Category: Criminal law

Washington Owes Neil Gorsuch An Apology

Below is my column on the end of the Supreme Court term and the one outstanding piece of business: an apology to Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch. After this column ran, Gorsuch again voted with the liberal justices on a critical due process issue. He has already carved out a principled legacy on the Court that follows his convictions rather than the predictions of his critics.

Here is the column:

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An Interesting Perspective On Residential Burglaries

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

I came across an interview with a convicted burglar who agreed to discuss his tradecraft and thought it could offer many an opportunity to learn how one can protect their own property and homes from invasion by burglars.

The convicted burglar claims over a hundred residential burglaries during a twenty-year crime spree before finally being brought to ultimate justice. He provides his police interviewer with a candid insight into his “trade” which soon becomes evident to the viewer that he goes about his crimes with a professional approach where if the illegality of his deeds was not considered, he would otherwise seem as though he was developing a niche market in the ordinary business sense. 

It should be recognized that our interviewee in my experience is not a typical burglar who operates mostly on opportunity and luck. Yet for a certain demographic of citizen, mainly of those in upper-income neighborhoods, this type of burglar cannot be safely dismissed of discounted.

At the very least the reader can benefit from a perspective as to what motivates the mind of a professional felon.

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Princeton Professor Declares Trump’s Deportation Plan “Terrorism”

Princeton Professor of African American Studies Eddie Glaude took to MSNBC this week to comment on the announcement of President Donald Trump that his Administration will commence with widespread deportations in the coming week. Rather than address the merits of such a plan or the alternatives, Glaude showed how reasoned discourse has become little more than raw (and in this case unhinged) hyperbole. Glaude declared that the Trump announcement should be viewed as a “terroristic act.” I recently published an article on the trend from academics to advocacy on our campuses. Glaude declared just a week earlier that, with Trump, “we’ve moved beyond autocratic to almost monarchical.” It appears now that he has moved by the monarchical to the terroristic.

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Trump Tweets About Massive ICE Sweeps Planned For “Next Week”

In a tweet that reportedly took law enforcement by surprise, President Donald Trump disclosed that “next week” a national round up of undocumented persons would be launched. Obviously, ICE prefers not to inform potential arrestees that they are coming. Recently, it was reported that intelligence officials withheld details of their operations against Russia in fear that Trump might disclose the operation or compromise its purpose.


Et Tu Muti? Actress Convicted Of Fraud For Claiming Sickness To Go To Dinner With Putin

Calling in sick is a fairly common practice for many people. However, most people are not famous actors who are contracted to do a recital in in Pordenone, in the northern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. More importantly, most people are not then all over the news seating with Russian President Vladimir Putin and having the time of their lives. One can certainly understand a contractual case against Ornella Muti, but Italy often tries contracts and torts as criminal matters. Muti was found guilty of criminal fraud and given a suspended prison sentence pending payment of damages.

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Trump Supports Flag Burning Amendment

Today President Donald Trump declared support for a new constitutional amendment to allow Congress to override the First Amendment and criminalize the burning of the American flag. The legislation for the amendment was reintroduced by Sen. Steve Daines (R- Montana) and Sen Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota). While I consider flag burning (of any country) to be deeply offensive, there is no need for such an amendment to combat the extremely few incidents of flag burning. It is certainly a popular political cause, but we should not amend the Constitution to reduce free speech, particularly given the low number of flag burnings.

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Three Men Arrested After Shooting Mountain Lion In Yellowstone And Then Bragging On Social Media

We have previously discussed trophy hunters who post images of their kills. That kill thrill is hard for many of us to understand but it is particularly bizarre when the kill is illegal. That is the case of three hunters who killed a mountain lion in Yellowstone National Park in Montana in violation of the Lacey Act. Yellowstone special agent Jake Olson and others took a year but it finally caught Austin Peterson, 20, Trey Juhnke, 20, and Corbin Simmons, 19. The three were sentenced in May.

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Trump Is Still Three Nixons Short Of Watergate

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the recent testimony by former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean. While President Trump has personally attacked Dean, I have always liked and respected him. However, I disagree with his historical analogies. Comparisons to the Nixon case are fair, but they become forced when people insist that the conduct or record is the same. There are fundamental and likely determinative distinctions. There is a valid basis for an investigation but the record does not support the extent of comparison laid out by John Dean. John often seems to rank presidents on a Nixon scale. Yet, rather than giving Trump essentially “five Nixons,” I would put it as one or two pending further investigation. In other words, the case must still be made that this is “just like Watergate.”

