CrimProf Blog

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CrimProf Richard Leo Comes Out With New Book

CrimProf Richard Leo (University of San Francisco Law School), with co-author Tom Wells, has just published THE WRONG GUYS: MURDER, FALSE CONFESSIONS, AND THE NORFOLK FOUR (The New Press).
On July 8, 1997, nineteen-year-old sailor Billy Bosko returned from a naval cruise to his home in Norfolk, Virginia, to find his wife on the floor of their bedroom in a pool of blood. Michelle, eighteen, had been raped and stabbed to death the night before. In this gripping tale of justice gone awry, four innocent men
separately confess, under intense police pressure, to a heinous crime that none of them actually committed. As this enthralling story unfolds, the real perpetrator is matched to DNA evidence and convicted, yet three of the men known as the Norfolk Four remain in prison today. The controversy over this case continues to simmer, with the victim's family still convinced of the men's guilt even as growing media attention has exposed the questionable treatment they received at the hands of police officers, prosecutors, and even their own defense attorneys. Barry Scheck has described THE WRONGF GUYS as “a harrowing tale of how four innocent men were wrongly convicted by a deepley flawed legal system that failed to find the truth or dispense justice at virtually every turn.” The Washington Post and the New York Times have both recently written op-eds calling for the Governor of Virgnia to pardon the Norfolk Four.

Leo is also the author of the recently published (2008) POLICE INTERROGATION AND AMERICAN JUSTICE (Harvard University Press), which CrimProf Yale Kamisar (University of Michigan and University of San Diego) has called “the best book on police interrogation I have ever read.”

January 21, 2009 in CrimProfs, False Confessions, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LawProfs Comment on Guantanamo

Seton Hall LawProf Mark Denbeaux, Iowa LawProf Tung Yin, and UC Davis LawProf Diane Amann comment on the dilemma the Obama administration faces as it sifts through the Guantanamo cases. A "charge or release" policy seems to be the consensus; there is also agreement that some prosecutions may not be possible due to evidence tainted by torture techniques. But Yin points out that it may be a bad move to release high profile detainees such as Khaled Shaikh Mohammed, who admitted to being the mastermind of the 911 attacks but who also was subjected to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics. "In a regular criminal case we would say the government violated the constitutional rules so the remedy is to suppress the evidence. The government can't make its case without the suppressed evidence so the defendant has to be let go...I think there is going to be some discomfort level with simply releasing Khaled Shaikh Mohammed." Yin says the prospect of releasing so-called high value terror suspects may force the new administration to create a system of preventive incapacitation similar to Bush's enemy combatant detention.

But Amann warns that "it would be a mistake to continue to rely on a version of the Bush enemy combatant detention regime." "Are we going to depart from 200 years of legal tradition prohibiting this kind of detention [without charge] and craft an entirely new program" for the probable handful of detainees who pose a threat?

Denbeaux points out that releasing terror suspects could advance US intelligence. "Agents could be tasked to watch them, trace their movements overseas, and tap their phones. If former detainees seek to contact Al Qaeda, their movements and contacts could provide fresh intelligence on the terror group. To me, released detainees are a window into the world that is out there, and if we are not looking through that window it is a waste." More from the Christian Science Monitor... [Michele Berry]

January 21, 2009 in CrimProfs, Due Process, Homeland Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (4)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Eugene Volokh Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law

Vlaw Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, criminal law, religious freedom law, and church-state relations law at UCLA Law School, where he has also often taught copyright law and a seminar on firearms regulation policy. Before coming to UCLA, he clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court and for Judge Alex Kozinski on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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June 22, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

CrimProf Hashimoto Cited in Indiana v. Edwards

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Frank Easterbrook

Now_2 Frank Easterbrook graduated from the Law School in 1973. He was an editor of the Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif. Before coming to Chicago, he attended Swarthmore College, from which he received a degree in 1970 with high honors. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Judge Easterbrook was a law clerk to Levin H. Campbell of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He then joined the solicitor general's office, where he served first as assistant to the solicitor general and later as deputy solicitor general of the United States. He returned to the Law School in 1979. Before becoming a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 1985, Judge Easterbrook was Lee and Brena Freeman Professor of Law

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June 15, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

'Policing Gangs in America' wins book award for ASU professor

Charleskatz_0_preview An exhaustive study of the police response to gangs in four U.S. cities, co-authored by an ASU professor, has received international acclaim. The Academy of Criminal Justice Studies (ACJS) chose Policing Gangs in America (Cambridge University Press), co-authored by Charles Katz of ASU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, for its 2008 Outstanding Book Award.

