Saturday, January 22, 2011

Guilt by association

These days, more than ever, you have to be leery of the company you keep.  Two defendants found this out the hard way when they were convicted of felony crimes not for what they did, but rather for what their roommates allegedly did.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Book Review: Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series (Gotham Books, 2010)

Unfairness and stupidity aren’t the exclusive property of the criminal justice system.  In fact, they also infect the multi-million dollar business of college football.  In their recent book, Death to the BCS, authors Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter and Jeff Passan expose the BCS as a class system that would put Downton Abbey to shame.  In eighteen short chapters—and with a succinct, pull-no-punches style—the authors demonstrate how college football’s method of crowning its national champion (and divvying up its hundreds of millions of dollars) is “unfair,” downright “un-American,” and “border-line criminal.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

You’re damned if you do . . .

Criminal law is an incredibly malleable beast.  It is designed (or perhaps has evolved) to allow a judge to distort any given fact, or set of facts, to reach a predetermined outcome.  I recently exposed these judicial gymnastics in the Sixth Amendment context, here, and in the Fourth Amendment context, here. 

However, nowhere is this judicial slight-of-hand more evident than at sentencing hearings.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Capacious crimes and creative prosecutors

A recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal argued that it’s dangerous to own or manage a business these days.  Our government’s ever expanding maze of laws, including many strict and vicarious liability crimes, puts businesses and their managers at high risk for criminal prosecution.  More pointedly, prosecutors are able to “exploit vague laws to criminalize behavior that no one thought was illegal.”  But this dangerous trend isn’t limited to Wall Street; it’s happening on Main Street too.