Posts tagged as:

prosecution

Police and prosecution roundup

by Walter Olson on September 30, 2013

  • Stop and bleed: Tennessee rolls out “no refusal” blood-draw DUI driver checkpoints, which already go on in Texas [WTVF, Reddit, Tom Hunter/Liberal America, Charles "Brad" Frye (Texas practice)]
  • Issues raised by growing practice of placing government “monitors” inside businesses to police compliance [Veronica Root, Prawfs]
  • “Faulty Justice: Italian Earthquake Scientist Speaks Out against His Conviction” [Scientific American]
  • California: suit could probe patterns of harassment against Orange County officials who’ve resisted police union demands [Krayewski, earlier]
  • Illinois “[makes] it a felony to flick cigarette butts onto streets for the third time” [Gideon's Trumpet]
  • Before making laws intended to benefit sex workers, take time to listen to them [Popehat via Maggie McNeill]
  • Report: state of Florida investigating Zimmerman prosecutor Angela Corey over sacking of alleged whistleblower [Washington Times, earlier] “A Visitor’s Guide to Florida’s Most Notorious Law Enforcement Agencies” [Mike Riggs, Atlantic Cities]

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I just posted a few days ago about the many scandals of state police forensic labs that have been found to employ corner-cutting or shoddy methods in the course of obtaining positive identifications and convictions. What I didn’t realize is that — according to a new paper by Roger Koppl and Meghan Sacks in the journal Criminal Justice Ethics — many crime labs actually are paid by the conviction. That practice goes on in states that include Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Virginia. If we incentivize false-positive identification, should we really be surprised when it happens? [Radley Balko]

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In my new CNN.com piece I argue that we shouldn’t let anger over the Zimmerman acquittal shred the rights of criminal defendants: “awarding new powers to prosecutors will likely mean that more black people will end up behind bars.” [CNN](& Steele; thanks for Instalanche to Glenn Reynolds)

P.S. Some may wonder whether a toughening of hate crime laws might be an exception to the general rule that minorities have much to fear from a broadening of grounds for prosecution. Leaving aside whether the hate crime issue has any relation to the Martin/Zimmerman case (few lawyers believe Zimmerman could be found guilty of a hate crime, and when the FBI investigated him last summer it found no evidence of racial motivation; more on this from Michelle Meyer), per FBI statistics for 2011, blacks are actually overrepresented among persons charged with hate crimes, at 21 percent compared with 14 percent of general U.S. population.

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Exit Mr. Kruidbos

by Walter Olson on July 13, 2013

State’s attorney Angela Corey fires the IT director who testified critically regarding the state’s non-sharing of evidence with George Zimmerman’s counsel. [Florida Times-Union] And Jacob Sullum’s latest: “Prosecutor Says George Zimmerman Is Guilty No Matter What Happened in His Fight With Trayvon Martin” [Reason]

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Cy pres, public-sector style? “A veteran Manitoba Crown attorney has been fired after he dropped charges against a Winnipeg company involved in a workplace accident — only to have the company make a substantial financial donation to a charity he oversees.” The prosecutor has defended his actions on the grounds that he did not direct the donation and that “the company made its own decision to choose the charity he was connected to”; he is not alleged to have benefited from the charity. [Winnipeg Free Press]

  • “I’m looking at Sarge, like, ‘What am I writing him for?’ The sergeant said, ‘Blocking pedestrian traffic.’” [Brian Doherty]
  • “No one is innocent: I broke the law yesterday and again today and I will probably break the law tomorrow” [Alex Tabarrok, BLT]
  • Alabama officials reviewing NTSB-funded weekend roadblocks where motorists were asked for breath, blood and saliva samples [Montgomery Advertiser] “Maybe the NTSB should become a Common Rule agency” [i.e., subject to Human Subjects Research rules; @MichelleNMeyer]
  • New Jersey bill would require driver in some traffic mishaps to hand over cellphone to cop [S. 2783 (Holzapfel, Sen.) via @MeckReal]
  • “In Dubai airport, three poppy seeds from a bread roll fell in a Swiss man’s clothes and got him four years in prison” [@SanhoTree on BBC 2008 report]
  • “Hookup Shocker: The Sex Is Legal, but Talking About It Is a Felony!” [Jacob Sullum] “The Man Who Abused Me is Not on the Sex Offender List (The One who Saved Me Is)” [Free-Range Kids; related on registries, Michele Goodwin, Bill of Health]
  • “Senator Ervin, ‘No-Knock’ Warrants, and the Fight to Stop Cops from Smashing into Homes the Way Burglars Do” [Radley Balko guestblogging at ACLU; yesterday's post on Balko's new book, and more ("7 Ways The Obama Administration Has Accelerated Police Militarization")]

From Ken at Popehat, harrowing but vital reading.

