Category Archives: Law: Criminal Law

Indeed

An Unspeakable Crime Has Been Committed In Flint– But It Should Not Be Unpunishable.

This crime makes me very angry. It should make you very angry in multiple ways, including means and motive, not to mention the paltriness of the savings or the refusal to listen to warnings from scientists. Jail really is too good for those responsible. After some thought, I’ve decided that despite this, I still don’t believe in the death penalty. But I was tempted.

Posted in Law: Criminal Law | 3 Comments

Foreseeable

Chicago data supports effectiveness of predictive policing. But maybe not how you expect:

[T]he number of complaints an officer receives in a certain year predicts whether and how many complaints he or she will have in the following year.1 Over multiple years, the signal becomes even stronger. Officers with a baseline history of one or two complaints in 2011-13 have a 30 percent to 37 percent chance of receiving a complaint in the following two years.2 But repeaters — those with 15 or 20 incidents in the first part of the data set — are almost certain to have a complaint against them in 2014-15.

… Even after controlling for neighborhood, however, individual officers with more complaints in 2011-13 remained more likely to have complaints filed against them in 2014-15.

… [C]omplaints were not only predictive of the number and type of future complaints — they also forecast whether the department would determine misconduct. Officers with 10 or more complaints in early years of the data set were about six times more likely to have a complaint from the last two years sustained against them.

… For all the complexity of policing, there is a clear signal in the data of who the bad actors are and, to a lesser extent, whether they are going to commit misconduct.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Law: Criminal Law | Leave a comment

We’re #1 (in Fraud)

By nearly any measure, sunny South Florida is tops in fraud (AP):

Since the first settlers hacked their way into the mangrove tangles and drained much of the swampland, sunny South Florida has been virtually synonymous with shady deals and scams.

The endlessly creative crooks come up with fake Jamaican lotteries, false marriages for immigration purposes, mediocre seafood marketed as better seafood, insurance rip-offs from fake accidents and fires — even foreign substandard cheese passed off as domestic top shelf. But the big money is in a trio of major fraud trends: Medicare, mortgage and identity theft-tax refunds.

By almost any measure, South Florida is the nation’s organized fraud capital, although authorities say it’s not entirely clear why.

“Is it the weather? Is it because it’s beautiful and the fraudsters want to live here? Is it because it’s such a melting pot and you have organized crime from all ethnic groups?” said Kelly Jackson, top agent in the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigative division in South Florida. “Any fraud, it always seems to start here.”

Paul George, a Miami-Dade College history professor who specializes in South Florida, noted that the region’s reputation as a haven for schemers dates to the land speculation boom of the 1920s, when alligator-infested swampland was marketed to Northerners as a slice of tropical paradise. Today, with the area such a melting pot, it’s no wonder South Florida is also a cauldron of creative crime, he said.

“It goes back to the roots of Miami. It’s always been a place for starting over again,” George said. “People move here either from the north or the south. People have some anonymity, maybe they think they can pull off something here.”

They love us, they really love us.

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Eric Holder’s Finest Hour

Goodbye to most civil forfeiture. I have never been much of a fan of Holder’s — indeed I thought he was one of the most destructive members of the Cabinet in large part for his failure to prosecute torturers, but also for a bunch of other things, starting with the issue of holdover US Attorneys.

But this move is just plain good.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without proving that a crime occurred.

Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs.

Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing.

Holder’s decision allows some limited exceptions, including illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography, a small fraction of the total. This would eliminate virtually all cash and vehicle seizures made by local and state police from the program.

While police can continue to make seizures under their own state laws, the federal program was easy to use and required most of the proceeds from the seizures to go to local and state police departments. Many states require seized proceeds to go into the general fund.

A Justice official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the attorney general’s motivation, said Holder “also believes that the new policy will eliminate any possibility that the adoption process might unintentionally incentivize unnecessary stops and seizures.”

And if this is what he’s like once Holder is on the way out, does it not suggest we should have gotten him out a long time ago?

Posted in Law: Criminal Law | 6 Comments

Justice Stevens to Speak at U Miami L Rev Syposium

Criminalized Justice: Consequences of Punitive Policy” will be held Feb 6-7 in the Student Activities Center: 1330 Miller Drive, University of Miami, Coral Gables.

The Symposium, entitled “Criminalized Justice: Consequences of Punitive Policy,” will take a critical look at how our nation’s laws have been increasingly criminalized over the past 30 years, the negative consequences of this criminalization, and recent positive developments. We will explore this topic through a variety of subjects, including sentencing policy, immigration, homelessness, and race and social class.

Keynote Speakers

The Honorable John Paul Stevens, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (Ret.)
Introduced by Donna Shalala, President, University of Miami

Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade State Attorney

Topics

 Panel I: The Criminalization of Race and Poverty

This panel will examine how and why an individual is more likely to be targeted by police because of their race, social class, or where they live.  We will discuss the cycle of crime and incarceration that this creates as well as possible solutions to this problem.

Moderator: Charlton Copeland, Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law

Speakers:
Jeffrey Fagan, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
Jonathan Simon, Adrian A. Kragen Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Tristia Bauman, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

 Panel II: Sentencing Policy and Mass Incarceration

This panel will focus on the impact that the same trend of criminalization has had on incarceration. We hope to discuss the radicalization of punishment and the problems that has created in our country’s prison systems as well as the recent movement away from heavy sentencing.

Moderator: Rebekah J. Poston, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs

Speakers:
Franklin Zimring, William G. Simon Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Douglas Berman, Robert J. Watkins/Proctor & Gamble Professor of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
Nicole Porter, The Sentencing Project

Panel III: The Criminalization of Immigration Law

Since the Supreme Court’s landmark opinion in INS v. Lopez-Mendoza in 1984 categorizing immigration proceedings as civil in nature, the immigration laws and the ways in which they are enforced have become increasingly criminal. This panel will examine the issues that this criminalization has created and what procedural and substantive protections should be in place as a result.

Moderator: David Abraham, Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law

Speakers:
 Daniel Kanstroom,  Professor of Law, Boston College Law School
Paromita Shah, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
Allegra McLeod, Associate Professor of Law, Georgetown Law

Panel IV: Roundtable Discussion

 Moderator: Mary Anne Franks, Associate Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law

Posted in Law: Criminal Law, U.Miami | Leave a comment

It’s Where The Money Is

wage_theft_vs_bank_etc_robberies

Plus, there’s no significant risk of jail.

Posted in Econ & Money, Law: Criminal Law | Leave a comment

Ferguson’s Backstory

Amazing Whitepaper by ArchCity Defenders, a legal aid organization representing indigent defendants in the St. Louis metropolitan area, on how Ferguson police/prosecutors/judiciary are in league to milk poor defendants of large fines on the basis of petty offenses.

Among the shocking bits — yes it’s still possible to be shocked — are

  • Plea bargains offered to defendants rich enough to hire lawyers, but not to pro se defendants
  • the systematic closing of courtrooms to the public,
  • prohibiting defendants from bringing their children to court (and in at least one case charging the defendant for child neglect for leaving the child outside)
  • starting trials 30 minutes before time on summons and locking doors to court five minutes after the official hour, “a practice that could easily lead a defendant arriving even slightly late to receive an additional charge for failure to appear.”

There’s actually a lot more – well worth a read. Note in particular that Ferguson was one of only three municipalities in the greater St. Louis metro area singled out by Arch City Defenders for a particularly abusive practices; this is not business as usual but nor is it an isolated phenomenon.

(Spotted via Daily Kos).

Posted in Civil Liberties, Law: Criminal Law | 5 Comments