CrimProf Blog

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Judge Prohibits Blackberry Use by Jurors

There will be no Twittering in the courtroom.

As jury selection in the blockbuster trial of famed philanthropist Brooke Astor's son opened Monday, a Manhattan judge told 200 potential jurors to put away their BlackBerrys.

"I understand there is a temptation to review [news] stories," Supreme Court Justice Kirke Bartley said as he ordered panel members to stay away from their computers. "You are not to conduct research...particularly on the Internet."

"Blogging, BlackBerrys, whatever," are prohibited, he said in the nearly 10-minute lecture.

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March 31, 2009 in Technology, Trials, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Napolitano backs security tech

Gov. Janet Napolitano — President-elect Barack Obama's pick to run the Homeland Security Department — has strongly advocated using advanced security technology as a law enforcement tool, drawing praise from police and raising concern among civil liberties groups that warn about privacy invasion.

As Arizona's Democratic governor since 2003, Napolitano has:

• Pushed state police to use cameras that scan license plates of moving cars to find vehicles that are stolen or linked to a criminal suspect.

• Promoted "face-identification" technology that could help surveillance cameras find wanted people by comparing someone's face with a photo database of suspects.

• Signed a 2007 bill making Arizona one of 12 states that collect and store DNA samples of people accused but not convicted of certain crimes, including murder, burglary, sexual assault and prostitution.

• Proposed an optional state ID for legal citizens only that features a radio-frequency chip to allow authorities to read the card. State lawmakers blocked the effort this year.

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January 1, 2009 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Facial recognition software gives Pierce County help in tough cases

The forgery and theft case had victims, a witness and decent surveillance images from an ATM. What it didn't have were any leads on who committed the crime. But instead of being tossed aside, as happens in so many property crime cases, the ATM images were e-mailed to Steve Wilkins at the Pierce County Sheriff's Department.

Wilkins, the department's forensic services supervisor, picked the clearest image and used new facial recognition software to compare it with 16 years' worth of prisoner mug shots taken at the Pierce County Jail.

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December 23, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 3, 2008

New Advancements in "Big Brother" Technology

From Anyone who’s ever watched an episode of the thousand “CSI” or similar crime shows on CBS knows that, often times, crimes are solved with cell phones. Many criminals forget that data left on cell phones (e.g. - text messages, voicemails, call logs) can leave a trail a mile long. And investigators follow those trails using technology like the Cellebrite Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED).

The Cellebrite UFED (pictured) is a tool that can be used to extract vital data such as contacts, pictures, videos, text messages, call logs and electronic serial numbers from over 1600 different cell-phone models - or 95 percent of the phones on the market today.

The UFED actually works pretty simply (requiring no PC for field operation): an investigator simply connects a cell phone to the device (which is somewhat similar in appearance to a credit-card reader), identifies the handset type via the onscreen menu, inserts a USB flash drive and hits “start” to extract information. As noted by Cellebrite: “field extraction of data insures that a suspect’s phone can be examined before the individual has a chance to destroy or erase data.”

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November 3, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

LAPD blames faulty fingerprint analysis for erroneous accusations

Fingerprint The Los Angeles Police Department has acknowledged in a confidential report that people have been falsely implicated in crimes because the department's fingerprint experts wrongly identified them as suspects.

The 10-page internal report, obtained by The Times, highlighted two cases in which criminal defendants had charges against them dropped after problems with the fingerprint analysis were exposed. LAPD officials do not know how many other people might have been wrongly accused over the years as a result of poor fingerprint analysis and do not have the funds to pay for a comprehensive audit to find out, according to police records and interviews.

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October 18, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Technology to track criminals will expand

As the economy tightens the reins on the rest of us, San Bernardino County is shortening its leash even more on a special few.

This is a group almost everyone is glad that someone is watching. It includes child molesters, wife beaters, drunken drivers and gang members.

The Board of Supervisors last week voted to expand the county's use of surveillance technology to track criminal offenders who are on probation or serving time on house arrest or weekends in jail.

Some of the technology includes global positioning satellite surveillance, home-based electronic monitoring and alcohol monitoring.

