CrimProf Blog

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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Erik Luna Professor of Criminal Law S.J. Quinney College

Luna Professor Luna graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California, and he received his J.D. with honors from Stanford Law School, where he was an editor of the Stanford Law Review. Upon graduation, he was a prosecutor in the San Diego District Attorney's Office and a fellow and lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. He has served as the senior Fulbright Scholar to New Zealand, where he taught at Victoria University Law School and conducted research on restorative justice.

Professor Luna has also been a visiting professor with the Cuban Society of Penal Sciences and has taught U.S. constitutional law and criminal justice to judges and attorneys in Cuba. In 2007, he was a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg, Germany, the world’s foremost center for the comparative study of criminal law and procedure. 

Professor Luna is the co-director of the Utah Criminal Justice Center, an interdisciplinary partnership to foster research and education in criminal justice. He has been awarded the University Professorship at the University of Utah, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary skills in teaching and distinguished scholarship in their field.

Professor Luna is an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, the nation’s leading libertarian think tank. Among other professional activities, he is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Working Group on Criminal Law Issues, he serves on the board of directors for the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center and the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association, and he is a member of the Utah Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure. 

Professor Luna teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, constitutional law, advanced criminal procedure, comparative criminal justice, and juvenile justice. [Mark Godsey]

November 30, 2008 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New trial ordered in 1991 Buddhist temple killings

A federal court of appeals on Thursday overturned the conviction of a West Valley man found guilty of killing nine people at a Buddhist temple west of Phoenix in 1991.

Jonathan Doody was one of two youths convicted of the infamous temple murders, and he has been serving nine life sentences in state prison since his conviction in 1994.

But, on Thursday, a panel of three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that detectives from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office forced a confession from Doody. The judges sent the case back to Maricopa County Superior Court for a new trial.

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November 29, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 28, 2008

A chance for sensible gun laws

WIth the historic election of Barack Obama, the nation finally has an opportunity to enact sensible national gun policy. Obama should look to big cities, especially Boston, for guidance.

Big-city mayors know all too well the devastating impact a failed national gun policy has had on people living in urban America. Most of the 83 Americans who die every day from gun violence live in cities. The average annual US death toll from guns is 34,000 Americans. Comparatively, over the past 30 years, 1,035,000 Americans have died from guns in the United States versus 655,000 US service men and women killed in all foreign wars combined.

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November 28, 2008 in Guns | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. war on drugs has failed, report says

The United States' war on drugs has failed and will continue to do so as long as it emphasizes law enforcement and neglects the problem of consumption, a Washington think tank says in a report co-chaired by a former president of Mexico.

The former president, Ernesto Zedillo, in an interview, called for a major rethinking of U.S. policy, which he said has been "asymmetrical" in demanding that countries such as Mexico stanch the flow of drugs northward, without successful efforts to stop the flow of guns south. In addition to disrupting drug-smuggling routes, eradicating crops and prosecuting dealers, the U.S. must confront the public health issue that large-scale consumption poses, he said.

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November 28, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Guilty verdict in MySpace suicide case could chill Internet speech

A high-profile Internet legal case that just concluded here will have a chilling effect on users of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook if the verdict holds up on appeal, legal experts say.

A Los Angeles jury on Wednesday convicted Lori Drew – the defendant in the so-called "MySpace Suicide Case" – of three counts of illegally accessing computers. But the six-man, six-woman panel could not reach a unanimous verdict on the single count of conspiracy.

The case drew national attention because Ms. Drew had created a phony MySpace profile of a teenage boy who criticized a 13-year-old girl who subsequently hung herself.

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November 28, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Police prepare for changes in marijuana possession laws

Local law enforcement officials are still in a haze about Question 2 as it winds its way through the bureaucratic process.

There are a number of logistical issues that stand between the ballot initiative that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and the enforcement of the new policy throughout the commonwealth. In the meantime, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is still a criminal offense, even though some districts are suspending their pursuit of such cases.

Wareham police aren’t changing their approach to criminal possession yet.

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November 27, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Temple case still haunting

For nearly eight weeks in the late spring and summer of 1993, he was Juror No. 3 in the trial of a young man accused of the worse mass murder in Arizona history.

