Proof that sex offenders make people act crazy (with update)


Title Bout: Ohio v. USA

Sex offender hysteria is well documented. Apparently, the Federal Government is also not immune from its mind altering effects. Consider the case of John Doe in Ohio. John Doe, convicted in 1993 of sexual battery in state court, is currently on Federal probation for unrelated drug offenses.

A zealous probation officer must’ve looked at Doe’s criminal record and noticed the sex offense conviction. So, the probation officer required Doe to register as a sex offender in Ohio. Only one problem: Ohio state law exempts Doe from registering.

And thus, the tug-of-war between the Federal Government and the State of Ohio begins. Whose requirements prevail? Or will it all be disregarded because the object of this “war” is to get a heinous, evil, dangerous, disgusting, despicable sex offender to register his whereabouts? Some counties in Ohio have had the testicular fortitude to tell the Feds to stick it, but unfortunately not the county in which Doe resides.

Following the crumbs

I haven’t done this in a few months, so on this Friday the 13th let’s take a look at what brought you psychotic internet readers to my blog. As always, act your age.

  1. Of all the searches, the top non law related search was for “naked pictures”. Unfortunately, all they got was this lousy post.
  2. “me naked” was also popular. Presumably, these people have no mirrors.
  3. “is law school for me” is also a surprisingly common phrase used in search engines, just behind “what is my name”.
  4. “shame on you”. yes, shame on me indeed.
  5. “stachatory rape laws”
  6. quite a few visitors admonished me to “learn law” or, in the case of the more articulate ones “learn the law”.
  7. I like the simplicity of this one: “beer”. Yes, please.
  8. “Eye of the beholder porn”. That’s a new fetish.
  9. my personal favorite: “gravity defender”. Now if only they meant gravitas defender.
  10. “let me see you naked”, to which I say “buy me a drink first”.
  11. “humorous porn”. Porn is serious business.
  12. “Is it ethical for a public defender to refuse to represent a person believed to be guilty?” I get this one a lot, so let me say this once and for all: No.
  13. “halp”. bai, thx.
  14. “purple heart trees”. And they say you have to earn one.
  15. “asleep”. Okay, I get the hint.

Ban the box, save the ex-felon

I'm 1002 and you?

A question no more

I have long complained about the failure of governments to engage in any sort of meaningful re-entry for inmates. For a vast majority of released felons, prison is a revolving door. Without any training, education or skills, job prospects are dismal. With no job, there is no money and where there is no money, there is the lure of crime to make some quickly.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised this morning, while listening to Where We Live on NPR. The guest was John DeStefano, mayor of New Haven, and he was discussing the policy he seeks to implement in the city: ban the box. No, this is not some traffic related policy, as I first thought, but a clever scheme aimed at integrating ex-felons back into the community.

Ban the box refers to banning employment applications from listing a “box” that asks applicants whether they are ex-felons. This allows ex-felons to be on the same footing as any other applicant, by preventing would-be employers from discarding them at the get-go.  I’m embarrassed that this story has escaped my attention for three months now, but the wonderful New Haven Independent is all over it:

Some days are agonizing

In this line of work, I don’t think there’s anything more heart wrenching that sitting across from a likely innocent client and having to tell him that there’s no way to prove that innocence and then watching him hold back tears and decide between two morbid choices: accepting the plea offer and spend the next 15 years locked up or go to trial and risk 60 years.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed.

The plea jury: a mirror unto ourselves

The Plea Jury is the title and subject of a new (draft) paper by Laura Appleman, a professor of law at Willamette and blogger at The Faculty Lounge, which goes into some length about the failure of the plea bargaining system and how it should be replaced by this innovation.

The plea jury, essentially, would be a jury of lay persons who would “preside” over the plea bargaining process. It would make the determination of the voluntariness of the plea, decide whether to accept the plea and listen to the defendant’s allocution, ultimately settling on the punishment to be imposed, if the recommended sentence is unsatisfactory.

This, according to Appleman, while not being a pancea, would substantially reduce the problems with the plea bargaining process as they currently stand.

I spot some problems with this right at the outset, but I’m not willing to completely dismiss it out of hand. The problems, of course, are the greater participation of the “public” into a mechanism where their encroachment is already great. The plea bargain is essentially a contract between the State and the defendant. Her proposal of the plea jury would inject a section of the public into that contract, as an ultimate arbiter. The rights of the defendant would yet again take second place to this retributive theory and the primacy of the public.

She also makes much of the jury’s ability to discern whether the defendant is showing honest remorse, does accept responsibility and so on.