CrimProf Blog

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ABA Calls for Nationwide Moratorium of Executions

From Reuters/ The American Bar Association said on Monday it was renewing its call for a nationwide moratorium on executions, based on a three-year study of death penalty systems in eight states that found unfairness and other flaws.

The lawyers' group said its study identified key problems, such as major racial disparities, incompetent defense services for poor defendants and irregular clemency review processes, making those death penalty systems operate unfairly.

The American Bar Association in 2001 launched its Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project as the next step toward a nationwide moratorium on executions. The study was part of that project.

The project was created to encourage state government leaders to establish moratoriums and undertake detailed examinations of capital punishment laws and systems in their jurisdictions.

The eight states in the study were Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

The study did not include Texas, which is by far the most active capital punishment state. Since 1976, Texas conducted 405 executions, distantly followed by Virginia with 98, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 30, 2007 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

West Memphis 3 Claim New DNA Evidence in Habeas Petition

From In 1994, three teenagers in the small city of West Memphis, Ark., were convicted of killing three 8-year-old boys in what prosecutors portrayed as a satanic sacrifice involving sexual abuse and genital mutilation. So shocking were the crimes that when the teenagers were led from the courthouse after their arrest, they were met by 200 local residents yelling, “Burn in hell.”

But according to long-awaited new evidence filed by the defense in federal court on Monday, there was no DNA from the three defendants found at the scene, the mutilation was actually the work of animals and at least one person other than the defendants may have been present at the crime scene.

Supporters of the defendants hope the legal filing will provide the defense with a breakthrough. Two of the men, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, are serving life in prison, while one, Damien W. Echols, is on death row. There was no physical evidence linking the teenagers, now known as the West Memphis 3, to the crime.

“This is the first time that the evidence has ever really been tested,” said Gerald Skahan, a member of the defense team. “The first trial was pretty much a witch hunt.” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 30, 2007 in DNA | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Andrew King-Ries Speaks at "Know Your Rights" Panel

Kingries_3 At the “Know Your Rights” panel discussion last Wednesday night,  students and community members posed questions about their constitutional rights, and five experts offered their varied interpretations, including University of Montana CrimProf Andrew King-Ries.

Hosted by Brett Schandelson, a third-year law student and American Civil Liberties Union board member, the open forum was an opportunity for students to discuss the law with legal professionals, and learn more about their rights on and off campus. The event was organized by the Associated Students of the University of Montana, the law school's chapter of the ACLU and a Missoula community-based group called Citizens for Responsible Crime Policy.

 When discussing if citizens can just say “no” to police searches, or if they consent to an officer's request, University of Montana CrimProf Andrew King-Ries stated, “I can’t think of a good reason to give an officer consent to search anything. There is no good reason to say yes” [Mark Godsey]

October 30, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Florida PD's Office Calls for Eye Witness Reform

From When a bad ID by an eyewitness can land an innocent man in prison for almost 14 years, it's time to kick-start change, says Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein.

Trying to remove bias from what he says can be misleading police-lineup procedures, Finkelstein sent a letter last week to Broward law enforcement officials suggesting reforms. This action brings Broward in line with a growing national movement to prevent mistaken witness identification.

The DNA exoneration last month of Larry Bostic, 50, of Fort Lauderdale, prompted Finkelstein's Oct. 23 letter. A Broward judge tossed Bostic's prison sentence — 13 days shy of its completion — after DNA tests showed he was not the man who raped a Fort Lauderdale woman in 1988.

Bostic's accuser recently told an investigator she never saw her rapist. She picked Bostic out of a photo lineup, she said, because she had seen him in the neighborhood in the days before the attack.

Simple extra precautions could keep this from happening again, Finkelstein said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 29, 2007 in Eyewitness Identification | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NY Gov. Spitzer Flips in Plan and Now Supports the Scarlet Letter for Illegal Immigrants

From Eliot Spitzer’s retreat from his plan to permit illegal immigrants to obtain the same kind of driver’s licenses as other New Yorkers drew angry reactions yesterday from civil liberties advocates and immigrant groups, some of whom described the shift as a stunning betrayal.

The governor has been under fierce assault from conservative groups and others since proposing last month to allow illegal immigrants to get New York driver’s licenses. But joined by the federal secretary of homeland security, Micheal Chertoff, in Washington yesterday, the governor announced a starkly different version of his plan.

It calls for separate tiers of licenses. New Yorkers who could provide stringent proof of legal residency could get the new federally recognized license known as Real ID. The licenses available to illegal residents would not serve as federal identification.

“What a huge political flip,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. 

“He’s now embracing and letting his good name be used to promote something that has been widely known in the immigrant community as one of the most anti-immigrant pieces of legislation to come out of Congress,” Ms. Hong said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 29, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US Davis Begins The Guantanamo Testimonials Project

Pursuant to its mission, the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas (CSHRA) launched, in Fall 2005, a long term research project to assess the effects of the U.S. war on terror on human rights in the Americas.

Whether invoked as the rationale for the "extraordinary rendition" of Canadian citizen Maher Arar to Syria or as the basis for the suppression of indigenous movements in South America, the war on terror has had significant effects on human rights in the Americas. But nowhere have these effects been greater than at the detention facilities of the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Consequently, it seemed appropriate to begin our project by looking into the human rights situation at these facilities.

We begin our endeavor with The Guantánamo Testimonials Project. The goal of this project is to gather testimonies of prisoner abuse in Guantánamo, organize them by the source of the testimonies given and by the type of the abuse alleged, and post these testimonies on this site even as we gather them. The strength of these testimonies is considerable. Based on them, a number of distinguished individuals and organizations have called for the closure of Guantánamo.

At CSHRA we take no position as to whether the Guantánamo prisoners are guilty or innocent. Yet we recognize that these individuals are, in either case, entitled to a set of fundamental rights (a) as individuals held during an armed conflict, (b) as prisoners in general and (c) as ordinary human beings.

[Mark Godsey]

October 29, 2007 in Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Claims Vulgar Comments Were Intended to Theraputically Benefit Defendants

From All right, what do you say to a career criminal who tells you to suck his dick? On Jan. 23, King County District Court Judge Mark Chow's response was: "I would, if you pulled it out—but you can't find it."

Chow now regrets that, but it seemed a fair enough rejoinder to someone he'd just sent back to jail with a record of more than 30 theft convictions and 10 assaults. Yet later that day, Chow moved from the jail court to the mental health court, and asked a female defendant, "What flavor are you?" Japanese, she replied. "No Chinese? See I'm Chinese," Chow shot back. No Chinese, she said. "That's OK," Chow replied. "My wife's Japanese; you've got some good." When another woman stepped to the bench, he said, "I think I know what flavor you are, so I'm not even going to ask."

The 53-year-old Chow, a judge for 16 years, now stands before the state Commission on Judicial Conduct facing ethics violations for lack of courtroom decorum and undignified comments. He's had a few run-ins before: a 1996 CJC admonishment for improperly involving himself in a relative's divorce case, and a 2002 lawsuit for sexual harassment filed by a mental health court worker (the case was later tossed).

His recent comments in the mental health court now seem to be the CJC's biggest concern. Chow has hired a high-profile attorney, Anne Bremner, and is mounting an unusual defense: His racial comments were intended to therapeutically benefit the defendants.

In a written response to the CJC, signed by Chow and authored by Bremner, he says "therapeutic jurisprudence" allows a judge to interact with mental health defendants through "purposeful engagement." That's a clinical way of saying that friendly racial banter reduces a defendant's anxiety. Bremner says it "therapeutically creates a non-adversarial environment. IT WAS IN THIS CONTEXT [caps hers] that Judge Chow was using such engagement" with the women in mental health court.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 29, 2007 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Georgia Supreme Court Finally Frees in Consensual Oral Sex Case

From Georgia's Supreme Court on Friday ordered the release of a young man who has been imprisoned for more than two years for having consensual oral sex with another teenager.

The court ruled 4-3 that Genarlow Wilson 10-year sentence was cruel and unusual punishment.

Wilson's lawyer, B.J. Bernstein, said she expected Wilson would be released Friday afternoon from the Al Burruss Correctional Training Center in Forsyth, Ga.

''His mother is just thrilled. We're all in a little bit of shock,'' Bernstein said.