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June 8, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Criminal Law Scholar Bowers to Join Virginia Law School Faculty

Josh Bowers, a legal scholar and former defense attorney who specializes in innovative examination of the real-world application of criminal law, will join the Law School this fall.

Bowers Bowers is currently a Bigelow Teaching Fellow and lecturer of law at the University of Chicago Law School. Prior to that, he spent three years as a staff attorney with The Bronx Defenders, and also was an associate at Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Silberberg, a white-collar criminal defense firm in New York City.

He’s published articles on the effectiveness of drug courts, the intersection of plea bargaining and innocence, and the use of low-ball plea offers as a prosecutorial tool to mute communal resistance to unpopular police policies.

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May 24, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

CrimProf Jeff Fisher Argued Against the Death Penalty for Rapists

Fisher_jeffery From Stanford CrimProf Jeff Fisher is no stranger to the Supreme Court — he’s argued before the high court nine times. But when he stepped in front of the nine justices last week to argue the case of a convicted child rapist hoping to avoid the death penalty, the stakes were higher than they ever have been before.        


Fisher, the co-director of the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, is representing Patrick Kennedy, a Louisiana man who has been sentenced to death for raping his eight year old stepdaughter. If his death sentence is upheld, Kennedy will become the first rapist to be executed in America since 1964.

According to Fisher, such a ruling would open the door to the expansion of the death penalty as punishment for a variety of other crimes, and increase the number of inmates eligible for the ultimate penalty fivefold.

“This was definitely one of the very biggest [cases] that I’ve done, in terms of the intensity and importance,” Fisher said. “The constitutional cases always have a weightier air in the room because the Court really has the final say.”

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April 27, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

CrimProf Christo Lassiter Receives Goldman Prize

Lassiter75 University of Cincinnati College of Law CrimProf Christo Lassiter is the recipient of the 2008  Goldman Prize for Teaching Excellence

" CrimProf Lassiter expounds the ideal that law school is about “learning to think like a lawyer,” wrote his students when nominating him for the Goldman Award. . Merging thought-provoking hypotheticals and meaningful discussion, he challenges students to think harder while clarifying difficult legal issues. It is uncommon for a student to leave his class without having learned something!

Professor Lassiter teaches courses in criminal law, criminal procedure and white collar crime. In nominating him, students noted that he is far from an intellectual lightweight. In fact, he is considered to be one of the most intelligent and well-respected professors at the College of Law.

This has been exemplified by the large number of students who seek out any class they can take with him. In addition to maintaining an open door policy, Professor Lassiter demonstrates over and over that he genuinely cares about student education and their professional experiences. Students comment that his intelligence, energy, theatrics and occasional song keep them coming back!

April 23, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CrimProf Corinna Barrett Lain Discusses the Reas why the Innocent Confess

Lain An op-ed piece in the April 22 Richmond Times Dispatch by Richmond School of Law CrimProf Corinna Barrett Lain offers insight into issues surrounding the "Norfolk Four" case in which four Navy sailors were convicted and imprisoned for a 1990 rape and murder to which they had confessed, only to be totally exonerated by DNA evidence. Prof. Lain offers examples and explanations from her own career as a prosecutor to why innocent defendants falsely confess crimes. Read Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

April 22, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Michigan Law School Launches new Innocence Clinic

Bridgetm DNA evidence has already freed dozens of wrongfully convicted prisoners around the country, and that’s one reason Michigan Law’s new Innocence Clinic, opening in January, will focus on a potentially far larger group: prisoners convicted in cases where biological evidence like DNA doesn’t exist.

The new clinic will be headed by CrimProf Bridget McCormack, the Law School’s associate dean for clinical affairs, and Professor David Moran, who will join the faculty this fall as a clinical professor. Between eight and 14 law students each term will have the opportunity to work on convictions for a wide variety of crimes that appear unjust and in need of reversal.

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April 17, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CrimProf Fran Watson Hadry Reaches out to the Public to Exonerate a Wrongfully Convicted Man

Fhardy2 The Law Clinic at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis today (March 14, 2008) announced an upcoming post-conviction proceeding on behalf of a Lake County man asserting he was wrongfully convicted of rape in 1993. Law Clinic attorneys representing the man are seeking the public's help in exonerating their client.

A post-conviction case for Roosevelt Glenn will be tried March 17 and 18, 2008, in a hearing room for the Lake County Superior Court One, 2293 North Main Street, Crown Point, Ind. Glenn continues to maintain his innocence and asserts that newly discovered DNA evidence demonstrates he was wrongfully convicted.

Glenn was convicted of one of a series of vehicular "bumps" followed by assaults against woman driving alone at night. The incidents occurred in Lake County from 1989 to 1990. Most of the cases remain unsolved. CrimProf Fran Watson Hardy of the Law Clinic at IU School of Law-Indianapolis is asking anyone with any information regarding the "cold" cases to contact her at 317-274-1911.

"Since the very first tests in 1990, two DNA profiles from the persons responsible for these crimes have been identified," says Watson. "If we could obtain information to locate either of the two persons for whom DNA profiles exist, it would be relevant to Mr. Glenn's petition. We ask for the public's help."

Professor Watson and her students from the Law Clinic are preparing the case on behalf of Glenn. Scientific experts in microscopic hair analysis and DNA will testify to challenge the proof offered to convict Glenn. During the 1993 trial, a hair recovered from the victim's sweater was said to be from Glenn's head. Recent DNA testing has revealed that the hair does not match Glenn's. [Mark Godsey]

March 19, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

CrimProf Charles Patrick Ewing Releases "Insanity: Murder, Madness and the Law"

Ewing_chuck_sm The University at Buffalo Law School CrimProf Charles Patrick Ewing, considered one of the country's leading experts on the insanity defense, takes readers into the minds of David Berkowitz, John Wayne Gacy and other notorious murderers in his new book of chilling insights into some of the most well-known murder trials in recent memory.

Ewing, a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and forensic psychologist, uncovers rich personal histories and intricate trial details of murderers who have become household names in "Insanity: Murder, Madness, and the Law" (Oxford University Press, 2008).

In it, Ewing debunks the public's and legal profession's enduring stereotypes surrounding the insanity defense.

"Every time a defendant pleads insanity, the case makes headlines," says Ewing, whose previous book, "Minds on Trial," is considered a landmark study of the criminally insane defense. "In those rare instances in which a defendant is actually found insane, the public is usually outraged.

        "In homicide cases, especially, they believe that the defendant 'got away with murder.'"

Drawing on personal evaluations of hundreds of defendants and extensive research, Ewing conveys the psychological and legal drama of 10 landmark insanity cases. At the same time, he challenges misconceptions made by the general public and many in the legal community.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 12, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

CrimProf Sheri Lynn Johnson Speaks during Death Penalty Awareness Week

S_johnson In January, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Baze v. Rees, a landmark case considering whether lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment that violates the Eighth Amendment.

While activist student lawyers across the country wait for this important verdict, they are working to draw attention to death penalty issues. Cornell Law student members of the National Lawyers Guild held a Death Penalty Awareness Week from March 3 through 5, sponsored in part by the Cornell Law Students’ Association and Cornell’s G.P.S.A.F.C.

“At Cornell, students do not even have to wait until they graduate to begin working against the death penalty,” says Ginger McCall ’09, president of the Cornell National Lawyers Guild. She notes that students can do significant work on Cornell’s Death Penalty Project, co-led by law professors John H. Blume and Sheri Lynn Johnson. “Law students are uniquely situated to create change in this area,” she continues. “Students can enact change by raising awareness and educating voters, who will, in turn, influence legislative decisions regarding the death penalty.”

Cornell CrimProf Sheri Lynn Johnson began the week with a lecture about capital punishment on Monday, March 3. In her talk, she examined issues of innocence, race, and mental illness. A second speaker was Muna Ndulo, professor of law and director of Cornell’s Institute for African Development, who spoke about capital punishment from an international perspective.

Later in the week Christopher Seeds, visiting fellow with the Cornell Death Penalty Project, addressed the current moratorium on the death penalty in New York State. After Mr. Seeds’s talk, Deadline, a film about the decision of former Illinois Governor George Ryan to commute the sentences of all Illinois death row inmates, was shown and resulted in some spirited discussion among the students. [Mark Godsey]

March 9, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CrimProf Laurie Levenson Discusses the Hate Crime Charging Dispute

Levenson From Loyola Law School CrimProf Laurie Levenson recently discussed attempted murder and other charges  that were filed Friday against two reputed Latino gang members accused of shooting a black 6-year-old boy in Harbor Gateway.

Despite demands from community activists, prosecutors did not file hate crime allegations against Ernesto Murillo, 25, of Harbor Gateway or Ismael Torres, 26, of Wilmington.

"We will continue to monitor and review the case as the evidence comes in," said Deputy District Attorney John Lonergan of the Hardcore Gang Division.

CrimProf Laurie Levenson said that, despite the emotion of the case, prosecutors have the ethical duty of filing only what they can prove in court.

"Each case has to be evaluated on its own merits," Levenson said. "Even when the community is upset, you just can't file charges unless there is evidence to support it." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

March 9, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 3, 2008

CrimProf Daniel Medwed Inspired Former Student Who Drafted Exoneration Bill

Med A recently-passed Utah statute that provides compensation for prisoners who have been wrongfully convicted and exonerated had its origin in an academic paper by a former S.J. Quinney College of Law student.

