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September 30, 2008

A space for thoughts and reactions to Shooter role-play

In addition to wanting to use this space to thank again our terrific counsel for their efforts in class (and to thank the Ohio lawyers' for being willing to postpone their arguments for 23 hours), I also wanted to create a new post to enable folks to ask questions or otherwise react to the Shooter case.

As I have been saying in class, the primary point of the role-play is to preview many homicide issues we will be working on after Fall break.  Students are thus encouraged to raise questions and report reactions about both the law and the facts involved in the Shooter case in order to further enhance the running start the exercise gives us for the second half of the semester. 

Though questions and reactions can be saved for class or office hours, the comment section of this blog is also could provide a useful forum for a collective dialogue.

September 30, 2008 in Class reflections | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 28, 2008

Volunteers still needed for Shooter homicide role play

Two wonderful students have already volunteered to prosecute Joe Shooter in Kansas and in Ohio, but we still need others to volunteer to prosecute Mr. Shooter in California and to defend him in all three jurisdictions.  Volunteers will not only earn my admiration and respect, but they will also get a strong running start on the homicide materials that will occupy us after Fall break.  Please e-mail me ASAP to express your interesting in volunteering in the Tuesday class role-play.

To aid in everyone's Shooter case analysis (which everyone needs to do), linked here is the verdict form that all the judges will have to fill out on Tuesday after the role play.

Download 2008_shooter_verdict_form.rtf

September 28, 2008 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 25, 2008

New Sentencing Project report on felon disenfranchisement

In these comments to a prior post, a few class members talked about felon disenfranchisement.  Anyone interested in this important topic (which also highlights state law variations), should be sure to a new report from The Sentencing Project. The report, titled "Expanding the Vote: State Felony Disenfranchisement Reform, 1997-2008," is available at this link.

September 25, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Terminator signs bill to terminate DWT (driving while texting)

In light of the recent railway tragedy, this story in the Los Angeles Times was not a big suprise, "Schwarzenegger outlaws text-messaging while driving."  Here are excerpts:

California drivers chafing at the ban on holding cellphones can soon forget about texting, too: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has banned motorists from sending, writing or reading messages on electronic devices starting Jan. 1.  Schwarzenegger signed legislation Wednesday that imposes a $20 fine for a first offense of texting while driving and a $50 fine for any subsequent violation....

Schwarzenegger said in a statement that he was "happy to sign" the prohibition against text-messaging, which surveys show is widespread among drivers.  "Banning electronic text messaging while driving will keep drivers' hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians," said Schwarzenegger....

Insurers, bicyclists and cellphone companies backed the measure that Schwarzenegger signed Wednesday, as they did the ban on holding a cellphone while driving, which took effect July 1. The earlier law allows drivers to use cellphones only with hands-free devices such as headsets; another law prohibits drivers younger than 18 from using any kind of phone or texting device while behind the wheel.

September 25, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 23, 2008

A modern application of Cheek ... AND a Baker variation

Though I have urged everyone not to worry too much about the specifics of the Cheek case, I thought folks might be intrigued by this new decision from the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, United States v. Cavins, which discusses Cheek.   Here is how the Eighth Circuit opinion in Cavins starts:

Robert Lee Cavins, Jr., a chiropractor, neither filed returns nor paid federal income taxes for the 1992-1994 tax years, except for estimated tax payments of $10,000 during 1992. Cavins and his wife also transferred their home and his office to residential and chiropractic trusts, and Cavins instructed his employees to deposit chiropractic revenues into various trust accounts. When Cavins sold his practice in 1999, he deposited $80,000 of the proceeds in an overseas bank. The Internal Revenue Service assessed nearly $130,000 in tax liabilities and filed a notice of federal tax lien, but the lien never attached to Cavins's property and the IRS went unpaid.

