Crime Related News
On Tuesday, April 29, 2014 two convicted murderers were set to be given lethal injections for their crimes in Oklahoma. Clayton D. Lockett and Charles F. Warner were to be Oklahoma’s latest executions. As the clock drew down on Mr. Lockett he was supposed to be given his last meal, marched down to the execution chamber, strapped down, injected with a cocktail of lethal drugs and peacefully pass away….or so the authorities thought!
Normally, and in the recent past in the U.S., the practice of injecting a person with a fatal dose of drugs was pretty straight-forward and often provided a quick end to a troubled life. The inmate would first fall asleep as the first drug entered his circulatory system. As the second drug is administered, his respiratory system would slow to a halt. The last drug would stop the heart, rendering the person dead. In essence, this was a humane approach to deadly justice. That’s the way it is supposed to work, at least.
As the world and European countries have begun to shun the practice of capital punishment, these drugs have become increasingly harder to obtain and have led the states to increasingly dramatic attempts to procure replacements. Now, many of these drugs originate from dubious and secretive origins. To make matters worse, many courts have ruled that the prisons do not have to divulge the new supplier of these drugs, as was the case in Oklahoma. Furthermore, the drugs that are now being used are still in the experimental phase. Thus, the inmate is essentially a capital punishment guinea pig. This climate of secrecy and mystery makes it impossible to know whether these executions will comport with the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
This brings us to the common argument of who cares if he experienced pain or agony. He still didn’t suffer as much as his victims. This common sentiment may be a form of justice to some people but it certainly is not law and order.
I think that it is possible to support the death penalty and still be morally disgusted by the idea of torturing a man to death, especially under circumstances where those in charge knew or should have known their conduct would violate the Eighth Amendment’s “Cruel and unusual Punishment” clause. If my beliefs are incorrect, then I ask those with such sentiments if, living in an uncivilized society is acceptable to them. Within the past 48 hours, the best statement I’ve come across on this issue is
“An eye-for-an-eye does not raise anyone up; it just brings us down to the level of the condemned.”
The parents of Clayton D. Lockett’s victim released a statement to the press just prior to the execution, “We are thankful this day has finally arrived and justice will finally be served.” I ask the question, “Has justice been served?” In Oklahoma’s haste to execute Lockett, this convicted murderer has been elevated to a level that he does not deserve and never would have achieved had Oklahoma respected the basic requirements of due process. Lockett’s name and photo have been all over the news. The horrible acts that he perpetrated have quickly been forgotten. He has become a victim of bureaucracy. Ten years from now, students in criminal justice courses may read about him in text books. Did Oklahoma provide these parents with any amount of closure to help them heal from this tragedy? It appears more as if the state betrayed these poor people.
This is not a pro or anti death penalty debate. Quite frankly, I am tired of arguing that issue. I think that the most important lesson for us to learn is that regardless of how we feel about capital punishment, due process and the Eight Amendment serve to protect us all: the victims, the convicted and society in general. If we are going to have a Death Penalty- we must do it right. Until this process becomes transparent, we are only hurting ourselves.
Federal Crime: Mailing Injurious Articles Via The United States Postal Service
Looking for a job can be a drag, especially when you feel overcome by constant rejection. If you find yourself feeling spiteful and frustrated with a lack of employment opportunities, don’t do what Jevons Brown, a 58 year old vet from St. Louis, Mo., did because you might end up on jail. To get revenge, Brown sent boxes filled with cat poop to companies that did not hire him.
Brown sent the packages of cat poop via the U.S. mail. Investigators were able to find 20 packages containing cat poop and trace them to him.
Some of you may be wondering what’s the crime? Believe it or not, mailing poop is against the law because it creates a health hazard. The offense is called Mailing Injurious Articles and it may be found at 18 U.S. Code § 1716.
In short this law prohibits a person from mailing poisonous substances, poisonous animals, insects, reptiles, and all explosives, hazardous materials, inflammable materials, all disease germs or scabs, and all other natural or artificial articles, compositions, or material which may kill or injure another or property of another. This also includes mailing intoxicating liquors, spirits, wines, medications and certain drugs. It is worth mentioning that this statute permits people to mail some of these articles under certain circumstances provided the sender obtains permission and employs appropriate packaging guidelines. Although this offense is only a misdemeanor, it is a federal crime. Federal sentencing guidelines for this offense recommend probation or up to 6 months in prison. Of course, if someone is killed as a result of the mailed injurious articles, the offense becomes a felony and is punishable by death or life in prison.
In Brown’s case the judge sentenced him to two years of probation. I think that this is a fair sentence. Of course, I don’t think that he was trying to harm anyone. According to a St. Louis newspaper, since this incident occurred, Brown has found a job and started counseling. Good luck to you Mr. Brown.
