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Holme’s Psychiatrist warned police 6 weeks before shooting

The psychiatrist for James Holmes is reported to have warned University of Colorado police six weeks before his movie theater shooting rampage in Aurora Colorado. Lynne Fenton, Holmes’ psychiatrist, told a police officer on campus that she was concerned that her paitent might be a danger to himself or others. It is not clear what the officer did with that information.

If this is true it marks the second instance where Fenton warned officials about her patients health and safety. It also marks the second time that nothing appears to have been done in response.

Holmes was a doctorate student in the University of Colorado Neuroscience program. He failed an oral examination on June 7th and dropped out of school on June 10th, six weeks before entering a midnight showing of ‘The Dark Knight’ and shooting 70 people, killing 12. He is charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder. If found guilty he may possibly face the death penalty.

The death penalty was reinstated in Colorado in 1975 but has only been used once since. In 1997 Gary Lee Davis was put to death via lethal injection after he was found guilty of murder and rape in 1986.

Jared Loughner expected to get Life in Prison

The main suspect in the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords and 18 others is expected to plead guilty in court today. Jared Loughner has been held in a Missouri prison undergoing psychological examination for over a year now and his prison psychiatrist has determined that he is fit to stand trial. On Monday an order was filed for Judge Larry Burns to consider letting Loughner change his plea from not guilty to guilty. Judge Burns will determine if Loughner is fit to stand trial based on how he conducts himself in court today. He may be asked to read through his actions on that January day to show he fully understands what he did and what is happening to him in court.

Loughner was arrested at the scene of the shooting in January of 2011 and immediately showed signs of mental difficulties. He was moved to a prison in Missouri shortly later and began undergoing psychological observation with forced medication. Recently it was determined that while Loughner suffers from schizophrenia he is capable of assisting his defense lawyers in his trial will be capable of understanding what is happening to him.

In exchange for changing his plea to guilty it is assumed that Loughner will receive life in prison rather than the death penalty. For the defense attorney Judy Clarke this is a small victory in a otherwise tragic case. While some may see little difference between spending the rest of your life in prison or being put to death it is a huge difference for the defendant and their family. It is a testament to Ms. Clarke’s skill as an attorney that she was able to get this deal and will be held as examples along with her defense of ‘Unabomber’ Ted Kaczynski and Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph.

Since Loughners main target was Congresswoman Gabriela Giffords he was charged with one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress. Assassination is a form of first degree murder where the act was premeditated but since Giffords was a politician it makes the act an assassination.

Fraud Law from 1980’s creates dangerous situation for employees

In the 1980’s computer hacking was something that most Americans only heard about in Science Fiction. The few people who had a computer at their home did not have an Internet connection and there was no online shopping. However Congress still needed to pass some sort of fraud law that allowed it to prosecute criminal hackers, more appropriately labeled crackers. So they passed the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Unfortunately they were a little vague in their wording and many analysts feel have left open a wide interpretation of the law where it says it is illegal to “intentionally access a computer without authorization or exceed authorized access.”

This line could be used to prosecute workers using a company computer to buy things on Ebay, it is argued. Experts think that this will probably end up in the Supreme Court of the United States after the 9th Circuit threw out a case. In this case the defendant was charged after he asked colleagues to download client names from a recruiting firm. He argues that he did not break any law as he had permission to access the database.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: The 1980s-Era Hacking Law Out Of Step With Today’s Internet, Analysts Say

Reuters | By Grant McCool
Posted: 07/29/2012 10:43 am Updated: 07/30/2012 9:23 am

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A 1984 U.S. anti-hacking law passed when computer crime was in its infancy is under fire for potentially going too far in criminalizing the actions of employees who violate workplace policies.

Judges across the country are divided on how the 28-year-old law, the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, can be applied. At the same time, the Justice Department has signaled it wants to ramp up prosecutions under the law, even as it has lost some cases.

Civil liberties advocates and some lawyers and judges are questioning whether the CFAA, intended to punish hackers and other trespassers who damage computer systems or steal customer information, can be used to prosecute people inside a company who download sensitive data without their employers’ approval.

The debate is centered around a key phrase in the law: that it is illegal to “intentionally access a computer without authorization or exceed authorized access.” Critics argue this language is too broad and vague and could turn ordinary people into criminals for things many do routinely, such as dabble in online shopping or scan an online matchmaking site at work.

