19 August 2019Law
19 August 2019* In his final days, accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein surrounded himself with lawyers in a private meeting room for up to 12 hours a day, emptying vending machines, if only to escape his cramped, vermin-infested cell. [New York Times] * The Trump Justice Department wants the Supreme Court to deny civil rights protections for transgender employees, but the EEOC doesn't agree and its general counsel refused to sign the DOJ's brief to the high court. [National Law Journal] * Per a leaked Brexit document, U.K. officials are trying to avoid a "catastrophic collapse in the nation's infrastructure" (e.g., food, fuel, and medicine shortages; port gridlocks; and civil unrest) if Britain is unable to leave the EU with a deal. [NPR] * Will other Biglaw firms with similar parental leave policies face scrutiny in the wake of the reverse discrimination lawsuit filed against Jones Day? We'll have to wait and see if this reproduces additional legal claims. [American Lawyer] * Milbank just scored a major lateral coup after scooping up some talented IP litigators from Irell & Manella, including David Gindler, the firm’s managing partner. Gindler was Irell's third managing partner in just a few years. [Big Law Business]
19 August 2019
The BC murder suspects may have been found dead, but many who expected answers are still feeling like law enforcement is keeping important information under wraps.
My next guest argues that no matter what the public might think, people are NOT entitled to information and answers, as that could hinder police investigations.
Her name is Kyla Lee, criminal lawyer in Vancouver.
Kyla Lee “Essentially the police don’t have any obligation beyond warning the public about dangers, to keep them informed on the progress of investigations. At this stage, there is no presen or ongoing danger to the public. We know now that the people who the police believed committed these murders have been found dead so there is no ongoing duty to the public to warn them about the danger.”
Listen to the full interview here.
19 August 2019What is “They deserve our solidarity,” uttered without any indication of what such solidarity actually entails, if not an empty, sentimental slogan?
19 August 2019Delba Winthrop asks whether the political disputes depicted by Aristotle were really about first causes.
19 August 2019
My recent return from Alaska left me with a wealth of new experiences and new friends. It remains a truly wondrous and wild place that everyone should visit. However, as I mentioned during the trip, the impact of climate change is obvious and alarming. Just comparing my kayaking pictures from three years ago, the glaciers have receded a great deal and most have lost any snow cover. If you doubt that climate change is real, go to Alaska and speak to the fishermen and guides. It also has apparently taken a devastating toll on salmon. When I was flying to Alaska, I was speaking to some avid fishermen in the airport who said that they have been going to Alaska for a couple decades and have never seen so few salmon. It turns out that they were right. Scientists have reported that salmon are experiencing a massive die off due to the higher temperatures.
Scientists have recorded widespread losses of sockeye, chum and pink salmon with high numbers of unspawned dead salmon. The fish showed no lesions, infections or other causes of death. It was all heat.
Take the Cook Inlet near Anchorage. The highest temperature ever recorded at the inlet as 76 degrees Fahrenheit. This year is was 81.7 degrees. Scientists report that they temperature was worse than their worst-case scenario . . . for 2069.
It is no secret how I feel about the climate change or President Trump’s short-sighted emphasis on fossil fuels. However, this crisis is accelerating to an alarming rate. You can see it and feel it in places like Alaska.
19 August 2019
Earlier this summer, a working group convened by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) concluded a long-awaited effort to develop best practices for addressing what has been one of the most neglected—and most serious—crises of our criminal justice system.
That crisis is the accumulated—and growing—number of unsolved murders.
Since 1980, the U.S. has accumulated over 250,000 unsolved murders.
Based on 2017 FBI data, the clearance or solve rate for homicides was about 61 percent. To put it in a more chilling way: out of every ten homicides in this country, four are unsolved.
Things will get worse. Research has also shown that roughly 6,000 to 7,000 unsolved cases are added to the mix each year.
But the working group, comprising 36 experts from all over the country, from detectives and federal agents to DNA experts and prosecuting attorneys, made clear that there are practical solutions to the nation’s “cold case crisis.”