So what’s the moral of the story? The next time you don’t get a job that you want, stay away from the cat box! Meow!
In 2007, the U.S. Senate declared January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day in an effort to raise the consciousness about this issue. When you hear the term, Human Trafficking, you probably think of sex slavery or forced prostitution. I think that it is important for people to understand that the term is far more encompassing than that. Human trafficking is not just sex slavery. It is forced labor in cleaning services, farmlands, factories, nail salons and many other industries. It is holding humans captive, and forcing them to work for free, by threatening them. It is essentially modern day slavery.
In Louisiana, much attention has been paid to the issue lately in terms of legislation and advocacy groups. Last summer, Governor Jindal signed three new human trafficking related bills into law. The most significant bill broadened Louisiana’s Racketeering Laws by adding the following crimes to the definition of racketeering statute: female genital mutilation, aggravated kidnapping of a child younger than 13, human trafficking, trafficking of children for sexual purposes, bigamy, abetting in bigamy and the sale of minor children. Racketeering laws are utilized by prosecutors to target members of an organization engaged in criminal activities. This new bill will allow tougher penalties against groups of individuals who are engaged in human trafficking activities. The Louisiana racketeering provides for a penalty of imprisonment for not more than 50 years or a fine up to 1 million dollars, or both.
Another bill strengthens enforcement of current law that requires certain establishments to post the National Human Trafficking Hotline number. The bill adds penalties for the failure to post the hotline number and allocates the authority to promulgate rules regarding posting specifics to the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.
The third bill provides for pre-adjudication diversion programs for juveniles who allegedly engaged in prostitution related offenses due to sexual exploitation by human traffickers. The purpose of the bill is to help rehabilitate these young people rather than punishing them. This bill also takes additional steps to protect victims of human trafficking by creating a civil cause of action for victims, making victim restitution mandatory and establishing victim assistance guidelines for law enforcement, District Attorneys and the Attorney General’s office.
As a criminal defense attorney in the New Orleans area, I have defended individuals who were accused of Human Trafficking. These client’s face harsh criticism and blood thirsty prosecutors. My law firm is dedicated to providing our clients with a high level of guidance and the legal advocacy they deserve. My top priority is to create the strongest defense possible and help my clients avoid or minimize the penalties associated with human trafficking charges.
What Is the Crack Cocaine Amendment to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines?
Historically, federal law treated those convicted of crack cocaine offenses much more harshly than those convicted of offenses involving cocaine. This is despite the fact that chemically the substances are very similar and physiologically they react with the body in the same way. The sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and cocaine offenses was originally 100 to 1. This means that if a conviction for 100 grams of cocaine would result in a 30 year sentence, it would only take 1 gram of crack cocaine to get a 30 year sentence.
The difference in the law had an enormous effect on who gets the harsher punishments, as crack cocaine is found more often in neighborhoods that are predominantly occupied by African Americans and cocaine is generally found in more affluent, White areas. This resulted in the over incarceration of African Americans in the United States.
Over the years, civil rights advocates and criminal defense attorneys called for a more fair sentencing structure that treats the two drugs more similarly. Lawmakers eventually realized that this distinction was not scientifically supported and had contributed to the over criminalization of African Americans over the years. A few years ago, the federal government took a step in the right direction and decreased the disparity between the two drugs. In 2010, lawmakers reduced the crack/cocaine disparity to about 18 to 1. While still far from equal, this was a welcome step by many because it showed willingness to compromise on the issue. These changes went into effect on November 1, 2011.
Retroactivity of the Amendment
Once the lawmakers decided that the sentencing scheme was not fair as written, and that it needed to be rewritten to reduce the disparity, that raised another question: Can it be retroactively applied?
Unfortunately, despite the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act, there are thousands of people — the vast majority of whom are African American — still in prison serving excessive sentences based on the discredited 100:1 sentencing disparity. In May of this year, a majority panel of the Sixth Circuit concluded that it was unconstitutional to allow thousands of already incarcerated offenders to continue to serve extremely long sentences based on the 100:1 disparity, while allowing offenders – who have committed identical crimes – to receive significantly shorter sentences, based on the 18:1 sentencing calculation, simply because they were sentenced later.
However, this decision has been appealed. We are still awaiting a decision. I am wondering if the 6th Circuit overstepped its power. I seem to remember congress being the only branch of government with the power to retroactively apply a statute.
To find out if you are eligible for a sentence reduction, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case.
Have You Been Charged With the Possession of Crack or Cocaine Base?
