31 December 2007

CLTV: Basketball at Centre

Still working out the bugs. The comments don't show up completely if I type much in, but if you click on them the whole thing shows up.

BTW: If you really want to watch some fun games and you live in Kentucky, going to watch Centre play this year and last has been fun (and there ain't a bad seat in the place). It's a 3 hour drive each way for me, so I can't get there as often as I'd like.

29 December 2007

I Didn't Even Think This Possible in the Modern World

A guy in Japan was arrested, tried, and convicted without the Japanese even knowing who he is or where he came from.

Comments

A while back, Mark asked why some blawgers moderate comments. Today, I came across the perfect example of why someone might.

In 2003 I was reading a book called The Prosecutors. I don't even remember much about the book anymore, but at the time a passage made an impression on me and I quoted and commented upon it. At the time it garnered no comments and I don't think it made much of an impression upon anyone.

This morning I was looking at the searches which have brought people here and came across this. Apparently, this Summer (2007) a couple people discovered the post and flamed the subject of it and me (I leave them up for now as an illustration, however I will delete them soon as violating one of my 3 rules). Now, Blogger is supposed to send me an email if someone posts a comment on my blawg, but it doesn't (probably because I use my own layout). I have almost 5 years of posts and it is hard for me to police all of them.

A flame war isn't even my worst problem. I have word verification turned on to keep most of the automated junk out. Nevertheless, there is some spam that gets through. Some companies actually employ live people to enter spam or have really good programs which can get past word verification. I've figured out patterns for most of those posts and catch a lot of them. Most annoying is when there's a post where I opined on a legal matter 3 years ago and I find legal advice under it or, even worse, something like "This is a terrible and dangerous thing to be put on trial for. We at THE SMITH LAW FIRM are experts on this and will help you in your fight against an unjust conviction." I periodically check certain of my old posts because of this. The actual advertisements have been a recent development and over the last 6 months or so I have deleted a number of these.

Still, I persist in leaving my comments unmoderated. Why? Because, when I post something at 5:30 in the morning I don't want to make people wait until 7 p.m., when I get back from work, to see their comments and the comments of others. As well, when I post that rare missive which brings numerous responses (yes, it has happened a couple times in 5 years) I want people to be able to respond to each other and not have to wait until I check my email and I okay 5 comments all at once. Moderation only works really well if you have constant access and I have to go to work occasionally or my boss will stop paying me.

Murder Rates Dropping

Pretty soon people might actually think it's safe to live in NYC and Chicago.

28 December 2007

27 December 2007

CLTV

If you've been reading this for a while you'll have seen videos up here before under different monikers - LexTv being the one I used the most. Well, they're back as CLTV. Not sure how often they'll be up, but I think the amount of time it takes will limit it to once a week or so.

Problems: I know I looked washed out in the video. I think that's because I have a "natural light" bulb overhead. Next time I'll try a regular frosted bulb.

25 December 2007

RICO & bin Laden

A comment on my bragging about my High School's Basketball team post:
Ted Kane said...

Hi and sorry for the OT, but I really want to find something out from someone with criminal law experience, of which I have none:
Was the RICO Act used to indict bin Laden in 1998 in the embassy bombings trial?

I keep seeing this mentioned, but can't seem to substantiate it. The indictment doesn't include the name of the act, nor its section number.

Also, no authoritative source turns up in searches for this reference.
Again, sorry for something this random and thanks if you can help.
- TK
No problem. Probably would have been better as an email, but it's an interesting question, so I will, in my beneficence, overlook it (in other words, don't sweat it Dude, it wasn't anywhere as bad as the spam and blatant lawyer's ads which I clean out all the time).

TK Pointed out to me the indictment for bin Laden. To be clear, it's a superceding indictment for the 1998 embassy bombings, not 9/11; I don't think the feds have indicted him for that, choosing instead to treat him as an enemy combatant instead of a criminal.

I'll admit, I didn't read thru the entire indictment. The feds would have to write a fifteen page memo to say "It's raining", including an explanation of its atmospheric causes, chemical composition, immediate and long term effects, and alleging the participation of co-conspirators (known, unknown, and unindicted). I read the headers to see the indicted charges and did a search for "18" to check citations to the federal criminal code. He's right, there's no RICO in it that I can find.

What is criminal RICO?

RICO's primary statutes are under 18 USC sections 1961 (definitions), 1962 (criminalization), & 1963 (punishment). Basically, RICO is a secondary criminalization; it is the combination more than one of a long set of felonies for the purpose of making money. Under 18 USC 1962, the four RICO crimes are
(a) It is illegal to spend money which proceeds, directly or indirectly, from the listed felonious activities.