Heather Harris, a 2006 College of Law graduate, took Professor Daniel Medwed's Wrongful Conviction Seminar in the Spring of 2005.

"Throughout the class, I got inspired, I got angry, and honestly, I got emotional," Harris says. "I could not believe how these individuals are treated by the public after they were exonerated, much less how they were treated while trying to prove their innocence.  So, to be blunt, rather than just talking about it and whining about it, I decided to see if I could do my part in trying to change it."

Along with her term paper for the seminar, Harris drafted a model exoneration statute, which she later sent to every Utah legislator.  Harris's persistence captured the attention of legislators, who pushed the bill during the 2006 Legislative Session.

As with new ideas, though, the notion of compensating the wrongfully-convicted took time to gain traction. In the interim, Harris refined the proposal with Medwed, a team from the Utah Attorney General's Office and others. The group found that the most compelling case for compensation was economic; exonerees in other states have won far larger judgments using traditional tort claims. So the statute serves Utah as an "insurance" policy against massive damage awards, Harris said.

The Exoneration and Innocence Assistance statute provides a two-step procedure. First, it establishes a process for post-conviction petitions before judges, easing what had often been an impediment.  Second, those found to be "factually innocent" by clear and convincing evidence --- such as DNA test results or non-DNA evidence, a major innovation in such compensation laws --- are provided financial payment for up to 15 years of the incarceration, based on the average annual wages of Utah workers.

[Mark Godsey]

March 3, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

New Criminal Law Blog: The Faculty Lounge

We’re excited to welcome a new blog into this world.  The Faculty Lounge is a group effort led by two crim profs: Dan Filler (Drexel) and Laura Appleman (Willamette).  They’re joined by Al Brophy (Alabama), Calvin Massey (Hastings), Kathy Bergin (South Texas), and Kevin Maillard (Syracuse).  It’s a general interest law blog, focusing on anything interesting.  Dan has moved his annual Law Faculty Lateral Moves list to his new venue as well.  Members of The Faculty Lounge have been regulars or visitors at Concurring Opinions, Prawfsblawg, BlackProf, PropertyProf, Money Law, Legal History Blog, First Amendment Law Prof, Feminists Law Professors, and elsewhere.    

This is how Dan described the Faculty Lounge mission:  

We imagined a blog that shamelessly embraced  both high theory and pop culture.  A blog that accepted the all-too-true reality that everyone is too damn busy to read anything that isn't engaging.  A blog with multiple voices, some newer and some older.  It seemed to me that we wanted to recreate the experience of a faculty lounge.  Where sometimes people are talking about a great new paper on SSRN, other times they're lamenting the loss of a wonderful colleague to a competitor school, and once in a while they're just amused by a funny bumper sticker they saw on the way to work. [Mark Godsey]

March 2, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

University of Georgia Looking for Visiting CrimProf

The University of Georgia College of Law is looking for a criminal law visitor, for the fall 2008 semester.  If you are interested, please contact Associate Dean Paul Kurtz at [email protected].

February 27, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

DePaul College of Law Needs a Visitor to Teach Crim Law

DePaul College of Law in Chicago will be needing a Visitor to teach
Criminal Law during the spring, 2009 semester.  Please send your resume
to Dean Steven Greenberger at DePaul. [Mark Godsey]

February 26, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 18, 2008

CrimProf Brookbanks Discusses the Effects of New Zealand's Criminal Justice Reform Act

Warren_web From Auckland University CrimProf Warren Brookbanks recently discussed the surge in home detention sentences in New Zealand.

The Criminal Justice Reform Act came into force on October 1 last year and allows judges to sentence offenders directly to home detention.

Between October 15, when the first sentence of home detention was imposed, and February 1 this year, 592 people were sentenced to home detention. This is despite the courts not being fully operational over the Christmas period. Parole Board figures show only 762 prisoners were approved for a similar sentence of home detention in the 12 months to June last year.

Under the old rules the Parole Board was required to interview offenders who were granted leave to apply for home detention by a judge. The Parole Board no longer determines a prisoner's suitability. Judges would act on the same information as the board provided by the Community Probation Service.

CrimProf Brookbanks said the surge in home detention numbers was not surprising."One of the reasons is it's a novel sentence," he said.

"Previously home detention has been tacked onto the end of the prison sentence with the new act it's a sentence in its own right. And I think judges are keen to use it as far as possible to keep people out of jail."

Brookbanks said the trend would put pressure on the Community Probation Service and "could lead to some difficulties in terms of overseeing the vast numbers". Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 18, 2008 in CrimProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)