If you have been charged with a federal drug offense, you are facing some serious jail time. The best thing to do is to ensure that you have the assistance of an experienced New Orleans federal criminal defense attorney as soon in the process as possible. The longer your attorney is able to work on your case, the better the chances are of negotiating the case out of court and avoiding the expense and stress of trial.
Death Row Inmates and Organ Donation
As many of you know, I am an advocate of organ donation due to the many health issues my mother suffered, i.e. liver and kidney failure. Naturally, this story caught my eye and made me wonder why we do not routinely ask for permission to use the organs of executed inmates. I believe that many would gladly donate their organs. Such a donation could be a form of reconciliation to society or even a means of creating a sense of purpose for the atrocious, barbaric death penalty. Ohio Department of Corrections tried to say that they are not equipped to facilitate organ donation. All they need to do is let the transplant doctors know when the organs will be ready for harvesting. It is not too complicated – maybe I am wrong?
“Yesterday Ohio Gov. John Kasich has stepped in to delay a convicted killer’s execution after the condemned man asked to donate his organs to ailing family members. Ronald Phillips sought to donate his kidney to his mother and his heart to his sister. But the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction had said it was not equipped to facilitate organ donation.
Gov. Kasich announced that although Phillips’ crime was heinous, in the interest of saving lives, the state should examine whether it would be possible for the organs to be donated. The governor rescheduled the execution for July 2 to give the state time to study the feasibility of the proposition. An executed inmate has never been an organ donor in the United States, a spokeswoman for the educational nonprofit Lifebanc stated. Phillips was convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in 1993.”
What do you think? Should we try to create an organ donation program for death row inmates?
New Orleans Weapons Crimes Attorney
The Louisiana News Bureau has just announced a proposed bill that aims to create the crime of unlawful storage of a firearm. This is House Bill 4 by Rep Norton.The proposed law provides that it is unlawful to keep or store a firearm unless it is in a locked container or is equipped with a lock to render the firearm inoperable.
The law proposes the following penalties:
First violation of a fine of not more than $300.
Second or subsequent violation of a fine of not more than $500, imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
Proposed law creates an exception if the firearm is on the person or is in use.
With all due respect to Rep. Norton, I think that this is the most ridiculous piece of legislation. I would like to understand the purpose of it. Will this make the public safer? In light of the recent gun related tragedies in Colorado and Connecticut, I think that we are going to see a lot of proposed frivolous legislation such as this. Again, I think that this in a legislative intent to fix a symptom instead of a problem. What was the real issue in the recent massacres in Co. and Ct? The lack of sufficient funding and options for mental health treatment in this country.
If you have been accused of a gun or weapons crime in the New Orleans area, contact Elizabeth B. Carpenter to schedule a consultation. We are ready to take action and stand by your side.
New Orleans Drug Crimes Defense Attorney
Serving Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, St. John, Baton Rouge, St. Charles, Plaquemines Parishes.
New Bill Would Eradicate Mandatory Minimum Sentences For
Marijuana Possession In Louisiana
Both the Louisiana House and Senate will reconvene for the 2013 Legislative Session in April 8, 2013. As an attorney, I subscribe to email alerts regarding legislative news. This evening I was thrilled to see a proposed bill that would eradicate mandatory minimum sentences for Marijuana Possession.
This bill is House Bill 103, sponsored by state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans. The proposed bill will lessen penalties for repeat offenders and not subject offenders to Louisiana’s Habitual Offender Law (RS La 15:529.1). This new law would also apply to synthetic cannabinoids.
I am actually opposed to the legalization of synthetic cannabinoids due to the severe health complications associated with its use. Of course, complete legalization of Marijuana would obliterate the demand for synthetic cannabinoids.
As a final thought, I think that Representative Badon is going to have a battle to fight in Baton Rouge over this new bill. The state and local governments as well as substance abuse clinics love the money that they can extort out of people who are found guilty of Marijuana Possession.
The following is a chart demonstrating the proposed changes to the law:
If you or a loved one has been charged with a Marijuana Offense in New Orleans area. Contact a New Orleans Drug Crime Attorney – Elizabeth B. Carpenter. We offer discounted fee for Marijuana Offenses!
New Orleans Drug Crime Attorney
Elizabeth B Carpenter Law is a premier law firm for Drug Crime defense. We have defended almost every type of Drug Crime imaginable in South Louisiana. If you are in need of a New Orleans drug crime attorney, contact our office today.
Synthetic Drug 25I: A New Schedule I Drug
State health officials, top lawmakers and law enforcement personnel announce steps they have taken to ban a dangerous new drug, 25i, making it illegal in Louisiana.
This relatively new drug, 25i, also called Smiles or N-Bomb, has been added to the state’s Controlled Dangerous Substance Act, effective immediately. It is classified as a Controlled Dangerous Substance — Schedule I.
