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Showing posts from July, 2013

Bradley Manning Verdict - Not Guilty of Aiding the Enemy

Bradley Manning, accused of being the largest leaker of classified information in American history, has been found not guilty of aiding the enemy by the judge in his court-martial.  This charge carried a sentence of up to life in prison.  He previously pleaded guilty to other lesser charges that carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. From a New York Magazine article regarding Manning. Manning shipped out to Iraq with a top security clearance, his multiple identities held close inside him. There was abundant evidence that Manning was having trouble keeping it together psychologically, but the Army brushed aside doubts—it desperately needed intel analysts with Manning’s computer skills. After all, the Army was wired; in fact, the whole government had never been more networked, a development that had been pushed partly by the desire to improve information-sharing and shorten reaction time after 9/11. Much of the war was fought remotely; triggers were pulled by people in Langley

Should corporations be permitted to plead guilty?

Doug Berman has an interesting post over at the Sentencing Law & Policy Blog regarding a recent case from Judge Young of the District Court of Massachusetts.  According to Berman, the Judge's opinion in United States v. Orthofix , No. 12-10169 (D. Mass. July 26, 2013), indicates the Judge may not believe the public interest is served by corporate plea deals. From the opinion: This memorandum sets out the Court’s reasons for rejecting each of the (C) pleas from these two corporate criminal defendants. In many ways, the Court’s decision to reject Orthofix’s (C) plea stands as the better subject for elucidation of the Court’s principled objection toward accepting (C) pleas from corporate criminals. This is because, in contrast with the wholly unsatisfactory settlement proffered by APTx, see APTx’s Plea Hr’g 18:13 (“[T]his is a strikingly below guidelines sentence . . . .”), Orthofix’s plea was tendered as part of what was, substantially, “a fair and appropriate settlement,” T

Five Years Later and Few Charges re 2008 Financial Crisis

NPR has an interesting story regarding the lack of prosecutions related to the financial collapse in 2008 in the United States.  According to the story, part of the reason for the lack of prosecutions might be the lack of investigatory resources targeting the issue. In the latest in a string of insider trading cases, federal prosecutors this week indicted SAC Capital, one of the most prominent and profitable hedge funds in the world. But when it comes to the 2008 financial crisis that sent the economy into a tailspin, criminal prosecutions have been few and far between. "The folks responsible for this incredibly painful economic damage that struck our economy have gone free," says Neil Barofsky, a former federal prosecutor who also served as special inspector general overseeing the big Troubled Asset Relief Program bank bailout, signed into law by President Bush in 2008... The article goes on to describe the allocation of resources by the government.  According to the arti

Breaking News - Ariel Castro to Plead Guilty - Avoid Death Penalty - Life Plus 1,000 Years

CNN is reporting that Ariel Castro agreed today to plead guilty in return for the government taking the death penalty off the table.  Reportedly, Castro will receive life plus 1,000 years. From CNN: Ariel Castro agreed Friday in an Ohio courtroom to a plea deal in one of the most sensational kidnapping cases in recent memory. The deal, reached with prosecutors, would let him avoid the possibility of a death sentence and spare his alleged victims from having to testify at a trial. The plea deal recommends that he be sentenced to life in prison without parole -- that he never get a parole hearing. It could also mean that a trial Castro was facing on August 5 will not happen and he will not face the possibility of being sentenced to death. Judge Michael J. Russo went over the deal with Castro, and told him that he would be labeled as a sexual predator. Castro replied that he understood. At one point, he interjected that he was "also a victim as a child ..." to which Russo re

Halliburton Agrees to Plead Guilty to Destruction of Evidence in Connection with Deepwater Horizon Tragedy

The Department of Justice announced this week that Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. has agreed to plead guilty to charges related to the Deepwater Horizon investigation. According to the DOJ: Halliburton has signed a cooperation and guilty plea agreement with the government in which Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty and admit its criminal conduct. As part of the plea agreement, Halliburton has further agreed, subject to the court’s approval, to pay the maximum-available statutory fine, to be subject to three years of probation and to continue its cooperation in the government’s ongoing criminal investigation. Separately, Halliburton made a voluntary contribution of $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that was not conditioned on the court’s acceptance of its plea agreement. According to court documents, on April 20, 2010, while stationed at the Macondo well site in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon rig experienced an uncontrolled blowout and rela

Bicyclist Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter

In what is being reported as a first in U.S. legal history, a bicyclist who hit and killed a pedestrian after riding recklessly has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in San Francisco. The Washington Post reports: Under the unusual plea deal last week, Chris Bucchere, 37, would not serve any jail time and instead would be sentenced to three years of probation and sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service in the death of Sutchi Hui of San Bruno, District Attorney George Gascon said. “Our goal is to send a message to cyclists about safety,” Gasc√≥n said. “Just because you are riding a bicycle doesn’t mean all bets are off. All of the rules of the road that apply to everyone else apply to you, too.” A software engineer from San Francisco, Bucchere had been riding recklessly and had run three red lights when he struck Hui as he and his wife crossed a street in the Castro District on March 29, 2012, prosecutors said. Hui died four days later of injuries from the collision. His wif

The Militarization of America's Police Forces - Part III

In this third and final post regarding recent stories focusing on the militarization of America's police forces and the resulting consequences, I look at an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal this week. The story is entitled, "Rise of the Warrior Cop: Is it time to reconsider the militarization of American policing?" and is written by Radley Balko.  Mr. Balko is the author of "Rise of the Warrior Cop," published this month by PublicAffairs (Mr. Balko is also the author of the first article discussed in this three part blog series).  Below are a few excerpts from his Wall Street Journal piece. The number of raids conducted by SWAT-like police units has grown accordingly. In the 1970s, there were just a few hundred a year; by the early 1980s, there were some 3,000 a year. In 2005 (the last year for which Dr. Kraska collected data), there were approximately 50,000 raids. A number of federal agencies also now have their own SWAT teams, inc

The Militarization of America's Police Forces - Part II

In this second of three posts regarding recent stories focusing on the militarization of America's police forces and the resulting consequences, I look at an article that appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch . The  story is entitled, "Commit any felonies lately?" Below are a few excerpts from the article. Elizabeth Daly went to jail over a case of bottled water. According to the Charlottesville Daily Progress, shortly after 10 p.m. April 11, the University of Virginia student bought ice cream, cookie dough and a carton of LaCroix sparkling water from the Harris Teeter grocery store at the popular Barracks Road Shopping Center. In the parking lot, a half-dozen men and a woman approached her car, flashing some kind of badges. One jumped on the hood. Another drew a gun. Others started trying to break the windows. Daly understandably panicked. With her roommate in the passenger seat yelling “Go, go, go!” Daly drove off, hoping to reach the nearest police station.

The Militarization of America's Police Forces - Part I

Over the next three posts, I will be linking to three recent stories focusing on the militarization of America's police forces and the resulting consequences. These three articles include fascinating stories about policing in the 21st century. The first story appeared recently in Salon and is entitled, "Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book": The new warrior cop is out of control."  Below are a few excerpts from the article. Several months earlier at a local bar, Fairfax County, Virginia, detective David Baucum overheard the thirty-eight-year-old optometrist and some friends wagering on a college football game. “To Sal, betting a few bills on the Redskins was a stress reliever, done among friends,” a friend of Culosi’s told me shortly after his death. “None of us single, successful professionals ever thought that betting fifty bucks or so on the Virginia–Virginia Tech football game was a crime worthy of investigation.” Baucum apparently did. After overheari