Criminal Sentencing


Companies may find that their practices are not bulletproof when it comes to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance. (Image: Wikipedia)

Companies may find that their practices are not bulletproof when it comes to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance. (Image: Wikipedia)

A recent story should serve as a cautionary tale for companies that do not want to run afoul of the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Looking at a recent prosecution, the publication Corporate Counsel determined that it doesn’t take much to steer into risky waters.

The article relates how Smith & Wesson agreed to pay $2 million to settle charges after the government alleged the company “had engaged in a systematic pattern of bribery from 2007 to early 2010 in order to get contracts to sell firearms to foreign military and law enforcement in countries such as Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan.” The article’s larger lesson is voiced by a Mayer Brown attorney:

“Bill Michael, cochairman of Mayer Brown’s global anticorruption and FCPA practice, told CorpCounsel.com the fact that the SEC was willing to go after a company that only profited by a little more than $100,000 from allegedly illegal actions should be a lesson and warning to those who would skirt antibribery law. ‘Apparently, no case may be too small,’ he said.”

You can read the complete article here (subscription or LinkedIn log-in may be required).

In Arizona Attorney Magazine, we have covered the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and this story by Anne Bishop and Brett Johnson is worth a bookmark.

Arizona Attorney, Feb. 2009

Arizona Attorney, Feb. 2009

But for your clients who operate abroad, also remember to examine other nation-specific laws that may trip up your corporate clients. For instance, we covered the U.K. bribery law here (thanks to Marc Lieberman and Mark Lasee for that great article).

Foreign Corrupt Act UK AzAt March 2012

Arizona Attorney, March 2012

 

How serious do Americans think our incarceration crisis is? Their word choice provides a clue.

How serious do Americans think our incarceration crisis is? Their word choice provides a clue.

It may be wonkish and nerdy to admit, but I enjoy the etymological side of public policy quite a bit.

Wait, that sentence itself is pretty incomprehensible. So let me start again.

We may all know “mass incarceration” when we see it (especially in the United States). But where did the term come from? Who used it first? And is it a neutral phrase, or laden with ideological baggage?

That is the conceptual adventure a reader embarks on when they begin a recent article on the Brennan Center website titled “Just Facts: Quantifying the Incarceration Conversation.

In the article, Oliver Roeder explains the roots of the term mass incarceration. That alone makes the article worth your time.

But of special interest is the kind of research that a digitized knowledge base allows us. The existence of digitized articles and scholarship permits talented people like Roeder to track trends in word use. Because of that, he’s able to explain, among other things, how use of the phrase ramped up, and to compare it to the increasing size of our prison population. Here is an example of one of his tables:

Mass incarceration table Brennan Center

Roeder earned his economics Ph.D. at the University of Texas in Austin. Perhaps not coincidentally, Texas is one of the states trying to make inroads in the mass incarceration challenge.

A few years ago, I wrote a story about the possibility for altered sentencing laws in Arizona. It appeared way back in 2012, when the prospects had brightened and then dimmed.

But if Roeder’s analysis shows anything, it is that the concept of mass incarceration has entered the collective consciousness. Supporters and detractors both understand that they must wrestle with the propriety of a historically large prison population.

So maybe it’s time for an updated look. What do you think?

Ak Chin Justice Center, whose ribbon-cutting occurred June 6, 2014. Maricopa, Ariz.

Ak Chin Justice Center, whose ribbon-cutting occurred June 6, 2014. Maricopa, Ariz.

Maricopa, Arizona, was the site of a June 6 community gathering that marked the opening of the Ak-Chin Indian Community Justice Center. The 56,000-square-foot building houses the tribal police department, court and detention center, as well as offices for public defenders, prosecutors and probation staff.

That’s the opening to my news story that will be published in the July/August Arizona Attorney Magazine. That’s also where we’ll include a smattering of photos.

But who doesn’t like more photos? So here are a few in this post. And you can see the whole set on our Facebook page here.

Have a great—and justice-filled—weekend.

