Category: Criminal law

Titanic Failure: What The Horowitz Report Actually Says About The Russian Investigation

I previously discussed the bizarre narrative in the media that the main takeaway from the Horowitz report was the debunking of a conspiracy theory. Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on some of the actual findings of the Horowitz report. The report shows that there was not credible evidence to maintain the investigation and that the Steele Dossier was essential to securing the FISA investigation despite repeated media statements to the contrary.

Here is the column:

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Report: Barr Has Moved Against Giuliani In Meetings With President Trump

Attorney General William Barr has reportedly counseled President Donald Trump that his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has served him poorly and should be dropped. The Washington Post reported Sunday that Barr has directly raised with Trump the need for him to recognize what a liability Giuliani has become. It is an interesting story because Giuliani has not only become inappropriately intertwined with State Department business but also Justice Department business. It is not clear if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made any such objections, but the Post is reporting that various sources have confirmed that Barr has moved against Giuliani.

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Indian Rape Victim Dies After Horrific Revenge Attack

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Another horrific attack in Uttar Pradesh led to the death of a twenty-three year old woman rape victim while traveling to attend a court hearing. Police accuse five men, two identified by the victim as her previous rapists, of stalking her as she prepared to board a commuter train. They doused her with kerosene then set her alight.

She then suffered having to walk nearly a kilometer afterward to summon police via telephone. She was medivaced to New Delhi having received burns to ninety-five percent of her body before suffering cardiac arrest and succumbing to her injuries.

The attack not only highlights a combative approach by some members of society toward the rights of women, but also conveys the shortcomings of a burdened legal system that in some ways facilitates retribution against victims and vigilantism against the accused. It is another, probably less recognized cost of the lack of speedy trial protections in Uttar Pradesh.

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Measles Outbreak in Samoa Challenges Free Speech Rights

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Following a doubly-fatal administration of tainted measles vaccination doses to two children and the consequent loss in confidence of much of the public in vaccines generally, a costly outbreak of measles in The Independent State of Samoa led to a return to early 20th century style public health mandates and a crackdown in free-speech liberties on those who advocate abstention from vaccination.

From October until the present, public health officials listed over four thousand new cases of measles among a population of two hundred thousand. This includes the death of sixty persons of which fifty-two were under four years in age. A leading “anti-vaxx” proponent, a self-styled traditional healer of sorts has been remanded to custody, and faces up to two years imprisonment, for reportedly denouncing vaccination efficacy and accusing the government of causing death among the Samoan People.

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Turkey Torts (2019)

In celebration of Thanksgiving, I give you our annual Turkey Torts of civil and criminal cases that add liability to libations on this special day (with past cases at the bottom). Many criminal defense attorneys and torts attorneys give special thanks for a holiday that can involve copious amounts of alcohol, strained family relations, over-the-hill amateur football players, “Black Friday” sale stampedes, and novice cooks.  These cases are why Johnny Carson said “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.”

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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How Devin Nunes’ Lawsuit Threat Could Undermine Donald Trump’s Impeachment Defense

Below is my column in USA Today on Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, threatening lawsuits against the media. It will not come as a surprise of many that I opposed such lawsuits from a free speech perspective, but this effort could also ultimately undermine the position of the White House.

Here is the column:

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How Democrats Can Build A Stronger Case To Impeach President Trump

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on what the Democrats would have to do to build an actual case for the removal of the American president. I have previously said that abuse of power is impeachable, but it is the most difficult of potential impeachment claims. Once again, impeachment does not require a criminal allegation but it does require clarity. It also requires a complete and compelling record. This record is neither complete nor compelling on proof of an impeachable offense.

Rather than continuing to criticize the record, below is an effort to lay out a possible case for impeachment.

Here is the column:

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Utah Woman Charged With Lewdness For Being Nude In Her Own Home

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

There are some cases that are so unbelievably asinine, I must remind the reader this is not April Fool’s Day.

A woman in Utah presently faces the possibility of a ten year sex offender registration mandate if a Utah judge convicts her of Misdemeanor Lewdness Involving A Child for walking inside her own home topless.

Yes, apparently one can be arrested for being nude in their own home if a child witnesses the horrorshow of a woman’s exposed breast. God help us if nursing women feed their babies.

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Giuliani: I Am Not Worried Because “I Have Insurance”

I have repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump’s counsel Rudy Giuliani for his record of rampage as counsel. Even before the ruinous work in the Ukraine came to light, Giuliani has assembled a long line of harmful statements. Now, in what may be the worst possible way to respond to a question whether he is concerned that Trump will throw him under the proverbial bus, Giuliani has said that he is not worried because “I have insurance.” It is a statement that raises obvious images of what the Russians call kompromat, or “compromising material.” Whether a joke or serious, it is again a remarkably dim-witted response at the height of an impeachment process.

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Minnesota Man Arrested For DUI In Car With Fake License Plates Made From Hamm’s Beer Box

In the video, Chippewa Falls Police officer Scott Schoenwetter is shown standing in front of his police cruiser.
Chippewa Falls Police Photo

“From the Land of Sky Blue Waters” in Wisconsin, police in Chippewa Falls stop Nicholas Layton after he was spotted allegedly weaving through the town. Layton was charged with drunk driving but that was not the biggest surprise in store for the police. Chippewa Falls Police officer Scott Schoenwetter could not find a registration for the plates and then realized that they were actually just painted on the back of a Hamm’s beer box.

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Trump Goes All-In With Giuliani and Crowdstrike In Fox Interview

While virtually everyone in Washington is burning any Christmas card or note connecting them to Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump gave a rambling and at times baffling interview on Fox & Friends in which he not only doubled down on his faith in Giuliani but restated the importance of the widely discredited Crowdstrike server claims. Giuliani has been denounced for his role in the Ukraine scandal and portrayed as a universally despised individual in the State Department and national security agencies. Yet, Trump heralded Giuliani as “a great crime-fighter” and leader even though Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned his role in the scandal and raised the fact that two of his associates are now under indictment. I have been critical of Giuliani’s representation of the President for years. The interview could be an effort to keep Giuliani, who is under federal investigation, in the fold or the President may genuinely still believe that Giuliani is not only blameless but praiseworthy. Either way, this is not good. Both Giuliani and the Crowdstrike theory have been discredited in prior testimony. Nevertheless, the interview offer a glimpse into a possible defense in the Senate.

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Democrats Seek To Redefine Crimes To Reframe The Trump Impeachment

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the three new crimes being alleged by the Democrats: bribery; extortion; and obstruction. There was a critical shift away from the abuse of power framework this week in favor of these criminal allegations. That may reflect the fact that the hearings have not resonated with voters, or at least have not caused a shift in public opinion. I have previously stated that a president can be impeached for abuse of power, including a quid pro quo. However, when alleging a crime, the elements of such a crime are relevant. Indeed, Schiff has referenced those elements in his comments in the hearings. The problem is that the case law falls far short of the rhetoric surrounding these crimes.

Here is the column:

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