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)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Phenomenon: "Google Mistrials?"

Iphone-3g Last week, a juror in a big federal drug trial in Florida admitted to the judge that he had been doing research on the case on the Internet, directly violating the judge’s instructions and centuries of legal rules. But when the judge questioned the rest of the jury, he got an even bigger shock.

Eight other jurors had been doing the same thing. The federal judge, William J. Zloch, had no choice but to declare a mistrial, wasting eight weeks of work by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers.

“We were stunned,” said the defense lawyer, Peter Raben, who was told by the jury that he was on the verge of winning the case. “It’s the first time modern technology struck us in that fashion, and it hit us right over the head.”

It might be called a Google mistrial. The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges.

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March 17, 2009 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Trials | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Defendant Invokes Morning Constitutional to Obtain New Trial Lawyer

A mistrial was declared Monday when a home-invasion robbery suspect smeared human feces on his attorney's face then threw more at the jury.

Weusi McGowan, 37, was upset because San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser refused to remove Deputy Alternate Public Defender Jeffrey Martin from the case, prosecutor Christopher Lawson said.

At the mid-morning break, McGowan produced a plastic baggie filled with fecal matter and spread it on Martin's hair and face, then flung the excrement toward the jury box, hitting the briefcase of juror No. 9 but missing the juror himself.

"That juror didn't even see it coming," Lawson said.

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January 27, 2009 in Criminal Law, News, Trials | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's First Move as President

Even before his adorable dance moves with First Lady Michelle (video here), President Obama's first move came in the criminal law arena-- an order via Defense Secretary Robert Gates to military prosecutors in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals to request a 120 day stay in all pending cases. The stay will allow the Obama administration a chance to review all the pending cases. His order came just hours after his oath of office. Thus far proceedings are frozen in the case against Canadian Omar Khadr, who was captured at age 15 and is accused of murdering a U.S. soldier with a grenade during a firefight in Afghanistan. A stay was also granted in the death penalty case against five prisoners accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks. More from [Michele Berry]

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Actor Lillo Brancato Acquitted of Felony Murder

Amd_lillobrancatoA slain cop's sister cried junk justice last night after a Bronx jury acquitted actor-turned-junkie Lillo Brancato of murdering Officer Daniel Enchautegui.

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December 23, 2008 in Criminal Law, News, Trials | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 6, 2008

4th Circuit Orders New Sentencing for Convicted al-Qaida Member A federal appeals court upheld the conviction Friday of a Virginia man convicted of joining al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate President Bush, but said that he must be resentenced.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a 30-year prison term and ordered a new sentencing hearing for Ahmed Omar Abu Ali. Prosecutors had argued that the judge improperly deviated from federal sentencing guidelines that called for life in prison.

The ruling is a major victory for prosecutors in one of their most high-profile terrorism cases.

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June 6, 2008 in Criminal Law, Homeland Security, Trials | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Emory Law School Indigent Criminal Defense Clinic Won its First Case

DAfter four separate trial settings and two trials, the verdict was read, and the defendant was found not guilty on all six counts. It was a big win for the defendant, and for his three trial lawyers – all Emory Law students participating in the Indigent Criminal Defense Clinic (ICDC). This marked the ICDC’s first trial and first victory.

“A tremendous amount of hard work went into this case,” said Deirdre O’Connor, ICDC Director. “I could not be more proud of the three trial lawyers and the amount of dedication and commitment they demonstrated.”

Dan Zytnick, Nate Barnes and Sarah Pentz were assigned the case because of their participation in the ICDC, which began last fall. The clinic receives cases from DeKalb County and as director, O’Connor selects cases based on the likelihood of a trial or motion work.   

"This was a phenomenal experience for us – having our own client and battling to keep him out of jail," Zytnick said. "The case was demanding and difficult, but we were especially motivated because we strongly believed that our client was innocent. A guilty verdict would have been an injustice."

As part of the clinic, third year students assume the role of lead attorney, second chair and investigator on three different cases. The director provides in-depth daily supervision on each case during the preparation stage, with the goal of allowing greater student attorney autonomy and decision-making when appearing in court on the record. 

“I anticipated that many students would be drawn to the clinic primarily to obtain some litigation experience while in law school,” O’Connor said. “What I hope they take away from their participation is a better understanding and appreciation for the role of a criminal defense lawyer and the unique vulnerabilities of an indigent criminal defendant. I also want the students to realize what is involved in being a zealous advocate and how much the lawyer’s commitment to a client’s case will affect the outcome.”

O’Connor has structured the clinic to promote a team environment. The support and encouragement that Zytnick, Pentz and Barnes received played a vital role in their win. Fellow ICDC students, without hesitation, regularly met with the trial lawyers to go through practice runs and allow them to rehearse their opening and closing remarks.

“The opportunity to represent a client, fully prepare his case and conduct a trial on his behalf was an incredible learning experience,” Zytnick said. “All the difficulties we encountered helped us to be become better prepared and gain experience that we could not have received in the classroom setting.” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 8, 2007 in Trials | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Few Trials in Oklahoma

An Oklahoma newspaper reports that of over 12,000 felony and misdemeanor criminal cases filed in the year ending July 1, 2004, only 164 went to trial.  Most of the rest, of course, were disposed of in guilty pleas. [Jack Chin]

March 31, 2005 in Trials | Permalink | TrackBack (0)