FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

April 2010 Archives

Prosecutor: Apple Reported iPhone Stolen

The iPhone caper continues with further twists and turns, as it now appears that after the infamous iPhone was left at a Redwood City bar, Apple reported the iPhone stolen. The report prompted an investigation that later led California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team, to the home of editor Jason Chen. The REACT team forcibly entered Chen's home without him present and seized, among other things, four computers and two servers.

Malcom X Assassin Thomas Hagan Out on Parole

After serving a 44 year sentence for his role in the 1965 assassination of iconic black leader Malcolm X, Thomas Hagan is out on parole.

Thomas Hagan, 69, walked free on parole, after being the only man to confess to the killing of Malcolm X, who was gunned down while giving a speech in New York's Audubon Ballroom in 1965, CNN reports. Hagan was one of three men who shot at Malcolm X and was found guilty at trial with two others, in 1966.

Illinois State Senate Approves Gun Control Legislation

The Illinois State Senate approved tough new gun control legislation in order to protect children and combat the recent outbreak of neighborhood violence.

The bill, backed by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, now awaits a signature from Governor Pat Quinn. It increases the punishment for offenders carrying a loaded weapon without a state permit card, the Chicago Tribune reports.

N.C. Lawmakers Address Root Causes of Crime

By participating in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, North Carolina lawmakers are trying to address the root causes of crime in order to cut costs and keep the public safe.

Lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties agree that the state must get smart on crime and begin to implement more data-driven solutions through the new Justice Reinvestment program, according to the News & Observer.

California Death Penalty under Harsh Spotlight

The case of convicted sex offender John Gardner has put the California death penalty under a harsh spotlight. Chelsea King's supporters are among those capital punishment proponents who have grown disillusioned with the state's death penalty.

Many legal experts share their sentiments and say the state's capital punishment system is dysfunctional, the Associated Press reports. Executions have been on hold in California for almost four years, following a federal judge's orders for review and reform of lethal injection procedures. As a result, the death penalty has been viewed by many as an empty threat.

CA State Board Reviews Sex Offender 'Containment Model'

A California state board is currently reviewing the "containment model" and other ways to better manage sex offenders as a new bill (Chelsea's Law) recently cleared its first legislative hurdle.

On the other hand, California lawmakers have not specifically looked at the containment model but are still pushing for stricter overall sex offender laws, the San Diego Union Tribune reports.

Ohio Death Row Inmate Executed by Single Shot

Ohio death row inmate, Darryl Durr, who claimed he could have a drug allergy to the anesthetic Ohio uses to put inmates to death, has been executed by a single shot lethal injection.

An Ohio serial rapist, Darryl Durr, 46, was executed by single shot lethal injection and pronounced dead at 10:36 a.m. last Tuesday at an Ohio Correctional facility, the Associated Press reports.

DUI First Time Offenders May Get Interlock Devices

Pennsylvania has introduced new legislation aimed at cracking down on DUI first time offenders by requiring them to have ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.

The goal of the newly proposed DUI legislation is to deter people from drinking and driving or even stop drinking alcohol altogether, reports.

Utah Killer's Request Granted: Face Firing Squad

A convicted killer, sentenced to death in Utah will be shot, by his own request. Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49 was convicted of capital murder in the 1985 killing of attorney Michael J. Burdell during an escape attempt at a courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City.

On Friday, Gardner stood before a Utah Judge and expressed his desire to be shot. "I would like the firing squad, please." 

In 1985, while at a Utah courthouse, a female acquaintance provided Gardner with a loaded .22-caliber handgun. Despite being handcuffed, he shot two people, killing Burdell and injuring a court bailiff. Gardner was shot and eventually captured as he attempted to escape. 

Keeps Gettin' Better: Gizmodo iSearched

Just as the news was breaking early this week that Apple was indicating an interest in filing criminal charges in relation to the liberation of its next gen iPhone accidentally set free by a fun-loving Apple employee, additional news followed of a more concrete nature. Nothing says criminal charges like a search warrant.

Will National Guard Deployment Help Fight Crime?

