James Holmes To Enter Insanity Plea In Aurora Movie Theater Shooting Trial

DENVER — The man accused in the deadly Colorado theater shootings wants to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity, his lawyers said Tuesday, despite their fears that the plea could severely hamper his ability to mount a defense against the death penalty.

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NACDL News Release: House Judiciary Committee Overcriminalization Task Force Established

Bipartisan Effort Establishes House Judiciary Committee Overcriminalization Task Force

Washington, DC (May 7, 2013) – The House Committee on the Judiciary this morning voted unanimously to create the “Overcriminalization Task Force of 2013.” According to Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), “The task force will be authorized for six months and will be led by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner and Ranking Member Bobby Scott.” It will “conduct hearings and investigations and issue a report on overcriminalization in the federal code, as well as possible solutions.” The task force is made up of five Democrats and five Republicans, and will include Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) and Chairman Goodlatte as ex-officio members.

NACDL’s Executive Director Norman L. Reimer, who was present in the hearing room when the resolution unanimously establishing the task force was adopted, said: “This is an important step forward in the movement to combat overcriminalization. It is a bipartisan effort to look at America’s infatuation with criminal law as the solution to every problem, and to address the mass imprisonment it causes. And it shows that despite the partisan divide, overcriminalization is one problem that most everyone agrees needs to be fixed. NACDL is hopeful that the establishment of this task force represents the beginning of the very serious work required to turn today’s words into tomorrow’s deeds.”

At a press briefing this morning, Judiciary Committee and Overcriminalization Task Force leaders appeared in agreement on the need to address several important issues, including the erosion of the mens rea (or criminal intent) requirement in federal criminal law, the often unnecessary duplication of state law in the federal code, extreme overincarceration, and the explosion of regulatory offenses that some estimate may now number as high as 300,000, among other issues. Members also expressed the need to address mandatory minimum sentences. Of course, these are all among the issues on which NACDL has focused in its tireless work on overcriminalization, including in its groundbreaking joint report with the Heritage Foundation, Without Intent: How Congress is Eroding the Criminal Intent Requirement in Federal Law. Indeed, just before the vote creating this task force, Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) specifically recognized NACDL’s role, as well as that of others across the political spectrum, in the important work being taken up by the task force.


To learn more about NACDL’s work and leadership in the effort to combat and roll back overcriminalization in America, please visit www.nacdl.org/overcrim.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing.  A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL’s approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

1660 L St., N.W., 12th Fl, Washington, D.C. 20036 * Tel. 202-872-8600 * Fax 202-872-8690


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The tax education of Lauryn Hill: Prison

(CNN) — Lauryn Hill told the judge who sentenced her to prison that she planned to pay her taxes; it was just a question of when.

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China Trade Consultant Robert Spearman on his Life Abroad


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Notable New Child Porn Case

Over the weekend, experienced lawyer and federal sentencing guru Mark Allenbaugh (firm website here) alerted me to what he called a “new and (again) excellent opinion by Judge Jack Weinstein” in U.S. v. D.M., 12-CR-170 (EDNY May 1, 2013) (available here).   The opinion runs nearly 50 pages, and Mark provided a summary which he has graciously allowed me to post here:


Posted in Child Pornography |

New Article Discussing Findings in New Sentencing Commission Report

But the main reason Congress has upped the penalties for men who possess child pornography is the deep-seated belief that many of them physically abuse children and that they are highly likely to keep doing so because they can’t stop themselves.  Is that true? I’ve heard it so many times it’s hard to think otherwise.  Yet that premise is contested in a new 468-page report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission (the body Congress established to advise it about federal sentencing law).  The commission did its own research.  It says the federal sentencing scheme for child pornography offenses is out of date and argues that this leads to penalties that “are too severe for some offenders and too lenient for other offenders.”…



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Mark Allenbaugh to speak at AFDA online seminar on USSC Federal Child Pornography Offenses Report

Association Of Federal Defense Attorneys (AFDA) Online Seminar

PROGRAM: The New Sentencing Commission Report on Federal Child Pornography Offenses: What Practitioners Need to Know
Mark Allenbaugh (former staff attorney at U.S. Sentencing Commission)
Tess Lopez (sentencing mitigation specialist; former U.S. Probation Officer)
The program will include an online Question / Answer session by which attendees can post questions via a moderated chat room.
DATE: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 / TIME: 12:00 p.m. (Noon) – 2:00 p.m. [Eastern Time]
LOCATION: The online program will be presented on the AFDA web site: www.afda.org
PRESENTATIONAL FORMAT: The panelists will give a joint 60 – 90 minute presentation with an outline displayed on a viewing screen. The outline will be made available to attendees to download as a handout.
FEE: Like all online seminars, this program is free of charge to AFDA members. AFDA is now a member-supported web site, to allow funds to be raised to pay ongoing operating expenses, including web programming and design; web hosting fees; and clerical staff to coordinate MCLE credit applications.
The fee to join AFDA is only $175 for a one – year membership; $300 for two years. Membership includes:
1. free attendance at all online video seminars; 2. unlimited access to the online archive of recordings of prior seminars; 3. a free online profile for your law practice; 4. a collection of online resources for federal defense attorneys, and 5. a member-to-member online chat system
RECORDING OF SEMINAR: All AFDA seminars are recorded. The recordings are placed in the Archive section of the AFDA web site for members to access 24/7 at no charge.
MCLE CREDIT: 1.0 hours California. AFDA is completing its certification as an MCLE provider in California. Applications for provider status will be filed in Florida, New York and Texas in the coming weeks. A certificate of attendance will be provided to all attendees at the seminar.
Seminar Moderator: Gregory Nicolaysen
Click Here To Join AFDA www.afda.org/join.php

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Teacher escapes aggravated criminal sexual abuse charge for sex with minor student

A high school physical education teacher will spend 10 years on the Illinois sex offender registry after she was caught having sex with a student in the parking lot of a Kohl’s department store.

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Disney worker accused of distributing child porn

A Disney employee at Fort Wilderness is accused of sharing child porn with an undercover officer.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said 28-year-old Kentriale Barnes admitted that he’s been looking at child porn for a few years and knows it’s illegal.

Investigators said there is no connection to Fort Wilderness, other than the fact that it’s where they arrested Barnes.

Agents said Barnes distributed three images to an undercover officer, and four images were found on a computer at his Orlando home.

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Posted in Child Pornography |

With Fewer to Lock Up, Prisons Shut Doors

With Fewer to Lock Up, Prisons Shut Doors

Declining Inmate Population, Partly Thanks to Softer Sentences, Spurs Some Cash-Strapped States to Close Facilities


America’s prison boom is starting to fizzle.

For decades, the country had little trouble filling its ever-growing number of prisons, thanks in large part to tough-on-crime policies and harsh drug laws. But a combination of falling crime rates, softer sentences for low-level and nonviolent offenders and a dwindling appetite for hefty prison budgets has begun to whittle away at the number of people behind bars. That is allowing many states to do what a few years ago seemed unthinkable: close prisons.

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Posted in Federal criminal defense sentencing |

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