Showing posts from 2010

Omar Khadr, Guantanamo Bay Detainee, Pleads Guilty

According to reports from CNN , Guantanamo Bay's youngest detainee, Omar Khadr, pleaded guilty to the charges against him on Monday. The Sentencing Law and Policy Blog also has a post regarding the plea deal. Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to charges against him Monday, the Pentagon said, in the first military commission trial there since Barack Obama became president. Khadr, 24, was accused of throwing a grenade during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan that resulted in the death of Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, a Special Forces medic. He also admitted that he "converted landmines to Improvised Explosive Devices and assisted in the planting of 10 IEDs with the intent of killing American forces" in the months before killing Speer, the Pentagon said. Khadr, the youngest detainee at Guantanamo Bay, was 15 at the time. He faced a maximum sentence of life in prison. He pleaded guilty to murder in violation of the laws of war, attempted murder in vio

Bibas on Regulating Plea Bargaining

Stephanos Bibas (University of Pennsylvania) has a new article posted on SSRN. Download the article here . Padilla v. Kentucky was a watershed in the Court’s turn to regulating plea bargaining. For decades, the Supreme Court has focused on jury trials as the central subject of criminal procedure, with only modest and ineffective procedural regulation of guilty pleas. This older view treated trials as the norm, was indifferent to sentencing, trusted judges and juries to protect innocence, and drew clean lines excluding civil proceedings and collateral consequences from its purview. In United States v. Ruiz in 2002, the Court began to focus on the realities of the plea process itself, but did so only half-way. Not until Padilla this past year did the Court regulate plea bargaining’s substantive calculus, its attendant sentencing decisions, the lawyers who run it, and related civil and collateral consequences. Padilla marks the eclipse of Justice Scalia’s formalist originalism, the partin

JetBlue Flight Attendant Pleads Guilty; Avoids Jail Time

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog is reporting that JetBlue Flight Attendant Steven Slater has pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted criminal mischief and will not serve any jail time. According to NBC News New York : Former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, who made an abrupt emergency chute exit from a plane at JFK - - and from his career -- has pleaded guilty to one count of felony attempted criminal mischief and one count of misdemeanor criminal mischief. Slater will not go to prison. A one-to three-year sentence was delayed by Supreme Court Judge Marcia Hirsch. His deal requires that he enter a year-long mental health program and also receive substance and alcohol abuse counseling. Slater also agreed to reimburse JetBlue $10,000 -- the cost for repairing the chute. Slater's August 9 outburst became a global sensation as some considered him a hero of the working man after he initially said he had been hit in the head with luggage by a rude passenger. Nobody was hurt a

Prosecutorial Misconduct

USA Today has an interesting article that is receiving attention around the blogosphere, including here and here . According to the article, USA Today has documented 201 criminal cases since 1997 in which federal prosecutors violated laws and ethical rules. According to sources interviewed for the article, this is just "the tip of the iceberg." Federal prosecutors are supposed to seek justice, not merely score convictions. But a USA TODAY investigation found that prosecutors repeatedly have violated that duty in courtrooms across the nation. The abuses have put innocent people in prison, set guilty people free and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees and sanctions. Judges have warned for decades that misconduct by prosecutors threatens the Constitution's promise of a fair trial. Congress in 1997 enacted a law aimed at ending such abuses. Yet USA TODAY documented 201 criminal cases in the years that followed in which judges determined that Justice Department

Abdulmutallab and Plea Bargaining

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has an interesting article today entitled "Why Not Just Let Abdulmutallab Plead Guilty?" On Monday, the accused Christmas Day bomber, Umar Faroukh Abdulmutallab, told Detroit federal judge Nancy G. Edmunds that he wanted to represent himself. He also asked Judge Edmunds whom he should talk to if he wanted “to plead guilty to some counts.” But Judge Edmunds didn’t just accept Abdulmutallab’s request. She peppered Abdulmutallab with questions about his understanding of U.S. law and criminal procedure. She told him it was unwise to move forward without a lawyer, though she said she’s ultimately let him do that. She also said she wouldn’t accept a guilty plea now. So why not? Why would a judge put a defendant like Abdulmutallab through the wringer before granting what appear to be reasonable requests? We did a little reporting in pursuit of this answer yesterday — click here for the sidebar that ran in the WSJ. The federal court system makes it h