The working group’s recommendations were published in July by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), entitled “National Best Practices for Implementing and Sustaining a Cold Case Investigation Unit.”
As a member of the NIJ Cold Case Working Group for four years, I found the experience challenging—even as it has increased my impatience to get the nation’s law enforcement agencies working to solve the crisis before it overwhelms us.
Readers of The Crime Report will know that I have long been urging an aggressive national effort to address this too-often overlooked challenge to public safety.
So the publication of the NIJ booklet brings special satisfaction.
The booklet makes clear why this is a compelling issue for our justice system
“As a matter of public safety and to ensure justice for victims, a priority of all law enforcement agencies — federal, state, and local — is to solve all cases, regardless of the amount of time that has passed,” the NIJ booklet declares.
Illustration by olarte.ollie via Flickr
It’s worthwhile remembering the nature of the challenge.
Research has shown that of all those agencies who have cold cases, only about 18 percent actually have a cold case unit—leaving all the other cases unattended to gather dust.
And if a family member doesn’t speak up and ask questions, the cases rarely get any attention.
The NIJ document contains 23 recommendations for implementing and sustaining a cold case investigation unit. Unless agencies around the country adopt those recommendations, we will continue to put off a problem that is only bound to grow.
For those who are interested, I have also developed a series of regular podcasts that will provide some additional context. The first two podcasts were broadcast this month, and I invite Crime Report readers to sample them.Key Principles
There are over 18,000 law enforcement agencies in counties, cities and states across the country—all with different capabilities in terms of resources and personnel.
But the operating principles for developing cold case units can be adapted to the needs of individual agencies, regardless of their size.
Here’s a shortlist of the five key strategies that can get the process underway:
- Conduct a needs assessment and scope of a cold case investigation unit;
- Based on those needs, design a unit with proper guidelines and the utilization of stakeholders;
- Implement a cold case unit that is defined and dedicated to investigating only cold cases;
- Set in place an organized operating system that actively engages the prosecutor, with a team that is geared towards maximum effectiveness; and
- Identify support for the cold case investigation unit by utilizing resources outside of the departments, such as academics, interns, students, and others who may be experts in their own fields, but who can provide some insight and maybe new ideas.
And last, but certainly not least, all agencies should keep in mind the surviving families—those who have suffered a terrible loss at the hands of a perpetrator who is still unidentified.
These “forgotten victims” are among the key reasons for tackling the cold case crisis.
No one expects it to be easy.
Some legislators and criminal justice professionals might ask, considering all the other challenges facing our criminal justice system, why we should spend time and money on murders that have been gathering dust in police files—in some cases for decades.
Three other motivating reasons should be kept in mind.
- It will improve our criminal justice system;
- It will increase public safety by getting bad actors off the streets; and
- It will help to regain public confidence in our criminal justice system while increasing clearance rates not only for homicides, but for other violent crimes as well.
We should not focus on how much will it cost us to conduct cold case investigations, but rather on how much will it cost us if we don’t.
James Adcock, Ph.D., is President and Founder of the Mid-South Cold Case Initiative. He welcomes comments from readers.
19 August 2019
Bernie Sanders, who was criticized by liberals in 2016 for not focusing on racial injustice, proposed a plan aimed at slashing the U.S. prison population in half and ridding the criminal justice system of “institutional racism and corporate profiteering,” reports Politico. The ambitious plan seeks to overhaul prisons, police departments, courts, drug laws and treatment of mentally ill people with a full-throated progressive agenda. Sanders’ left-wing allies argue that he has “evolved” on the issue of criminal justice, reports Politico. Sanders calls calls for banning cash bail, solitary confinement and civil asset forfeiture. It also looks to legalize marijuana and abolish the death penalty.
