Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Kentucky's New Self-defense Law

In a test of Kentucky’s new self-defense provisions, Kenton County Circuit Court today ruled that the law is not retroactive, and therefore not applicable, to a case in which an 18-year old was stabbed and killed as the result of an argument in which his attacker had plead self defense. (Article)

The defense’s position in pretrial was that the fact situation is one such as is covered by the new statute, but the Court’s consideration disagreed. Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Jim Redwine told the Courier Journal that a defendant can only be tried under a new law if it mitigates or reduces punishment for the offense. Kentucky’s new law changes the status of what defenses can be used, not what punishments can be applied.

Kentucky’s New Self-defense Provisions

Ohio "exit polls" decision

The U.S. District Court for Southwest Ohio ruled against a 2004 directive barring “exit polls” from being taken within 100 feet of a polling place yesterday, enjoining the Secretary of State’s Office from prohibiting such surveys and ordering the issuance of new instructions to Ohio election officials on them by October 15th..


Monday, September 25, 2006

Ohio Sex Offender Registries Extended

Ohio’s latest revision to its sex offender statutes is a law—the only one in the country—that’s providing that, “In any case in which an individual is precluded from commencing a civil action for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse against a person solely because the limitation period under section 2305.111 of the Revised Code for the action expired on or before the effective date of this section, the attorney general or the prosecuting attorney may bring an action in a court designated in division (C) of this section for a declaratory judgment finding that the person would have been liable for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse but for the expiration of the limitation period under section 2305.111 of the Revised Code. The attorney general or prosecuting attorney may bring an action pursuant to this section only for childhood sexual abuse that allegedly occurred in this state.”

Further,“If the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence in an action brought pursuant to this section that the defendant would be liable for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse but for the expiration of the limitation period under section 2305.111 of the Revised Code, the court shall enter a judgment with that finding against the defendant and shall order that the defendant be listed on the civil registry maintained by the attorney general pursuant to section 3797.08 of the Revised Code. The court shall notify the defendant of the defendant's obligations under sections 3797.02, 3797.03, and 3797.04 of the Revised Code.”

The law became effective Aug. 3rd..

Senate Bill 17 Summary & Analysis

Thursday, September 21, 2006

National "Roadless Forest Land" bans upheld

U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Laporte (N.Dist. Calif.) yesterday struck down Bush administration parameters for developing some nearly 58.5 million acres of “roadless” National Forest land, reinstating a ban from the Clinton era on road-building, logging, drilling, and other activities, according to an article this morning on (Also see L.A. Times article)

The Court’s ruling is not going to apply to Alaska’s 9.3 million acre Tongass National Forest, governed by separate rules on development, but also included in President Clinton’s ban.

Ohio, is not going to be affected since it has no federal forest lands. Kentucky and Indiana have 3,000 and 8,000 acres respectively.

Case Opinion

“Roadless Area Conservation “ Final Rule, Jan. 12, 2001
66 FR 3243

National Forests
Forestry Service’s “roadless area conservation” maps

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Proposed U.S. Criminal Procedure/ Evidence Rules

The U.S. Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules, last Aug. 10th., released for public comment a set of proposed amendments to Federal rules of criminal procedure, while the Committee on Evidence Rules is seeking input on a proposal that would add a new rule on privilege waiver. Comments are due by Feb. 15, 2007, with public hearing in Washington on Jan. 26, 2007 and in San Francisco on Feb. 2

The proposed criminal rule amendments are implementing the Crime Victims’ Right Act, codified at 18 U.S.C. §3371

Proposed Amendments
Report of Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules [ Dec. 2005] [May 2006]
Report of Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules, May 2006

2005 FBI Crime Rate Report

The FBI’s 2005 Crime in the United States report, released Monday, showed that the nation’s violent crime rate increased 2.3 % from 2004 to 2005, but that property crime rate had decreased 1.5 percent in the same period.

Robbery increased 3.9 %, murder and non-negligent manslaughter 3.4 percent, and aggravated assault 1.8 percent, but forcible rape – the only violent crime to do so – showed a decrease of 1.2 %. Burglary was the only property crime to show an increase this past year.

The Enquirer yesterday reported that while Cincinnati is the 56th. largest city in the United States, its homicide rate is the 15th. highest, while its overall crime rate is 34th. out of 254 cities with populations of 100,000 or more. While the nation’s violent crime rate rose 2.3 %, Cincinnati’s increased 3.2 percent; with the biggest factor being reported a 15% increase in aggravated assault.

The large city with the highest crime rate in the country was Dallas.

