Category Archives: Crime

Aurora Theater Shooting Trial Begins

The Aurora theater shooting trial is big news in Colorado right now. Everything about this trial is unusual, from the 9000-person jury pool to the fact that one of the 24 jurors and alternates is a survivor of the Columbine school shooting who was childhood friends with the shooters and had gone to prom with one of the victims. I spoke with CBS Evening News, the Wall Street Journal, and CCTV about some of the issues in the case.

Denver Law Review Symposium: CrImmigration

I’m spending most of today and tomorrow (2/6 and 2/7) at the Denver Law Review annual symposium. This year’s topic is the timely one of “crImmigration,” or the intersection between criminal and immigration law. The official announcement is available here, and my colleague Cesar Garcia Hernandez also has a nice write up here. You can follow the symposium in real time on Twitter under the hashtag #DULRcrimmigration, or check out the livestream.

New column for Huffington Post: Death Penalty Becomes More Rare and More Problematic

I have a piece for Huffington Post today summarizing 2014 executions and other events related to the death penalty. Read to learn which seven states executed prisoners, find out which two states don’t require a unanimous jury to impose the death sentence, and learn some of the troubling stories about the individuals behind the statistics.

New Piece on Slate: “Domestic Violence Is Violence”

I have a new article today on Slate about the way we tend to overlook or downplay gendered violence. I was prompted to write the piece after a tweet I wrote of the cuff ended up getting retweeted a lot, and seemed to resonate with people. I observed that Ismaaiyl Brinsley (and other men who shoot their girlfriends) don’t make the news unless they do something else (here, the tragic shootings of New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos). My point was simply that it’s an awful thing that domestic violence is so common that ti’s not even newsworthy. After seeing the kind of response the tweet prompted, I thought I’d elaborate.

The Reappropriate Podcast Episode 12: Free Speech and Online Threats

I really enjoyed my guest stint on the Reappropriate video podcast, hosted by Jenn of Reappropriate.com. You can view the podcast on YouTube to hear my thoughts on the Supreme Court, judges and technology, free speech, online threats, subjective intent, the reasonable person, rap music, and much more.

Reappropriate4

 

On Colorado Politics From the Source: Discussing Mike Brown and Eric Garner

Last week I was part of a great discussion of the grand jury refusal to indict the officers responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner on Colorado Politics from the Source. My co-panelists are former Colorado Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll, police  use-of-force expert Dan Montgomery, and host Eli Stokols. Click here to view the half-hour long program, which aired on Denver’s Fox affiliate.

SourceFerguson1 SourceFerguson2 SourceFerguson3 SourceFerguson4

Post on ACS Blog: “Executing the Mentally Ill”

I have a post on the American Constitution Society Blog today about the latest developments in the case of Scott Panetti, the severely mentally ill man who Texas is scheduled to execute tomorrow, 12/3, at 6pm CT. Please check it out, and consider signing the Change.org petition as well.

Argument Recap: Elonis v. United States

The following post originally appeared on the blog “Hamilton and Griffin on Rights.” The owners of the blog have kindly allowed me to cross-post it here.

The year 2014 has raised many issues relating to offensive, harassing, and threatening Internet speech. In January, columnist Amanda Hess wrote a piece called “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” sparking a wide-ranging and still-ongoing conversation about online speech. The debate over Internet speech has extended to other areas. New York’s highest court considered and ultimately rejected a state cyberbullying statute as overbroad, in violation of the First Amendment. More than twenty states passed or are considering statutes criminalizing revenge porn. Meanwhile, intimate photos of celebrities were stolen, downloaded, and shared over and over. GamerGate led to intense online harassment of women involved in the video game industry, with serious consequences in the offline world—after receiving graphic anonymous threats, pop culture commentator Anita Sarkeesian cancelled a talk, while video game developer Brianna Wu had to leave her home for several days.

It’s fitting, then, that the Supreme Court should hear argument today in Elonis v United States, a case involving involving arguably threatening posts on Facebook. The Supreme Court has held that “true threats” may be criminalized consistent with the First Amendment, although it has not defined the term “true threats” with any precision. The issue Elonis presents is whether a person can be convicted of making true threats if a reasonable person would have perceived the statements as threatening, or whether, as Elonis argues, the government must also prove that the speaker subjectively intended to make a threat. Continue reading

New Piece in the Atlantic: “Will Texas Execute a Mentally Ill Man?”

My colleague Justin Marceau and I have a piece in the Atlantic about the execution of Scott Panetti, scheduled for Wednesday in Texas. Mr. Panetti has a thirty-year history of paranoid schizophrenia and has not had a competency hearing in seven years.