These days violence has become so rampant on Chicago streets that lawmakers are questioning whether National Guard deployment will help fight crime.

By calling on help from the National Guard, lawmakers are hoping to restore quell the recent surge in violence, according to the Associated Press.

Hold the iPhone: Did Blog Break the Law in iLeak?

It's Apple's world, we just compute in it. Last week, the computer giant reportedly spoke to local law enforcement regarding the loss heard round the world. In case the noise did not reach you, last Monday, the story of a lost iPhone prototype recovered by tech site and dissected for all its visitors to see, hit the ether. Apple demanded (and got) the return of the phone allegedly lost by a young engineer during a night of birthday festivities. Until recently, some still believed the whole thing was engineered as a crafty marketing stunt, but the law enforcement seizure of computers, cameras and other items from Gizmodo today seems to put that idea on ice.

Anthony Sowell: Judge Removed for Web Site Postings

In the latest legal twist, a judge has been removed from the case of Ohio serial killing suspect Anthony Sowell for web site postings.

The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold to be removed from the trial to avoid an appearance of bias resulting from web site postings made about Anthony Sowell on a newspaper's web site, CNN reports.

Handling of Foreign Speakers by NYPD Gets Audit

The Dept. of Justice will be auditing NYPD to review how it handles New Yorkers who don't speak English.

The routine audit by the federal government will look into whether language barriers affect the filing of complaints, emergency stops, arrests and crime prevention, the New York Times reports.

Former Governor Blagojevich Seeks to Subpoena Obama

Impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich filed a motion in federal court to subpoena President Obama to testify in the Blagojevich corruption case.

As previously discussed, ousted Governor Blagojevich was removed from office after an alleged attempt to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama and other alleged efforts to leverage the powers of his office. According to the 10-page motion it says that the president must have information pertaining to case, the Chicago Tribune reports.

New Maryland Law Changes Prisoner Census Head Count

Maryland has become the first state to change they way it does a head count of prisoners in an effort to improve census data used for redistricting.

Under the new law, the census population data will require incarcerated persons to be counted as residents of their home addresses in order to ensure fairness and accuracy, the Washington Post reports.

Balloon Boy Hoax: Heene Parents Pay Legal Restitution

The Heene parents (of balloon boy hoax fame) are on the hook to pay $36,000 in legal restitution.

A judge ordered Richard and Mayumi Heene to pay legal restitution to authorities who responded to the incident, according to the Associated Press.

CA Assembly Passes Stricter Bill for Sex Offender Laws

A bill named for Chelsea King, a slain San Diego County teenager passed the California Assembly Public Safety Committee. The bill proposes stricter sex offender laws.

Chelsea's Law won approval, clearing its first legislative committee and calls for some child molesters to be on lifetime parole with electronic monitoring, the Associated Press reports.

No Concealed Weapons Permit Required in Arizona

People 21 and older will no longer need a concealed weapons permit in Arizona.

Arizona has now become the third state, joining Alaska and Vermont, to allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit, the Associated Press reports.

States Cut Drug Treatment in Prison Programs

Facing budget problems, many states have been forced cut alcohol and drug treatment in prison programs.

As a result, studies have shown this will more likely increase offenders with substance abuse problems to return to prison and never receive treatment, the Associated Press reports.

Court Rejects Appeals by Ohio Death Row Inmate

Time has run out on Ohio death row inmate Darryl Durr, as the court has rejected his last minute legal challenge claiming the state's single shot injection chemicals violate federal prescription drug laws.

The court also rejected Darry Durr's claim that he could have a violent allergic reaction to the anesthetic Ohio uses to put inmates to death, the Associated Press reports.

Colorado Court of Appeals Revives Campus Gun Ban Case

The Colorado Court of Appeals has sided with a group of students fighting against a gun ban on their college campus.

The ruling revives a lawsuit that a judge tossed out, when the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus argued in 1994 that University of Colorado's policy banning concealed violates state gun laws, the Associated Press reports.

