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20140610 rooksbyDuquesne University announced that Dr. Jacob Rooksby, assistant professor of law, was recently presented with the Dr. John and Liz Murray Excellence in Scholarship Award, the second university faculty member to receive the $10,000 award.
 
“To be recognized by my peers in this way, with an award whose progenitor is the law school’s most prolific, respected and widely known scholar, Chancellor Murray, is humbling and a deep honor,” said Rooksby in a statement released by the university.
 
“Law professors have a special duty to read the word and read the world, to use theory to inform practice,” Rooksby said in the statement. “Since law is an applied profession, what we write can help shape institutions, legal systems and decision-making today. Practicing attorneys face different constraints and reward structures than we do. As I see it, we as law professors have the unique opportunity, and the obligation, to conduct research that quite literally can change how people think and act.”

Rooksby teaches courses on the fundamentals of intellectual property; law and higher education; social media and the law; technology innovation law; and torts. His work has been published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, the Yale Journal of Law & Technology, the Journal of Law & Education, the Akron Law Review and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Rooksby also is a contributing editor for the HigherEducationLaw blog.
 
Rooksby, an O’Hara Township, also is secretary/treasurer of the Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Law Association and is a member of the Association of University Technology Managers.

(Image: Dr. Jacob Rooksby/Duquesne University)

 

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statecapitol 150Pennsylvania has one of the largest and most expensive legislatures in the country. The General Assembly’s annual budget exceeds a quarter of a billion dollars. Those dollars go to pay the salary of 253 legislators and about 2,600 staffers.

New Hampshire has the largest legislature in the country with 424 members, but they are part-timers who make about $100 a year, compared with the $84,000 base salary for Pennsylvania lawmakers.

Proposals to reduce the size of the legislature come up in nearly every legislative session. In 2011, there was a proposal to reduce the House from 203 members to 121 and the Senate from 50 to 30 members.

However, this year some senators were not satisfied with just reducing the number of lawmakers.

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supremecourt 2013wap150This week the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida’s strict IQ cutoff for determining intellectual disability and in turn eligibility for the death penalty.

In a 5-4 ruling in Hall v. Florida the court concluded that Florida’s rigid IQ threshold of 70 “disregards established medical practice” and creates the “unacceptable risk” that an inmate with intellectual disabilities might be executed, in violation of the Constitution.

“Our society does not consider this strict cutoff as proper or humane,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

“No legitimate penological purpose is served by executing a person with intellectual disability,” Kennedy wrote. “To impose the harshest of punishments on an intellectually disabled person violates his or her inherent dignity as a human being.”

It is interesting that Kennedy would refer to the petitioner’s inherent right of “dignity.” The term is not frequently used in American jurisprudence and the term is even more difficult to find in Supreme Court opinions.

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A study following up on a 1980s report about mandatory domestic violence arrest policies in Milwaukee was the centerpiece of this week’s annual Jerry Lee Symposium on Evidence-Based Crime Policy in Washington, D.C.

The symposium is named for Jerry Lee a Philadelphia radio station owner, and native of New Castle, Pennsylvania, who has funded criminology research at the University of Pennsylvania and Cambridge University in England.

The study, Increased death rates of domestic violence victims from arresting vs. warning suspects in the Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment, found increased death rates among victims when suspects were arrested, rather than merely warned, by police.

"The foundational question being begged by this research is an important and understudied one: Is the criminal justice system the best societal response to non-felonious domestic assault?" Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn asked when the report was released.

Researchers highlighted the findings that victims were 64 percent more likely to have died of all causes, such as heart disease, cancer or other illness, if their partner was arrested rather than warned, and noted that among African-American victims, arrest increased early mortality by 98 percent while white victims saw mortality increased from arrest by 9 percent.

The study was a follow-up to the Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment from 1987-1989 and undertaken by the same primary researcher, Lawrence W. Sherman, a University of Maryland professor and director of Cambridge University's Police Executive Program. Sherman was formerly of the University of Pennsylvania, where I had the chance to observe his research first-hand as a student in Penn’s criminology program.

At this week's conference, Sherman contended that "criminal penalties have enormous side effects. They do not always deter crime, and they may increase crime." He went on to say, "We should get away from a one-size-fits-all policy."

Flynn and other speakers said that more research is needed to provide law enforcers with better guidance on the effectiveness of arrests versus other tactics, such as referring alleged abusers to social services, reported The Crime Report. He noted that of 81 domestic violence homicides in Milwaukee in the last eight years, suspects in 61 of them had prior arrest records.

Flynn refrained from concluding that the arrests somehow provoked the killings and should not have been made.

Previous studies have shown post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) to be prevalent in victims of domestic violence, and that low but chronic PTSS has been linked to premature death from coronary heart disease and other health problems.