The Vermont senator would legalize “safe injection sites” where people can use illegal drugs under medical supervision, a controversial practice that has been shown in several studies to curb overdose deaths. Sanders’ proposal promises that any time a police officer kills a civilian, his Attorney General will conduct an investigation. He would also establish a “Prisoner Bill of Rights,” create a “civilian corps of unarmed first responders” to deal with mental health emergencies, and boost funding for public defenders. The proposal comes as Sanders makes a two-day swing through South Carolina, the first state where African-Americans cast a majority of votes in the primary. Former Vice President Joe Biden has dominated the Southern state in recent surveys. “If we stand together, we can eliminate private prisons and detention centers. No more profiteering from locking people up,” Sanders says. “If we stand together, we can end the disastrous War on Drugs. If we stand together, we can end cash bail. No more keeping people in jail because they’re too poor. If we stand together, we can enact real police department reform and prosecute police brutality.”
19 August 2019
Mass shootings are drawing attention to drum magazines, which allow shooters to fire dozens of rounds without stopping to reload. The round magazines, made famous by the Tommy gun from the Prohibition era, formerly were unreliable and hard to use, but have benefited from leaps in manufacturing and design. Today, they can be legally purchased at gun stores and online in most states, the Wall Street Journal reports. The attacker in Dayton this month used a 100-round drum magazine made by KCI USA to fire 41 shots in less than a minute, killing nine people and injuring 17 others. The shooter in the Gilroy, Ca., Garlic Festival attack last month that left three dead owned one, but didn’t use it. Now, some lawmakers have renewed an effort to high-capacity magazines for civilian use.
Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) is co-sponsoring a bill that would outlaw magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. Titus, who represents Las Vegas, co-sponsored a bill to ban the magazines after the 2017 attack at a country-music festival there, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. That legislation, which never came to a floor vote, called for high-capacity magazines to carry serial numbers so they could be tracked. Nine states, including California and New York, regulate the capacity of magazines, with most setting it at 10 rounds. Colorado mandates a limit of 15. Between 1994 and 2004, new magazines over 10 rounds were prohibited under the federal assault weapons ban. Far more common than drum magazines, according to industry experts, are box-style, which stack bullets on top of each other. They are light, cheap and plentiful: a 30-round magazine for an AR-15 style rifle sells for around $15. Drum magazines, which pack bullets in a spiral coil, are heavier and more expensive, with most costing more than $100.
19 August 2019
One in three agreed “strongly” or “somewhat” with the statement “Fear of a mass shooting prevents me from going to certain places and/or events” in a new survey reported by Tribune News Service. Mass shootings are causing stress and behavioral changes for millions who are not directly affected. The American Psychological Association commissioned the poll after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton. One in five adults said they “often” or “constantly” experienced stress from the possibility of a mass shooting. The responses varied by race or ethnic group. The proportion that reported such stress was highest among Hispanic adults, at 32 percent, followed by 25 percent of blacks/African Americans and 15 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
“We don’t have to experience these events directly for them to affect us,” said Arthur Evans, CEO of the psychology organization. Asked if they allowed fear of a mass shooting to change how they lived, 24 percent of survey respondents said they strongly or somewhat agreed. Thirty-two percent agreed strongly or somewhat with the statement “I can’t go anywhere without worrying about being a victim of a mass shooting.” The online survey was conducted on behalf of the psychological association by the Harris Poll between Aug. 8 and 12.
19 August 2019
An Ohio man is in jail after police received a tip about an online video where he identified himself as the shooter at a Jewish community center, an incident that hadn’t happened yet. James Reardon, 20, was arrested Friday on charges of telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing, the FBI said, reports USA Today. A search warrant was executed at Reardon’s parents’ home the same day police in New Middletown, Oh., received the tip about the video. Reardon was arrested without incident.
“Grateful for the work of the FBI, local law enforcement and our community partners in the Youngstown Jewish community,” said the Anti-Defamation League’s regional office in Cleveland. “We will continue to employ all our resources to stop the spread of white nationalism and violent extremism.” Reardon is being held in the Mahoning County Jail on $250,000 bond.
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