Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law

OSJCL Amici Board of Advisors

OSJCL Amici: Views from the Field

Citizens as Judges in Japan

Japan will begin implementing a number of “citizen-judges” in criminal cases beginning in May 2009. The system, which will allow panels of six citizens to question witnesses and determine verdicts and sentences, is being implemented in response to complaints that the current system’s 99% conviction rate provides a slight favoritism to the prosecution.


Hamdan Transferred from Guantanamo Bay

Osama bin Laden’s former driver and bodyguard has reportedly been transferred from a Guantanamo Bay prison to his native country to finish out his prison sentence. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who was the named plaintiff in a 2006 Supreme Court decision addressing the validity of military tribunals, is currently nearing the end of a 66-month prison sentence stemming from the assistance he provided bin Laden, the mastermind of a number of terrorist attacks against U.S. interests. Hamdan may be the first of many such transfers, as President-elect Barack Obama has indicated an intention to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay upon assuming the presidency.


Challenging the Standard to Criminally Charge Corporations

A recent argument in front of the 2nd Circuit Court addressed the century-old standard for bringing criminal charges against corporations, arguing that it is too prosecution-friendly. The argument, ironically brought by the former head of the government’s Enron Task Force, pointed out that the current standards make it easier to gain a criminal conviction of a corporation than a criminal one, a standard that is at odds with historical theories of jurisprudence. While the Court appeared to support his argument from an academic standpoint, his ultimate fight may come at the U.S. Supreme Court, as the current standard stems from a 1909 Supreme Court decision.


Hartford Community Court a Success

After a decade of operating, a reflection on Hartford Community Court demonstrates that it has been highly successful. The court, which deals with non-violent criminals such as litterers and loiterers, was opened in an effort to increase general quality-of-life issues in the community and to provide proactive assistance for those whose crimes were indicative of deeper troubles. It has also reinvigorated law enforcement officers, who previously had little incentive to make arrests for such crimes, which often resulted in dismissals. The Hartford Community Court is serving as a model for other jurisdictions, as over sixty such courts are now operating across the U.S.


Sentenced to Listening to "Bad" Music to Stop Recidivism

A Colorado judge has implemented an interesting penalty in an effort to cut recidivism rates for those who violate noise ordinances. Judge Paul Sacco has begun requiring these individuals to listen to music by artists such as Barry Manilow and the Platters for a one-hour period, a penalty he hopes will provide more deterrence than the mere fines violators previously were forced to pay.


Former Head of Mexico's Anti-Organized Crime Unit Arrested

The fight against corruption in government by Mexican President Felipe Calderon has resulted in the arrest of the highest profile figure to date, former head of Mexico’s anti-organized crime unit Noe Ramirez Mandujano. The arrest, coupled with that of at least 7 other former high ranking officials, demonstrates the success of President Calderon’s stated commitment to reducing the influence of drug cartels, which previously had wielded considerable clout in the nation. Mandujano is alleged to have received over $450,000 from organized crime in exchange for information.


Credit Card and Bank Account Theft on the Rise

Symantec security researchers released a report recently indicating that, despite recent crackdown efforts by law enforcement, there is still a significant underground economy involving stolen credit card numbers and bank account information. The study estimated that $276 million worth of financial information was transferred worldwide from mid-2007 through mid-2008, an alarming figure that has been fueled by both organized crime in Eastern Europe and solo hackers in the U.S.


Crime Rates for 2007 Released

A recent report released by CQ Press found that New Orleans had the highest rate of crime in the country in 2007. The report is compiled using statistics reported to the FBI regarding crimes of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. Other cities with the dubious distinction of ranking “high” on this list included Camden, New Jersey; Detroit, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri, and Oakland, California.