CrimProf Blog

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

Friday, January 30, 2009

Judge Rejects Obama's Request for Stay in Guantanamo Trial

From "A military judge at Guantanamo on Thursday rejected a White House request to suspend a hearing for the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, creating an unexpected challenge for the administration as it reviews how America puts suspected terrorists on trial.

The judge, Army Col. James Pohl, said his decision was difficult but necessary to protect "the public interest in a speedy trial." The ruling came in the case against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The bombing of the Navy destroyer in 2000 in the harbor of Aden, Yemen, killed 17 U.S. sailors.

It seemed to take the Pentagon and White House by surprise.

"We just learned of the ruling ... and we are consulting with the Pentagon and the Department of Justice to explore our options in the case," said White Press secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that he doubted the decision would hamper the administration's ability to decide how to move forward from Guantanamo." Full Story from [Michele Berry]

January 30, 2009 in Due Process, Homeland Security, News, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Governor Blagojevich's Criminal Defense Lawyer to Resign

GovblagojevichGov. Rod Blagojevich's chief defense attorney announced Friday that he is bailing out of the fraud and bribery case against the governor, strongly hinting that his embattled client refused to listen to his advice.

"I never require a client to do what I say, but I do require them to at least listen," Edward Genson said. "I intend to withdraw as counsel in this case."

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January 26, 2009 in Criminal Law, Fraud, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Federal Judicial Vacancies for Appointment by Obama Administration

Courtesy of, here is a list of the 55 federal judicial vacancies the Obama Administration will have the opportunity to fill by appointment. 18 of the vacancies are considered "judicial emergencies." [Michele Berry]

January 22, 2009 in News, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (4)

NPR: "Obama Orders Guantanamo Bay Prison Closure" On Day 2 of his presidency, Barack Obama signed executive orders "designed to close Guantanamo Bay prison within a year, prohibit extreme interrogation practices and revisit military tribunals for suspected terrorists.

'Shutting the detention facility is intended to show that U.S. foreign policy is in metamorphosis. The message that we are sending around the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism' but will do so 'in a manner consistent with our values and our ideals," Obama said while signing the orders. Full story from [Michele Berry]

January 22, 2009 in Due Process, Homeland Security, News, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (5)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

N.Y. High Court Bars Surrogate-Elect Over Campaign Contributions

The Court of Appeals on Monday barred Nora S. Anderson from becoming Manhattan surrogate on Jan. 1 pending the outcome of Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau's prosecution of her for allegedly failing to accurately report contributions to her campaign this summer.

A 6-0 court suspended Anderson with pay effective Thursday, when the 10-year term she won earlier this year is to begin. The court gave no reasoning for its decision.

Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye took no part in the deliberations.

Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau will designate an interim judge to fill the opening by early January, said David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration.

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December 30, 2008 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge-Elect, Indicted, Is Suspended by Court

The New York State Court of Appeals on Monday ordered the suspension of Judge-elect Nora S. Anderson while she faces criminal charges accusing her of committing financial fraud during her campaign to become a Surrogate’s Court judge in Manhattan.

The suspension will take effect on Thursday, the same day that Ms. Anderson was scheduled to take her seat on the bench, according to Gary Spencer, a spokesman for the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. A temporary replacement will be assigned by Ann Pfau, the state’s chief administrative judge.

The appeals court judges voted 6 to 0 to suspend Ms. Anderson, Mr. Spencer said. Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye did not participate because she is going to retire from the court on Wednesday and will not be on the bench when the suspension takes effect.

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December 30, 2008 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Appeals Court Upholds Senator Craig's Guilty Plea

ArtcraigThe Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected U.S. Sen. Larry Craig's effort to withdraw his guilty plea to a misdemeanor offense of disorderly conduct in connection with a sex-sting operation.

"Because we see no abuse of discretion in the denial and conclude that the statute is not overbroad, we affirm" a lower court's decision, the three-judge panel wrote in a 10-page ruling.

In a written statement, Craig said he was "extremely disappointed" by the action and was considering an appeal.

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December 9, 2008 in Criminal Law, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Illinois Governor Arrested on Corruption Charges

Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested this morning on federal corruption charges. Wiretaps recorded Blagojevich discussing how to "sell or trade" the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama "for financial and personal benefits for himself and his wife," prosecutors allege. Also charged in the 2-count indictment, with a lurid 76-page FBI affidavit, was Blagojevich's chief of staff, John Harris.

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December 9, 2008 in Criminal Law, DOJ News, Fraud, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Charge for Bernard Kerik

041213_kerik_vmedwidecDisgraced former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik's glib response to White House officials when he interviewed to be director of homeland security may land him in prison.

"Nope, it's all in my book," Kerik said when asked in 2002 if there was "anything embarrassing that he wouldn't want the public to know about." In "The Lost Son," Kerik admitted fathering a daughter while he was a soldier in Korea and said his mother, a prostitute, was murdered.

In a beefed-up indictment issued Tuesday, Manhattan federal prosecutors said Kerik should have owned up to his ties to a mob-linked contractor as well as his failure to pay taxes for a nanny he employed.

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December 3, 2008 in Criminal Law, Homeland Security, News, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 21, 2008

From Justice Stevens, No Exit Signs

For all the speculation about how President-elect Barack Obama's nominees may change the Supreme Court, there is one irrefutable fact: He can't make an appointment until there is a vacancy.

Eighty-eight-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens, the court's longest-serving member, is considered most likely to provide that opening. But in a question-and-answer session Monday at an event sponsored by the University of Florida's Fredric G. Levin College of Law, Stevens gave no indication that he is ready to retire to his part-time home in Fort Lauderdale.

