Monday, January 05, 2015
Former District Judge Paul Cassell at center of two big new victim-rights stories
Long-time readers of this blog are surely familiar with the name Paul Cassell, perhaps primarily for his notable sentencing rulings back when he was a federal district judge concerning mandatory minimums and the impact of Blakely on the federal sentencing guidelines. Long-time criminal justice academics are familiar with his long-ago scholarly work on Miranda and related police-practices jurisprudence and modern victim-rights advocates know Paul as one of the leading modern (court-focused) advocates for the interests of crime victims.
With all that background (and the disclaimer that I have worked with Paul on various issues over the last decade and greatly respect his talents, energies and perspectives), I am now fascinating to see Paul Cassell's name at the forefront of two big new victim-rights stories. Here are links and the start of articles about these stories:
From the Washington Times here, "Loretta Lynch questioned over secret deal depriving fraud victims of $40M":
More than a year before President Obama nominated federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch to be attorney general, a former federal judge quietly called on Congress to investigate her U.S. attorney’s office for trampling on victims’ rights.
Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah, said Ms. Lynch’s office, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, never told victims in a major stock fraud case that a culprit had been sentenced — denying them a chance to seek restitution of some $40 million in losses. Mr. Cassell, in written remarks to a House Judiciary Committee panel in 2013, said if prosecutors were using secretive sentencing procedures to reward criminals for cooperating with them, it could violate the Crime Victims Restitution Act.
From the Salt Lake Tribune here, "Utah law professor claims British prince, well-known attorney had sex with teen ‘sex slave’":
University of Utah law professor Paul Cassell has come under fire for filing a motion in a victims’ right suit that claims a client was forced as a girl to be a "sex slave" who allegedly was made available to a well-known attorney and a member of the British royal family.
The motion filed Friday in a federal court in Florida alleges that a woman identified as Jane Doe #3 was sexually exploited beginning at age 15 by billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, who also loaned her for sex to politically connected and powerful people — including Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz and Prince Andrew, a son of Queen Elizabeth II.
Both men have denied the allegations, and Dershowitz is threatening to initiate disbarment proceedings against Cassell and Bradley Edwards, a Florida attorney who also represents Jane Doe #3, according to The Wall Street Journal.
For lawyers and politicians, the story about criticisms of the Attorney-General-nominee is much more important and consequential. But the teen sex slave story is sure to get a whole lot more attention — and that story could, I think, end up making it difficult for Paul Cassell to be called to testify or otherwise be a visible voice in AG-nominee Lynch's upcoming confirmation hearings.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
News and notes on a variety of sentencing fronts
I have the great honor and pleasure to be spending the next few days in Gainsville to participate in the University of Florida Levin College of Law Criminal Justice Center's Young Scholars Conference. Consequently, blogging will be light at least for a few days.
But, even while focused mostly on other matters, I cannot help checking out some of the news headlines, and here are links to a collection of stories that all seem pretty blog-worthy:
Also via ABCNews, "Family Sues to Force Sex Offender Neighbor to Buy Its House"
From local news in Colorado, "Sponsors will push ahead with death penalty repeal despite veto threat"
From local news in Maryland, "Md medical marijuana bill picks up more support: Bill would establish commission to pick patients, facilities"
From the AP in New Hampshire, "NH House votes to prohibit privatizing prisons"
- From the AP in Texas, "With death penalty on the table, judge won't let Fort Hood suspect plead guilty"
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Coffee, Tea or Milk: will any new "party" seriously engage with criminal justice issues?
I continue to wonder if (and hope that) the new tea party movement will take on the growth of government and government inefficiencies in the operation of massive modern criminal justice systems. And, as highlighted by this lengthy CNN piece, there is now another drink-inspired party brewing up talk of engaging with the traditional two parties. Unfortunately, it seems that so far the so-called Coffee Party is also decaffinated when it comes to engaging with criminal justice issues, which comprise among the most consequential forms of government interaction with citizens and also is among the most massive forms of government control and expense.
Of course, the vast majority of persons who have the luxury of the extra time and energy to get involved with the new Coffee or Tea Parties are not likely to have significant experience with state or federal criminal justice systems. Still, any and all politically savvy persons must recognize that an extraordinary amount of taxpayer money is spent on modern criminal justice systems. Moreover, any new party that is concerned about government spending on programs with uncertain returns ought to be asking hard questions about the costs and benefits of mass incarceration and marijuana prohibitions and a host of other related criminal justice issues.
I do not really expecting to hear much sound and sober criminal justice reform talk coming from the new parties (or the old parties) anytime soon. But I will keep noticing and lamenting the failure of any old or new movement to take stock of the many ways in which massive modern criminal justice systems may be disserving various long-term national interests and values. And if someone wants to start a new party to focus on these bread-and-butter criminal justice issues (which maybe we could call the Milk & Honey Party), please be sure to count me in.