When deliberations ended on July 13, the eight-woman, four-man panel of which Richard Noel was a part found then 19-year-old Johnathan Andrew Doody guilty of the execution-style slaughter of nine people at a Buddhist temple west of Phoenix.

"We didn't talk to reporters afterwards," Noel told me. "We were so emotionally drained it was like everyone just wanted to go home and cry."

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November 27, 2008 in Confessions and Interrogation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Neighbor Guilty in MySpace Hoax Case

A suburban mother was found guilty today of minor misdemeanor charges for her role in an online hoax that prosecutors said led to the suicide of her teenage neighbor.

Lori Drew, 49, was convicted on three misdemeanor counts of unauthorized access to computers in a case that drew nationwide attention both for its novel use of a computer hacking law to combat alleged cyberbullying and for its tales of suburban neighborhood rivalries and teenage suicide.

The jury could not reach a verdict on a single felony conspiracy charge. Drew, who lives in a suburb of St. Louis, was acquitted of several felony counts of unauthorized access to computers in order to inflict emotional distress on 13-year-old Megan Meier.

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November 27, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Judges stay Dec. 3 execution of Wash. inmate

Federal and state judges have indefinitely delayed the scheduled Dec. 3 execution of Darold Stenson for the 1993 shooting deaths of his wife and a business partner in Clallam County.

The separate stays were issued Tuesday by judges in federal court in Yakima and in Clallam County Superior Court.

U.S. District Judge Lonny Suko issued his order in a conference call with lawyers. State Attorney General Rob McKenna said his office was asking an appeals court to vacate Suko's order and allow the execution to proceed as scheduled.

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November 26, 2008 in Capital Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Complaint filed over Long Island police policies

Hispanic advocates claimed Tuesday that the Long Island police department that investigated the killing of an Ecuadorean immigrant fails to adequately investigate crimes committed by whites against Latinos.

In a complaint to the U.S. Justice Department, the national advocacy group Latino Justice contended that the Suffolk County Police Department discourages Latinos from reporting crimes.

Police and county officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but they have repeatedly said since the Nov. 8 killing of Marcelo Lucero that crime victims are not asked about their residency status.

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November 26, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Cities, the Fight Against Terrorism Walks the Beat

In May, a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer stopped a car for speeding. He noticed that the driver was sweating and gripping the steering wheel nervously, while refusing to answer basic questions. In May, a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer stopped a car for speeding. He noticed that the driver was sweating and gripping the steering wheel nervously, while refusing to answer basic questions.

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November 26, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Criminal justice affected by budget cut

Due to a projected $90 million shortfall for 2009 in the King County General Fund, criminal justice agencies in the county are experiencing a blanket 11.4 percent budget cut.

The budget cut has caused a change in filing and disposition standards and the way the King County prosecutor's office prosecutes crimes.

According to a letter from King County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Satterberg to county police chiefs and commanders, the cut is equivalent to 41 of the 190 deputy prosecutors paid for by the general fund.

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November 25, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tracing a crime suspect through a relative

Over nearly two decades, a serial killer has shot and strangled at least 11 people, often dumping their battered bodies in alleyways of Inglewood and Los Angeles.

Most were black women or girls, the youngest just 14. The latest was found last year, shrouded in a garbage bag.

Police have determined through DNA and other evidence that the killings were the work of a single person. But the DNA does not match any of the millions of genetic profiles of convicted criminals in law enforcement databases, and detectives have few other clues.

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November 25, 2008 in DNA | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Butchering Statutes: the Postville Raid and the Misinterpretation of Federal Law

On Monday, May 12, 2008, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement led an immigration raid at the Agriprocessors, Inc. meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. The local U.S. Attorney's Office pursued criminal complaints against approximately 300 migrant workers. The raid at Postville remains the nation's largest criminal immigration raid. I aim to provide a detailed and accurate account of the investigation of Agriprocessors, the raid, the criminal prosecutions, the sentencings and the aftermath. In so doing, I argue that a confluence of factors explain the number of individuals arrested and the accelerated criminal proceedings.