Wilson, 21, was convicted of aggravated child molestation following a 2003 New Year's Eve party at a Douglas County hotel room where he was videotaped having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. He was 17 at the time.

Wilson was acquitted of raping another 17-year-old girl at the party.

The 1995 law Wilson violated was changed in 2006 to make oral sex between teens close in age a misdemeanor, similar to the law regarding teen sexual intercourse. But the state Supreme Court later upheld a lower court's ruling which said that the 2006 law could not be applied retroactively.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 27, 2007 in Sex | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Baltimore County Judge Disallows Use of Fingerprints

From For more than 100 years, police have relied on fingerprints to help identify criminals.

But in a groundbreaking ruling, a Baltimore County judge has disallowed prosecutors from using fingerprint evidence against a man facing the death penalty in a 2006 carjacking and murder at Security Square Mall.

"Fingerprints — along with DNA — are the gold standard for evidence," said Scott Shellenberger, the Baltimore County state's attorney, who said he was "shocked" by the judge's ruling. "The judge took 100 years of history and rejected it."

In her Friday ruling, Judge Susan Souder wrote that just because fingerprints have been used by police for years does not make them reliable.

"The long history of use of fingerprint identification does not by itself support the decision to admit it," Souder wrote. "Courts began admitting fingerprint evidence early last century with relatively little scrutiny. Relying on precedent, later courts simply followed."

Caught off-guard by the ruling, prosecutors asked — and received — a postponement Tuesday in the death penalty case against Bryan Rose, 23, of Baltimore, who is charged with first-degree murder and attempted armed carjacking in the January 2006 killing of Warren Fleming, 31, outside the mall. The trial is rescheduled for April 7.

In her ruling, Souder cited problems with fingerprint evidence in a joint investigation conducted by Spanish and U.S. authorities.

After the March 11, 2004 terrorist bombing of commuter trains in Madrid, Spanish National Police recovered fingerprints from a plastic bag containing explosive detonators, but the FBI used the prints to misidentify a suspect in the case, Souder wrote.

That case is not alone, wrote Souder, lamenting the lack of the certainty with fingerprint evidence — which is not 100 percent reliable — especially in a death penalty case.

"For many centuries ... humans thought that the earth was flat," the judge wrote, comparing fingerprint evidence to an old, discredited idea. "... But science has proved that the earth is not flat."

Souder's decision was immediately hailed by Rose's defense attorneys, but Shellenberger and his prosecutors worried other judges might soon follow suit and eliminate the crucial form of evidence for police and prosecutors to use.

"How far does this go?" he asked. "In Baltimore County and the state of Maryland?" [Hat Tip: Martin Yant]

October 25, 2007 in DNA | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

TX Judge Decides to Allow Execution Instead of Giving a 20 Minute Extension

From The presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the target of a rising national outcry a month after turning away the last appeal of a death row inmate because the rushed filing was delayed past the court’s 5 p.m. closing time.

The inmate, Michael Richard, was then executed for a 1986 sexual assault and murder — the last person to die in Texas while the US Supreme Court reviews the constitutionality of lethal injection.

The judge, Sharon Keller, has said she did not know that Mr. Richard’s defense lawyers in Houston were having computer problems when they asked the court for 20 more minutes to deliver their final state appeal to Austin hours before the scheduled execution on Sept. 25.

Without a definitive ruling from the state court, the lawyers could not properly appeal to the United States Supreme Court to block the execution.

Judge Keller, a Republican who was elected to her second six-year term last year, declined through her office this week to comment.

The court does not accept computer filings, although one of the court’s judges, Tom Price, said in an interview this week, “We’re reviewing all our procedures and policies.”

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 25, 2007 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Exonerated Man Tells Story of Times Lost in Prison

From Willie "Pete" Williams had no idea when he was pulled over by police that the criminal justice system was about to steal away half his life.

Sitting in the flashing glow of Atlanta squad car lights along Georgia State Road 400, the 23-year-old part-time house painter didn't know police were looking for a rapist who had struck nearby three weeks earlier.

Police questioned -- and then arrested Williams, triggering a series of mistaken witness identifications that led to his unjust conviction for rape, kidnapping and aggravated sodomy.