“The impact of seeing a partner arrested could create a traumatic event for the victim, one that raises their risk of death. An arrest may cause more trauma in concentrated black poverty areas than in white working-class neighborhoods, for reasons not yet understood,” concluded the report.

The exact cause of the surprising results remains a “medical mystery,” says Professor Sherman.

(Top image: moodboard/Thinkstock)


Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George, P.C. He is the former district attorney of Lawrence County and just completed a six year term on the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. His weekly column on crime and punishment is syndicated by GateHouse New Service. You can read his musings on the criminal justice system at www.mattmangino.com and follow Matt on Twitter @MatthewTMangino. His new book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010: The Crimes, Arrests, Trials, Appeals, Last Meals, Final Words and Executions of 46 Persons in the United States is now available from McFarland & Company publishers.

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The Massachusetts Bar Association, Commission on Criminal Justice Attorney Compensation found that Massachusetts ranks dead last in annual salaries paid to public defenders and that the county prosecutor is often the lowest-paid person in the courtroom, finishing behind custodial workers.

Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel for the bar association told the Boston Globe “There is definitely a public safety aspect to all of it… [t]ax dollars are not being spent in a wise and appropriate fashion.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1963 landmark decision, Gideon v. Wainwright, required states to provide lawyers for defendants, regardless of their ability to pay—a ruling that transformed the nation’s legal landscape. More than fifty years later, defender resources remain scarce and prosecutors have not fared much better.

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Recently Oklahoma became the center of national attention because of the botched execution of Clayton Lockett. A minute-by-minute account of the lethal injection procedure released by the state's Department of Corrections suggested that Lockett was conscious for more than 30 minutes before state officials called off the execution. Lockett died of an apparent heart attack ten minutes later.

This week, a committee of the The Constitution Project (TCP), a Washington-based think tank, identified systemic flaws with the death penalty from arrest to execution and offered proposals to remedy them.

"From the moment of arrest to the moment of death, the criminal justice system faces vexing challenges in carrying out the ultimate punishment," said former Texas Governor Mark White, a co-chair of the committee.

White noted that the issuance of the new report could not be more timely. Just last week, President Barak Obama declared that America continues to have "significant problems" in the application of the death penalty. The president asked Attorney General Eric Holder to review how the death penalty is administered in this country, and report back to him.

Here are some of the recommendations made in the TCP report entitled Irreversible Error:

-- Lethal injection should consist of a deadly dose of a single anesthetic or barbiturate approved by the Food and Drug Administration, rather than a complex multi-drug cocktail.

-- Defendants should be entitled by statute to testing of forensic evidence if the results may be relevant to a claim of innocence or wrongful conviction.

-- Custodial interrogations of a suspect in a homicide case should be videotaped or digitally recorded whenever practical.

-- State and federal jurisdictions should adopt legislation to require that eyewitness identifications be conducted in accordance with best practices called for by prevailing scientific research.

-- There should be a rebuttable presumption that a person with an IQ below 75 is intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.

-- A defendant who shows reckless indifference but does not personally kill, attempt to kill or intend that a killing take place should not be eligible for capital punishment.

-- Every jurisdiction that imposes capital punishment should create an independent authority to screen, appoint, train and supervise lawyers to represent defendants charged with a capital crime.

-- Judges should be prohibited from overriding a jury’s recommendation of a sentence of less than death.

-- All capital jurisdictions should establish charging review committees to review prosecutorial decisions in death-eligible cases.

The Committee’s members include both supporters and opponents of the death penalty. They are Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals. They reflect the full range of criminal justice stakeholders, including those with experience as judges, prosecutors, defenders, law enforcement officers, policymakers, victim advocates and scholars.

The Committee has released two previous reports: Mandatory Justice: Eighteen Reforms to the Death Penalty, released in 2001 and an update, released in 2005, called Mandatory Justice: The Death Penalty Revisited.

(Top image: Robert Patton, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, addresses a press conference about the attempted execution of Clayton Lockett, in Tulsa, Okla. on Tuesday, April 29.  John Clanton/Tulsa World via Associated Press)


Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George, P.C. He is the former district attorney of Lawrence County and just completed a six year term on the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. His weekly column on crime and punishment is syndicated by GateHouse New Service. You can read his musings on the criminal justice system at www.mattmangino.com and follow Matt on Twitter @MatthewTMangino. His new book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010: The Crimes, Arrests, Trials, Appeals, Last Meals, Final Words and Executions of 46 Persons in the United States is now available from McFarland & Company publishers.

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Last fall, the Washington Post reported that U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told a room full of college students that the biggest constitutional challenge facing the court was "the fundamental principle underlying what constitutional protection is and apply[ing] it to new issues and new technology."