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November 25, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 24, 2008

2nd Circuit Upholds Warrantless Extraterritorial Searches of U.S. Citizens

A federal appeals court in Manhattan upheld the convictions on Monday of three Al Qaeda operatives in a ruling that bolsters the government’s power to investigate terrorism by holding that a key Constitutional protection afforded to Americans does not apply overseas.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holds for the first time that government agents may obtain admissible evidence against United States citizens through warrantless searches abroad.

The searches must still be reasonable, as the Constitution requires, Judge José A. Cabranes wrote, adding that the government had met that standard in its search of the home and monitoring of the telephone of one defendant, Wadih El-Hage, a close aide to Osama bin Laden, who was a naturalized American citizen living in Nairobi, Kenya.

“The Fourth Amendment’s requirement of reasonableness — but not the Warrant Clause — applies to extraterritorial searches and seizures of U.S. citizens,” the judge wrote.

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November 24, 2008 in Criminal Law, Homeland Security, International, Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Georgia Supreme Court Promotes Marriage to Fight Crime

A dozen billboards around the state that urge Georgians to "Get Married, Stay Married" are sponsored not by a church or family-values group but by the Supreme Court of Georgia through its Commission on Children, Marriage and Family Law.

Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears said that the 48-foot-wide, 14-foot-tall billboards are one of the few things a jurist can do to battle high crime rates, high divorce rates and low numbers of fathers raising their kids.

Along with the "Get Married, Stay Married" slogan, each sign shows a happy-looking mother, father and child and one of two messages: "Children do better with parents together" or "For Children's Sake."

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November 24, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Budget cuts hamper abilities of prosecutors across U.S.

A sour economy is forcing sharp cuts in law-and-order budgets, district attorneys say, hampering their ability to prosecute criminals and secure appropriate sentences for some types of crimes.

The cuts include treating drug-related felony crimes as misdemeanors, dismantling specialty units that prosecute domestic violence and child abuse, and placing prosecutors and staff on unpaid leave to save money.

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November 24, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Experts: Bad Economies Don't Cause Crime Waves

Bonnie There are few outlaws in the United States as famous as Bonnie and Clyde — a young couple, with no jobs or prospects, driving across the country robbing banks and killing police officers to make ends meet during the Great Depression.

It's an indelible image of what people will do during desperate times. For a while, Bonnie and Clyde were almost American heroes.

There's only one problem: The Depression years had very little crime.

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November 24, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Boy's constitutional rights forgotten during interview

The video of the now-infamous 8-year-old in St. Johns is chilling.

"Did you shoot your dad?" a sheriff's deputy asks the pajama-clad boy, at the end of an hourlong interview in which he was led ever-so-gently down the primrose path.

The boy rubs his eyes and he covers his face. "I think so," he says softly.

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November 24, 2008 in Criminal Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Professor Hoffman Criminal Law Professor

Hoffman Professor Hoffmann is an award-winning scholar and law teacher. He holds the Harry Pratter Professorship, and is a past recipient of the Law School Gavel Award and the university-wide Outstanding Young Faculty Award. In addition to courses in criminal law and procedure and seminars on death penalty law and the psychology of criminal law, Hoffmann teaches seminars on the law and society of Japan and Asia.

Before joining the Indiana Law faculty in 1986, Hoffmann clerked for the Hon. Phyllis A. Kravitch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and for the Hon. William H. Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court.

A nationally recognized authority on the death penalty, he has also written extensively about criminal procedure and habeas corpus law. Hoffmann is a co-author of one of the leading casebooks in criminal procedure law, Comprehensive Criminal Procedure (Aspen 2nd ed. 2005) (with Allen, Livingston, and Stuntz). He served as Co-Chair and Reporter for the Massachusetts Governor's Council on Capital Punishment, and has spearheaded successful death penalty reform efforts in Illinois and Indiana. Professor Hoffmann is also on the faculty of the National Judicial College, where he teaches about death penalty law.

Hoffmann has been a Fulbright Professor in 1996 at the University of Tokyo, and in 1997-98 was a Visiting Professor at its International Center for Comparative Law and Politics. In 2003-04, he was a Fulbright Professor at the Universities of Erlangen and Jena in Germany.

November 23, 2008 in Weekly CrimProf Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)