It was 1985 and Williams was sentenced to serve 45 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. "I felt betrayed. ... I felt like these people had taken my life for something I didn't do. I felt like I was being treated unfairly. ... I felt very, very angry towards everybody," said Williams last week, a free man after nearly 22 years behind bars.

He said he spent many of those years stoking that anger by fighting guards and inmates, while his childhood friends were developing careers and raising families.

Earlier this year, after DNA science proved his innocence, the 45-year-old with a graying mustache stood again before a judge -- who this time exonerated Williams.

Williams' troubling story provokes discomfort in a nation that prides itself on a justice system where the accused are innocent until proven guilty. So far, DNA evidence has directly exonerated 208 wrongly convicted people in the United States, according to the Innocence Project. It's unknown how many prisoners now locked up in American jails could be freed by new testing of DNA evidence.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 25, 2007 in DNA | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Military Prosecutor Shares Moral Dilemma With Law Students

0401stuartcouch_2 Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, who refused to prosecute a high-profile terrorism case because he believed the defendant's interrogation included torture, visited with Elon University School of Law students.

Couch served as a prosecutor on military commissions formed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Assigned to prosecute a top al Qaeda operative, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Couch soon had misgivings about the case.

"It became obvious to me that he was being tortured," said Couch, who began to look into the methods being used to interrogate Slahi. That revelation, combined with his religious faith and belief in "the human dignity of every person," prompted Couch to make a decision that threatened to jeopardize this career. "I just decided that I couldn't go into court, face a jury with a straight face and prosecute the case."

The case didn't end Couch's career, and he has been featured in numerous media reports, including a Wall Street Journal story on his courageous decision. He serves as a judge on the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, and will receive the Minister of Justice award from the American Bar Association Nov. 2, the first military prosecutor to receive the honor. [Mark Godsey]


October 24, 2007 in Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Article Spotlight: The Original Meaning of "Unusual": The Eighth Amendment as a Bar to Cruel Innovation

Stinne Florida Coastal School of Law CrimProf John F.G. Stinneford recently published an article titled The Original Meaning of "Unusual": The Eighth Amendment as a Bar to Cruel Innovation.  Here is the Abstract:

"Very briefly, my argument is that the word unusual was a term of art that referred to government practices that deviate from long usage. Under the common law ideology that came to the framers through Coke, Blackstone, and various others, the best way to determine whether a government practice comported with basic principles of justice was to ask whether it enjoyed long usage - that is, whether is was continuously employed throughout the jurisdiction for a very long time. The opposite of a practice that enjoys long usage is an unusual practice, or an innovation. The word unusual is included in the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause to direct courts to give scrutiny to new or innovative punishment practices; the assumption underlying the Clause being that when the government innovates in the realm of punishment, it often does so in the direction of greater cruelty.

The implications of recognizing the original meaning of unusual are not merely academic. In recent decades, both Congress and state legislatures have significantly increased the penalties imposed on criminal offenders for a wide range of crimes. Seven states have imposed the previously unthinkable punishment of chemical castration on sex offenders, and several more are currently debating the imposition of surgical castration - a punishment practice that fell out of usage in England in the 13th century. Such new punishments are often highly popular, and by that measure they comport with current standards of decency, which is the standard the Court now uses to determine whether a punishment violates the Eighth Amendment. Without a renewed recognition of the significance of the word unusual, courts will be powerless when faced with the primary danger against which the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause was designed to protect: The tyranny of enflamed majority opinion."

CrimProf Stinneford comes to the Florida Coastal School of Law with a variety of experience in both law practice and teaching. He served as a law clerk to Judge James Moran of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, a litigation associate for the law firm Winston & Strawn, and as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  He has also served as a member of the clinical faculty at the University of Chicago Law School, and the lawyering skills faculty at the University of Dayton School of Law.  His primary teaching and research interests concern criminal law, criminal procedure, and sentencing policy. [Mark Godsey]

October 24, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Human Rights Magazuman Hightsine Features CrimProf Anthony G. Amsterdam as Human Rights Hero

Amsterdam Human Rights Magazine, the ABA's Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, devotes the entire Spring Issue to the Death Penalty. The Issue's Human Rights Hero is NYU Law CrimProf Anthony G. Amsterdam for his preeminent work over the last four decades, both in leading and shaping litigation efforts and in calling attention to the fundamental lack of due process in this country’s implementation of capital punishment.        

