By: Hanna Shoshany
This past election day, New Yorkers approved the Casino Ballot Referendum. Being the first state to legalize commercial gambling since 1994, New York is the nineteenth state to say “yes” to full service commercial casinos. With plans of opening up seven casinos in the course of seven years, four of which will begin bidding in the upstate areas as early as January 1st, the economic projections are promising. The goal is to keep hundreds of millions of dollars currently spent in neighboring states such as New Jersey and Connecticut right here in our backyard. The generated revenues will be allocated to public schools and to lower property taxes. The government is also hopeful that this new law will minimize civilian involvement in illegal underground gambling rings. The government, however, ignores the fact that all of the eighteen states that host commercial casinos also have the highest rates of underground gambling rings. As a society, we are more likely to get involved in illegal gambling when we live in an atmosphere that supports gambling as a whole.
Most of the underground gambling rings in New York are owned and operated by crime families. These gambling rings offer high stakes poker games and sports betting whose proceeds are wired to Costa Rica. Additionally, these gambling rings create an atmosphere of drugs and prostitution that is not present in Vegas-style casinos. The government’s crackdown on these underground operations has led to high profile cases, usually involving over twenty defendants per “ring bust.” These cases generate lucrative business for attorneys in the tri-state area who specialize in defeating RICO charges. For instance, this past April, the FBI busted an illegal gambling ring that involved 33 co-conspirators and was orchestrated by Russian Underworld Bosses Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov and Helly Nahmad, owner of the most lucrative art gallery in the city. Prior to accepting a plea bargain, these defendants faced 92 years on racketeering, money laundering, gambling, and fraud charges. These types of operations are miniscule in comparison to the Genovese Family’s involvement in New Jersey gambling rings, despite the accessibility of casinos in Atlantic City. The Russian gambling ring also feigns in comparison to the online betting schemes such as Pinnacle Sports, in Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world.
Therefore, although the economic incentives of being the nineteenth state to legalize commercial gambling are highly attractive, the likelihood that it will minimize, as opposed to facilitate, the prevalence of underground illegal gambling rings, is farfetched.
Nov 26th, 2013 by lgriffin
The fatal shooting of Renisha McBride by a homeowner on the front porch of a home outside Detroit raises questions about the reasonableness of shooting under “stand your ground,” self-defense, and culpable accident doctrines. Pace Professor Bennett Gershman analyzes the case for the Huffington Post. Click here to read the article in full: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bennett-l-gershman/i-didnt-mean-to-kill-reni_b_4325738.html
Nov 19th, 2013 by Annmarie Stepancic
Last Thursday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied Judge Shira Scheindlin’s motion to vacate the order of the panel, which removed Judge Scheindlin from presiding on any further proceedings in Floyd v. City of New York, 12 Civ. 2274 (SAS).
This Court of Appeals decision is the latest twist in the legal drama that ensued following the Floyd decision.
In its decision on Thursday, “the panel clarified that it had not ruled that Scheindlin violated the code of conduct, only that the ‘appearance of partiality required reassignment.”
As this issue gains widespread attention – drawing in the likes of lawyers, law professors, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and police unions – it remains to be seen how the Second Circuit will proceed. But one thing is certain: the institutional reputation of this previously unusually well respected court has suffered.
Nov 15th, 2013 by Lucie Olejnikova
BY: David Restrepo
The Second Circuit recently decided United States v. Freeman, which was on appeal from a conviction for gun possession. On appeal, the defendant argued that the police lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct the Terry stop that produced a gun in the defendant’s possession. The Second Circuit reversed the defendant’s conviction, mainly on the ground that the police lacked reasonable suspicion to stop and frisk so that the evidence should have been suppressed.
The interesting part about the case is the court’s in-depth discussion on what constitutes reasonable suspicion. Initially, police responded to a pair of anonymous 911 calls from the same caller. The caller offered a description and location of the defendant, claiming that the defendant had a gun on his person. What makes the court’s decision newsworthy is its analysis of the phone calls and their sufficiency as a basis for reasonable suspicion given that, although they were anonymous, the 911 center recorded the phone number and the caller called twice.
The Second Circuit held that the phone calls were an insufficient basis for reasonable suspicion because the information in the calls could not be corroborated. However, the majority and dissent both discussed an issue raised by Justice Kennedy in his concurrence in Florida v. J.L., 529 U.S. 266 (2000) – whether 911 calls are really anonymous given current police technology. In J.L., the majority held that a mere description in 911 call is not sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion. In his dissent in Freeman, however, Judge Wesley disagreed, suggesting that the Supreme Court should offer “further guidance in this troubling and exceptionally important area of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.” Whether or not the holding in Freeman is correct, Judge Wesley poses an interesting issue. Given the speed of advancement in technology available to law enforcement, it is an issue that deserves further clarification by the Supreme Court.
David Restrepo, United States v. Freeman – Second Circuit, ABA Media Alerts (Nov. 7, 2013).
United States v. Freeman, No. 12-2233-cr (2d Cir. Nov. 7, 2013).
Nov 13th, 2013 by lgriffin
Last summer, Governor Cuomo created the Moreland Commission and gave it the job to investigate ethical violations by New York State legislators. Pace Law School Professor Bennett L. Gershman analyzes the ambiguities in the Commission’s mandate and some of its recent problems.
Click here to read the full article.
Nov 8th, 2013 by lgriffin
The Floyd case has taken unexpected turns. After Judge Scheindlin’s decision finding the NYPD stop and frisk practices unconstitutional, the City appealed. Although the City did not raise the question of Judge Scheindlin’s recusal, the Second Circuit ordered her removed from the case and her ordered remedies stayed. Then Bill De Blasio was elected mayor of New York City, pledging, among other things, to halt the stop and frisk policy and presumably to withdraw the appeal. Now Judge Scheindlin has moved to be reinstated.
