- Brian Morris, Elite Worldwide Polygraph Services
In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that indigent persons accused of crimes must be provided with an attorney. The Court, however, did not specify how those attorneys should be financed. The public defender model is, of course, the most familiar model that has arisen. Texas is about to start something new--a pilot program involving defense vouchers. Like the school voucher concept, the idea is to replicate, so far as possible, a free market for defense services. By giving the person with the most at stake more say in choosing the attorney who will defend his reputation and liberty, will vouchers produce gains for both the defendant and the public at large?
Immigration law and enforcement have been on the front pages for the last several years, and that shows no signs of changing. One aspect to our national debate on immigration that hasn't received as much attention as it should is the effect that the several states can have on the issue. Through its policing powers and criminal sentencing guidelines, a state can influence who the federal immigration authorities can remove from the country. Our experts discussed the important constitutional issues that these trends present.
What actions are political and what actions are criminal? Where should prosecutors and courts draw the lines? How should we decide what actions should be evaluated at the ballot box and what actions should be evaluated in a court of law? This panel will discuss the recent use of criminal law to pursue public officials and political activity. A presentation of former high level Justice Department attorneys will look to recent prosecutions, such as those of Bob McDonnell and John Edwards, to evaluate whether our criminal law is wading too deeply into political activity. Relying on their expertise, the panelists will address a number of federal crimes, like Honest Services Fraud, used to pursue politicians, and discuss whether it is wise to put politics on trial, or whether the voters should decide.
The Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group hosted this event on December 11, 2014, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
National Press Club
In 2008, Larry Whitfield attempted to rob a credit union. In the aftermath of the attempted bank robbery, Mr. Whitfield hid from the police in the home of seventy-nine-year-old Mary Parnell. After entering her home, Mr. Whitfield assured Ms. Parnell that he did not intend to harm her and asked her to move with him several feet from the hallway into the home’s computer room so that the police wouldn’t see him. Ms. Parnell suffered a fatal heart attack shortly thereafter. The federal bank robbery statute, in 18 U.S.C. § 2113(e), provides that a bank robber who “forces another person to accompany him” will receive between ten years and life in prison. Among other crimes related to the attempted bank robbery, Mr. Whitfield was found guilty of one count of “forced accompaniment” and sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. In Whitfield v. United States, the Supreme Court will answer whether the statute requires proof of more than a de minimis movement of the victim. Will the Court be skeptical of another possibly overzealous federal prosecution as it was in both Bond v. United States and Yates v. United States, or will the severity of Mr. Whitfield’s crimes help convince the Justices of the validity of the government’s position? Our expert will attend the oral arguments and offer his impressions to a Teleforum audience.