Michael Skakel Could See Parole in 3 Years

Kennedy clan member Michael Skakel might have won after all, even though finally convicted in 2002 for the 1975 murder of his then teenaged neighbor Martha Moxley. Although currently serving a 20 years to life sentence, Skakel will be eligible for parole in 2013. The Moxley murder case garnered nationwide attention after court and society observer Dominick Dunne and former police investigator Mark Fuhrman both wrote books that helped bring the case back to the attention of authorities. Although consistently appealing his case since 2002, Skakel lost his last appeal before the Connecticut Supreme Court this past Monday, April 12.

Mental Health Policy for Sex Offenders under Review

California is cutting many corners to save money, but a recent change -- in mental health policy for handling sex offenders -- is under review and may be illegal.

The Sex Offender Commitment Program, in which mental health experts interview sex offenders to evaluate if they are too dangerous has changed the way it operates, the San Diego Tribune reports. Instead of conducting multiple face-to-face interviews many mental health experts are more likely to review inmate's records from home on a computer screen.

Drug Offenders May Need Special State Driver's Licenses

Louisiana lawmakers are considering a bill requiring drug offenders to carry special state driver's licenses.

Individuals convicted of two or more felony drug offenses would need to obtain and carry the special driver's license.

California Bill Proposes Stricter Sex Offender Laws

A new California bill would put some child molesters in prison for life after a first offense under stricter sex offender laws.

The parents of slain San Diego County teenager Chelsea King are pushing for a stricter penalties on sex offenders including more time on parole with electronic monitoring, the Los Angeles Times reports. The legislation is called Chelsea's Law.

Oregon Looking to Legalize Pot

Oregon could be following California's lead as it is looking to legalize pot by putting a measure on the November ballot.

Marijuana advocates have begun collecting signatures for a measure that would legalize the sale, possession and personal private cultivation of marijuana, reports. A percentage of pot sales would be used to promote industrial hemp biodiesel, fiber, protein and oil. Also, through a structure set up of state-run stores an estimated 90% of total proceeds would go to Oregon's general fund.

New CA State Law Would Ban Texting While Biking

Seeing a need to toughen up on its policies, a newly proposed CA state law would ban texting while biking. 

California lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban the use of mobile phones while bicycling and expand the state's hands-free phone law, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Convicted Sex Offender Gets Computer Ban Tossed

A judge tossed a 30-year computer ban for a convicted sex offender and engineer. The judge ruled the computer ban was overly aggressive and interfered with the goal of rehabilitation.

A federal appeals court sided with a convicted sex offender saying the ban was too harsh, given that the computer is used for Mark Wayne Russell to make a living, the Associated Press reports.

Ohio Puts New DNA Law on the Books

Ohio has put a new DNA law on the books aimed at protecting the innocent from wrongful convictions and putting the real criminals behind bars.

Gov. Ted Strickland signed Senate Bill 77 into law, setting new statewide standards requiring DNA samples from to be taken from anyone arrested for a felony, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

FBI Uses Digital Billboards to Help Stop Crime

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now using giant digital billboards to help stop crime.

The FBI's use of digital billboards is the agency's latest technique to get information out and work to quickly apprehend elusive criminals, USA Today reports.

Death Row Inmate Sues over Use of Single Shot

Ohio death row inmate Darryl Durr has filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming its new single shot lethal injection method violates federal prescription drug laws.

Durr is arguing the use of the drugs violates the federal Controlled Substances and Food & Drug acts, according to the Columbus Dispatch. His lawsuit claims that drugs to be administered under the single shot protocol in his execution are illegal.

States Challenge Federal Gun Regulations

Several states have taken up legislation to keep firearms made inside their borders free from federal gun regulations.

Arizona is the latest state to join a handful of others challenging federal gun laws. The states have adopted a version of the "Firearms Freedom Act," according to World Net Daily News. 

MySpace Removes Convicted Sex Offender John Gardner

MySpace has a zero tolerance policy against registered sex offenders and recently enforced it by removing the user profile of convicted sex offender John Gardner.

