Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Balko: Here is proof of racism in the criminal justice system

Radley Balko of the Washington Post writes:
Systemic racism means  . . .  we have systems and institutions that produce racially disparate outcomes, regardless of the intentions of the people who work within them. When you consider that much of the criminal-justice system was built, honed and firmly established during the Jim Crow era — an era almost everyone, conservatives included, will concede rife with racism — this is pretty intuitive. The modern criminal-justice system helped preserve racial order — it kept black people in their place. For much of the early 20th century, in some parts of the country, that was its primary function. That it might retain some of those proclivities today shouldn’t be all that surprising.
His column provides literally 100's of links to research that supports the premise that the criminal justice system is tainted with racism.
To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

PLW: Pa. Looks to Statute of Limitations as the State Faces Another Sex Abuse Scandal

Matthew T. Mangino
Pennsylvania Law Weekly
September 13, 2018
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s bombshell grand jury report on sex abuse of children by priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses has been met with universal derision and unrelenting criticism of  the Catholic Church.
As the furor toward the church continued the attorney general told “CBS This Morning,” “Because of the sophisticated cover-up, because of the efforts that went through the bishops stretching all the way up to the Vatican, they shielded these predator priests from the arm of the law.”
The shield has been provided by the statute of limitations. The public, advocates for victims of predatory sexual crimes and victims themselves are incensed that an accepted legal tenant can keep prosecutors and plaintiffs from holding 299 out of 301 priests named in the grand jury report from being held accountable.
Concern over a statute that can bar a claimant from raising a viable claim for recompense is not new. Over a century ago, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. asked in a Harvard Law Review article, “What is the justification for depriving a man of his rights, a pure evil as far as it goes, in consequence of the lapse of time?”
Pennsylvania has grappled with the statute of limitations and child sex abuse. Last term, H.B. 1947 proposed eliminating the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions and expanding the civil statute of limitation for a victim abused as a child to age 50. The sticking point has been creating a retroactive window to all victims to look back and seek damages for abuse committed beyond the current statute of limitation.
The current statute provides for criminal prosecutions until the victim’s 50th birthday and within 12 years of turning 18 years of age to pursue a civil claim. The statute of limitations can also be extended if DNA evidence becomes available and is used to “identify an otherwise unidentified individual as the perpetrator,” 42 Pa. C.S.A. Section 5552 (c) (3).
Some senators and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church suggest that the Pennsylvania Constitution, Article I, Section 11, known as the Remedies Clause, prohibits the General Assembly from eliminating certain fixed rights, including the right to assert an established defense.
At a public hearing in 2016, Bruce Castor, at the time Pennsylvania’s solicitor general, testified, “House Bill 1947, if enacted into law in its current form and without amendment will, in our opinion, violate the remedies clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution.” Castor continued, “Potential defendants, who have had the statute of limitations pass without their being subjected to suit, will rightly claim a vested right in the applicable statute of limitations.”
Castor and others were concerned that a retroactive statute of limitations would infringe on a vested right already afforded individuals accused of harming a child. Those accused individuals can rely on the protections of the statute of limitations and to take that right away would violate Pennsylvania’s Constitution.
Is creating a window to seek compensation for damages for a specific group of victims the important question here?
The sexual abuse of children is a reprehensible and cowardly act—a heinous crime whose perpetrators deserve no mercy. State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, a tireless advocate for child victims and the sponsor of legislation to expand and eliminate the statute of limitation posted on his legislative website, “One in four girls and one is six boys in your district have been sexually abused before the age of 18. Only one in 10 will ever tell. You probably interact with survivors every day … I too, am a victim of child sexual abuse.”
There is a purpose behind the statute of limitations. The statute, or some version of it, has been around since antiquity. There has long been a concern that individuals should not be forced to defend themselves years and years after an event that allegedly caused harm to another person.
As time passes memories fade, potential witnesses disappear or die and evidence spoils. An individual that is accused of a specific act that occurred on May 1, 1988, may have recalled his whereabouts in 1990 or even remembered where he was and who he was with 10 years later. But, what is the likelihood he can remember that specific day 30 years later?
Certainly fairness to an alleged victim is extremely important—but is it not the only factor?
Before we throw out the statute of limitations, let us look at the reasons that it has been around for so long.
Santa Clara University professor Tyler T. Ochoa and Judge Andrew Wistrich in “The Puzzling Purposes of Statutes of Limitation,” suggest that the statute of limitation reduces uncertainty. A person accused of a crime should be able to rely on the law and make decisions based on the law as it currently exists. If the legislature wants to abolish the statute of limitation for the crime of sexually abusing a child, then all people know, or should, know the law.
Ochoa and Wistrich contend that the statute of limitations prevents fraud. “The deterioration of evidence may make it more difficult to decide claims correctly, limiting the time within which actions can be filed may help to check the temptation to resort to fraud in filing or litigating,” 28 Pac. L. J. 453 (1997).
The authors continue, “This purpose rests on the premise that the longer the gap in time between the events at issue and trial on the merits, the more vulnerable the defendant is to spurious claims. It has two aspects: first, to prevent fraudulent claims from succeeding; and second, to prevent the use of fraudulent evidence in support of nonfraudulent claims.” Another words avoiding the dangerous idiom, “the end justifies the means.”
The statute of limitations also preserves the integrity of the legal system. “Courts do not want to be perceived to be haphazard guessers about facts. Not only would this be demeaning to the legal system, but it would breed disrespect for the political system as well,” 28 Pac. L. J. 453 (1997).
There will be a battle in the General Assembly.
Senate Bill 261, approved by the Senate 48-0, would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sex crimes and gives victims until the age 50 to file civil actions against their alleged abuser.
House Bill 612 would eliminate the criminal and civil statutes of limitations for child sex abuse and would allow for a two-year window to pursue a civil case were the statute has already expired.
Attorney General Shapiro recently told that he favors the creation of a retroactive window for sex abuse victims to bring civil claims. He said, “It’s the reforms as a whole—including the civil window, ending any age-based deadline for bringing criminal prosecutions of child sexual abuse, and clarifying state law on the duty to report child abuse—are needed to prevent these types of widespread abuse and cover-up from ever happening again.”
The rage over the grand jury report and the Catholic Church is palpable. There was also rage over Bill Cosby and the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal—yet the debate continues.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010″ was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.
To visit the PLW CLICK HERE

