Archive for August, 2007

In an incredibly sad story. Jonathon Edington a lawyer in Connecticut has been sentenced to 12 in prison for killing a man that he thought molested his 20 year-old daughter. Edinton stabbed Barry James in his bedroom after his wife told him that James had molested their daughter. Ultimately, Edington’s wife, Christina, refused to cooperate with the investigation and a defense expert found that she was suffering from d postpartum depression.

The case left the court with few options and many regrets in sentencingfor first-degree manslaughter.. For the full story, click here

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Former DA Nifong was sentenced to a single day in jail for his misconduct related to the Duke scandal.
For the story, click here

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Report: Craig to Resign

Reports today indicate that Sen. Craig has decided to resign, click here The question remains whether, in light of recent scandals and indictments of other members, this is a consistent result. (more…)

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Here is the audio tape of the Craig interview with police after his arrest, click here

The tape is a striking example of the pressures that are often put on people directly after their arrests to induce confessions and pleas.

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The Marine Mammal Protection Act makes it a crime to injure sea lions and other mammals. Usually this is done with nets, harpoons, guns. However, a 24-year-old fisherman named Hai Nguyen, stabbed a sea lion with a steak knife. (more…)

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Norman Finkelstein has long generated controversy over his writings on the Holocaust. His critics, however, have launched a campaign to have him terminated from the school and have been successful. Many academics are alarmed by the official move to cancel his classes and lock him out of his office. At risk is the most important element of the American experience in higher education: academic freedom. For the most recent story, click here

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The Iowa District Court for Polk County has ruled that the state constitution requires recognition of same-sex marriage. The decision will likely serve to fuel the presidential debates on the subject and force some candidates to embrace the constitutional marriage amendment. (more…)

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Craig and Entrapment

I just finished an interview for Good Morning America for Friday on whether Craig has a case for entrapment or denial of the offense. I do believe that Craig should have fought this charge and would have been successful. (more…)

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Here is the transcript of the interview of Senator Craig with police after his arrest. (more…)

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New Offense: FWA (Flying While Arab)

It appears that simply speaking Arabic is enough to delay a flight in today’s hysterical times. For the story, click here

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Former D.A. is looking at potential jail time for criminal contempt and has pleaded not guilty in North Carolina. For story click here

The broader question remains our failure to deal with prosecutorial abuse, for prior columns click here and here

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The health problems of Chief Justice Roberts raises a long-standing problem on the Court, addressed in this prior column.

Orignially published in August 2005

It came as something of a shock at the beginning of the summer when Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist announced that he would not be resigning from the Supreme Court. He is suffering from thyroid cancer, has had a tracheotomy to help him breathe and will be 81 years old at the start of the new court term. The smart money was on retirement.

But Supreme Court justices answer only to themselves and God when it comes to stepping down from the bench. Once Congress hath joined a nominee and his office, only death or retirement can separate them. (more…)

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In Sundbury, Pa, a court has ruled that a former owner can continue to demand that a show dog not be neutered and continued to be made available for breeding. At issue is a a 5-year-old French bulldog named Duffy. The breeder gave the dog to a third party with the understanding that Duffy would continue to supply services — valued at $73,000 over the last three years. The case has raised issues of animal health and continuing limitations on ownership. For the full story, click here

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Oprah Sued for Slip and Fall

It is a classic tort — the slip and fall. Now a woman is suing Oprah for falling during the scramble for a seat on her television program. (more…)

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The military has been pouring money into non-lethal weaponry that can break up a crowd or immobilize individuals without bullets or permanent injuries. One is already in production: a truck mounted ray that makes people feel like their skin is on fire. Requests to use the truck in Iraq have been denied. (more…)

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Joseph J. Vecchiarelli, 26, is employed in one of the world’s oldest professions: grave robbing. He stripped corposes of jewelry, gold teeth and other valuables, even dumping bodies (including an infant) on the ground in Waterbury, Connecticut. He is a vivid example why grave robbing is one of the oldest torts and crimes.

For the story, click here

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The creation of a school with an emphasis on Arabic culture has drawn criticism in New York. The controversy should not be one about Arabic culture but the departure from a traditional view of public education that one sought to create a shared curriculum and culture for a diverse population. (more…)

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Brothers Mark and Matthew D’Avella were fired from A & P for using the store and their jobs as packers to make a rap video entitled Produce Paradise. The rap has such memorable lines as “It’s all about the produce produce, we don’t like to kid/It’s the lower middle portion of the food pyramid.” (more…)

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Not only is China facing lethal levels of water and air pollution tied to its run away economic expansion, it is losing one of its most lasting national symbols: the Great Wall.

