Overlawyered » crime and punishment http://overlawyered.com Chronicling the high cost of our legal system Wed, 30 Jul 2014 03:43:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Leash laws for dogs — and sometimes humans too http://overlawyered.com/2014/07/leash-laws-dogs-sometimes-humans/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=leash-laws-dogs-sometimes-humans http://overlawyered.com/2014/07/leash-laws-dogs-sometimes-humans/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:05:04 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=47273 “Busted for Off-Leash Dog, Man Ordered Not to Leave Southern California,” reads the headline. John Gladwin lives right next to a national park in the mountains outside Los Angeles, and has had a series of run-ins with park police after letting his Australian cattle dog, Molly, roam on both sides of the boundary. Now Gladwin […]

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“Busted for Off-Leash Dog, Man Ordered Not to Leave Southern California,” reads the headline. John Gladwin lives right next to a national park in the mountains outside Los Angeles, and has had a series of run-ins with park police after letting his Australian cattle dog, Molly, roam on both sides of the boundary. Now Gladwin “cannot leave a seven-county area, for any reason, without permission from his probation officer.” [L.A. Weekly]

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Feds indict FedEx for not snooping into packages http://overlawyered.com/2014/07/feds-indict-fedex-snooping-packages/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feds-indict-fedex-snooping-packages http://overlawyered.com/2014/07/feds-indict-fedex-snooping-packages/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 16:14:01 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=47188 The federal government has prevailed on a grand jury to indict Federal Express for servicing what it should have known were illicit online pharmacy operations. FedEx says it repeatedly asked the government to supply a list of shippers it considered illicit so that it could cut off service, but that the government refused; the Department […]

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The federal government has prevailed on a grand jury to indict Federal Express for servicing what it should have known were illicit online pharmacy operations. FedEx says it repeatedly asked the government to supply a list of shippers it considered illicit so that it could cut off service, but that the government refused; the Department of Justice contends that circumstantial evidence should have been enough to alert the package shipment company. Writes Mike Masnick at TechDirt: “we don’t want shipping companies to be liable for what’s in packages, because then they have not just the incentive, but the mandate to snoop through all our packages.” Amy Alkon has more on reactions. Earlier, UPS paid the government $40 million to resolve similar allegations, and Google agreed to pay a fine of $500 million for (as we put it at the time) “matching willing buyers with sellers through Canadian pharmacy ads… a forfeiture geared to the revenue the pharmacies (not it) took in from the ads.”

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“How Destroying Fish Is Not Like Destroying Financial Records” http://overlawyered.com/2014/07/destroying-fish-like-destroying-financial-records/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=destroying-fish-like-destroying-financial-records http://overlawyered.com/2014/07/destroying-fish-like-destroying-financial-records/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 12:15:55 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=47132 In the upcoming case of Yates v. United States, the Supreme Court will decide whether a fisherman can be prosecuted under Sarbanes-Oxley’s prohibition on destroying or concealing “any record, document, or tangible object” to impede an investigation. The records, documents, or tangible objects in question were undersized fish, which Mr. Yates threw overboard instead of […]

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In the upcoming case of Yates v. United States, the Supreme Court will decide whether a fisherman can be prosecuted under Sarbanes-Oxley’s prohibition on destroying or concealing “any record, document, or tangible object” to impede an investigation. The records, documents, or tangible objects in question were undersized fish, which Mr. Yates threw overboard instead of bringing back to the dock as instructed by inspectors. Cato has filed an amicus brief urging the Court to rule that Mr. Yates was not adequately put on notice of the reach of “tangible object” to include not just business items such as hard drives, but small marine creatures, lest the law “potentially criminalize an unfathomable range of activities.” [Trevor Burrus, earlier]

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Police and prosecution roundup http://overlawyered.com/2014/06/police-prosecution-roundup-18/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=police-prosecution-roundup-18 http://overlawyered.com/2014/06/police-prosecution-roundup-18/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 04:05:37 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=46289 Sad and bad: “House Republicans vote to block Obama’s new pardon attorneys” [MSNBC, Jacob Sullum, my Cato take] Ready for sorghum-patch unrest? More than 100 U.S. Department of Agriculture agents are armed with submachine guns [Matt Welch] “Cop who punched Occupy Wall Street protester gets tax-free disability pension” [New York Daily News, video of punch] […]

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  • Sad and bad: “House Republicans vote to block Obama’s new pardon attorneys” [MSNBC, Jacob Sullum, my Cato take]
  • Ready for sorghum-patch unrest? More than 100 U.S. Department of Agriculture agents are armed with submachine guns [Matt Welch]
  • “Cop who punched Occupy Wall Street protester gets tax-free disability pension” [New York Daily News, video of punch]
  • “Officials could identify just one [Bronx] prosecutor since 1975 … disciplined in any respect for misbehavior while prosecuting a criminal case.” [City Limits via Radley Balko]
  • Georgia drug raid: flash-bang grenade thrown into crib badly burning toddler [Tim Lynch, PoliceMisconduct.net "Worst of the Month"]
  • New book by Sidney Powell critical of USDOJ explores Ted Stevens, Enron prosecutions, has foreword by Judge Alex Kozinski ["Licensed to Lie": Craig Malisow/Houston Press, Legal Ethics Forum, Amazon]
  • Two times over the legal limit, hmm. Would it help to flash my badge? [Prosecutorial Accountability on state bar discipline against San Francisco deputy d.a.]
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    Detroit’s city government can’t prevent crime http://overlawyered.com/2014/06/detroit-gas-station-crime/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=detroit-gas-station-crime http://overlawyered.com/2014/06/detroit-gas-station-crime/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 15:19:10 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=46471 So instead it will require private businesses to invest in security measures. I explain in a new Cato post. In January I noted an unsuccessful bill in the Maryland legislature to require gas station owners to maintain videocamera system. Tweet Tags: crime and punishment, Detroit, oil industry, small business

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    So instead it will require private businesses to invest in security measures. I explain in a new Cato post. In January I noted an unsuccessful bill in the Maryland legislature to require gas station owners to maintain videocamera system.

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    Woman dies in jail after failing to pay truancy fine http://overlawyered.com/2014/06/woman-dies-jail-failing-pay-truancy-fine/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=woman-dies-jail-failing-pay-truancy-fine http://overlawyered.com/2014/06/woman-dies-jail-failing-pay-truancy-fine/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 04:21:35 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=46469 Last week I did a Cato podcast about how nickel-and-dime fines and fees arising from low-level law enforcement can spiral to the point of overwhelming poor persons’ lives. Now take a look at this appalling AP story from Pennsylvania [via Brian Doherty, Reason]. “More than 1,600 people have been jailed in Berks County alone — […]

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    Last week I did a Cato podcast about how nickel-and-dime fines and fees arising from low-level law enforcement can spiral to the point of overwhelming poor persons’ lives. Now take a look at this appalling AP story from Pennsylvania [via Brian Doherty, Reason]. “More than 1,600 people have been jailed in Berks County alone — where Reading is the county seat — over truancy fines since 2000.”

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    Fines, fees, probation, and the “new debtor’s prison” http://overlawyered.com/2014/06/fines-fees-probation-new-debtors-prison/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fines-fees-probation-new-debtors-prison http://overlawyered.com/2014/06/fines-fees-probation-new-debtors-prison/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 18:01:07 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=46330 A twelve-minute Cato podcast in which I talk to Caleb Brown about how government can roll minor fines over routine offenses into crushing financial burdens and years of entanglement in the criminal justice system. A particular problem: systems that assign fines and payments to the account of actors in the justice system and for-profit private […]

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    A twelve-minute Cato podcast in which I talk to Caleb Brown about how government can roll minor fines over routine offenses into crushing financial burdens and years of entanglement in the criminal justice system. A particular problem: systems that assign fines and payments to the account of actors in the justice system and for-profit private contractors which can operate under a perverse incentive to trip up petty wrongdoers and keep them in the system. The National Public Radio special “Guilty and Charged,” based on a yearlong investigation, is here. Many of my examples are taken from it, including the persons drawn into the system after fishing out of season and making an illegal left turn, and the woman saddled with a $10,000 debt on emerging from prison. Radley Balko discusses. I’ve written earlier on the problems with private probation, on a Shelby County, Alabama judge’s 2012 finding that the town of Harpersville was engaged in a “judicially sanctioned extortion racket,” and more broadly on law enforcement for profit and its forfeiture branch.

    Related: Tyler Cowen on a new book about persons living at the margins of the law, Alice Goffman’s On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City.

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    Crime and punishment roundup http://overlawyered.com/2014/05/police-prosecution-roundup-16/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=police-prosecution-roundup-16 http://overlawyered.com/2014/05/police-prosecution-roundup-16/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 04:05:35 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=45707 Radley Balko weighs in on Philadelphia bodega-robbery scandal: “I want to refer to these thugs as ‘rogue cops,’ but given that [they've thrived] how rogue can they really be?” [Washington Post, earlier here, here, here, etc.] Speaking of Philadelphia cops: “16 Philly police, firefighters earned more than $400,000 in overtime since ’09″ [Brian X. McCrone […]