Where does all of this leave the Second Circuit’s order removing Judge Scheindlin. Although the order was based, in part, on a finding that Judge Scheindlin had interfered with the Court’s case assignment procedures, the City was present when this alleged impropriety occurred and never moved to recuse her; nor did the City’s appeal raise the issue before the Second Circuit. Presumably, if the Mayor-elect withdraws the appeal, though, the order of removal will disappear. Or will it? What happens to the ordered remedies that have been stayed? What happens to Judge Scheindlin’s motion?
One thing that is clear is that this entire procedure is unprecedented. What is likely to happen? What is in limbo? The thought arises: why did the well-respected Second Circuit panel reach out to remove Judge Scheindlin knowing that Bill DeBlasio was so likely to win and so likely to withdraw the appeal? Is this confusion good for the system and its perception by the public?
Judge Asks to be Put Back on New York ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ Case, Reuters, Nov. 6, 2013.
Joseph Goldstein, Court Blocks Stop-and-Frisk Changes for New York Police, N.Y. Times, Oct. 31, 2013.
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Order of Oct. 31, 2013, staying the District Court’s January 8, 2013 Floyd “Opinion and Order,” as well as the August 12, 2013 Floyd “Liability Opinion” and “Remedies Opinion” and removing Judge Shira A. Scheindlin after concluding that the District Judge violated the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, Canon 2.
Nov 7th, 2013 by lgriffin
Michael Skakel, who was convicted 10 years ago of murdering his Greenwich, Connecticut neighbor, 15-year-old Martha Moxley, was recently released from prison after a judge found he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. The case has achieved notoriety because Mr. Skakel is a Kennedy relative. Yesterday (Nov. 6, 2013), however, he was refused bail and ordered to return to prison to await a new trial, or an appeal. On November 6, 2014, the judge who ordered the new trial granted the prosecutor’s motion to deny bail pending appeal or a new trial. The Judge stated that any bail decision should be handled by the new judge who will preside over all subsequent proceedings.
Alison Leigh Cowan, Judge Who Overturned Skakel Murder Conviction Declines Bail Request, N.Y. Times, Nov. 6, 2013.
Oct 31st, 2013 by lgriffin
The Criminal Justice Society at Pace Law School held a symposium last Tuesday (Oct. 22, 2014) on the future of stop and frisk in New York City. Prof. David Dorfman moderated, and the panelists were Prof. Randolph McLaughlin, of Pace Law School; Mayo Bartlett, a Pace alum and private criminal defense attorney in White Plains; Heather MacDonald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute; and Police Officer David Rullo, a Pace student and a police officer in New Jersey.
The panelists began by debating the merits of Judge Scheindlin’s decision in Floyd, finding that the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices unconstitutional. The disagreement was not so much over the Judge’s holding as it was over the facts upon which it rested, with Ms. MacDonald asserting that some of the fact finding was not supported by the evidence. There was also disagreement about whether the Judge was correct in concluding that the racial breakdown of stop and frisk should reflect population demographics, as opposed to the demographics of who commits crimes.
Substantial discussion concerned the need for training police officers: Officer Rullo thought training on the constitutional dimensions of stop and frisk was inadequate and Ms. MacDonald thought the police should have training on how to treat people with respect. Ultimately, Ms. MacDonald raised a concern that hamstringing the police in stop and frisk would lead to more crime, while Mr. Bartlett and Prof. McLaughlin focused on how many innocent people are arrested under current stop and frisk practices. All of the panelists were concerned about the impact of stop and frisk – or of stopping the stop an d frisk policy – on the community.
The panelists also proposed solutions. Mr. Bartlett emphasized the need for incorporating police officers into the community. A reform of the stop and frisk policy based on police presence would foster community relationships that could help police officers deter crime.
With the NYC mayoral election looming, many people worry about whether the crime rate will rise after Floyd and with a new administration. Many people are debating whether we should reintroduce community policing and, if so, what the impact will be on the community.
Oct 29th, 2013 by lgriffin
Read an op-ed co-authored by Prof. Michael B. Mushlin, of Pace Law School, a renowned prisoners’ rights scholar, and Prof. Martin F. Horn, of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and former Commissioner of Correction for New York City and Corrections Secretary in Pennsylvania, on the issue of solitary confinement:
Martin F. Horn & Michael B. Mushlin, Reform Prison Isolation, timesunion.com (Oct. 29, 2013).
Oct 22nd, 2013 by lgriffin
As many of you may know, in June of 2013 the New York Court of Appeals held that a sentencing court must consider the eligibility of a qualifying defendant for youthful offender treatment even if the defendant ostensibly waives that right by failing to request it, as part of a negotiated guilty plea, or as a waiver of the right to appeal. The Court so held in People v. Rudolph, overruling its 1977 decision in People v. McGowen.
This decision may help Kyle Freda, who waived the right to youthful offender treatment as part of a negotiated plea, and whose attorney did not file a notice of appeal in light of that waiver. An application to the Appellate Division, Third Department for permission to file a late notice of appeal was granted. That Court remanded the case to the sentencing court, which has scheduled a sentencing hearing. While the Rudolph Court made clear that the decision was not retroactive, it does apply to all cases that were on direct appeal as of June 2013.
These decisions may have important consequences in parts of the states where non-YO guilty pleas are regularly negotiated.
People v. Rudolph, 21 N.Y.3d 497, __ N.E.2d __, 2013 Slip Op. 04840 (June 27, 2013).
People v. McGowen, 42 N.Y.2d 905, 366 N.E.2d 1347, 397 N.Y.S.2d 993 (1977).