Nominee Kavanaugh and accuser Ford to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who has accused him of attempted sexual assault when they were teens, will have the opportunity to publicly testify next week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced. according to the Huffington Post.
“Anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has done deserves to be heard,” Grassley said in a statement, promising to give the psychology professor’s allegations a “full airing” in a hearing scheduled next Monday.
The extraordinary move effectively postponed Thursday’s planned committee vote on the nomination, as Democrats had been demanding since Ford first spoke out publicly over the weekend. Moreover, Grassley’s statement appeared to be a result of tremendous pressure from other members of the GOP Senate conference, who were increasingly wary about the prospect of an all-male Republican committee majority denying Ford an opportunity to speak just weeks before the midterm elections.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, told reporters on Monday that he informed leadership he could not support the judge’s bid to the high court without first giving Ford a chance to be heard. He said “overwhelming” resistance among GOP members of the committee contributed to the scheduling of a public hearing.
The White House seemed to endorse the decision, with spokesman Raj Shah releasing a complementary statement Monday evening.
To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, September 17, 2018

Juveniles being used for violent crime because punishment is lenient

Increased instances of juvenile violent crimes reflect an alarming new strategy by Denver street gang leaders to arm young recruits with guns and have them carry out vendettas against rival gangs, including fatal shootings because laws protect juvenile killers from serving lengthy prison terms, reported the Denver Post.
The cycle continues.  As the treatment of juveniles becomes more lenient--the death penalty is gone, mandatory life in prison is gone and states begin reconsider harsh sentences for juveniles--criminal enterprises are back to using juveniles for violent crime.
“Adult and older gang members are becoming more sophisticated. They realize that young members don’t have the same severe consequences as they do. The guns are handed off to the younger kids,” said Kelly Waidler, senior deputy district attorney in Denver District Attorney Beth McCann’s juvenile unit. She formally served in the office’s gang unit.
Teenage killers and robbers adjudicated in juvenile court spend a maximum of five to seven years in a Colorado Division of Youth Services facility depending on their age. It is possible, however, that teens tried in adult court could initially go to youth services and later be transferred to an adult prison to serve out a lengthier sentence, Waidler said.
The rising number of arrests of juveniles for illegal possession of handguns in Denver and an increase in juvenile gun crimes including robbery and homicide may reflect a new strategy of arming younger gang members, said Courtney Johnston, chief deputy attorney in the juvenile unit.
To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Kansas drug offender registry, Megan's Law for drug offenders