Amsterdam is the lawyer most responsible for the litigation strategy that resulted in the United States being free from executions from 1967 to 1977. The high point of these efforts was his victory in Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), the Supreme Court case that had the effect of overturning all existing death sentences in this country in 1972.


After the Court upheld in 1976 some new death penalty statutes enacted in Furman’s wake, most notably in Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976), Amsterdam—who had argued Furman,Gregg, and many other capital cases—remained extremely active behind the scenes. In the ensuing three decades, he has helped formulate litigation strategies and has guided lawyers appearing in death penalty cases before the Supreme Court and other courts around the country to shape their briefs and oral arguments.


Just a few of the huge number of outstanding lawyers with whom he has worked are Sandra Babcock, John Blume, Jack Boger, Michele Brace, Stephen Bright, Richard Burr, James Ellis, Deborah Fins, Ruth Friedman, Henderson Hill, George Kendall, James Marcus, James Liebman, Michael Laurence, Mark Olive, Rob Owen, Bryan Stevenson, Christina Swarns, and Denise Young. Amsterdam’s mentees have forced the Supreme Court to focus on such crucial issues as pervasive ineffective assistance of counsel, systemic racial disparities in capital cases, and the imposition of the death penalty on juveniles and on people with mental retardation or severe mental illness. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 24, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

CALI Selects 5 CrimProfs for CrimPro Fellowship

The non-profit Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) has selected a group of law professors for the CALI Criminal Procedure Fellowship. The fellowship will produce computer-based legal education materials in Criminal Procedure. From a talented and diverse group of law professor applicants,

CALI selected these five:

  • Edwin J. Butterfoss Hamline University School of Law
  •  Steven L. Chanenson Villanova University School of Law
  •  Tom Lininger University of Oregon School of Law
  •  Raneta Lawson Mack, Creighton University School of Law
  •  David M. Siegel New England School of Law

“We are excited to have such an accomplished group of scholars participating in this project. The resulting 25 lessons from this team will capture their passion and expertise in Criminal Procedure and give students additional ways to learn this complicated subject,” said Deb Quentel, CALI Director of Curriculum Development.

The CALI Fellowships Project is a multi-year applied research effort. Resulting materials are peer-reviewed by the CALI Editorial Board and published to law schools as part of the CALI Library of Materials.  The goal of the project is to create a high-quality pool of electronic teaching materials for faculty to supplement their courses, locally customize for specific instructional goals, and explore computer-mediated/distance learning. Started in 1999, previous fellowships have produced materials in Criminal Law, Property, Torts, Business Organizations, Legal Research, Remedies, Trademark, Copyrights, and Family Law. [Mark Godsey]

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

New Article Spotlight: "The Stepford Justices": The Need for Experiential Diversity on the Roberts Court

Toneill John Marshall Law School CrimProf Timothy P. O'Neill recently published "The Stepford Justices": The Need for Experiential  Diversity on the Roberts Court. Here is the Abstract:

For the first time in history every Supreme Court justice has come directly from the same job: judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals. For the first time in history no justice has ever served in a legislature at any level of government. For the first time in history no justice has ever run for political office. For the first time in history eight of the nine justices have graduated from the same three Ivy League law schools.

This narrowness of experience on the Supreme Court is unprecedented. Our current Supreme Court can indeed be called The Stepford Justices.

This article traces this homogeneity to the failure of the Robert Bork nomination in 1987. Since Bork, Presidents have tried to sell their nominees as non-ideological legal technicians. At the same time, justices are actually being selected for the same reason they always have been - the hope that their decisions will reflect the political beliefs of the President and his party.

The result? An ideologically split Court that decided one-third of last Term's cases by 5 to 4 votes.

This article contends that Presidents - and the legal community - must be more honest about the role of ideology in the work of the Supreme Court. It draws from the work of the mathematician Kurt Godel to argue that the nature of the Supreme Court docket leads to decisions that are both true and at the same time unprovable. Technical legal skill is not as important as values and intuition.

The article recommends a return to the policies of presidents such as Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower. While they certainly tried to choose nominees who shared their political beliefs, they nominated not just individuals with judicial experience, but also lawyers who had been Senators, Governors, cabinet members, heads of regulatory agencies, professors, and even private practitioners. This mix of justices with wide legal and governmental experience is vital for the effective functioning of the nation's highest collegial court. [Mark Godsey]

October 23, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Co-Panelist Wanted for Crime, Emotion and the Law Panel

Faculty_lgarfield_2 Working on a project involving women & crime, self-defense and/or the role of emotions in Criminal Law?  CrimProf Leslie Garfield of Pace Law School looking for co-panelists for a panel tentatively entitled, "Crime, Emotions and the Law," to be held at the the Law & Society Annual Meeting to be held in Montreal, Canada, May 29-June 1, 2008. 

CrimProf Garfield is interested in hearing from anyone who is writing in any of these areas (or related areas) who would like to present at the conference.  CrimProf Garfield will organize into panels as many people as respond to this call for presenters.  Scholars of all levels of seniority and projects at all stages of development are welcome.

There is no publication requirement (or pre-arranged article placement) associated with the conference.  Panel participants are expected to exchange drafts of their papers at least one month prior to the conference.  Panel participants (or their home institutions, if possible) pay their own way, because this is not an externally-funded conference.

If your scholarly interests are connected even generally to the proposed panel, and you would be interested in participating at the Law & Society 2008 meeting, please contact CrimProf Garfield at by November 15, 2007 .  At this point, all we need is the intended participant's name, institutional affiliation, and contact information; the paper's working title; and a 3-4 sentence description of the paper's general subject. [Mark Godsey]

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

Monday, October 22, 2007

FBI Denies Taking David Copperfield's Millions


The FBI is denying reports that it took millions in cash during a search last week of a Las Vegas warehouse belonging to illusionist David Copperfield.

A Las Vegas television station reported that agents seized $2 million in cash from a safe in Copperfield's warehouse. That report was picked up by other media nationally, including The Seattle Times.

Federal law-enforcement sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that Copperfield, 51, is under investigation of possible sexual misconduct with a Seattle woman while in the Bahamas.

Officially, the FBI has been tight-lipped about the investigation and has not said Copperfield is the target, although high-ranking officials have confirmed that fact anonymously.

National entertainment media and others have repeated the story about the seizure of money, and FBI officials are now concerned the publicity could damage their investigation and is unfair to Copperfield, who has not been charged with a crime. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 22, 2007 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Malaysian Man Kidnaps Woman Who Turns Down Proposal

From A 60-year-old farmer was so determined to marry a 28-year-old estate worker in Malaysia he kidnapped her when she turned down his proposal, police said Monday.

The farmer forced the woman into his car while she was walking home from work in eastern Terengganu state, said K. Manoharan, deputy head of the state's criminal investigations department.

''The family had initially agreed (to the marriage), but she did not want to go ahead with it. That angered him,'' K. Manoharan told The Associated Press.

But a friend of the woman witnessed her abduction Thursday and told police, who contacted the man's family to persuade him to free her. Several hours later, the woman was released unharmed and the farmer surrendered to police, K. Manoharan said.

''He changed his mind when he knew police were looking for him,'' he said.

He said the man had been freed from police custody but was still under investigation. He declined to identify the reluctant couple. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

October 22, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Michael Scharf Discusses Torture at William and Mary Law School

Scharf_sm Case Western Reserve University School of Law CrimProf Michael Scharf will discuss “When, if Ever, Should Torture Evidence Be Admissible?” at William & Mary Law School on Thursday, November 1, at 5 p.m. Free and open to the public, the talk is part of the Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by the Human Rights and National Security Law Program.

Scharf will explore whether there should be expanded exceptions to the torture evidence exclusionary rule, and if so, how those exceptions should be crafted to avoid abuse. Rather than explore the question in the hotly debated context of terrorist prosecutions, Scharf will use a very different kind of case study—the Cambodia Tribunal's use of the Tuol Sleng testimonials—which presents the issue in a fresh light that challenges the general assumptions about the morality, efficacy, and legality of admitting evidence obtained by torture. [Mark Godsey]

October 22, 2007 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)