Podgor on Pleading Blindly

Ellen S. Podgor (Stetson Law) has posted an interesting article on SSRN entitled "Pleading Blindly." In the criminal area, discovery violations are a continual concern. Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was caught with discovery violations that reflected prosecutorial misconduct and improprieties. To its credit, the DOJ issued three Memos that sought to affirmatively promote office compliance with discovery obligations. The three Memos of former Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden, however, fall short in an important area, discovery for defendants prior to entering into plea agreements. This Essay places this discussion in the backdrop of existing legal scholarship and existing precedent, most importantly the Supreme Court opinion in United States v. Ruiz, that provides little support for mandating discovery to defendants prior to entering into a plea agreement. Protecting the importance of a voluntary and knowing plea cannot be overlooked in assuring an efficient

NYT Article Regarding Innocent People Confessing to Crimes

The New York Times has an interesting article regarding innocent people confessing to crimes they did not commit. Eddie Lowery lost 10 years of his life for a crime he did not commit. There was no physical evidence at his trial for rape, but one overwhelming factor put him away: he confessed. At trial, the jury heard details that prosecutors insisted only the rapist could have known, including the fact that the rapist hit the 75-year-old victim in the head with the handle of a silver table knife he found in the house. DNA evidence would later show that another man committed the crime. But that vindication would come only years after Mr. Lowery had served his sentence and was paroled in 1991. “I beat myself up a lot” about having confessed, Mr. Lowery said in a recent interview. “I thought I was the only dummy who did that.” But more than 40 others have given confessions since 1976 that DNA evidence later showed were false, according to records compiled by Brandon L. Garrett, a professo

Somali Man Pleads Guilty in U.S. Piracy Prosecution

CNN is reporting that Jama Idle Ibrahim has pleaded guilty in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia to acts related to piracy on the high-seas. During the proceedings, Ibrahim admitted he had intended to seize a U.S. merchant vessel on April 10 and hold it for ransom. According to the United States Attorney in the district, this is the first conviction for piracy in Norfolk for 150 years. Sentencing is scheduled for November 29, 2010, and the prosecution and defense have agreed to a recommended sentence of 30 years in prison. The attack occurred in the Gulf of Aden between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Ibrahim is one of 11 Somalis sent to Norfolk for prosecution in two attacks. Five others are charged in connection with an April 1 attack on the Norfolk-based frigate Nicholas. Ibrahim pleaded guilty to charges of attacking to plunder a vessel, engaging in a violent act aboard a vessel and using a firearm during a crime of violence. The charge of committing piracy on the hi

New Article Regarding Plea Bargaining and the Brady Safety-Valve

I have just posted my new article on SSRN , which is entitled "Bargained Justice: Plea Bargaining's Innocence Problem and the Brady Safety-Valve." ABSTRACT If any number of attorneys were asked in 2004 whether Lea Fastow’s plea bargain in the Enron case was constitutional, the majority would respond with a simple word – Brady. Yet while the 1970 Supreme Court decision Brady v. United States authorized plea bargaining as a form of American justice, the case also contained a vital caveat that has been largely overlooked by scholars, practitioners, and courts for almost forty years. Brady contains a safety-valve that caps the amount of pressure that may be asserted against defendants by prohibiting prosecutors from offering incentives in return for guilty pleas that are so coercive as to overbear defendants’ abilities to act freely. Further, as a means to discern whether the safety-valve fails in the future and prosecutors are offering unconstitutional incentives, the Brady

Barefoot Bandit Pleads Guilty

CNN is reporting that the Barefoot Bandit, nineteen year old Colton Harris-Moore, has pleaded guilty in a Bahamian court to a charge of illegally landing a plane. He was sentenced to three months in jail or a $300 fine. A deportation order was also entered in the case. According to CNN : Harris-Moore, 19, appeared before Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez for arraignment Tuesday. He was taken into custody on Harbour Island in the Bahamas early Sunday. He is sought in a string of home and airport break-ins in various U.S. locations along with thefts of vehicles. He faces charges in Washington state in the theft of an aircraft, and police have said they believe he stole a plane in Indiana and flew it to the Bahamas, where it was found off Abaco Island. The teen has been on the run since he escaped from a juvenile halfway house in Renton, Washington, in 2008. The FBI had offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. "At this point, we're not aware of any requests from

