CrimProf Blog

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Plunging into Vacant Orifices in Vacant Sex Shop

(Australia). An Aussie man has been arrested for repeatedly breaking and entering into an adult shop to have sex with a blow up doll. Her name is Jungle Jane and he didn't even stay to cuddle her (or so it appears). Instead, he abandoned her in an alley behind the store where his DNA was collected from the doll. Story here. UPDATE: Jungle Jane didn't make any incriminating statements against the suspect but she reportedly had a shocked look on her face.

January 21, 2009 in International, Miscellaneous, Sex | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (5)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Interrogation Upheld in Country Where Right to Counsel Unavailable

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Nov. 24 upheld the admission of statements elicited overseas by U.S. agents from suspects in the custody of a country that does not provide a right to counsel during interrogations. “[I]nsofar as Miranda might apply to interrogations conducted overseas, that decision is satisfied when a U.S. agent informs a foreign detainee of his rights under the U.S. Constitution when questioned overseas,” the court said (In re Terrorist Bombings of U.S. Embassies (Fifth Amendment Challenges), 2d Cir., No. 01-1535-cr(L), 11/24/08).

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December 9, 2008 in Criminal Law, False Confessions, Homeland Security, International | 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)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

U.S. Drops War Crimes Charges against Guantanamo Detainees

The Pentagon official in charge of prosecutions at Guantanamo on Tuesday dismissed war-charges against five detainees, the latest setback to the government’s military commission system.

The official, Susan J. Crawford, has broad power over the military commission tribunals, including the power to dismiss charges, but she does not have to provide public explanations for her decisions and did not on Tuesday.

But a statement from her office said the charges against the five were dismissed without prejudice, which means “the government can raise the charges again at a later time.”

After the decision was announced, Col. Lawrence J. Morris, the chief military prosecutor, said that supervising lawyers in his office had asked Ms. Crawford to withdraw the charges. He said all five would be resubmitted after a review of their files, which had been handled by a prosecutor who left the office after questioning the judicial fairness at Guantanamo.

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October 21, 2008 in Criminal Law, Homeland Security, International, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Stimulant Use Surges in Asia, Mideast

emand for amphetamines, ecstasy and other synthetic drugs appears to have stabilized in the West, but the problem is worsening in Asia and spreading to new markets in the Middle East, a U.N. report said Tuesday.

Manufacturing and trafficking of illegal stimulants is also getting more sophisticated, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said in a 2008 assessment that pointed to the growing involvement of local and international crime syndicates.

Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. agency, warned that amphetamine-type drugs are seen as "a cheap and available tonic for our fast and competitive times."

In North America and Europe, where pill popping is largely recreational, demand has leveled off or even declined in recent years thanks to effective controls on the chemicals used to make them.

But in fast-growing developing countries, where the drugs are often used to boost stamina on assembly lines or to keep drivers awake behind the wheel, use is on the rise.

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September 14, 2008 in Criminal Law, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mixed Verdict in London Terror Trial

08london600A lengthy trial centering on what Scotland Yard called a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners ended Monday when the jury convicted three of eight defendants of conspiracy to commit murder.

But the jury failed to reach verdicts on the more serious charge of a conspiracy to have suicide bombers detonate soft-drink bottles filled with liquid explosives aboard seven airliners headed for the United States and Canada.

The failure to obtain convictions on the plane-bombing charge was a blow to counterterrorism officials in London and Washington, who had described the scheme as potentially the most devastating act of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks seven years ago this week. British and American experts had said that the plot had all the signs of an operation by Al Qaeda, and that it was conceived and organized in Pakistan.

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September 9, 2008 in Criminal Law, Homeland Security, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Afghan Opium Harvest Down?

Topics_opium_395Afghanistan’s opium harvest has dropped from last year’s record high, the United Nations announced Tuesday, contending that the tide of opium that engulfed Afghanistan in ever rising harvests since 2001 was finally showing signs of ebbing.

“The opium floodwaters in Afghanistan have started to recede,” Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, wrote in the foreword of the 2008 annual opium poppy survey, published Tuesday. “Afghan society has started to make progress in its fight against opium.”

Poppy cultivation has dropped by 19 percent since 2007, and had fallen beneath 2006 levels as well, the report said. The harvest was also down, although by a lesser margin because of greater yields, dropping by 6 percent to 7,700 tons.