Some locals are “stunned” that Justice would drop the River Birch case after four years of vigorous prosecution, and wonder whether there is any link to recent resignations and misconduct charges among high-level figures in the U.S. attorney’s office. [New Orleans Times-Picayune, more, earlier]

  • Why you should discount many “minor offender faces eleventy-billion-year sentence” stories [Popehat] One day of smurfing made her a “career offender” [Sullivan]
  • “In Dog We Trust”: Scott Greenfield and Radley Balko dissent from unanimous SCOTUS verdict on police canines [Simple Justice, Huffington Post]
  • Arizona lawmaker would make it felony to impersonate someone on social media [Citizen Media Law]
  • “Can juries tame prosecutors gone wild?” [Leon Neyfakh, Boston Globe "Ideas"]
  • “Cop exposes D.C. speed camera racket” [Radley Balko] How Rockville, Md. squeezes drivers who stop in front of the white line or do rolling right turns [WTOP]
  • After scandal: “Pennsylvania Senate Passes Legislation to Eliminate Philadelphia Traffic Court” [Legal Intelligencer, earlier]
  • Bloomberg precursor? When Mayor LaGuardia got NYC to ban pinball [Sullivan]

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Banking and finance roundup

by Walter Olson on January 31, 2013

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A two-part post, with part 1 on the law as applied to the facts, and part II on sentencing, prosecutorial discretion, and the appropriate targets for reformist energy. Earlier here (& Greenfield; Timothy Lee and Mike Masnick on plea bargaining).

Programmer Aaron Swartz, a founder of RSS syndication and Reddit, committed a series of trespasses and hacks at MIT so as to download millions of papers from the JSTOR academic database, possibly with the plan of making them freely available through file sharing. When caught he returned the files and JSTOR did not recommend prosecution. In September Timothy Lee wrote in Ars Technica that while there was no excuse for Swartz’s actions, it was also mystifying that federal prosecutors were going to such lengths to stack up felony counts and legal theories under the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) that could send the popular techie to prison for life. Now Swartz, who is known to have been afflicted by depression, is dead, a suicide at age 26. [Jonathan Blanks, Lawrence Lessig, Glenn Greenwald, Patterico interview with Swartz lawyer Elliot Peters, Scott Greenfield, Orin Kerr (disputing premise that prosecutors overcharged), Timothy Lee/WaPo]

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  • Forensics scandal keeps widening, as FBI agents trained state and local examiners in faulty methods [WaPo, Radley Balko] New York Times wades into case of Mississippi pathologist Steven Hayne [Reason] “Massachusetts Lab Scandal Leads to Fears of the Guilty Being Freed, Not So Much About the Innocent Being Jailed” [Shackford]
  • “Speed camera reform gains momentum with Maryland lawmakers” [Washington Examiner, editorial, WBAL]
  • “Gas masks, helmets for state alcohol-control agents — Everyone is a law-enforcement agent these days” [Steven Greenhut/PSI]
  • How the media hatched the “bath salts face-chewer” tale [Sullum]
  • “FBI investigating Utah state trooper for arresting sober people, charging them with DUI, lying on witness stand.” [@radleybalko summarizing Salt Lake City Tribune]
  • Looking forward to 2013 docket in white-collar crime [Peter Henning, NYT DealBook]
  • Bruce Green (Fordham), “Prosecutors and Professional Regulation” [SSRN via White Collar Crime Prof]

Civil liberties roundup

by Walter Olson on January 7, 2013

  • Drones in domestic policing a liberty danger, warns NYT [editorial, earlier]
  • When prosecutors freeze bank accounts, high-level targets can’t hire the best lawyers to defend themselves. Regrettable unintended etc. [Silverglate]
  • On criminalizing false statements to federal agents [Scott Greenfield vs. Bill Otis]
  • “Congress Has Enough Time to Keep Spying on You, Forever” [Matt Welch; Cato video with Julian Sanchez]
  • More on Philadelphia forfeiture [John K. Ross, Reason, earlier]
  • Homeland Security program: “Public Buses Across Country Quietly Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations” [Kim Zetter/Wired via Fountain]
  • Does Brooklyn indictment signal U.S. claim of universal jurisdiction over acts hostile to its foreign policy, anywhere in world? [Eugene Kontorovich/Volokh]

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Don’t

by Walter Olson on December 18, 2012

If you’re high-ranking figures in a federal prosecutor’s office, don’t resort to pseudonymous rants on comment boards to settle scores, especially not if it means commenting on open cases that your office is handling [three now-resigned officials from the U.S. Attorney's office in New Orleans; WWL, Gambit, Daily Mail]

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The Right rethinks prisons

by Walter Olson on November 22, 2012

How a seemingly unlikely assortment of libertarians, religious conservatives and small-government advocates have been helping to turn around the debate on incarceration. [David Dagan and Steven Teles, Washington Monthly]

In the New York Daily News, Lawrence Cunningham argues that skewed economic incentives — some of them advanced by the actions of federal prosecutors, who applied muscle in a tax-fraud settlement to press for the casino-ization of Aqueduct Race Track — contributed to the deaths of 21 racehorses, most of whom were entered in races with purses artificially inflated so as far to exceed their own economic worth. “Politicians and prosecutors should not direct business changes without understanding their significance. What’s happening to the horses at Aqueduct could have been prevented.”

And we’re not just talking the amateur meth kind. [Scott Greenfield]

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