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  • Radley Balko weighs in on Philadelphia bodega-robbery scandal: “I want to refer to these thugs as ‘rogue cops,’ but given that [they've thrived] how rogue can they really be?” [Washington Post, earlier here, here, here, etc.]
  • Speaking of Philadelphia cops: “16 Philly police, firefighters earned more than $400,000 in overtime since ’09″ [Brian X. McCrone and Emily Babay, Philly.com]
  • Also from Balko: “Police cameras are great, except when the video goes missing“; “Police shooting 377 rounds into a car occupied by two unarmed men “raises concerns.” That’s one way of putting it.” And a not very funny t-shirt;
  • “Mission creep”: Department of Homeland Security has its fingers in many more pies than you might realize [Albuquerque Journal]
  • Felony murder rule: “Sentenced To Life In Prison For Loaning His Roommate His Car And Going To Sleep” [Amy Alkon] Sentencing reform is bipartisan issue on both sides [L.A. Times]
  • How many parents and caregivers are behind bars on scientifically bogus “shaken-baby” charges, and is there any urgency to finding out? [Matt Stroud, The Verge; earlier]
  • Milwaukee cop drives into sober woman’s car, charges her with DUI [WITI via Greenfield]
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    For-profit entities wielding government force http://overlawyered.com/2014/05/profit-entities-wielding-government-force/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=profit-entities-wielding-government-force http://overlawyered.com/2014/05/profit-entities-wielding-government-force/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 11:09:20 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=45938 On “The perils of privatized probation,” Radley Balko seems convincing to me [Washington Post], quoting The Economist’s “Democracy in America“: I’ve written about these fees before, but here’s a quick refresher: if you get hit with a $200 ticket you can’t pay, then a private-probation company will let you pay it off in instalments, for […]

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    On “The perils of privatized probation,” Radley Balko seems convincing to me [Washington Post], quoting The Economist’s “Democracy in America“:

    I’ve written about these fees before, but here’s a quick refresher: if you get hit with a $200 ticket you can’t pay, then a private-probation company will let you pay it off in instalments, for a monthly fee. Then there may be additional fees for electronic monitoring, drug testing and classes—many of which are assigned not by a judge, but by the private company itself. When probationers cannot pay, courts issue warrants for their arrest and their probation terms are extended—a reprehensible practice known as “tolling”, which a judge declared illegal last year. These are folks who had trouble paying the initial fine; you have to imagine they’ll have trouble paying additional fines. It’s plausible to posit that these firms’ business models are based on assigning unpayable fees to people who lack the sophistication, time, will or whatever to contest them. One might even say these predatory firms treat the long arm of the law as sort of lever on a juicer into which poor people are fed and squeezed to produce an endless stream of fees.

    The incentives of the private companies do not, to put it mildly, appear well aligned with the interests of the public. More in our law enforcement for profit tag.

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    Police and prosecution roundup http://overlawyered.com/2014/05/police-prosecution-roundup-15/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=police-prosecution-roundup-15 http://overlawyered.com/2014/05/police-prosecution-roundup-15/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 04:05:13 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=45532 Virginia Gov. McAuliffe vetoes bill expanding procedural rights for motorists facing camera tickets [The Newspaper] Attracting drug deals to town was money-making scheme for a Florida community’s law enforcers [Radley Balko] “Civil Asset Forfeiture: The Biggest Little Racket in Nevada” [Jason Snead and Andrew Kloster, Heritage; related, Evan Bernick on Georgia and Texas; Balko forfeiture […]

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  • Virginia Gov. McAuliffe vetoes bill expanding procedural rights for motorists facing camera tickets [The Newspaper]
  • Attracting drug deals to town was money-making scheme for a Florida community’s law enforcers [Radley Balko] “Civil Asset Forfeiture: The Biggest Little Racket in Nevada” [Jason Snead and Andrew Kloster, Heritage; related, Evan Bernick on Georgia and Texas; Balko forfeiture roundup; and update, reform in Minnesota]
  • “Yes, it’s time to get rid of regulatory agencies’ paramilitary units” [Jason Pye, United Liberty]
  • (Some of) what’s wrong with “victim’s rights” laws [Steve Chapman]
  • A case study in overcriminalization: “Reforming the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” [Vikrant Reddy, Texas Public Policy Foundation] More: Overcriminalization in North Carolina [Jim Copland and Isaac Gorodetski, Manhattan Institute]
  • “We emphatically reject the notion that due process of law permits the police to frame suspects.” [Third Circuit in Halsey v. Pfeiffer, allowing Byron Halsey to sue police after being wrongly imprisoned for 19 years in double murder case; Newark Star-Ledger] What to do about ongoing epidemic of police “dropsy” and “testilying”? [Balko]
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland police announce in advance they’re going to behave unethically over course of next week [Conor Friedersdorf] Update: police call off plan, claiming announcing it had value in deterring johns.
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