Simple Possession of 25I will carry a sentence of 4 to 10 years.
Manufacturing and Distribution of 25I will carry a sentence of 5 to 50 years.
Lawmakers began eyeing criminalizing the drug after an Arkansas man died last week in New Orleans after reportedly overdosing on 25i at a festival.
At least five people have died nationwide this year after taking 25i, including the man who died in Louisiana, according to officials. Other deaths reportedly occurred in Minnesota, North Dakota, California and North Carolina. Today, Louisiana becomes the second state, along with Virginia, to make 25i illegal.
Louisiana revised statute 40:962, gives State Health Officials authority to add new compounds as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Dangerous Substance Act by rule if the substance has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in the U.S., and if there is no accepted safety use of the substance under medical supervision.
Officials said the synthetic drug is commonly manufactured in China and India, and is being sold in powder and liquid form online, which is how people access it in the United States.
New Orleans Child Pornography Attorney
Elizabeth B. Carpenter Law is uniquely qualified to defend clients who have been accused of a child pornography offense in New Orleans area. We have represented countless clients in child pornography cases in Louisiana. Some of the specific types of cases we address include the possession, production, possession, distribution or sale of child pornography in New Orleans. Our knowledge of the law and experience in child pornography defense gives us the skill you need to effectively challenge the allegations made against you.
Court Says Child Porn Victims Can Get Restitution
Child pornography victims can recover money from people convicted of viewing their abuse without having to show a link between the crime and their injuries, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.
The decision conflicts with rulings by several other federal circuits, possibly setting the stage for a Supreme Court challenge.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a woman, identified as “Amy” in court documents, was entitled to restitution from Texas resident Doyle Randall Paroline and New Orleans resident Michael Wright, both of whom pleaded guilty in separate cases to possessing child pornography that included images of Amy.
Amy sought more than $3.3 million from Paroline to cover the cost of her lost income, attorneys’ fees and psychological care. A federal judge rejected her request.
Amy also sought more than $3.3 million from Wright, who had images of Amy and at least 20 other identifiable children stored on his computer. A federal judge ruled Wright owed Amy more than $500,000.
Wright argued he didn’t owe Amy any restitution because he didn’t obtain the images until years after she was abused. He also said there wasn’t any evidence that she knew he personally viewed the images.
Amy, now her early 20s and living in Pennsylvania, was a child when her uncle sexually abused her and widely circulated images of the abuse, according to court records. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said it has found at least 35,000 images of Amy’s abuse in more than 3,200 child pornography cases since 1998.
In at least 174 cases, Amy has been awarded restitution in amounts ranging from $100 to more than $3.5 million. James Marsh, one of her attorneys, said in January that she had collected more than $1.5 million.
Nine of the 15 judges joined in the majority opinion written by Judge Emilio Garza. The opinion said a federal statute dictates that a child pornography victim be awarded restitution for the full amount of their losses in each defendant’s case.
“Fears over excessive punishment are misplaced,” Garza wrote. “… Ultimately, while the imposition of full restitution may appear harsh, it is not grossly disproportionate to the crime of receiving and possessing child pornography.”
“No other circuit that has addressed this issue has adopted such a one size fits all rule,” he wrote. “Other circuits have given the district courts discretion to assess the amount of the restitution the offender is ordered to pay.”
Stanley Schneider, one of Paroline’s attorneys, said they will ask the Supreme Court to review the ruling.
If you need a Child Pornography Defense Attorney in New Orleans, contact attorney Elizabeth B. Carpenter to schedule a consultation. Early intervention by an experienced sex crime defense attorney can make a tremendous difference in your case. We are here to help you, not judge you.
By: Elizabeth B Carpenter
Serving Clients in Orleans Parish, St. Tammany Parish, St. John Parish, St. James Parish, St. Bernard Parish, St. Charles Parish, Assumption Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Plaquemines Parish and Jefferson Parish.
The following cases are being argued before the U.S. Supreme Court this week:
BAILEY V. UNITED STATES
Can police officers may detain an individual incident to the execution of a search warrant when the individual has left the immediate vicinity of the premises before the warrant is executed.
CHAIDEZ V. UNITED STATES
In Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010), this Court held that criminal defendants receive ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment when their attorneys fail to advise them that pleading guilty to an offense will subject them to deportation. The question presented is whether Padilla applies to persons whose convictions became final before its announcement.
FLORIDA V. JARDINES
Is a dog sniff at the front door of a suspected grow house by a trained narcotics detection dog is a Fourth Amendment search requiring probable cause?
FLORIDA V. HARRIS
Is an alert by a well-trained narcotics detection dog certified to detect illegal contraband insufficient to establish probable cause for the search of a vehicle?