More than half of Afghanistan’s provinces have now been declared poppy free — that is, 18 of 34 provinces grow no, or very little, poppy, up from 13 poppy-free provinces last year.

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August 26, 2008 in Drugs, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Texas Executes José Medellín

In a case that has drawn international attention, Texas executed José E. Medellín on Tuesday night in defiance of an international court ruling and despite pleas from the Bush administration for a new hearing.

The execution came just before 10 p.m. Central time, shortly after the United States Supreme Court denied a last request for a reprieve. Protesters for and against the death penalty clamored in the rain outside the Huntsville Unit, about 70 miles north of Houston, where Mr. Medellín was executed by lethal injection.

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August 5, 2008 in Capital Punishment, Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, International | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Feds Charge 11 in Massive Identity Theft Scheme

The Justice Department said on Tuesday that it had charged 11 people in the theft of tens of millions of credit and debit card numbers of customers shopping at major retailers, including TJX Companies, in one of the largest reported identity-theft incidents on record.

The United States Attorney in Boston said those charged were involved in the theft of more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers.

TJX, of Framingham, Mass., which owns the Marshall’s and TJ Maxx chains, was the hardest hit by the ring, acknowledging in March 2007 that information from 45.7 million credit cards was stolen from its computers.

The charges focus on three people from the United States, three from the Ukraine, two from China, one from Estonia and one from Belarus.

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August 5, 2008 in Criminal Law, International, Organized Crime | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beheading as a More Humane Form of Execution?

BBC News: Three Indonesian militants facing execution for the 2002 Bali bombings want to be beheaded rather than killed by firing squad, their lawyer has said.

The three - Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra - are expected to include the request in an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Their lawyer, Muhammad Mahendradatta, said beheading was a more humane form of punishment than firing squad.

Their execution was postponed last month to allow for a final appeal.

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July 30, 2008 in Capital Punishment, Criminal Law, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ex-Diplomat Asserts Cultural Claim for Child Sex Sentence Reduction

An ex-diplomat convicted of having sex with teenage girls in the Congo and Brazil and taping the encounters is asking a judge for leniency, claiming that cultural differences in those countries make sex with girls more acceptable.

Gons G. Nachman, 42, pleaded guilty in April to possessing child pornography after admitting that he had sex with 14- to 17-year-old girls while serving as a consular officer in Brazil and Congo and documenting the encounters in pictures and videos.

The judge has agreed to delay Nachman's sentencing until Aug. 22 so that he can be examined by noted forensic psychologist Stanton Samenow. Defense attorney Stephen Stine said in court papers that a psychological examination might show that cultural differences led Nachman to believe that sexual contact with teenage girls was acceptable, and that should have an impact on what kind of sentence he receives.

Prosecutors rejected the notion that Nachman's victims somehow deserve less protection because they were not born or raised in America.

"Children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Brazil have the same inherent value as children in the United States," prosecutor Ron Walutes wrote in court papers.

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July 19, 2008 in Criminal Law, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Exclusionary Rule as the American Exception

Bradley Harrison was driving a rented Dodge Durango from Vancouver to Toronto in the fall of 2004 with 77 pounds of cocaine in the trunk when a police officer pulled him over, found the drugs and arrested him.

A year and a half later, an Ontario trial judge ruled that the officer’s conduct was a “brazen and flagrant” violation of Mr. Harrison’s rights. The officer’s explanation for stopping and searching Mr. Harrison — confusion about a license plate — was contrived and defied credibility, the judge said, and the search “was certainly not reasonable.”

In the United States, that would have been good news for Mr. Harrison. Under the American legal system’s exclusionary rule, the evidence against Mr. Harrison would have been suppressed as the result of an unlawful search.

But both the Canadian trial judge and an appeals court refused to exclude the evidence. Mr. Harrison was sentenced to five years in prison.

“Without minimizing the seriousness of the police officer’s conduct or in any way condoning it,” the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled in Mr. Harrison’s case in February, “the exclusion of 77 pounds of cocaine, with a street value of several millions of dollars and the potential to cause serious grief and misery to many, would bring the administration of justice into greater disrepute than would its admission.” The case is now before the Canadian Supreme Court.

The United States is the only country to take the position that some police misconduct must automatically result in the suppression of physical evidence. The rule applies whether the misconduct is slight or serious, and without regard to the gravity of the crime or the power of the evidence.

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July 19, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

French Judge Aids in San Francisco Homicide Investigation

A French judge has arrived in San Francisco to oversee an unusual probe into the death of a French citizen whose stabbing has puzzled police investigators for more than a year.

Police have said they are handling the June 2, 2007, death of 36-year-old Hugues de la Plaza as a possible homicide, although they have also angered his acquaintances by suggesting he killed himself. The chief medical examiner's office has been unable to determine what caused the 36-year-old sound engineer's death.

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June 10, 2008 in International, Law Enforcement, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Adam Liptak Examines Elected Judges in the United States

N.Y. Times: Last month, Wisconsin voters did something that is routine in the United States but virtually unknown in the rest of the world: They elected a judge.

The vote came after a bitter $5 million campaign in which a small-town trial judge with thin credentials ran a television advertisement falsely suggesting that the only black justice on the state Supreme Court had helped free a black rapist. The challenger unseated the justice with 51 percent of the vote, and will join the court in August.

The election was unusually hard-fought, with caustic advertisements on both sides, many from independent groups.

Contrast that distinctively American method of selecting judges with the path to the bench of Jean-Marc Baissus, a judge on the Tribunal de Grand Instance, a district court, in Toulouse, France. He still recalls the four-day written test he had to pass in 1984 to enter the 27-month training program at the École Nationale de la Magistrature, the elite academy in Bordeaux that trains judges in France.

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May 24, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Accused 9/11 Co-Conspirators' Defense Problems

From Two weeks after the Pentagon announced plans to stage death-penalty trials for six Guantánamo captives as alleged Sept. 11 co-conspirators, none of the men has seen a military defense lawyer.

Only one of the six has an assigned lawyer, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bryan Broyles. But Broyles failed to see his client during a Feb. 13-16 visit to the isolated Navy base.

Lawyer visits will be a key precursor in the Pentagon's bid to put Khalid Sheik Mohammed and five other alleged 9/11 co-conspirators on trial. On Feb. 11, the Pentagon announced plans to simultaneously try the men by military commission -- and to seek to execute them if they are convicted.

But Army Reserves Col. Steve David said so far he had only assigned Broyles to the complex six-defendant case -- to defend Mohammed al Qahtani, a Saudi considered the least valuable captive among the six men.

Broyles blamed the prison camps lawyer, Navy Capt. Patrick McCarthy, for placing obstacles in the path of his bid to meet Qahtani in the company of a civilian lawyer, Wells Dixon, of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The Army colonel told The Miami Herald he went to the base specifically to meet Qahtani and another Saudi war-court candidate, Ahmed al Darbi, with Dixon -- and was thwarted by the military, not the detainees, on both counts.

In a statement, the prison camps spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Rick Haupt, blamed the conflict on defense lawyers -- describing their failure to comply with prison camp bureaucracy and on scheduling conflicts. But, in the end, Haupt said, the bureaucracy issues were ''moot'' because Darbi and Qahtani refused to meet the military defense lawyer at their assigned time.

A core issue is Broyles' bid to have Dixon join the meetings with the men -- who claim brutal treatment in U.S. custody.

Absent an introduction by the civilian lawyer, Broyles said, the detainee might not believe he is there to help in his defense and instead suspect an interrogation trick.

Qahtani was once known as The 20th Hijacker, suspected of failing to join the 19 other suicide bombers in the 9/11 attacks because he was turned away from entry into the United States at an Orlando airport.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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

Monday, January 7, 2008

Charles Taylor's War Crime Trial Begins

From The war crimes trial of Charles Taylor, Liberia's former president, heard its first testimony Monday and saw video of victims telling of being sexually assaulted or dismembered by rebels who plundered West African diamond fields.

The trial before the international tribunal in this Dutch city resumed following a six-month break, having been adjourned in June after Taylor boycotted proceedings and fired his lawyer.

Back in court, Taylor looked confident and blew a kiss to supporters in the gallery as his new lawyers challenged the prosecution to prove that he was behind the widespread murder, rape and amputations during Sierra Leone's civil war.

Prosecutors allege the so-called ''blood diamonds'' mined in Sierra Leone were smuggled through neighboring Liberia and that Taylor used the profits to arm the rebels. Taylor, 59, is accused of orchestrating the violence from his presidential palace in Liberia's capital, Monrovia. He has pleaded innocent to all 11 charges.