Cavins was charged and after a jury trial convicted of willfully attempting to evade and defeat payment of federal income tax in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201 and 18 U.S.C. § 2.  He appeals the conviction, arguing (i) that the indictment failed to charge and the government failed to prove a willful violation of § 7201; (ii) that the district court erred in refusing to dismiss the indictment because the Form 1040 returns for the 1992-1994 tax years failed to comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. §§ 3501-3521 (2000); and (iii) that the admission of evidence that he failed to file income tax returns violated his Fifth Amendment rights.

If you are interested in the outcome of the defendant's appeal, you will need to click through to the opinion.

UPDATE:  I just came across this new decision from the Ninth Circuit that reminded me a bit of Baker, although mens rea issues are not at the center of the case.  The decision in United States v. Able Time, Inc. starts this way:

Able Time, Inc. imported a shipment of watches into the United States.  The watches bore the mark “TOMMY,” which is a registered trademark owned by Tommy Hilfiger Licensing, Inc.  The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection seized the watches pursuant to the Tariff Act, which authorizes seizure of any “merchandise bearing a counterfeit mark.” 19 U.S.C. § 1526(e). Tommy Hilfiger did not make or sell watches at the time of the seizure.  Customs later imposed a civil penalty upon Able Time pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1526(f), which authorizes the imposition of a fine upon any person who imports merchandise that is seized under § 1526(e).

Once again, if you are interested in the outcome of this case, you will need to click through to the opinion.

September 23, 2008 in Notable real cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 19, 2008

How is everybody feeling about mens rea issues?

As I have promised/threatened, we should finish our multi-week discussion of mens rea concepts and doctrines during the first few classes the week of September 22.  Practically speaking, this means (1) you should be read up to the causation materials by Monday and through the causation materials before Wednesday's class, and (2) you will be getting the second half of the course syllabus this coming week.

This coming transition also means that you should be feeling more and more comfortable with all the mens rea concepts and doctrines that we have been working through recently.  If you are not starting to feel comfortable with terms like strict liability, purpose, knowledge, reckless and negligence (under the MPC and the Ohio Revised Code), please let me know via comments here or in some other way.  As perhaps you can already tell, law school life will start coming at you very fast once we get into October; now is a great time to take stock and to let me know of any enduring problems or concerns.

September 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 14, 2008

What criminal law rules surround the Houston curfew?

I have a (dangerous?) tendency to look at all current events through the lens of criminal law.  For example, consider today's news that, in the wake of Hurricane Ike, "Houston's police chief announced Sunday [that a] citywide curfew, from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m., will be in place until Saturday morning."  What I am wondering is (a) whether/how this curfew is to be enforced through the criminal law and criminal penalties, and (b) whether violating the curfew might be a strict liability crime.

As of this writing, I cannot find any on-line information about the specifics of the Houston curfew.  But even without any addition information, it is useful for everyone to think about whether and how the criminal law can and should be used to help maintain order and safety in the wake of a natural disaster.

September 14, 2008 in Notable real cases | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 4, 2008

Materials for unpacking mens rea and statutory construction

As we have discussed in class, I encourage everyone to use the extra time before we meet again to work through with particularily (and perhaps with fellow students) the Ohio and Model Penal Code mens rea provisions. 

I have uploaded the key attachments here in case anyone needs an extra copy.  Also, folks should feel free to use the comments as a place to ask questions about any aspects of Purpose, Knowledge, Reckless and Negligence that is confusing.

Download ohio_liabilitymr_statutes.rtf

Download 2008_handout_2_on_mens_rea_issues.wpd

September 4, 2008 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 3, 2008

Some pictures to help understand Dillard and Wulff

3030Thanks to the web, I was able to find this picture of the weapon that Moses Dillard Jr. was carrying when stopped by the police.  As you reflect on this case, think about whether and why the type of firearm that Dillard was carrying matters (and note that the court spends a good deal of time talking about the type of weapon toward the end of its opinion).

Talon I was also able to find this picture of a talon necklace that is likely similar to what got Robert Wulff in trouble, though I doubt this picture shows talons from the red-talked hawk and the great-horned owl.

September 3, 2008 in Reflections on class readings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack