Criminal Law Newsletter June 2016
The following is a compendium of news reports over the past month that may be of interest to our AG offices who are involved with criminal law issues. Neither the National Association of Attorneys General nor the National Association of Attorneys General Training & Research Institute expresses a view as to the accuracy of news accounts, nor as to the positions expounded by the authors of the hyperlinked articles.
The NAGTRI International Fellows Program took place from June 4-11, 2016. Since 2011, this program has provided a forum for elite government attorneys from around the world to learn from expert faculty members and from each other; explore common issues; and establish an international network to the mutual benefit of their offices. This year's topic was The Prosecutor’s Role in Fighting Corruption and Promoting Public Integrity. Twenty-five fellows from 17 countries, six U.S. states, and one U.S. territory produced four papers addressing various corruption-related issues. Those papers will be available on NAGTRI’s website this summer.
The mass shooting at Pulse, the nightclub in Orlando where Omar Mateen murdered 49 men and women, has provoked debate in Congress regarding gun control measures that would bar terror suspects from purchasing firearms and extend background checks to gun show and online sales.
Louisiana has criminalized the operation of an unlicensed daycare. The legislation, House Bill 197, was inspired by the 2015 death of a toddler in an unlicensed facility. The first offense results in a jail term of up to six months and a $1,000 fine; three or more offenses may result in up to a year in prison and ineligibility to apply for child care licenses for four years.
Pennsylvania (House Bill 1947), New Jersey and New York (A 10600) are all considering bills that would reform sex crimes laws to expand access to the courts by, inter alia, lengthening the statute of limitations and waiving sovereign immunity. The proposals have been opposed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which argues that the increased access to the civil courts will imperil the church and other non-profit groups.
Hawaii’s governor has signed into law SB 2954, which requires law enforcement to enter every registered gun owner in the state into an FBI database that was previously use to monitor only targets under investigation and people in positions of trust, like teachers and daycare workers. Under the new law, every firearm owner carrying a registered gun in Hawaii—which requires even visitors to register firearms if they wish to carry them in the state—will be entered into the national database.
The Crimes Against Children Conference is scheduled for August 8-11, 2016, in Dallas, Texas. Registration is open now to prosecutors, law enforcement, and others who “work directly with child victims of crime whose intent is to help children in their healing process.”
The New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s 2016 Criminal Law College: Handling a Criminal Case from Arraignment to Appeal is scheduled for August 24, 2016, in New Brunswick.
Saving Lives: Innovative Solutions to the Opioid Crisis, a national symposium supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and Hazelden Betty Ford, is scheduled for September 7-8, 2016, in Minneapolis. Registration is open now.
Police officers in San Francisco have approved, through their union, policy addressing the use of body cameras. This policy will require officers to make an initial statement after any use of force incident before viewing any video of the incident, but will allow the officers to view any video footage prior to an official interview. If the policy is approved by the City Police Commission, more than 1,800 officers will be equipped with body cameras as early as August 1, 2016.
The president of the California Police Chiefs Association has spoken out against a November ballot measure that would legalize recreational marijuana use in California. Ventura Police Chief Ken Corney notes that the Adult Use of Marijuana 2016 would permit people with “serious drug felonies” to operate stores selling marijuana and cites a number of studies concluding that states where marijuana has been legalized have suffered from an upsurge of emergency room visits and fatal crashes linked to marijuana use.
Fentanyl, a narcotic 40-50 times more potent than heroin that can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled, has forced law enforcement to change how they investigate and seize drugs. Because contact with a small amount of the drug can be deadly, DEA agents in St. Louis are being trained to wear gloves and masks during interdictions and taught to self-administer Narcan if they are accidentally exposed to fentanyl.
In the Courts
The conviction of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell has been vacated by the Supreme Court in an unanimous decision. In his ruling, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. narrowed the definition of “official act,” under federal law, to be a specific and formal exercise of power, “such as a lawsuit, hearing or administrative determination.” The case was remanded to the Fourth Circuit for that appeals court to determine if the Government introduced sufficient evidence, given the newly articulated standard, to permit a retrial.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s conviction is now final, as the Supreme Court denied his request for certiorari; he is serving a 28-year sentence imposed as a result his federal criminal corruption trial.
A bookkeeper for a rural fire protection district pled guilty to charges brought by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office that alleged she embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars over a nine-year period. Tammy Kellerman was charged in both state and federal court with fraud-related crimes and was previously sentenced to 33 months’ incarceration in her federal case.
Other News of Interest
The Cleveland (OH) Division of Police, which is operating under a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree, is the subject of a status report with the federal judge overseeing the case. In that report, the City of Cleveland acknowledges issues with its civilian complaint process; notes that it is working on use-of-force and other policies; and reports on progress reducing the backlog of thousands of police reports that had not been entered into its updated records-management system.
Amie Ely is the Editor of Criminal Law Newsletter and may be reached at 202-326-6041. The Criminal Law Newsletter is a publication of the National Association of Attorneys General. Any use and/or copies of this newsletter in whole or part must include the customary bibliographic citation. NAAG retains copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material presented in this publication. For content submissions or to contact the editor directly, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.