Click here

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Another long-incarcerated prisoners has been cleared by DNA. Dwayne Allen Dail was cleared after the tests proved that the DNA found on the 12-year-old victim’s nightgown matched belonged to another man — who is currently serving time on a different offense. (more…)

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Sen. Craig’s suggestion that he is considering re-visiting his plea with the assistance of counsel is not without merit — it is only fatally delayed. There is much to challenge in this arrest. The officer was relying on highly interpretive conclusions about his actions. Had he challenged the arrest, he could have argued that the evidence did not establish the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.
(more…)

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With the American Medical Association and state boards prohibiting doctors from participating in executions as violative of their oaths, some have donned moon suits to hide their identities from the AMA, families and the public. Click here

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A judge in Montana was asked by a defendant to “let it be” after citing “the beetles.” The judge responded with not just a corrective sentence but an opinion correcting the defendant’s understanding of the beatles.

For the full story, click here

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She was called the Queen of Mean and the probate of her will is likely to confirm that title for some. Late hotel and real estate (and ex-con) Leona Helmsley has left $12 million for her white Maltese, named Trouble, who will also be allowed to continue to live in her mansion and then be buried next to Helmsley in her mausoleum. Two of her grandchildren, however, got nothing in the will.

For the full story, click here

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A San Francisco man named Paul Addis, 35, has been charged with arson and illegal possession of fireworks after allegedly starting the Burning Man burning: four days two early. The huge burning man is supposed to be the climax of the counterculture festival in the Black Rock desert in Nevada. Instead, Addis allegedly lit the object and is therefore charged with arson for the premature burning.

For the full story and a picture of the culprit, click here

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Reserachers believe that they have finally uncovered who killed Beethoven and the culprit is Andreas Wawruch, his doctor.

Beethoven died in 1827 at the age 57 and there has been long speculation over the cause or even whether he was murdered. Now, it appears that his doctor gave him lethal levels of lead in his treatment.

For the full story, click here

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Washington is all atwitter over who will replace outgoing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The more relevant question, however, is who would want to step over the chalk outlines of his two predecessors on the office rug to sit in that seemingly cursed chair.

Indeed, of all of the famous curses from King Tut’s tomb to the Hope Diamond to the Monkey’s Paw, the Bush Curse of the Juris Doctors (or the J.D. Curse) appears the most lethal. With John Ashcroft or Gonzales as the most vivid examples, bad things happen to attorneys who go to work for this administration. (more…)

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Senator Craig’s bathroom scandal brings back memories of his prior attack on Bill Clinton as a “nasty” “bad” “naughty boy.” Even for those who supported impeachment it was a weird moment.

For the video, click here

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Robin Shellow, a Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer, had a rare gift left at her office on Monday: a pink gift bag with a severed goat head inside.

For the full story, click here

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The corpus delicti, or body of crime, took on a new meaning this week in California when an alleged drunk driver was found with the dead body of a motorcycle driver still lodged in his rear window. Tony Martinez, 54, appears not to have noticed before pulled over by the arresting officers.

For the full story, click here

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Bizarre: Another Corpse Abuse case

There now appears to be a rash of corpse abuse cases — one of the oldest offenses in common law.

Johnny Draper (yes a funeral home director named Draper) found Roderick Jones in his Monessen, Pa., funeral home on July 13 with a women’s corpse. This is not a first for Jones who was convicted in 1999 of abuse of a corpse.

For this story, click

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Sen. Craig emerged today to declare “I am not gay. I never have been gay.” There is now an indication that he is thinking of pursuing efforts to throw out his plea — after finally speaking with lawyers that he failed to find before his plea. The press conference adds a bizarre twist to an already bizarre story.

For details, click here

For the video, click here

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In Iowa, a wife is claiming that she did not murder her husband. Rather he walked into a four-inch paring knive that drove deeply into his chest. Found in the bedroom was a book entitled “After the Affair.”

For the story, click here

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The criminal complaint against Sen. Craig is now available here and the mug shot here

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Orlando media is reporting that Former astronaut Lisa Nowak will pursue an insanity defense. Such notice is required in advance of trial and it was unsealed by the court. It will be a very difficult defense to make for someone with the ability to drive across country and engage in acts of evasion. Since the Reagan shooting, states have made it very difficult to make this defense. For earlier column, click here

For the news flash, click here

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A recent question on the educational system in the United States for a beauty queen may be the greatest argument for increasing immigration in this country to guarantee a small margin of intellectually viable humans to carry on basic institutions.

Caution: this is painful to watch, but click here if you dare.

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Belgian diplomats are accused of taking their four-wheel drives for a spin and damaging a 40 million-year-old whale fossil in Egypt.