More on the Russian Sleeper Agents' Plea Deals

The New York Times has continued coverage of the prisoner swap between the United States and Russia. Included in the article are further details of the plea deal that lead to the exchange. The sensational case — complete with invisible ink, buried cash and a red-haired beauty whose romantic exploits have been excavated in the tabloids — came to a dramatic denouement in court. The 10 defendants sat in the jury box, while their lawyers and prosecutors filled the well of the packed courtroom. Some of the Russian agents wore jail garb over orange T-shirts, while others wore civilian clothes. Natalia Pereverzeva, for example, known as Patricia Mills, sat in jeans with a dark sweater. Few of the defendants conversed with one another. Some looked grim. One, Vicky Peláez, appeared to be weeping as she gestured to her sons at the close of the hearing. At one point, Judge Kimba M. Wood asked the 10 to disclose their true names. The first to rise was the man known as Richard Murphy, who lived w

Former Congressman Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Justice, Acting as Unregistered Foreign Agent

The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri has issued a press release stating that a former congressman and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and to acting as an unregistered foreign agent related to his work for an Islamic charity with ties to international terrorism. According to the press release : Mark Deli Siljander, 59, of Great Falls, Va., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey to one charge contained in an Oct. 21, 2008, federal indictment, and an additional charge filed today, involving his work for the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA) of Columbia, Mo. Siljander was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan and was a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations General Assembly. Co-defendant Abdel Azim El-Siddig, of Chicago, Ill., a former IARA fundraiser, also pleaded guilty today to conspiring with Siljander and others to hire Siljander to lobby for IARA’

Breaking News! Ten Russian Spies Plead Guilty in New York Federal Court

According to various news sources, the ten individuals arrested in late June and accused of spying for the Russians have pleaded guilty in New York federal court. The guilty pleas are thought to be the first step in a prisoner swap between the United States and Russia. According to Fox News : Ten people accused of spying for Russia pleaded guilty inside a Manhattan courtroom Thursday as the largest Russia-U.S. spy swap since the Cold War appeared to get under way. The Russians will trade four people for the ten accused Russian spies in U.S. custody, a source confirmed to Fox News. The defendants all affirmed U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood's question of whether they would plead guilty in a Manhattan courtroom. The defendants were expected to be deported to Russia within hours, apparently in exchange for the release of convicted Russian spies. A Russian arms control analyst convicted of spying for the United States was reportedly plucked from a Moscow prison and flown to Vienna earli

Plea Bargaining an Issue in Second Circuit Death Penalty Decision

The New York Times reported last week on the case of Ronell Wilson, whose death sentence for killing two New York City undercover police detectives in 2003 has been overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The decision is noteworthy because federal juries in New York State are historically reluctant to sentence defendants to death. According to the New York Times, federal prosecutors in New York have asked for the death sentence in 19 cases from 1988-2008, but in only one case - that of Ronell Wilson - has the jury returned a verdict of death. The case also involves plea bargaining. As reported by the New York Times: The Court of Appeals’ ruling centered on two arguments that prosecutors made to the jury about Mr. Wilson’s remorse and acceptance of responsibility for the killings during the penalty phase of his trial. The judges noted that prosecutors used Mr. Wilson’s demand for a trial and his failure to plead guilty as evidence that he lacked remorse

More on the Faisal Shahzad Plea Hearing and the War on Terrorism

The New York Times has an interesting article discussing the Faisal Shahzad plea hearing and his statements to the court about his conduct and his decision to plead guilty. According to the New York Times, Shahzad stated that he was "a Muslim soldier" and he was "avenging" the war in Afghanistan and American interventions in Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia. The article asks two important questions based on Shahzad's behavior: (1) Has the war on terrorism become the fuel for terrorist recruitment, and (2) where does the was in Afghanistan fit into the overall campaign against terror. It's an interesting read. Click here to read the entire story.

Times Square Bomber Pleads Guilty

The New York Times is reporting that the failed Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, has pleaded guilty to ten criminal charges related to his attempted terrorist attack earlier this year. During the hearing, Shahzad admitted to receiving terrorist training from the Taliban. In making his admission of guilt, he stated that he was "part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people." "I want to plead guilty," he continued, "and I'm going to plead guilty 100 time over because until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that." Shahzad faces up to life in prison for his acts. Sentencing is scheduled for October 5, 2010.