The social networking company worked with the FBI to delete the user profile of John Gardner, who is accused of raping and murdering San Diego teenager, Chelsea King, the Associated Press reports.

Data Processing Work Gives Inmates Access to Info

Despite the warnings, many states continue to train prisoners to do data processing work, at times giving them access to Social Security numbers and other personal information.

The data processing work prisoners perform  federal, state and local governments may reduce recidivism and cut costs for cash-strapped states, but it also raises issues about the access prisoners have to citizens' personal information, USA Today reports.

NY Court of Appeals Limits Scope of Search Warrants

These days, it's going to take more than general search warrants for New York police to search everyone at a specific location. The NY Court of Appeals has now limited the scope of "all-persons-present" warrants.

The New York Court of Appeals said police are obligated to provide sufficient probable cause to justify the arrest and search of any person found at a location where such a warrant is executed, the New York Times reports.

FBI Computer System Upgrade Faces Costly Delays

The Federal Bureau of Investigation computer system upgrade project has hit another snag.

The Justice Department Audit has found the long-running effort to launch and build a paperless case management system is facing more delays and growing more costly, Reuters reports.

Georgia State Senate Bill Bans Fake Pot

Although it's not the real thing, fake pot is a pretty big deal as the Georgia State Senate voted to ban the use and sale of synthetic marijuana.

As a result, Georgia could become a part of a movement nationwide to crack down on fake pot also known as K2 or Spice and impose severe penalties, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

IL Juvenile Inmates Held Beyond Their Release Dates

Illinois juvenile inmates are being held in youth prisons beyond their release dates as the state struggles to find appropriate transitional living programs and halfway homes.

Nearly 10 percent of the inmates in Illinois' juvenile prisons have completed their sentences and are trapped in the system because they have nowhere to go, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Man Arrested for Death Threats to Senator

President Obama has been quoted as saying he would like to put civility back into American political life. At this point in time, it might be like putting the genie back in the bottle, because the harshness evidenced during the healthcare debate has morphed into something even more ugly and dangerous. On April 5, it was reported that Charles Alan Wilson was arrested and charged by federal prosecutors for threatening to kill Washington Senator Patty Murray for her stance on healthcare.

Philly Decriminalizes Small Possession of Pot

Philadelphia's new marijuana policy will take effect next month and decriminalizes the small possession of pot for personal use.

The goal of the new policy is to sweep about 3,000 small-time marijuana cases annually out of the main court system in an effort to unclog Philadelphia's crowded court dockets, reports. The policy decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana possession.

PA Boy May be Youngest to Serve Life without Parole

Jordan Brown, a 12-year-old boy could be the youngest to serve life without parole, if convicted of first-degree murder in a double homicide.

A judge ruled that he will stand trial as an adult and turned down a request to have the case transferred from criminal to juvenile court, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Jordan Brown would be the youngest person in the U.S. to serve a life sentence without any chance of parole, if he is convicted.

Convicted Murderer Scott Roeder Gets Life Sentence

It will be 50 years before convicted murder and anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder will be eligible for parole as he faces a life sentence for killing Dr. George Tiller.

A Kansas judge handed down 50 instead of 25 years to Roeder for the 2009 fatal shooting of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, the Associated News reports.

Audit Reporting Forces SF Crime Lab to Close

The San Francisco Police Department crime lab has been forced to close indefinitely after audit reporting concluded that there were too many cases per analyst.

According to the audit report, the crime lab had been "sacrificing quality for quantity" and that employees needed to adhere more closely to the industry's average annual caseload per worker, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

NY Repeat Offender Law Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal court has ruled that the NY repeat offender law is unconstitutional.

The state law which allows judges, not juries, to hand down harsher sentences to repeat offenders was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

Miami-Dade Jail Inmates Involved in Phone Scam

Inmates at Miami-Dade jails have found a way hack into phone lines to make free collect phone calls.

As a result many unsuspecting citizens have been left footing the bill, according to the Miami Herald. Corrections say there is little they can do to stop the jail phone scam, which has cost tens of thousands of dollars.