New York City remained the safest of the nation’s ten largest cities last year, where the number or reported crimes dropped 4.3 %. With the national rate of violent crime up 2.3 percent, New York’s dropped 1.9 %

San Jose was the second safest city according to the FBI report, followed by Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

(Also see Findlaw article)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Britain's "double jeopardy" reform

Between CSI-Las Vegas, -Miami, -wherever, and CBS’s “Cold Case” series, a whole lot of attention have been brought to DNA evidence and reviving “cold cases” across the country. Persons wrongfully convicted can be cleared & returned to society, and sometimes new evidence connects persons already in prison with additional offenses. Police departments everywhere contact the FBI’s crime lab for support in troubling cases, and many, such as the Kentucky and Indiana State Police have full-time units.

Funding for cold case investigations is also sometimes available through federal grants.

But what if the reverse happens? What if I really did kill “Joe,” but was found me not guilty… and then three, five – ten years later, new evidence comes up proving I did, in fact, do it? Used to be it didn’t make much difference.

“Double jeopardy,” right? I’m saved….. Not necessarily. There are exceptions to the 5th. Amendment haven many think is all-inclusive. Wikipedia, for example, explains that “second trials held after a mistrial does not violate the double jeopardy clause, because a mistrial ends a trial prematurely without a judgment of guilty or not guilty; and cases which have been dismissed because of insufficient evidence may constitute a final judgment for these purposes, although many state & federal laws allow for limited prosecutorial appeals from these orders.”

Then there’s Great Britain.

In 1989 William Dunlop was arrested and tried twice for the murder of an ex-girlfriend; both times having a jury unable to reach a verdict. He was acquitted in 1991. In prison on an unrelated assault charge, he confessed to his former girlfriend’s murder to prison officials, but at the time could only be prosecuted for perjury and was given an additional six years. That was in 2000.

In April 2005 England and Wales abolished the whole 800-year-old concept. Dunlop’s case was reopened, and, in light of his confession to prison officials, this time he was found guilty of the murder. It was the first case brought up under the new reform which affects only England and Wales, not neighboring Scotland. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct.1st..

Monday, September 11, 2006

Municipal Code Publisher Sold

The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that American Legal Publishing, based in Cincinnati, and the online publisher of many Ohio municipal codes, has been sold by Bancinsurance to employees led by ALP's president, Steven Wolf. Bancinsurance's subsidiaries include Ohio Indemnity Company.

Other Ohio municipal code publishers include Conway Greene and Municode.

State Welfare Reform Deadlines

A FindLaw article last Friday relates another approaching deadline for states: compliance with new federal rules regarding their having to “place into job training, community service, or other work activity, 50 percent of welfare-recipient households getting aid, and 90 percent of two-parent households receiving assistance.”

Some 35 states are lagging behind in the effort that was part of a set of broad rules more strictly defining what constitutes “work” and requiring states to verify that adult recipients were doing those activities the states said they were doing. Ohio and Kentucky do not appear on a list provided by the Dept. of Health & Human Services. States face reductions in their welfare block grants of up to 5% the first years if they fail to meet the new requirements, and 2 percentage points for each year after that.

Child & Family Services Administration
“Deficit Reduction Act of 2005” fact sheet

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Internet Use For Legal Advice Tripled In Past Six Years

A Lexis press release Wednesday says, “almost three time as many adult Americans turn to the Internet today for legal information and advice as six years ago,” according to a Harris Interactive survey commissioned by is a free online attorney database from LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell.

“People have unprecedented access to legal information that had once been only the purview of legal professionals,” Alan Kopit, legal editor of, said.

“Besides lawyers, traditional sources of legal advice, such as friends & family, are on the decline today as consumers increasingly turn to widely-available online resources to become better informed about their legal rights & responsibilities. The challenge is knowing what information is trustworthy, and consumers need to look to reputable web sites and investigate the source of the legal information they find online before relying on it.”

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Firm Sued For Using Wayback Machine ( reports that a law suit will continue against a accused of "hacking" by accessing information in the online resource called the "Wayback Machine", at The site indexes and stores Web site content going back many years, enabling visitors to see iterative changes to Web sites. The plaintiff had sued the Internet Archive as well, who has settled. The suit claims that law firm staff "hacked" the site to see content. Here is a post from July 2005 about the lawsuit, by William Patry @ Thelen Reid & Priest.

The Wayback Machine is less a hacking tool than an archive of crawled/indexed Web sites that one can access by typing in a URL. No skill or additional knowledge is related to finding the information once you get there. I missed this case when it first popped up last year but I'll be watching to see how it turns out!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ohio class-action election lawsuit

A class-action suit was filed in Southern Ohio District Court Thursday alleging wrongdoings in the state in “having deprived and continuing to deprive Ohioans of their right to vote by, in a selective & discriminatory manner, unfairly allocating election resources (such as voting machines), instituting a system of provisional ballots, purging voter registrations, and breaking the bi-partisan chain of custody of ballots.”

The suit seeks to have the Court order all paper ballots from the Nov. 2, 2004 election kept, and that a “special master” be appointed to evaluate Ohio election practices and procedures, and ensure that elections are administered fairly, and in a uniform, effective, and neutral manner.

[ Article ]
[ Plaintiff’s complaint ]