(b) It is illegal to gain or keep control of an organization thru the listed felonious acts or by collecting an illegal debt.

(c) It is illegal for those involved in an organization to further the organization thru the listed felonious acts or by collecting an illegal debt.

(d) Conspiring to do any of the three crimes supra.
I can't claim to be an expert on either bin Laden or federal RICO. However, I think it would be hard to make this case.

Each of the subsections has a defense and the most probable, combining (c) and (d), leads into a nightmare religious argument.

Defenses

(a) bin Laden is the son of an ultra-rich contractor. He was the source of funds for the organization, not vice-versa.

(b) bin Laden got and maintained control through his finances and demonstrated religious belief.

(c) bin Laden didn't do the bombings himself. However, the case that he was a conspirator can probably be easily made. The only problem is that this opens up a door to a religious argument I'm certain bin Laden would be happy to walk through. His argument would be that he wasn't acting for, or in the name of, al-Qaida. He was acting in God's name, for God's purpose. Do I think the defense would work? No. But why give him an excuse and stage to make such an argument? If the feds stick to a straight primary offense conspiracy (such as murder) whether he did it for God or al-Qaida is not relevant.

Why do people think bin Laden was charged under RICO?

There are a number of possible reasons people think there are RICO charges. From the beginning, attorneys have stated they expect it or that it is the most convictable offense. Putative co-defendants have been convicted under RICO. A civil RICO suit was filed against bin Laden.

The strongest source seems to have been a BBC documentary, The Power of Nightmares, which stated:
In January 2001, a trial began in a Manhattan courtroom of four men accused of the embassy bombings in East Africa. But the Americans had also decided to prosecute bin Laden in his absence. But to do this under American law the prosecutors needed evidence of a criminal organization, because, as with the Mafia, that would allow them to prosecute the head of the organization even if he could not be linked directly to the crime.
I've done as thorough a search of non-conspiracy theory websites as I could in a hour or so and I haven't found anything which indicates that, as part of the Trade Center bombing trial, bin Laden was charged with RICO violations or that he was tried in his absence. Federal prosecutors indicted him in his absence, but there's nothing surprising there - no defendant is present when a grand jury indicts him.

Maybe I'm wrong and there's something in the indictment I missed, but it looks to me that the RICO charge is a myth.

22 December 2007

Bryan Station Defenders



My High School, Bryan Station, is ranked #3 in Kentucky. I think I'm going to have to drive up and watch a game this weekend.

21 December 2007

Correcting Ken: More On Scalia & the Constitution

Mr Rozenberg, the author of the article I linked to in the last post, was kind enough to send me an email in reply. In pertinent part, it said, "I am sure you are right in your assessment of Justice Scalia's position: my only quibble is that I thought that was precisely what I reported him as having said."

I went back and reread the entire article and I'm now going to do something rare for a blog - I'm going to say mea culpa. Rereading the entire article, he did go thru most every point that I touched upon (if not all of them). My problem was that I got tunnel vision in the second to last paragraph and sat down to answer what I read therein.

Mr. Rozenberg has just stated that he is dubious of Scalia's Jacksonian declaration that his Harvard education and legal experience do not make him more qualified to make moral decisions than the average citizen. Then comes the curious sentence which I've read several times, becoming less certain of its meaning with every reading.
I would rather have a reasoned opinion from Justice Scalia than a bald assertion that something is illegal simply because the Founding Fathers had never specifically permitted it.
I believe he means that he would like Scalia to look to the equities of the case at bar rather than restricting his decision to whether the case is one which should be decided by a constitutional court and how much power the constitution grants. However, I apply this meaning to the sentence after rereading the last three paragraphs a few times and taking Mr. Rosenberg's email into account. Mr. Rosenberg should roll up a newspaper, walk over to his editor, and wop him upside the head. Anyone who writes much knows they will write a hard to understand sentence once in a while, but Mr. Rosenberg has the right to rely on his editor to catch such a thing.

1) Scalia's known for his intelligent writing. However, the tone he has adopted overshadows this and, while making him a favorite among the true believers, has limited his ability to persuade others.

2) The federal supreme court decides if things are unconstitutional, not whether they are illegal. Things can be illegal and still be constitutional. This is part of the argument in Moore which will be argued January 14, 2008.

3) Things aren't ever illegal/unconstitutional because the Founding Fathers never specifically permitted them. As I said yesterday, there is no Dillon's Rule for the federal constitution.

20 December 2007

Scalia & the Constitution

Sir,

I am writing to put forth what I believe to be a more correct view of what Justice Scalia believes to be the way the US constitution should be interpreted and applied. Specifically, I would like to address your statement that "I would rather have a reasoned opinion from Justice Scalia than a bald assertion that something is illegal simply because the Founding Fathers had never specifically permitted it."

It is not that something is illegal because the US constitution does not permit it. There is no Dillon's Rule for the federal constitution. In fact, Scalia's position is more that there is a reverse Dillon's Rule applied to the constitution.

The position that Justice Scalia puts forth is that there are things which are not addressed by the constitution. They are neither constitutional nor unconstitutional; in other words, our forefathers, thru the constitution, took no stance on whether they should be allowed or disallowed. Therefore, they are not within the province of the constitutional court. They are matters for the citizens to decide, whether they decide by direct vote, or the vote of their various legislatures, or by changing the federal constitution itself (which is extremely difficult). When the court invokes its powers as the supreme constitutional arbiter, under a theory such as substantive due process, it is acting as a "superlegislature" and taking an issue forever out of the hands of the citizenry and its representatives unless they change the constitution.

It's something of the inverse function of Jacksonian Democracy: the belief that as much as possible should be decided by the citizenry or those as close as possible to the citizenry. The court should only recognize those things specifically noted in the constitution because to do otherwise thwarts the will and wisdom of the people.


Respectfully,
Ken Lammers

17 December 2007

Ordering a Man to Give Up His Password

I think that Orin is probably right about the state of the law being such that the man can be ordered to give over his password. However, I think the guy would have to be nuts to give it over (contempt usually carries a lesser punishment than a couple hundred convictions for child porn).

Thermal Imaging to Spot Tossed Drugs

The dogs said it was there, but the police couldn't find it until the firemen gave them a thermal imager.

UK: Police Cocaine Theft

"A huge cache of cocaine has apparently been stolen from a Revenue and Customs store in the latest security blunder to hit the Government."

Israel: Drugs from a Soldier

IDF soldier sells drugs to kids.

I'd say that's shocking, except I think everyone over there is in the IDF.

Crime Makes People Money

People will profit from anything.

Metal Theft: Airconditioners

Because nobody'd think to guard them in the winter.

Pot Rebellion: Feds Spread the Threat

Threatening more people in Cali.

10 Husbands & 1 Wife

Y'know, that ain't legal.

Japan: Not Favoring the Officers Anymore

The courts aren't believing officers anymore.

15 December 2007

Is It Abuse?

From Volokh:




Orin led a discussion of whether this was an appropriate use of a taser.

I've written previously about when I think taser use is appropriate.

Lithuanian Prosecutor Website

Not sure why Lithuania has an English language "Prosecution Service" website.

The Latest Law & Order

Special Letter Unit





Law & Order: Police and Muppets



Ok, the second's not as good as the first, but it makes up for it with the opening credits.

14 December 2007

Strange Fish Outside the Prison

Fishing for drugs over the prison wall.

Stealing a Leg

No, not a rabbit leg, a human one - right off the living guy's body.

Stealing Firearms from Under the Policemen's Noses

"Police on Crete were yesterday questioning members of the Hania police gun club after unidentified thieves managed to remove 25 firearms from the high-security site while the alarm system was out of order."

Felony Firearm Use

Are you using the firearm when you sell it, or when you buy it?

Verizon Police-ish Theft

"Robbers stole computer equipment from a Verizon Business datacentre in London after persuading staff they were police chasing criminals they had seen on the building's roof."

Canada: So Sayeth the Supreme Court

Yep, murder is still murder when you're drunk.

People You Wish Weren't Using Drugs

Soldiers - Prosecutors - Police - Canadian Football Player

New Jersey Banishing the Death Penalty

"A special state commission found in January that the death penalty was a more expensive sentence than life in prison, hasn't deterred murder and risks killing an innocent person."

While Missouri Tries to Get more Death Sentences

The Governor asks for rape to be punished by death.

10 December 2007

Live in the UK? Don't want to go to jail?

Just make sure you are "too much of a burden for prison staff."

India: Parental Neglect is a Crime

Imagine the Domestic Courts dockets when parents can bring charges if their kids don't call home for 6 months.

Wife Spikes Officer's Meatballs to Make Him Retire

But the NYPD didn't believe it.

Bears squat in the woods. The sky is blue. 2+2=4.

If you don't let youngins drink while parents are present they will drink more when the parents aren't around.

The Pot Rebellion: Governor Calls on DA to Enforce the Law

[Governor] Douglas said [State's Attorney] Sand had a blanket policy of sending all marijuana cases to the court diversion program, which if successfully completed will result in no criminal record for the defendant.

"The essence of prosecutorial discretion is making a decision based on the facts of an individual case. But when you say I have a blanket policy, I don't care what the facts are, this is how this is going to be treated, that's not an exercise of discretion," Douglas said.

Lagos Police Rape

[A] police officer attached to the Police in Ikeja, Lagos State, described their practice of raping professional sex workers, claiming that "this is one of the fringe benefits attached to night patrol."

Strange Thefts

1) Snowman in the act of boosting a car.

2) Grand Theft Pigeon.

3) Hospital hand sanitizers.

4) Parking meter covers? What the heck are you going to do with parking meter covers?

5) A Nativity Scene. Just sad, really sad.

6) Jackal Fraud ID theft.

06 December 2007

Why Was the Officer Fired?

Because he had religious convictions or because he wouldn't use a tazer when he judged it was not needed?

I'm sure there's more to this story, because if there isn't I think the Austin PD might be in a lot of trouble.

Wanna Get Away With Murder?

Join the Russian Parliment.

Drug News

1) I think it's fairly appropriate to fire a police officer if he steals drug evidence, but Canada had to think about it.

2) "Gunmen have killed the police chief of a Mexican city bordering California, shooting him 50 times in an apparent revenge attack after police found a drug-smuggling tunnel under the border."

3) Send her to jail: heroin while pregnant.

4) You really shouldn't sell heroin near the detox center.

5) Street drugs look like Hersheys.

It's called DNA, Dummy!

1) Don't sell your bloody jacket to the neighbor of the house you broke into.

2) Don't leave a half eaten eclaire behind.

Marijuana

1) Asking for more heat than mere police can provide: tricking nuns into letting you grow marijuana in their nunnery.

2) We're not the only country with a pot rebellion, but at least we don't have open combat like Nepal.

3) "[A] survey of almost a thousand physicians by Brown University researchers showed that doctors are significantly less supportive of medical marijuana than is the general public.

. . .

[B]itter historical experiences, supplemented by decades of subsequent research evidence that smoke inhalation of all forms (even wood smoke) can cause acute and long-term respiratory damage, make many physicians wary of recommending a smoked medicine. A smoked plant has the further disadvantage from a medical perspective of not being pure (e.g., what if the plant had been sprayed with pesticide?) or of a standardized dose. This exposes the patient to risk of side effects, and the physician to risk of malpractice.

As the California Pacific research team noted, for example, obtaining the correct dose of cannabidiol through smoking marijuana would be virtually impossible. It would also of course cause THC's psychoactive effects (cannabidiol is not psychoactive), which some patients find aversive.
"

Judge Holds His Ground

This has got to be a tough day for a judge:
"[Judge] LaPera, who will retire at the end of the month, stuck to his sentencing commitment [30 years] even after prosecutor Mitchell Benson, Fox's family and a surviving victim in the case all spoke passionately against it. They said they won't feel safe as long as there's a possibility that Marshall could one day be released."

"LaPera said the brutality of the crime is not what defines first-degree murder. To prove first-degree murder, prosecutors would have had to show that Marshall murdered Fox, 57, while committing a burglary, and LaPera said there wasn't sufficient evidence of that. He said there also wasn't enough evidence to prove that Marshall committed first-degree assault when he hit Melville lawyer Cynthia Kouril with his car, hours before he murdered Fox."
'course the day wasn't exactly a day in the park for the family either.

Juvenile Issues

1) China's juvenile crime rate is up from 33,000 to 80,000.

2) Meanwhile, the age of criminal prosecution in New Zealand looks like it will stay at 14 rather than 10.

Metal Theft

Whatdoyaknow? Cardiff really exists, it's not just a Dr. Who thing.

Strange CrimLaw News

1) In Australia Santa can't call anyone a "Ho" anymore.

2) You're not supposed to break into a jail to get sex.

3) Teaching the family business: theft.

4) Ah, yes, the good old fashioned flower pot - porsche theft technique.

5) No, he's not a smart thief if he kept a diary.

6) Don't be a bike rustler in Kibaale - they will kill you.

7) Wales: Heroin leads to coffee theft.

8) Overstealing money for college.

9) Stealing from the bereaved - deserves to be caught by those ironworkers.

10) The ever-popular "I steal, but I don't kill" defense.

11) Somebody must have a really big cat.

12) A parking meter under your coat just might prove conspicuous.

13) Stealing Eucharist - pretty sure that's a one way ticket.