He is the first former African head of state to face an international tribunal.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

January 7, 2008 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Philippine Court Convicts 14 in 2001 Kidnapping

From A Philippine court  convicted 14 members of the Abu Sayaff group today in the 2001 kidnapping of 20 people off an island resort, including three Americans, two of whom were eventually killed.       

The 14  were sentenced to life imprisonment. Four others were acquitted.

Robert Courtney, a Department of Justice attaché at the United States Embassy in Manila, said the verdict “sends a strong message about the capability of Philippine law enforcement to deal with terrorist activities.”

The kidnappers took their hostages to the island of Basilan, which was Abu Sayyaf’s base of operations at the time. Guillermo Sobero, a Peruvian-born American from California, was beheaded. Some of the others paid ransoms and were freed.

There were accusations of collusion between Abu Sayyaf and some elements of the military, particularly after the kidnappers managed to escape from a hospital in Basilan that had been surrounded by soldiers. A subsequent Senate investigation found “circumstantial evidence” of collusion between the militants and some civilian and military officials.

Thirteen months after the kidnappings, an American-supported military operation tried to free the remaining hostages, including Martin and Gracia Burnham, a missionary couple from Wichita, Kan. But Mr. Burnham and a Filipino nurse, Ediborah Yap, were killed. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

December 6, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

CIA Secret Holding Cell in Jordan

From Over the past seven years, an imposing building on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan has served as a secret holding cell for the CIA.

The building is the headquarters of the General Intelligence Department, Jordan's powerful spy and security agency. Since 2000, at the CIA's behest, at least 12 non-Jordanian terrorism suspects have been detained and interrogated here, according to documents and former prisoners, human rights advocates, defense lawyers and former U.S. officials.

In most of the cases, the spy center served as a covert way station for CIA prisoners captured in other countries. It was a place where they could be hidden after being arrested and kept for a few days or several months before being moved on to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or CIA prisons elsewhere in the world.

Others were arrested while transiting through Jordan, including two detained during stopovers at Amman's international airport. Another prisoner, a microbiology student captured in Pakistan in the weeks after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has not been seen since he was flown to Amman on a CIA plane six years ago.

The most recent case to come to light involved a Palestinian detainee, Marwan al-Jabour, who was transferred to Jordan last year from a CIA-run secret prison, then released several weeks later in the Gaza Strip. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]


December 2, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

British Teacher in the Sudan Gets 15 Days in Jail for Naming a Teddy Bear Muhammad

From The British teacher in Sudan who let her 7-year-old pupils name a class teddy bear Muhammad was found guilty on Thursday of insulting Islam and sentenced to 15 days in jail and deportation.

Under Sudanese law, the teacher, Gillian Gibbons, could have spent months in jail and been lashed 40 times.

“She got a very light punishment,” said Rabie A. Atti, a government spokesman. “Actually, it’s not much of a punishment at all. It should be considered a warning that such acts should not be repeated.”

British officials, meanwhile, were furious. As soon as the news broke that Ms. Gibbons had been convicted, the British foreign office in London, which had called the whole ordeal “an innocent mistake” summoned the Sudanese ambassador — for the second time in two days. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

November 28, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

French Protestors and Police Clash After Car Accident

From Dodging rocks and projectiles, the French police lined the streets of this tense suburb Tuesday where angry youths have vowed to seek revenge for the deaths of two teenagers who died in a weekend collision with a police car.

Police union officials warned that the violence was escalating into urban guerrilla warfare, with shotguns aimed at officers — a rare sight in the last major outbreak of suburban unrest, in 2005.

More than 80 have been injured so far — four of them as a result of gunfire — and the rage was still simmering Tuesday afternoon. Inside the city hall of Villiers-le-Bel, a group of visiting mayors appealed for calm while police officers dodged rocks outside.

“We are sitting targets,” said Sophie Bar, a local police officer who stood guard outside. “They were throwing rocks at us and it was impossible to see where they came from. They just came raining over the roof.”

The violence was set off by the deaths of two teenagers on a motorbike who were killed in a crash with a police car Sunday night. The scene, with angry youths targeting the police mostly with firebombs, rocks and other projectiles, was reminiscent of three weeks of rioting in 2005.

Rest of Article. . .[Mark Godsey]

November 27, 2007 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)