Under Kansas law, having a drug conviction means that a photograph and other identifying details are displayed in the same public registry that includes more than 10,000 convicted sex offenders. Many registrants also appear on third-party websites like “Offender Radar” and “Sex Offender Spy,” and it’s easy for a visitor to miss the single word — “drug” — that differentiates drug offenders from sex offenders," report The Marshall Project.
Lawmakers have long justified sex offender registries as a way to notify people about potentially dangerous neighbors or acquaintances, while critics say they fail to prevent crime and create a class of social outcasts. Over the years, several states have expanded their registries to add perpetrators of other crimes, including kidnapping, assault, and murder. Tennessee added animal abuse. Utah added white collar crimes. A few states considered but abandoned plans for hate crime and domestic abuse registries. At least five states publicly display methamphetamine producers.
But Kansas went furthest, adding an array of lesser drug crimes; roughly 4,600 people in the state are now registered as drug offenders. As deaths from opioids rise, some public officials have focused on addiction as a public health issue. Kansas offers a different approach, as law enforcement officials argue that the registry helps keep track of people who may commit new offenses and cautions the public to avoid potentially dangerous areas and individuals. At the same time, many registrants say it can be hard to move on when their pasts are just a click away for anyone to see.
The Kansas legislature is currently considering a bill proposed by the state’s sentencing commission that would remove drug offenders from the registry. “It is a drain on resources with no science, studies, or data to justify it,” defense lawyer Jennifer Roth told lawmakers at an early February hearing.
To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, September 15, 2018

GateHouse: Fraud: The crime that can kill

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
September 14, 2018
In the latest issue of The Atlantic, Rene Chun writes “The third leading cause of workplace death ... is homicide.”
The first thing that comes to mind is the disgruntled former employee who comes to the office and shoots the place up or a workplace romance gone sour. Another more sinister reason for workplace homicide is the concealment of fraud.
White-collar crime is typically financially motivated, committed by business men and women bent on illicit financial gain. White-collar crime was coined by sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 to describe “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation”
The justice system has, for the most part, classified white-collar criminals as non-violent, giving them lenient sentences in “country club” prisons. White-collar criminals are often viewed as educated, “upper-class” workers who a made poor decisions.
However, in reality white-collar criminals are already adept at manipulation and have used deceit to exercise their criminality. White-collar criminals often have a lot at stake and may resort to violence to protect themselves and their “reputation” in the workplace and community.
Murder as a method of concealment is referred to as fraud-detection homicide. Violence is used as a means to conceal fraud through silencing the victim or witness who had detected or may be on the trail of detecting criminality.
Chun wrote about Frank S. Perri, a lawyer who teaches forensic accounting at DePaul University. Perri coined the term “red-collar” crime, in a 2015 article in the International Journal of Psychological Studies.
Why would a white-collar criminal turn to murder? Perri writes, “White-collar criminals thrive on being able to avoid detection in order to carry out their fraud schemes; they have the ability, like a chameleon, to adapt to a given environment.” The threat of detection turns the white-collar to red.
Perri continues, “As the threat of detection increases, so does the probability that the individual will rationalize murder as a solution to his or her problems ... red-collar criminals do not reject violence as a solution to a perceived problem, so killing is just as viable a solution as using deceptive and manipulative characteristics to satisfy their needs.”
When one thinks of a criminal who is stealing from his employer, and would use violence to protect his criminality, that person’s profile might include self-centeredness, lying, lack of empathy, lack of conscience, narcissism and the pursuit of their desires above all others in a way that disregards the well-being others.
That is a shorthand definition of a psychopathy.
Not all psychopaths are criminals. According to Amy Morin writing in Psychology Today, psychologists’ estimate one percent of the population meets the criteria of psychopathy. Not surprisingly, about 15 percent of prison inmates are estimated to be psychopaths. However, three percent of business leaders fit the profile for psychopathy as well.
Dr. Robert S. Hare is a criminal psychology researcher who developed The Hare Psychopathy Checklist, the definitive tool in evaluating psychopathy. Dr. Hare wrote, ”(I)t is possible to have people who are so emotionally disconnected that they can function as if other people are objects to be manipulated and destroyed without any concern”
As Morin points out, Psychopathy can lead to success in business. Psychopaths have a grandiose sense of self, “When they say they can skyrocket the company to new heights, they believe it. And they often convince others that they’re capable and competent too.”
It may not be the major merger that a red-collar criminal can manipulate his way through, but it may be skimming millions of dollars from the family business. A cunning, violence prone red-collar criminal can do considerable damage to the bottom line and the top brass.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010 was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.
To visit the column CLICK HERE

Friday, September 14, 2018

Trump's former campaign manager to cooperate with special counsel

U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian election meddling as part of a plea deal, prosecutors told a federal court in Washington on Friday.
Manafort, 69, also pleaded guilty to two criminal counts, becoming the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation.
In a statement, the White House distanced Trump from the veteran Republican operative who helped get him elected against the odds in 2016.
"This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said of the Manafort news on Friday. "It is totally unrelated.”