pursuing a master's degree in education. He is also survived by Dr. Orly Calderon.

Born in Israel, Professor Abramovsky received his B.A. from Queens College, his J.D. from SUNY at Buffalo, and his LL.M. and J.S.D. from Columbia Law. A noted scholar, his work on depraved indifference homicide recently was cited by the New York Court of Appeals, and he was the longtime author of a column in the New York Law Journal.

July 25, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Ivana Bacik Attempts to Take Seat in Seanad

Index_main_2From In Dublin,Ireland,Trinity College's Reid CrimProf Ivana Bacik was looking likely last night to take a seat in the Seanad.

Ms Bacik, who was a prominent spokeswoman for the Alliance for a No Vote in the successful campaign to defeat the referendum on abortion in March 2002, seemed set to take the seat formerly held by Mary Henry, who is not standing in this election.

Family values campaigner Ronan Mullen is also in the running to take a seat in the Seanad at his first attempt.

As counting of about 36,000 ballots from National University of Ireland graduates began yesterday, early tallies showed that he had received 13.64pc of first preferences.

This put him just behind outgoing senator Joe O'Toole (15.3pc) but ahead of the other outgoing senators on the university panel, former supermarket owner Fergal Quinn (10.76pc) and Labour politician Brendan Ryan (9.67pc).

"I'm delighted with the first count tally and I'm grateful to the people who voted for me," he said. "It's a huge encouragement because it's my first time running since student politics 16 years ago." 

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 25, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Justice Burger May Have Been A Potential Assassination

From Montreal mob boss Frank Cotroni and high-ranking U.S. mobsters were once investigated for an alleged plot to assassinate the top judge in the United States, according to newly released FBI documents.

The investigation into the alleged plot to assassinate Chief Justice Warren Burger of the U.S. Supreme Court began in December 1981 after an informant came forward with details of a jailhouse plot. It ended 15 months later with no charges being laid.

Instead, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent agents to warn the heads of U.S. Mafia families that any attempt to assassinate Burger "would be responded to with the full force and resources of the (Department) of Justice and the FBI." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 24, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Medical Workers Freed in Libya

From Six foreign medical workers sentenced to death in Libya are free thanks to a deal with the European Union. The five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor flew out of Libya to Bulgaria aboard a French jetliner accompanied by the wife of French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

The medical workers were convicted of intentionally infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV. They have maintained their innocence. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

July 24, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 23, 2007

CrimProf Alexandra Natapoff Was A Witness at Hearing on Confidential Informants

NatapoffLoyola Law School CrimProf Alexandra Natapoff was recently a witness at the Joint Oversight Hearing on Law Enforcement Confidential Informant Practices

This was a joint oversight Hearing between the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security and Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties of the Committee of the Judiciary By Direction of the Chairman  [Mark Godsey]

July 23, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)