Plea Bargaining at the ICTY and ICC

I recently returned from a trip to The Hague, where I met with officials from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ( ICTY ) and the International Criminal Court ( ICC ). As you might expect, plea bargaining was one of the significant topics of my discussions. In fact, I even had the opportunity to present some of my research research regarding plea bargaining to members of the ICTY. Based on my discussions, it appears that the ICTY has fully embraced the concept of plea bargaining, even though the concept is prohibited by many of the jurisdictions from which its judges, prosecutors, and defense counsel originate. Why is this the case? For much the same reason it has dominated the American criminal justice system for decades - it saves resources and allows prosecutors the flexibility to reward those who would cooperate against higher level defendants. In comparison, those at the ICC seemed less convinced that plea bargaining would be an often utilized tool in th

Southern Illinois University School of Law Hosts U.S. Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler

Southern Illinois University School of Law was honored to host Acting United States Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler earlier this month as its 2010 commencement speaker. SIU School of Law has created a web page regarding the event, which includes a podcast of the Deputy Attorney General's remarks. From the website: “The Deputy Attorney General is the second highest official in the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Assistant Professor of Law Lucian E. Dervan, “and his responsibilities include not only advising and assisting the Attorney General in formulating and implementing Departmental policies and programs, but providing overall supervision and direction to all organizational units of the Department.” Grindler, who grew up in St. Louis, MO, rejoined the Department of Justice in 2009 as deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division before his appointment earlier this year by Attorney General Eric Holder to his current position. Grindler received both his law

NY Subway Terror Plot Suspect Pleads Guilty

CNN is reporting that Zarein Ahmedzay pleaded guilty today to terrorism charges stemming from his role in the al-Qaeda plot to conduct suicide bombings on the New York subway system in September 2009. The charges to which Ahmedzay pleaded guilty included conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction in the U.S., conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, and providing material support to a terrorist organization. According to federal prosecutors, Ahmedzay and another individual conspired with Najibullah Zazi, who earlier pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. Ahmedzay listened intently in court and swiveled from side to side in his chair as the judge made sure he understood what entering a guilty plea meant. He responded that everything was clear to him and then stood up to make a statement detailing his role in the terror plot. Ahmedzay started his statement with a quote from the Quran and ended with a message to Americans. "I strongly urge the American people to stop supp

Guilty Plea in UNC Student Body President Killing - Defendant Avoids Death Penalty

The AP is reporting that Demario Atwater, one of the individuals accused of killing UNC Student Body President Eve Carson, pleaded guilty to federal charges on Monday, including carjacking resulting in death and kidnapping. The plea deal means Atwater will avoid the death penalty. Eve Carson, 22, of Athens, Ga., was found shot to death in the middle of a Chapel Hill street in March 2008. She had been shot five times, including once in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun. "While we deplore the evil and negligence that led to Eve's death, we agree with the U.S. Attorney's decision to accept the plea agreement," Carson's parents said in a statement Monday released by prosecutors. "We are very grateful for the dedication and hard work that have gone into the investigation and prosecution of this crime." Atwater is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 23, and he still faces charges in state court along with Laurence Lovette, who was only 17 at the time of the kil

Supreme Court Rules that a Client Must be Informed of the Possibility of Deportation Before Pleading Guilty

The Supreme Court ruled today in the case of Padilla v. Kentucky (March 31, 2010) that an attorney with a client who is an alien charged with a crime has a constitutional obligation to inform the client that a guilty plea carries a risk that the client will be deported. The Court, however, did not decide whether the individual in this case had been prejudiced by the lawyer's failure to give that advice. The opinion was written by Justice Stevens, with Justice Alito writing a concurring opinion, joined by the Chief Justice, and Justice Scalia dissenting, joined by Justice Thomas. Petitioner Padilla, a lawful permanent resident of the United States for over 40 years, faces deportation after pleading guilty to drug distribution charges in Kentucky. In postconviction proceedings, he claims that his counsel not only failed to advise him of this consequence before he entered the plea, but also told him not to worry about deportation since he had lived in this country so long. He allege

A Plea Deal in China for Three Rio Tinto Employees?

The New York Times reports that three employees of Rio Tinto (the British-Australian mining giant) agreed to plead guilty in China Monday to taking bribes while working for the company. This case has received much attention as the arrests of the employees came just after Rio Tinto rejected a $19.5 billion investment deal from Chinalco , one of the biggest state-owned Chinese mining groups. The timing lead many to claim the arrests were orchestrated to punish the company. Three employees of Rio Tinto , the British-Australian mining giant, agreed to plead guilty Monday to taking bribes while working for the company in China, making stunning confessions on the opening day of their three-day trial here. The employees, including Stern Hu , a senior executive and Australian citizen, admitted to having received several million dollars in bribes, according to their lawyers. A fourth employee is also expected to plead guilty. The proceedings were largely closed to the public, but the Austr

The Right to Counsel And Plea Bargaining

The New York Times had an excellent article over the weekend regarding the right to counsel in a case where the defendant was encouraged to plead guilty to a felony that turned out not to be a felony at all. Below are some portions of the article, but the entire piece (which is well worth reading) can be found here . ... Everybody around Fort Edward knew Pat Barber, a fixture at the courthouse and a stepfather of two whose family owned a local tavern. He had been here all his life except for college in western New York and law school at Syracuse. So there was not much in the way of vetting when he put in a cost-conscious bid to become Washington County’s chief public defender, a part-time position he added to his private practice of trial work, debt collections, wills and divorces. It was quickly settled. Beginning in 2006, he would get $50,000 a year and some rent for the office he had shared with a law partner who had recently died. “We have to have a good reason not to take the low

Chicago Man to Plead Guilty in Mumbai Terror Attacks

According to Fox News , David Coleman Headley of Chicago is scheduled to plead guilty tomorrow in U.S. District Court with regard to his having scouted targets in Mumbai prior to the 2008 terrorist attacks that killed 166 and his having plotted to attack a Danish newspaper. Headley pleaded not guilty in January to 12 counts, including six that charge a conspiracy to murder and maim people in India and provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The maximum sentence is the death penalty. Headley's attorney, John Theis, said he and his client "have been in discussions with the government" and Thursday's action would reflect the results. He declined to comment further. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, also declined to comment. Headley, 49, is accused of going to Mumbai to lay groundwork for the November 2008 rampage that the government blames on the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. The group is antagonistic

Defendant in Letterman Extortion Case Pleads Guilty

The New York Times is reporting that Robert Haldermann, a CBS producer who was accused of attempting to extort $2 million from talk show host David Letterman, pleaded guilty today in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to second-degree attempted grand larceny. The plea agreement requires Haldermann to serve six months in jail, serve four and a half years on probation, and perform 1,000 hours of community service. Mr. Halderman, an Emmy award-winning television producer, was accused of trying to extort $2 million from Mr. Letterman by threatening that he would make information about Mr. Letterman’s affairs public. Mr. Halderman’s lawyer, Gerald L. Shargel, had argued that his client intended only to write a book or a screenplay about Mr. Letterman’s affairs, but that before going forward with the project, Mr. Halderman simply was offering to sell Mr. Letterman the rights to the story for $2 million. Mr. Halderman is scheduled to be sentenced and go to jail on May 4. With good behavior, he

Imam Pleads Guilty in Zazi Terror Plot

Ahmad Afzali, an Imam linked to Najibullah Zazi, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. According to the terms of the plea agreement, Afzali avoided a lengthy prison sentence, but he will have to leave the country. The Miami Herald has a full report: A tearful Ahmad Afzali told a judge in federal court in Brooklyn that he had wanted to help authorities in the investigation of the threat, but lied under grilling by the FBI about his phone conversations with admitted al-Qaida associate Najibullah Zazi. "In doing so, I failed to live up to my obligation to this country, my community, my family and my religion," he said. "I am truly sorry." Under the plea deal, Afzali faces up to six months behind bars at sentencing on April 8. It also requires the Afghanistan-born defendant to leave the country within 90 days after completing the sentence or face deportation. Afterward, he told reporters, "I just signed my death sentence." Afzali, 39, was arrested in Septe

Cleric Plans to Plead Guilty in Zazi Matter

According to CNN , Ahmad Wais Afzali , a Muslim cleric and funeral director for the New York borough of Queens, will plead guilty today to making false statements to federal authorities regarding the investigation into Najibullah Zazi's plot to detonate bombs in the New York City subway system. For information regarding the Zazi plea agreement, see here , here , and here . Ahmad Wais Afzali , Muslim cleric and funeral director from the New York borough of Queens, was among the first people charged in the alleged plot. He is expected to plead guilty in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday afternoon, the source said. Afzali's defense attorney did not immediately respond to a call from CNN. Robert Nardoza , a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, declined to comment. Afzali is charged in a four-count indictment. He's accused of lying about whether he tipped off Najibullah Zazi that the FBI had been asking questions. Zazi subsequently pleaded guilty

News Outlets Seek Terror Plea Agreement

According to the New York Times , the AP and Newsday have asked a judge to make public a sealed plea agreement between the DOJ and Najibullah Zazi, the man who pleaded guilty last week to plotting to blow up New York City subways following the September 11 anniversary. A federal judge sealed prosecutors' agreement with Najibullah Zazi, a 25-year-old former Colorado airport shuttle driver who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges this week. Zazi admitted hatching a plot to make homemade bombs and use them to launch a rush-hour attack. Both Zazi's attorneys and prosecutors asked for the agreement to be sealed, said Robert Nardoza, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn. That request was also sealed. Nardoza declined further comment Wednesday. Zazi's attorney, William Stampur, did not immediately return a message left Wednesday by The Associated Press. In a letter to U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie on Tuesday, Newsday reporter John Riley said a report tha

Defense Company BAE Systems Pleads Guilty

The New York Times reports that defense company BAE Systems PLC pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges this week and was fined $400 million. The fine represents one of the largest in the DOJ's efforts to combat overseas corruption. The defense contractor knowingly failed to ensure compliance with legal prohibitions on foreign bribery. The company's conduct impeded U.S. efforts to be certain international trade is free of corruption, said acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler. The gain to BAES was more than $200 million from false statements and failures to disclose information to the U.S. government, according to court papers in the case. From 2000 to 2002, the company told the Defense and Justice departments that it would carry out compliance measures in accordance with anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and with similar foreign laws. According to papers filed in the case, BAES took steps to conceal from the U.S. government undisclosed payments

Sixth Circuit Rejects Victims' Plea to Reject Corporate Plea Agreement

The Sentencing Law and Policy Blog has an interesting post regarding a recent 6th Circuit opinion that denied the victims' request that a corporate plea agreement be rejected. Below is a portion of the decision. This petition for a writ of mandamus and a related appeal arise from the proceedings in United States v. Arctic Glacier Int’l Inc., No. 1:09-cr-00149 (S.D. Ohio). In that case, Arctic Glacier International was charged in a criminal information with violating 15 U.S.C. § 1 by participating in “a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by allocating packaged-ice customers in southeastern Michigan and the Detroit, Michigan metropolitan area.” The petitioners describe themselves as “nine consumers and one business that paid too much for packaged ice as a result of Arctic Glacier’s offense” based on purchases both within and outside of the geographic area of the offense. Their civil action for damages is pending in the Eastern District of Michigan. In re Packaged Ice

Nadel Pleads Guilty in Ponzi Scheme

Arthur Nadel, founder of the Scoop Management hedge fund in Sarasota, Florida, has pleaded guilty to fifteen counts relating to his having run a Ponzi scheme. According to reports, Nadel disappeared for two weeks last year after authorities began investigating allegations that he had stolen money from his investors. Further investigation revealed that Nadel had raised over $350 million from 370 investors. While he informed the investors the fund's investments were returning double digit gains, the fund was actually losing money. Although investors were told the fund had over $360 million, it contained less than $125,000 at the time of its collapse. According to an article from Bloomberg : Florida money manager Arthur Nadel pleaded guilty to fraud 13 months after he disappeared for two weeks in January 2009 as state authorities began investigating investor complaints about missing money. U.S. District Judge John Koeltl in New York accepted the guilty plea today. Nadel, 77, founder o

Breaking News - Zazi Pleads Guilty in Plot to Blow Up Subways

The New York Times is reporting that Najibullah Zazi has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges after admitting to his involvement in a plot to blow up NY City subways. He admitted that he came to New York around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks to kill himself and others on the subway, to draw attention to the killing of Afghan civilians by the United States military. Mr. Zazi appeared before Judge Raymond J. Dearie at Federal District Court in Brooklyn. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder overseas, and providing material support for a terrorist organization. He faces a sentence of life in prison... Throughout the 45-minute proceeding on Monday, Mr. Zazi seemed unaffected by his circumstances, even smiling on several occasions. And when he spoke, he did so in an unapologetic, matter-of-fact manner. “I would sacrifice myself to bring attention to what the United States military was doing to civilians in Afghanistan,” he s