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November 21, 2008 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama's DOJ Transition Plan

For more than a month, a squad of lawyers has been gathering for the first Justice Department transition in the post-9/11 world. Now that their candidate has won, they're at the gates -- or rather, the 20-foot-high aluminum doors of Main Justice -- waiting for President-elect Barack Obama and President George W. Bush to finalize the rules for information-sharing and access during the transition.

The Justice Department calls its own preparation unprecedented in modern times. Under a 2004 law, the department has been vetting Obama's transition team for security clearances for more than two months. And since at least July, the department has been laying the groundwork for a new administration. Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed his chief of staff, Brian Benczkowski, and Lee Lofthus, the assistant attorney general for administration, to coordinate the transition.

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November 10, 2008 in DOJ News, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 7, 2008

California voters all over the map on propositions

Reporting from Sacramento -- It was a good day for chickens and children's hospitals, but not for alternative-fuel vehicles and Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens. A law-enforcement funding measure fell flat, but a proposition restricting parole was victorious.

Voters may have banned same-sex marriage, but they rejected a measure that would have required parents to be notified before a girl could obtain an abortion. And they turned down several big-ticket funding initiatives while backing the most expensive of them, a nearly $10-billion bond to build a bullet train.

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November 7, 2008 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

No Federal Charges for Eliot Spitzer

Large_eliotFormer Gov. Eliot Spitzer will not be charged with any crime for his patronage of a prostitution ring, federal prosecutors announced on Thursday.

The announcement was made by the office of Michael J. Garcia, the United States attorney in Manhattan. Mr. Spitzer announced his resignation in March two days after The New York Times reported his involvement in a high-priced prostitution ring, the Emperors Club V.I.P.

Mr. Garcia said in a statement that his office had found no evidence that Mr. Spitzer had used public money or campaign funds to pay for his encounters with prostitutes.

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November 6, 2008 in Criminal Law, DOJ News, Political News, Sex | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dismissed Stevens Juror Lied to Go to the Racetrack

04stevens_190As it turned out, her father had not died. Marian Hinnant merely wanted to go to the races. And, she was not about to let the trial of Senator Ted Stevens get in her way.

On Monday, Ms. Hinnant stunned a courtroom when she confessed she had concocted a story about her father’s death to be let off the jury that would, a day later, convict Mr. Stevens of Alaska on ethics violations.

Ms. Hinnant said she had lied to attend the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita racetrack in California.

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November 4, 2008 in Criminal Law, News, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Criminal Justice Reform Battle in California: Cynical Politicians and Powerful Interests Attacking the Public Good

Here is picture that sums up much that is wrong with American politics. Five governors of California, Democrats and Republicans, joining forces to oppose something that is indisputably in the public interest.

This is an image that could be repeated, with different faces, in region after region of our country, involving issue after issue. Public officials standing against the public good, with the disastrous results on display from Detroit to Wall Street. All suffering from the same destructive force: the power of entrenched special interests to cloud the vision of our leaders, causing them to thwart good sense, good legislation, and the will of the people.

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November 3, 2008 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (1) | 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)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Police camera maker is profitable for politicians

WatchGuard Video, which provides patrol car cameras to state and local police forces across the nation, points with pride to the lawmakers who helped the company grow from a tiny technology startup into a government contracting powerhouse.

And at least two of the lawmakers turned a profit in the process — after the state police began ordering millions of dollars worth of equipment and expanding far outside Texas, interviews and state records show.

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October 20, 2008 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Unprecedented Number of Federal Judges under Investigation?

U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent is the first federal judge to be indicted for alleged federal sex crimes, but he's only the latest in a string of jurists to face misconduct allegations in 2008, for behavior such as frequenting a topless club or lying under oath.

Nationwide, four other federal judges are being investigated for, among other things, taking cash from lawyers, using an escort service, posting nude photos on a personal Web site and abusing power in court.

The flurry of federal disciplinary activity appears unprecedented under the modern review system, established by Congress in 1980, according to experts and official court statistics.

``As far as I know, we've never had anything like this,'' said Arthur Hellman, a federal judicial disciplinary expert and professor at the University of Pittsburgh law school.

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October 13, 2008 in Criminal Law, News, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mistrial Motion Being Considered in Trial Of Sen. Ted Stevens

The trial of Senator Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska, teetered on the verge of a mistrial or even a dismissal of the charges on Thursday because of the discovery that Justice Department prosecutors had withheld information that they were supposed to turn over to defense lawyers.

Judge Emmit G. Sullivan dismissed for the day the jurors in the trial, in its second week, and hurriedly scheduled an afternoon hearing on whether he should dismiss the seven felony counts Mr. Stevens faces.

“It’s very troubling,” said a clearly angry Judge Sullivan, who questioned whether someone in the department deliberately concealed the information. “If it wasn’t deliberate, it was gross negligence.”

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October 2, 2008 in Criminal Law, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate U.S. Attorney Firings

23cnd_goodling65055An internal Justice Department investigation concluded Monday that political pressure drove the firings of several federal prosecutors in a 2006 purge, but said that the refusal of major players at the White House and the department to cooperate in the year-long inquiry produced significant “gaps” in its understanding of the events.

At the urging of the investigators, who said they did not have enough evidence to justify recommending criminal charges in the case, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey appointed the Acting United States Attorney in Connecticut, Nora Dannehy, to continue the inquiry and determine whether anyone should be prosecuted.

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September 29, 2008 in Criminal Law, DOJ News, Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)