…and steps into his own personal film noir [Scott Greenfield]
Glenn Reynolds’s new USA Today column is on prosecutorial misconduct and in particular relates a case out of Kern County, California, in which a prosecuting attorney has somehow managed to keep his job despite falsifying the transcript of a confession.
- Judge chides Montgomery County, Md. police for “unlawful invasion” of family’s home [my new Free State Notes post]
- As more offenses get redefined as “trafficking,” state extends its powers of surveillance and punishment [Alison Somin on pioneering Gail Heriot dissent in U.S. Commission for Civil Rights report; Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason on legislative proposals from Sens. Portman and Feinstein] Proposal in Washington legislature would empower police to seize/forfeit cars of those arrested for soliciting prostitutes, whether or not ever convicted [Seattle Times]
- Progressives and the prison state: “most of the intellectual and legal scaffolding of the contemporary American carceral system was erected by Democrats.” [Thaddeus Russell reviewing new Naomi Murakawa book The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America]
- Here comes the next verbal conflation with negative implications for defendants’ rights, “traffic violence” [Scott Greenfield]
- Please don’t pay attention to what goes on inside Florida prisons, it would only spoil your day [Fred Grimm, Miami Herald via Radley Balko]
- Trouble in California: “U.S. judges see ‘epidemic’ of prosecutorial misconduct in state” [L.A. Times, Ronald Collins/Concurring Opinions, video from Baca v. Adams with Judges Kozinski, Wardlaw, W. Fletcher, earlier on California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Moonlight Fire case] But will Ninth Circuit’s strong words change anything? [Scott Greenfield including updates]
- “Plea Bargaining and the Innocent: It’s up to judges to restore balance” [U.S. District Judge John Kane]
The “equitable sharing” civil forfeiture program (see weekend post) being just one of the more visible corners of a whole scaffolding of bad incentives in law enforcement:
- “Our view: Civil asset forfeiture is government at its absolute worst.” [USA Today editorial] Washington, D.C. votes forfeiture reform [Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justice] “Philadelphians Save Homes From Civil Forfeiture Machine” [IJ]
- “Police Chief Magazine: Generating Revenue Streams” [Instapundit]
- Public drunkenness outside the French Quarter said to serve New Orleans as key tourist tax [Paul Gowder, PrawfsBlawg]
- “The Debt Penalty: Exposing the Financial Barriers to Offender Reintegration” [Sentencing Law and Policy, Justice Fellowship back in August]
- To catch a non-predator (so as to grab his car through forfeiture) [Conor Friedersdorf on Florida police]
- “Prosecutors Burn Down the Law: How fire investigators distorted evidence to loot a company.” [WSJ editorial on Moonlight Fire case, earlier here and here]
- “Judges seemed to be troubled that prosecutors in Manhattan had secretly searched the entire Facebook accounts of about 300 people who were not charged with a crime” [New York Times]
- Goshen, N.Y.: “Dozens of speakers thundered against the proposed asset forfeiture law at two public hearings held Monday by Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus.” [Goshen Chronicle; Neuhaus vetoes measure] Related, forfeiture at work in Pennsylvania [AP/same]
- Buried lede in breathless story about federal bank fines: “The agency receives a cut of up to 3 percent of its share of the total settlements for its Working Capital Fund, a slush fund common across major government agencies.” [Newsweek]
- From amid the wreckage: Dan and Fran Keller abuse case [Austin American Statesman]
- “Missouri’s attorney general announced lawsuits against 13 [St. Louis] suburbs on Thursday, accusing them of ignoring a law that sets limits on revenue derived from traffic fines.” [NY Times via Tabarrok]
- “It is remarkable enough that an African-American man can be convicted by a jury for breaking into a store that video shows was burglarized by a white female.” [The Open File on Indiana prosecutorial misconduct case via Radley Balko]
- “Lawyers for California Attorney General Kamala Harris argued releasing non-violent inmates early would harm efforts to fight California wildfires. Harris told BuzzFeed News she first heard about this when she read it in the paper.” [BuzzFeed]
- If you like civil forfeiture, you’ll love AG nominee Loretta Lynch [Rare Liberty]
- NYT “Room for Debate” tackles deferred prosecution agreements with contributions by James Copland, Lawrence Cunningham, others;
- Book by Ross Cheit seeks to rehabilitate mass-child-abuse prosecutions of 1990s, Cathy Young not convinced [Reason] “When miscarriages of justice occur, prosecutors must answer for actions” [Boston Globe on Bernard Baran case, earlier here and here]
- As Sierra Pacific case implodes, federal judge raises prospect that U.S. DoJ may have defrauded judges [Paul Mirengoff, earlier]
- Video of panel on shaken baby syndrome doubts, relating to new film “The Syndrome” [Univ. of Missouri, K.C. School of Law, related earlier]
- Ambiguous statutes in a regulated environment: time for a limit on the criminalization of business? [Matt Kaiser, Above the Law]
- Las Vegas: federal judge calls “super seal” clandestine-forfeiture effort by U.S. prosecutors “constitutionally abhorrent” [Balko]
For those of you following the politicized Wisconsin John Doe prosecution — which basically is premised on the idea that even issue advocacy is criminal if coordinated among the wrong people — this report from veteran legal analyst Stuart Taylor, Jr. is pretty amazing. [Legal NewsLine, my two cents from May, more]
More: Ann Althouse parses the response of John Chisholm’s lawyer.
On July 24 Cato held a book forum on Sidney Powell’s new book, “Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice” (earlier). Participants included the author Sidney Powell, with comments by Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; and Ronald Weich, Dean, University of Baltimore Law School. My colleague Tim Lynch, who directs Cato’s work on criminal justice issues, moderated. From the description:
In Licensed to Lie, attorney Sidney Powell takes readers through a series of disturbing events, missteps, and cover-ups in our federal criminal justice system. According to Powell, the malfeasance stretches across all three branches of our government — from the White House to the U.S. Senate, to members of the judiciary. Even worse, the law itself is becoming pernicious. Americans can now be prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned for actions that are not crimes. And if acquitted, there is no recourse against prosecutors who hid evidence vital to the defense.
Powell gives a detailed account of the prosecution and imprisonment of individual executives of well-known firms such as Merrill Lynch based on creative new theories of criminal liability, following dubious prosecutorial conduct including the withholding of evidence favorable to the defense, so-called Brady violations.
For Daniel Taylor to be convicted of a murder committed while he was actually behind bars, at least three things had to happen: 1) a supposed confession extracted by Chicago police; 2) a conveniently corroborative sighting of Taylor at the scene by another cop; 3) improper withholding of exonerating evidence by the Illinois prosecutor. A Center on Wrongful Convictions video (via Balko)(& welcome Above the Law readers).
A federal judge has quashed the stunningly abusive “John Doe” proceedings that had resulted in midnight raids on the homes of leading conservative activists across the state. I’ve got more in a new Cato post; fuller coverage at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Watchdog.org (and series), and the decision itself is here. Earlier coverage here, here, and here. I conclude:
The citizens of Wisconsin must now demand a full accounting of how these raids could have happened. They should also insist on changes in state law, in particular the “John Doe” law, aimed at ensuring that nothing like them ever happens again.
Update: Seventh Circuit panel stays ruling pending appeal.