Here is the column:

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Trump: I Would Accept Dirt On Political Opponents If Offered By Foreign Governments [Updated]

In controversial interview, President Donald Trump told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office that he would accept dirt on political opponents from foreign governments and would not necessarily alert his own FBI. He further said that FBI Director Christoper Wray was “wrong” in saying that such contacts should be reported. There is nothing illegal in receiving such information for either politicians or journalists. However, it puts Trump at odds with the view not only of his own agencies but most of the public on the need to alert the FBI. In the aftermath of the interview, various Fox hosts criticized not Trump but ABC for what they portrayed as an ambush. It was not an ambush. It was a standard interview with a highly relevant (and predictable) question by Stephanopoulos. At the same time, the CNN’s Chris Cuomo is also wrong to portray this as endorsing possible criminal conduct. There is nothing illegal in accepting information from foreign intelligence figures, which was done by the Clinton campaign in the Steele Dossier. Trump has downplayed the comments.

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Lock Him Up: Harris Says Justice Department Would Have “No Choice” Under Her Administration But To Prosecute Trump

For years, many of us have criticized Donald Trump for his signature campaign mantra of “Lock her up” against Hillary Clinton. Now, however, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) seems to be adopting a “Lock him up” pledge to jumpstart her campaign, which remains struck around fifth in the pack. Last week, Harris pledged to prosecute Trump. This morning, she said her Justice Department would have “no choice” but to prosecute Trump after he left office.

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Trump’s “Tough” Immigration Policy Leaves Out Employers

Below is my column on the recent controversy over a threatened tariff against Mexico for its failure to stop undocumented immigrants from crossing the U.S. border. Despite the last-minute deal with Mexico purportedly avoiding the tariff, President Donald Trump was back on the weekend threatening “very profitable tariffs” on Mexico. Whatever the purpose of such tariffs, however, they are unlikely to solve our problem with unlawful immigration absent greater enforcement on this side of the border. My point is not to call for wholesale prosecutions. Indeed, the primary concern is not the hiring by families or small businesses, but rather large operations with large percentages of undocumented workers.  If there government truly wants to curtail the undocumented workforce (and that is uncertain), hammering the immigrants at the border or attempting mass deportations is unlikely to succeed. There remains a striking disconnect between the level of enforcement directed at undocumented individuals as opposed to large employers of undocumented persons.

Here is the column:

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“The Enemy of the People”: Trump Resumes His Attacks On American Media As China Bans The Washington Post

Flag of the Peoples Republic of China

I was been a long critic of President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media even though I have been critical of biased reporting by some outfits. Trump’s mantra of calling the media, and particularly the Washington Post and the New York Times, “the enemy of the people” was repeated on Twitter last weekend as China banned the Washington Post (and the Guardian) from access to its citizens. Both publications joined others behind the infamous “Great Firewall” of China’s massive censorship apparatus. While Trump has only called for greater liability for American media (rather than censorship), the confluence of these stories is concerning. China can cite our own president in declaring the Washington Post as an enemy and “fake news” to justify its censorship of one of the last remaining free press accessible to some Chinese.

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South Koreans Arrested After Stripping National Parks Of Succulents For Illegal Export

As many of you know, I am a huge advocate of hiking and particularly our national parks. We have amazing parks and most of us take great efforts to avoid leaving traces or causing damage to our natural areas. That is why a recent arrest is so alarming. Recently, three South Korean nationals were  charged  after an arrest at Los Angeles International Airport with a van filled with more than 3,700 Dudleya succulents. The spiky blue-green plants are prized in Asia. The men were tracked as they stripped parks of the plants and stuffed them into backpacks.

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Turley To Speak At 2019 Judicial Conclave In New Mexico

Today I have the honor of delivering a keynote speech to the 2019 Judicial Conclave in New Mexico at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque. I will be discussing the history, cases, and evolution of the “cultural defense” in federal and state courts. The speech is at 11:15 am on Friday at the conference held at the Hyatt.

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Rocky Road: New York Officials Seize 40 Ice Cream Trucks In Ticket-Avoidance Scheme

If you were in New York yesterday, you would have seen more than 40 ice-cream trucks being towed away. It was a crackdown on New York Ice Cream which allegedly has been running a scheme to avoid millions in tickets. The culprit was ice cream mogul Dimitrios Tsirkos, founder of New York Ice Cream. Long Island officials say that Tsirkos has been racking of millions in tickets and then creating new companies to avoid payment.

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