Breaking News - Zazi to Plead Guilty to Terror Charges

Numerous sources are reporting today that Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan immigrant labeled one of the most serious threats to the United States since the 9/11 attacks, has agreed to plead guilty to terrorism charges later today. According to the New York Times , Zazi will appear before Judge Raymond J. Dearie at the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn at 2:30pm to enter his plea to charges of conspiracy to detonate bombs in the Unites States. Mr. Zazi, who was born in Afghanistan and was raised in Pakistan and later Flushing, Queens, where he attended high school, was working as an airport shuttle driver in Denver when he was arrested in September 2009. The federal authorities said he had received weapons and explosives training at a Qaeda camp in Pakistan, bought beauty products that contained the raw materials to build a bomb and traveled to Queens with bomb-making instructions in his laptop on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Two people with knowledge of the case said that

Professor Berman on a Comic Book Plea Deal

Over at the Sentencing Law and Policy blog, Professor Doug Berman has added some interesting comments about plea bargaining and sentencing differentials to the end of a blog regarding a man who pleaded guilty to violation of the 2003 Protect Act and was sentenced to six months in prison for importing and possessing Japanese manga books depicting illustrations of child sex and bestiality. With regard to the decision of the individual to plead guilty, Professor Berman stated: Because I am not a First Amendment guru, I have no strong sense of whether Christopher Handley's prosecution and conviction for importing the wrong kind of comic books from Japan should be considered constitutionally problematic. But, as a sentencing guru, I do have a strong sense that the threat of a much longer (guideline recommended?) sentence after any trial likely prompted Handley to plead guilty and to apparently forego whatever constitutional defenses he might have had available.

The Case Against Plea Bargaining

This is the title of an interesting article I found from the Cato Institute back in 2003. In the piece, Timothy Lynch argues that plea bargaining is unconstitutional. A link to the article is here , and a brief portion of the argument is available below. Plea bargaining has come to dominate the administration of justice in America. According to one legal scholar, “Every two seconds during a typical workday, a criminal case is disposed of in an American courtroom by way of a guilty plea or nolo contendere plea.” Even though plea bargaining pervades the justice system, I argue that the practice should be abolished because it is unconstitutional... Thomas Jefferson famously observed that “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” The American experience with plea bargaining is yet another confirmation of that truth. The Supreme Court unleashed a runaway train when it sanctioned plea bargaining in Bordenkircher v. Hayes. Despite a steady media d

New Article Regarding Plea Bargaining in Terrorism Cases

I have just posted my new article entitled Plea Bargaining in the Shadow of Terror: Plea Bargaining During the War on Terrorism and the Dual Chambers of the Plea Bargaining Machine on SSRN (link here ). An abstract of the article is contained below. ABSTRACT While obtaining the exact number of defendants who have pleaded guilty to terrorism or terrorism related charges since September 11, 2001 is impossible due to the federal government’s refusal to release such information, it is estimated that there have been several hundred convictions of which over 80% resulted from a plea of guilty. While this plea rate for terrorism cases is certainly lower than the plea rate for other federal offenses, which on average has remained above 95% for almost every year since 1999, a plea rate in excess of 80% is remarkably high given the psyche of those who would engage in the acts being prosecuted. This article seeks to understand why a terrorist would plead guilty and, by the same

Rothstein Pleads Guilty in South Florida Ponzi Scheme

According to the Miami Herald , Scott Rothstein, a previously successful attorney, pleaded guilty Wednesday to running South Florida's largest ever ponzi scheme - estimated to total $1.2 billion. According to the Miami Herald: Dressed in a tan prison jumpsuit and shackled at his ankles and wrists, the disbarred 47-year-old displayed no emotion as he acknowledged guilt for operating a massive Ponzi scheme that destroyed his law firm, damaged charities and drained the bank accounts of his investors and clients. Rothstein, looking pale and gray, did not address the court, other than to answer yes or no to questions from the judge and say that he was taking medication for his cholesterol, blood pressure and anxiety. Rothstein's notorious misdeeds have been compared to those of the world's biggest Ponzi schemer, Bernard Madoff, convicted last year of running a $65 billion scam and sentenced to 150 years. Prosecutors indicated more arrests were likely as they continue their inve