For the full story, click here

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The U.S. military is trying to repair the damage of giving out a ball with the Saudi flag and the name of Allah spelled out on it. The idea of kicking Allah’s name succeeded in outraging the locals in Afghanistan.

For the full story, click here

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According to Roll Call, Sen. Craig’s insistence that he would not have pleaded guilty if he had consulted an attorney is a dubious defense. Craig had days before his guilty plea in June and during that period, documents indicate that he asked for a contact at the airport for his lawyer to call. It is not clear that his lawyer actually made that call, but clearly Craig had the time and inclination to do so.

Ironically, I believe Craig could have benefitted from counsel. (more…)

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Sen. Craig is not viewed as one of the legislators who routinely raises civil liberties and protections for the criminal accused. However, after pleading guilty to criminal charges in Minneapolis, he insists that he should have consulted with an attorney. (more…)

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I once had dinner with a Texas judge who asked me if I knew where Jesus lived. When I answered no, he replied “he lives at Huntsville Prison because all my prisoners tell me they find him there.”

Today, Michael Vick became the latest to find Jesus in the post-plea stage of his life. He appears to have shown “bad judgment” in carrying on the medieval form of entertainment known as dog fighting — simply a matter of “growing up.” I have four kids under nine and, without growing up, they would be physically ill to watch what Vick enjoyed as entertainment.

For the full story, click here

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It appears that Michael Chertoff may be the replacement for Alberto Gonzales. Chertoff would come with good national security credentials to signal that the administration is not going soft on terror. He is also a former judge. Notably, he once worked Rudolph Giuliani against the mob in New York. One problem for democratic and independent citizens is Chertoff’s role in drafting the Patriot Act. His nomination would also place the Administration’s record on terror in the spotlight.

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Alberto Gonzales Resigns

The New York Times is reporting that Alberto Gonzales will finally resign today as attorney general of the United States. It is a sad end to what should have been a historic term for the first hispanic to hold that office. As one of the critics of Gonzales, it is hard not to feel a sense of relief but that is also tempered by a feeling of tremendous waste. I expect that Gonzales may look back at his controversial tenure in a few years and wonder whether he would have better served the president, the country, and indeed himself but being a voice of independence in the government. Instead, Gonzales made a career as the enabler for George W. Bush. When they wanted to strip citizens of all of the constitutional rights at the whim of the president, Gonzales was there to say it was fine. When they wanted to engage in torture, Gonzales was there with a pen in hand. One can only wonder how much better this president would have fared if he had a lawyer prepared to tell him that he did not have such Caesar like qualities.

For some past columns, click here and here

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Tourists in Japan were able to get more than they bargained for when they went looking for whales in the wild: a front seat view of the Japanese pro-whaling policies in action. While watching a large whale surface off the coast of Japan, a Japanese fishing boat approached an hauled the harpooned whale in for processing. (more…)

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In a startling report, CNN is revealing that the grand jury that declined to indict on second-degree murder charges against a doctor and two nurses for four deaths. (more…)

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The Secret Service has often been criticized for interrogating everyone from cartoonists to kids about statements deemed threatening to a president. Now, they have succeeded in locating a man who was involuntarily committed as insane for saying insane things about hurting the presidents. (more…)

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Well-known attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who represented Jack Kevorkian, has been indicted on charges of conspiring to make more than $125,000 in illegal contributions to the 2004 presidential campaign of Democrat John Edwards. (more…)

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China’s Environmental Crisis

China’s environmental crisis appears to worsen by the day due to run awat development and a lack of enforcement. I am currently completing a review of the Chinese system for publication in China and eventually in the United States. The figures are astonishing and frankly frightening. I have proposed a system of private attorneys general like the one in the United States. It has obvious political barriers in China’s one-party state. However, China is experiencing a disaster in the loss of surface water, desertification, air pollution and other problems associated with the externalities of economic expansion and pollution.

The New York Times today has an excellent piece on the problem. For the story, click here

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The proposal to divide California’s electoral votes has served to remind citizens of the continued dysfunctional role played by the electoral college — which should be eliminated by constitutional amendment. The idea of passing state laws to divide votes between candidates is at least an improvement — moving away from the winner take all approach. In California, it is clearly be advanced for partisan reasons to help the next Republican nominee. (more…)

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A man claiming dual U.S. and French citizenship has successfully resisted extradition to Chicago to face murder charges.

Hans Peterson allegedly killed Dr. David Cornbleet, after acne drugs left him impotent. He would only face a maximum of 20 years in France for the murder. He claims French citizenship through his mother.

For the story, click here

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