Basket-weaving, an important component of the Ak-Chin culture, is apparent in the Ak-Chin Justice Center's design and appointments. The photo shows how the design influences the light fixtures.

Basket-weaving, an important component of the Ak-Chin culture, is apparent in the Ak-Chin Justice Center’s design and appointments. The photo shows how the design influences the light fixtures.

Tribal Judge Brian Burke describes features of the new courtroom space at the Ak-Chin Justice Center, June 5, 2014.

Tribal Judge Brian Burke describes features of the new courtroom space at the Ak-Chin Justice Center, June 5, 2014.

Shawn C Marsh, Ph.D.

Shawn C. Marsh, Ph.D.

Bias? Why should the legal profession be concerned about bias—explicit or implicit?

As surprising as it might be to hear attorneys utter those words, they represent a position firmly held by some.

Meantime, on May 8, lawyers who thought otherwise packed two rooms—in Phoenix and Tucson—to hear an expert discuss implicit bias in the legal profession.

Hosted by the State Bar of Arizona, the presentation by Dr. Shawn Marsh answered my opening question handily: Because, perhaps even more than other professions, the legal profession and the legal system are peppered with decision points, each of which may go horribly awry because human beings are susceptible to bias.

First, let me give you the good doctor’s bio:

“Shawn C. Marsh, Ph.D., is the Chief Program Officer of Juvenile Law at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Dr. Marsh is a social psychologist with research and teaching interests in the areas of psychology and the law, adolescent development, trauma, and juvenile justice. His background includes working with youth in detention and correction settings as an educator and mental health clinician, and he is a licensed school counselor, professional counselor, and clinical professional counselor. Dr. Marsh is affiliated with several academic departments at the University of Nevada, and his publications include numerous articles in scholarly journals such as Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice and Victims & Offenders, as well as chapters in textbooks such as Correctional Psychiatry and Juvenile Crime and Justice.”

His May 8 presentation to a standing-room-only room at the University Club explored the many ways our important decisions are steered by our biases. Spoiler alert: We cannot eliminate them; they are rooted in everyone’s cognitive processes. But we can be more mindful of them, and in so doing, work to minimize their effects.

His approach was humorous and non-confrontational. He shared the many ways we may be seeing the world through skewed eyes. Here is one humorous example that he offered:

Snoop Martha Stewart sterotype

So, Snoop and Martha Stewart give us pause. Excellent. Because pausing before we act is one of the strategy Marsh recommends as you make your way as a human. (Marsh listed about 14 strategies.)

Take a few minutes. Take the Implicit Association Test (which retired Chief Justice McGregor also recommends.) Educate yourself. Expose yourself to other cultures and people.

That last point led to one of the more intriguing anecdotes he shared. He explained that research has shown that relatively brief exposure to praiseworthy individuals in groups that are not yours (“out-group exemplars”) may lead us all to see the entire “other” group in a much more positive light. In fact, even a 30-second positive focus (perhaps in a news or sports story) may yield attitude and behavior changes that last 24 hours.

How can we maximize that effect? Marsh said at least a few courts have uploaded slideshows to serve as the screen-savers on the computers of judges and court staff. In a nation that exhibits disparate treatment (even in sentencing) based on race, viewing a continual slideshow of admirable people of color may have a long-term effect.

(That and other strategies are listed in this National Center for State Courts report.)

Finally, Marsh points out that though attitudes matter, so do behaviors. And those behaviors are often exhibited through our selection of words. So I leave you, as he did, with a great short video on the power that words may have on the actions of us and those around us.

 

 

JAGC tour of superior and municipal courts, May 8, 2014.

JAGC tour of superior and municipal courts, May 8, 2014.

This morning, I am pleased to share a news story that was sent my way by attorney Debbie Weecks. It involves a visit by members of a Judge Advocate General Corps to a civilian court.

If you have law-related news you’d like to share, send it to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Here’s Debbie:

Our Luke AFB’s JAGC Corps broke with its quarterly Friday classroom from its own court setting and tradition this week. The JAGC instead enjoyed a local field day morning with a tour of the courts on Thursday, May 8. The group kicked off at Surprise Municipal Court at 7:45 a.m., where the Honorable Presiding Judge Louis Frank Dominguez gave a formidable overview of the municipal court system. Judicial Administrative Supervisor Lynn Mikus assisted in creating an instructional handout.