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October 13, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New fingerprint technology urged

When Stephanie Hartnett saw the man who had followed her 13-year-old daughter to her Roslindale home, she knew he was not the teenager he claimed to be in text messages and e-mails. But when Boston police responded to her call, it took them more than an hour to determine he was a level-three sex offender from Texas.

Now, Hartnett is trying to persuade city officials to purchase portable fingerprint scanners for police cruisers so police can quickly determine when a suspect is potentially dangerous. She will testify at a City Hall hearing today at the request of Councilor Rob Consalvo, who has proposed the purchases.

"If we had had the fingerprint scanner, in four minutes we would have known who he was," said Hartnett, a 38-year-old former Brockton paramedic.

Boston police plan to have a representative at today's hearing of the City Council public safety committee. Elaine Driscoll, spokeswoman for the Police Department, said officials were interested in considering the technology, but deploying it might require upgrading the department's wireless connections.

Hartnett said that last year her daughter met a man who claimed to be 17 on "what was supposedly a kid-friendly site."

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October 8, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

D.C. Police Officers Carry iPhones, Panasonic Toughbooks

A Tucked in with their Tasers and service weapons, some District of Columbia police officers are now sporting iPhones.

An initiative spearheaded by Vivek Kundra, chief technology officer for the District of Columbia, is putting Apple's smartphone -- along with Panasonic Toughbook laptops -- into the hands of public safety responders in a bid to make it easier for the police force to respond to incidents and process crime reports.

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September 30, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Video from 11th Circuit Excessive Force Case Finds Way to YouTube

When Judge Beverly B. Martin this month dissented to a federal appeals decision in favor of a sheriff's deputy accused of civil rights violations for using a Taser on a handcuffed man, she urged that a video of the events in question be published with the opinion.

The suggestion of Martin, a district court judge sitting by designation with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, went unheeded. But James V. Cook, the Tallahassee, Fla., attorney representing plaintiff Jesse Daniel Buckley, apparently took Martin at her word.

On Monday Cook placed a copy of a video shot by a squad car camera on YouTube. The six-minute video can be found under the term "Buckley v. Haddock." Cook said Tuesday he is preparing a motion for an en banc rehearing.

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September 18, 2008 in Criminal Law, News, Technology | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Brain test could be next polygraph

Brain_test A Seattle scientist who has developed an electronic brain test that he says could improve our ability to force criminals to reveal themselves, identify potential terrorists and free those wrongly convicted may have finally broken through the bureaucratic barriers that he believes have served to stifle adoption of the pioneering technique.

"There seems to be a renewed surge of interest in this by the intelligence agencies and the military," said Larry Farwell, neuroscientist and founder of Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories based at the Seattle Science Foundation.

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September 16, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Newark and the Future of Crime Fighting

0822_newark_cameras_2 One recent spring day, two cops in the Newark Police Dept. watched a shoot-out erupt in broad daylight. Two suspected drug dealers started blasting away at each other in the middle of an apartment complex. The cops didn't witness the violence on the beat, though. They watched it from the city's new communications command center, which collects live video feeds from more than 100 surveillance cameras scattered across the crime-ridden city.

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August 28, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Odor sensor could help find decomposing bodies

Cadaver dogs searched for more than two days but could not find the body of a young woman who disappeared in 2000 while jogging in a Nashville park.

A day later, a searcher spotted the body in a place the highly trained dogs had been. With the August heat wearing on the 24-year-old's body for three days, it was already too badly decomposed to determine a cause of death.

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August 28, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lawyers Conned by Internet Scam

Atlanta securities lawyer Gregory Bartko said he is the victim of an Internet fraud scheme that is apparently targeting law firms throughout the country and the banks where lawyers have their escrow accounts.

As a result, Bartko is now a defendant in a federal suit by Wachovia Bank -- which is seeking reimbursement for nearly $200,000 that the bank wired, on Bartko's instructions, to a Korean bank on behalf of a company that had hired Bartko via the Internet.

Wachovia has also notified the State Bar of Georgia that Bartko's firm escrow account was overdrawn by more than $190,000, Bartko said.

The scheme that entangled Bartko matches one in a fraud alert issued in February by SunTrust Bank in Atlanta.

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August 26, 2008 in Criminal Law, News, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Michigan will join states that use GPS to track domestic abusers, stalkers

Mary Babb was in her SUV last year when her estranged husband slammed into her with his pickup truck. The crash overturned Babb's vehicle and left her suspended upside-down by her seat belt.