The Supreme Court took on another aspect of that challenge this week, hearing arguments in two cases, Riley v. California, No. 13-132, and United States v. Wurie, No. 13-212.

The Court is considering whether police need a warrant to search the contents of a cellphone seized when making an arrest. Each case deals with similar, but not identical, technologies. The Wurie case is out of Massachusetts and deals with an old-style flip phone, while the Riley case out of California deals with a smartphone.

The Obama administration and the California Attorney General’s Office urged the court to endorse a bright-line rule that would allow police to search the full content of any cellphone, tablet, or laptop computer being carried by anyone arrested by authorities for any reason.

Sixteen states’ attorneys general asked the Supreme Court to equate the privacy of handheld data with that of “information on paper or in other documentary forms.” The National Sheriffs’ Association and related law enforcement agencies argued that warrantless search of cell phones is justified in the face of “time-sensitive accessibility” features like password locks.

Critics say cellphones, particularly smart phones, and other electronic devices increasingly hold or provide access to the most private details of a person’s life -- including personal photos, videos, messages, names of friends and associates, banking and financial information, and medical records, among others.

Justice Antonin Scalia did not seem deeply troubled by the prospect of a cellphone search during an arrest. However, he suggested that it should be limited to evidence of the crime for which the individual was arrested.

Justice Anthony Kennedy brought up a perceived conflict in allowing warrantless cellphone searches in connection with arrests for serious crimes while denying police that right in the case of lesser offenses.

The most vocal defender of smartphone privacy was Justice Elena Kagan, who said she was troubled by the notion that police could confiscate and copy someone’s phone just because he or she was arrested for driving without a seatbelt.

“People carry their lives on cellphones,” she declared.

Scalia seemed to agree. “It seems absurd you should be able to search that person’s iPhone because of an arrest for a minor crime,” he said.

(Top image: maxkabakov/iStock)


Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George, P.C. He is the former district attorney of Lawrence County and just completed a six year term on the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. His weekly column on crime and punishment is syndicated by GateHouse New Service. You can read his musings on the criminal justice system at www.mattmangino.com and follow Matt on Twitter @MatthewTMangino. His new book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010: The Crimes, Arrests, Trials, Appeals, Last Meals, Final Words and Executions of 46 Persons in the United States is now available from McFarland & Company publishers.

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executionerstoll150The legal maneuvering in Oklahoma over the scheduled executions of two condemned men convicted of separate murders has taken a strange, but not entirely unusual turn. This week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court stepped in to delay the executions of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner while they pursued their challenge to the state’s “secret” lethal injection methods. That is not unusual.

What is unusual is that the Oklahoma Supreme Court does not normally handle criminal matters. The Court of Criminal Appeals had refused to consider the request for a delay, leading to an uneasy confrontation between the two courts.

As politics and the death penalty intersect the issue of delay got even murkier.

The Oklahoma Attorney General called into question the Supreme Court’s authority and asked the Court to drop its stay. The Court rejected the request, and soon after Governor Mary Fallin issued an executive order asserting that the stay was “outside the constitutional authority” of the Supreme Court. She exercised her own constitutional authority to delay the executions by one week, meaning that the two men could both be put to death before their challenge to lethal injection is resolved.

This confrontation is only the latest in a long history of political wrangling over the death penalty. My book, The Executioner’s Toll, 2010: The Crimes, Arrests, Trials, Appeals, Last Meals, Final Words and Executions of 46 Persons in the United States released this week by McFarland & Company, examines how the death penalty has evolved from a term of art utilized in the criminal justice system to cultural buzz words used to reveal a philosophy on issues of law and order.

The death penalty has become, in many ways, a symbolic political term that lends itself to the illusion of toughness, if you support the death penalty; and to the illusion of weakness if you do not support the death penalty.

The idea that a political candidate can establish her law and order bona fides by being pro-death penalty has enhanced the significance of the death penalty in American politics. As capital punishment has evolved into a political symbol, “Joe Six-Pack” at the corner bar can also confirm his tough, red-blooded, law-abiding persona through his support of the death penalty.

The death penalty has morphed into a hot-button political issue right up there with abortion, guns and taxes. That is why Oklahoma’s Governor, attorney general, Supreme Court Justices and appellate judges are involved in this race to the death chamber—a public spectacle that serves no other purpose than political aggrandizement.


Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George, P.C. He is the former district attorney of Lawrence County and just completed a six year term on the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. His weekly column on crime and punishment is syndicated by GateHouse New Service. You can read his musings on the criminal justice system at www.mattmangino.com and follow Matt on Twitter @MatthewTMangino. His book The Executioner's Toll, 2010 is now available from McFarland & Company publishers.

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