Next, the JAGC was greeted at Superior Court by the Honorable Presiding Judge Eilleen Willett for an overview of operations and court departments. Judge Willett was kind enough to lend her clerk out for the balance of the tour, so the members enjoyed the company and some insights courtesy of clerk John Charles Laws (a 3L at Summit Law). Thanks go out to all four NW Superior Court judges for spending time greeting and on Q&A (Judge Willett, and also Judge Jose Padilla, Judge Michael Kemp, and Commissioner Jacki Ireland), and to all their staff who pre-arranged and facilitated the tour.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office graciously provided its escort, which gave the JAGC the opportunity during a snack break between courtrooms to learn about courtroom and courthouse security from Deputy Tony Jacobs. (A thanks is due to the Surprise location Paradise Bakery’s manager Cheryl for the cookies!)

The Self Service Center is an important service member resource when pro per, so the brief instructional by SSC clerks Marta and David was very useful!

Farther down the hallway, the JAGC was greeted by a prior JAGC officer, now Justice of the Peace, Gerald Williams. The four hour-plus tour ended with the JAGC members observing brief proceedings and interacting with North Valley J.P. Judge Williams and Hassayampa J.P. Judge Chris Mueller. With Judge Williams’ background prior to civilian life, the JAGC members were provided a comparative analysis of how certain matters are treated in the two court systems, including prepared handouts and thorough explanations on some more subtle criminal charge matters. Judge Mueller invited everyone to observe an interpreter in-custody plea bargain.

Overall, a great day for all involved!

Al Jazeera America logo AJAMBeginning this Sunday, May 18, cable news channel Al Jazeera America launches an all-new original documentary series that “explores the state of our legal system.”

Titled “The System with Joe Berlinger,” the eight-part series is directed by documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger.

The series begins with an examination of the justice system’s use of confessions. The other topics will be: mandatory sentencing, forensics, eyewitness identification, juvenile justice, policing strategies, parole and prosecutorial integrity.

Joe Berlinger

Joe Berlinger

More information is here.

Before I hear from concerned readers (whose hackles may rise at mention of the Al Jazeera brand), I add: I have not been privy to any preview tape, so I cannot prejudge whether and how a balanced presentation is achieved. The director, Joe Berlinger, is an experienced journalist, so I’ve got my fingers crossed.

You may want to read a Q&A with Berlinger.

Here is a trailer for the series. (It is long on production values and short on substance, so it may not tip your viewing habits one way or the other.)

By entering your ZIP Code on the website, you can determine if the channel is available in your viewing area.

Do any of you intend to watch? I am (gasp!) cable-free, so I am unlikely to find a way to see it. But if you do watch it, I’d appreciate hearing your response to the first one that airs Sunday. Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Pima County Bar Association logo

Law Day events continue across Arizona and the nation. Today, I share news of what is happening this weekend in Tucson.

There, the Pima County Bar Association is offering free consultations with lawyers. Surely, you or someone you know could benefit from a conversation about legal issues.

The “Meet a Lawyer” legal clinic will be held on Saturday, May 3, at the Tucson Mall, from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. There, you and others can have your legal questions answered for free.

As the PCBA says:

“Attorneys will be available to assist individuals one-on-one, for brief, 15-minute intervals. Legal help is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Attorneys will cover a variety of legal topics, yet we cannot guarantee that all legal areas or questions can be addressed throughout the event. Helpful legal resources & handouts will also be available.”

You can download a flier here.

And here is a snapshot of the legal areas and when they will be represented at the clinic:

Pima County Bar Association Law Day will provide free legal advice on many topics.

Pima County Bar Association Law Day will provide free legal advice on many topics.

More information is available at the PCBA website or by calling 520-623-8258.

And be sure to tweet something about #LawDay – let’s get the term trending on Twitter, at least in Arizona!

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