As she hung there helplessly, Thomas Babb fired two rounds from a shotgun, killing his wife in front of horrified witnesses outside the office where she worked.

Now Mary Babb's family has lobbied successfully for Michigan to join a growing number of states that have expanded electronic monitoring to include domestic abusers and stalkers.

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July 30, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Questions about Best Approach to Fixing Pervasive Internet Security Flaw

Since a secret emergency meeting of computer security experts at Microsoft’s headquarters in March, Dan Kaminsky has been urging companies around the world to fix a potentially dangerous flaw in the basic plumbing of the Internet.

While Internet service providers are racing to fix the problem, which makes it possible for criminals to divert users to fake Web sites where personal and financial information can be stolen, Mr. Kaminsky worries that they have not moved quickly enough.

By his estimate, roughly 41 percent of the Internet is still vulnerable. Now Mr. Kaminsky, a technical consultant who first discovered the problem, has been ramping up the pressure on companies and organizations to make the necessary software changes before criminal hackers take advantage of the flaw.

Next week, he will take another step by publicly laying out the details of the flaw at a security conference in Las Vegas. That should force computer network administrators to fix millions of affected systems.

But his explanation of the flaw will also make it easier for criminals to exploit it, and steal passwords and other personal information.

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July 30, 2008 in Criminal Law, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 28, 2008

The New "DNA": Antibody Testing.....

From associated press: Federal researchers say they've developed a human identification test that's faster and possibly cheaper than DNA testing. It would be a handy new weapon in the arsenal for detectives, forensic experts and the military, though no one expects it to replace DNA analysis — and its promoters say it is not intended to. The new method analyzes antibodies. Each person has a unique antibody bar code that can be gleaned from blood, saliva or other bodily fluids. Antibodies are proteins used by the body to fend off viruses or perform routine physiological housekeeping. "DNA is a physical code that describes you ... and in many ways so are your antibodies," said Dr. Vicki Thompson, a chemical engineer at the Idaho National Laboratory who's been working with other researchers to perfect the test for the past 10 years.   Rest of story here.  [Mark Godsey, hat tip Marty Yant]

April 28, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Text Message Scandal Builds In Detroit

From The office of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is reeling following publication of a series of e-mails between him and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty. The messages suggest that the pair lied under oath last year in denying they were having an affair. Beatty is resigning. Their testimony last summer was part of a lawsuit by two police officers who claimed they lost their jobs because they investigated whether Kilpatrick used his security officers to cover up extramarital affairs. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

January 30, 2008 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Remote Handcuffing Device

Cuffs Got a call from the inventor of a product that allows law enforcement officers to restrain a person without getting close to them--a remotely operated mechanical restraint attached to the bumper of the car.  Remote handcuffing could improve officer safety because an individual could be restrained without the officer getting close enough to come into physical contact.  Here's a link to a Youtube Video.  Leave a comment if you have an opinion about the device. [Jack Chin]

November 24, 2007 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Boston'a Text Message Tip Line is a Success

From Boston cops’ anonymous text-message tip line has busted at least two murder suspects and popped up hot leads in other high-profile homicides - including the shooting of 8-year-old Liquarry Jefferson - in the two months since the first-in-the nation program was unveiled, the Herald has learned.

     “It has performed beyond our wildest expectations. We had no idea it was going to work as well as it has,” Boston police Commission Edward Davis said yesterday. “It’s a great method by which the community can talk to us without fear of retaliation.”

     Anonymous tipsters have tapped out some 230 text messages to the Boston Crime Stoppers unit since the line opened June 15, the BPD said. By comparison, the unit averages a paltry 10 phone calls from tipsters a month. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 26, 2007 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

GPS Tracking for Violent Robbers

From One month after two paroled burglars were arrested for a brutal home invasion that killed a mother and her two daughters in Cheshire, Conn., state officials have announced new plans to crack down on violent burglars.

Offenders will have to wear GPS tracking devices, so officials know where they are at all hours. Most states use the devices to keep tabs on sex offenders.

Connecticut's plan raises questions about whether it's wise to do the same for this whole new category of criminals. Listen. . . [Mark Godsey]

August 21, 2007 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)