Friday, November 30, 2012

Leon County Proposes Adult Civil Citations for Minor Nonviolent Crimes

Minor non-violent offenses include but are not limited to:  simple possession of alcohol, gambling, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, petty theft and trespassing.  Any of these indiscretions has the potential of landing someone in jail.  In Florida where an estimated $2.4 billion in the fiscal year of 2010-2011 in prisons,  “non-violent offenders account for as much as seven out of 10 prison admissions.”[1] Florida’s prison population has more than doubled since 1990.   

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Judge Sentences Teen to Church: Creative Sentencing or First Amendment Violation?

Oklahoma district judge Mike Norman sentenced 17 year old Tyler Alred to ten years of church for DUI manslaughter.  The teen had alcohol in his system when he hit a tree and his 16 year old passenger was killed.  Alred was not opposed to the sentence, in fact, he already attends church regularly and agreed to the church attendance mandate.  The victim’s family also agreed to the mandate.  However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is strongly opposed to the sentence believing that the sentence violates the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise of the First Amendment.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Conduct Unbecoming Of An Officer And A Gentlemen

Just days after President Obama was re-elected, the President accepted CIA Director and retired Four-Star General David Petraeus’s resignation.  An FBI investigation had uncovered that Petraeus was having an extramarital affair with his biographer and Army reserve officer Paula Broadwell.  This extramarital affair has not only been an embarrassment to the intelligence community (Broadwell was found with classified documents and General John Allen has also been dragged into the issue), but is a criminal offense for both participants.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Criminal jurisdiction over the U.S. service members who sexually assaulted an Okinawan woman in Japan

On November 2, 2012, a U.S. Air Force member stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, broke into a family residence and assaulted a teenage boy.  This occurred less than three weeks after the alleged rape of an Okinawa woman by two U.S. sailors.  After the alleged rape by the U.S. sailors on October 16, 2012, the U.S. Armed Forces imposed an 11 PM to 5 AM curfew on all U.S. service members stationed in Japan.  The November 2 incident, however, proved that the curfew was not an effective means to prevent crimes committed by U.S. service members stationed at military bases in Japan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Counterfeit Drugs: What’s in Your Medication?

Real or fake? Most consumers wouldn’t know the difference just by looking at the pills.  From September 25, 2012 to October 2, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the shutdown of over 4,000 websites selling counterfeit drugs to unsuspecting consumers in the United States.  The operation was a part of an internationally coordinated effort designed to stem the sale of counterfeit medication worldwide.  The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about forty percent of Americans take at least one prescription medication.  It is no secret that many Americans cannot afford their prescription medications. Being cost conscious, some American consumers look to obtain medications from sources abroad that offer lower prices than what are available domestically.  However, this seemingly economical decision does not come without great risk.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Does Officer Safety Justify the Detention of a Person Who Has Left the Premises?

On November 1st, 2012, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Bailey v. United States, a case challenging whether Michigan v. Summers allows police to detain someone they observed leaving a premise that is about to be searched, who have driven seven-tenths of a mile away.[1]  This challenge comes from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which held that pursuant to Michigan v. Summers, Bailey’s detention during the search of his residence was justified.[2]  In Michigan v. Summers, the Supreme Court held that it was lawful to require a person leaving the front door of their home to re-enter and be detained in their home until evidence establishing probable cause to arrest them was found.[3]  The question in Bailey is whether Summers is limited to suspicionless detentions of a person in the immediate vicinity of the premises, or whether Summers can be used to detain a person who has left the immediate vicinity.  Summers is an exception to the usual requirement that police have to have a reasonable suspicion that a person was involved in criminal activity, or that they are armed and dangerous, in order to detain them.

Will Statements Made By Man Who Killed Girlfriend With Curling Iron Be Admissible At Trial?

On Saturday, September 29, 2012, at 2:45 a.m., University police found Alexandra Kogut dead in her dorm room.  Kogut was eighteen years old and a communications major at The College at Brockport located in Brockport, New York.  A medical examiner determined that she died as a result of blunt force trauma.  Clayton Whittemore, a twenty-one year old New York college student was accused of killing Kogut.  Whittemore told a sheriff’s deputy he “just snapped” and beat his girlfriend with his fists and a curling iron while visiting her at college. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

International Criminal Maritime Law

International criminal law is a very sexy sounding legal practice.  Most people imagine prosecuting war criminals or overthrown dictators, but a lot of international criminal issues arise at sea.  No, it’s not piracy either.  Many of the most complex international criminal issues come up in the prosecution of those who violate shipping laws.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Are Political Contributions Statutes a Violation of the First Amendment?

The upcoming presidential elections have brought about many controversies. A major recurring issue is that of political contributions.  What are the political contribution laws in various states? How do they apply to individuals?  To corporations?  One state may have various provisions that differ from another.  For example, Mr. Tom DeLay explains the stricter Texas laws prevent political contributions from private corporations to state campaigns.  Although the statute did not mention what forms of contributions are barred, the statute has been interpreted to bar almost all campaign donations, including checks.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Felony Disenfranchisement

Election Day! It’s the day when citizens who want to be engaged in the political process, get the opportunity to have their say.  Unfortunately, for the nearly six million individuals who are disenfranchised due to felony disenfranchisement laws, Election Day is just a reminder of this basic civil right they are denied.[1]  Felony disenfranchisement occurs when an individual’s right to vote is taken away (either temporarily or permanently) because they have been convicted of a felony.  Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia currently have felony disenfranchisement laws in effect.  Only Maine and Vermont do not.   

Criminal Enforcement of Intellectual Property Law

In a second presidential debate on October 16th, 2012, Romney pledged to declare China as a currency manipulator on his first day in office and also accused China of producing counterfeit American products and stealing American intellectual property.[1]  The counterfeiting of intellectual property in China is now the most serious counterfeiting problem in the history of the world