“This statute has the potential to affect millions of Americans in the workplace who work at or use a computer to do their job,” said Brent Cossrow, a partner at law firm Fisher & Phillips in Radnor, Pennsylvania, which specializes in computer breach cases. “Hopefully, it gets cleared up soon.”

BOUND FOR SUPREME COURT?

A split decision in April by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco could be the case that forces the U.S. Supreme Court to examine the law’s reach.

In a 9-2 ruling, the appeals court threw out criminal charges brought under the law against David Nosal, a former managing director at executive search firm Korn/Ferry International. Nosal was indicted in 2008 for allegedly persuading colleagues to download confidential source lists and contact information from the firm to use at his new business.

Three co-defendants pleaded guilty to CFAA violations. But Nosal fought the charges, arguing that he and his colleagues had been authorized to access the company’s database. The appeals court supported Nosal’s argument, and threw out the CFAA charges against him, though he still faces separate charges of trade secrets theft in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

The 9th Circuit ruling was suspended to give the Justice Department time to consider petitioning the Supreme Court to review the case. If the Supreme Court were to hear the matter, it could potentially be on the docket for the upcoming term.

The Justice Department, which declined to comment on the case, has until August 8 to decide whether to seek Supreme Court review.

Nosal’s lawyer, Steven Gruel, said his client wants to exonerate himself. “He’s always said he did nothing wrong.”

NEW SCENARIOS

If the high court does not take the Nosal case, legal experts say, little is likely to get settled in the near future over how and when the law can be applied.

The CFAA was crafted before the Internet was omnipresent in the workplace. Employees today have vastly more sensitive company information accessible on their computers, leading to scenarios that the writers of the law may never have envisioned.

Some companies, such as Oracle Corp, which filed a brief supporting the Justice Department against Nosal, say such criminal prosecutions are justified.

Oracle said Congress rooted the statute in common-law trespass doctrines.

“Among them is the concept of restricted authorization: a person commits trespass not only when he or she enters property or a portion of it when told not to; a person commits trespass also when he or she has authorization to enter for some purposes but enters for different ones,” the brief said.

Critics say the statute, which carries civil and criminal penalties, could be abused by employers.

The precedent that develops largely in the context of a private, workplace dispute “becomes something that people can go to jail for, and that’s really dangerous,” said Marcia Hoffman, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil liberties organization.

Potential criminal penalties under the law range from one year to 10 years in prison, if the offense involves information relating to U.S. national security.

Prosecutors have brought about 550 federal criminal cases under the CFAA and related computer fraud laws in the past 5-1/2 years, according to court filings reviewed in Westlaw, a legal data division of Thomson Reuters. Over the same period, nearly 500 civil lawsuits were brought in private disputes citing the CFAA and related laws, the filings show.

The Justice Department wants to expand the penalties and prosecutions under the act, an Obama administration official told a hearing on Capitol Hill in November. Richard Downing, deputy section chief for computer crime and intellectual property, said it was important to retain the provisions of the law that apply to employee-use agreements.

Removing that section of the law “could make it difficult or impossible to deter and punish serious threats from malicious insiders,” he told the Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

If the Justice Department were to go to the Supreme Court and lose over the CFAA, it would remove an arrow in its quiver for prosecuting those “insider” computer abuse cases.

Congress has partially addressed the issue while crafting new cyber security legislation. One possible amendment to a bill pending in the U.S. Senate would narrow criminal cases to exclude relatively innocuous violations of agreements governing the use of private computers, such as a social-network user signing up under a pseudonym.

MIXED RULINGS

In February, the U.S. government lost another case involving an employee who had accessed company data, a case that also raised questions about use of the hacking statute.

That case involved a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc programmer, Sergey Aleynikov, who was accused of stealing code used in the bank’s high-frequency trading system before leaving for a new company in Chicago.

Before Aleynikov went on trial, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote dismissed the charges brought under the CFAA, saying the government’s interpretation “could convert an ordinary violation of the duty of loyalty or of a confidential agreement into a federal offense.” But she let trade-secrets charges against him stand, and in December 2010 Aleynikov was found guilty.

That conviction was thrown out earlier this year by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Aleynikov was freed after serving one year of an eight-year prison term.

The Nosal and Aleynikov cases conflict with an earlier appeals court ruling. That case was a civil dispute between a real estate developer, Jacob Citrin, and his former employer, International Airport Centers LLC. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled in 2006 that Citrin violated the CFAA by installing a program that deleted files on a company laptop as he was departing for another job.

Citrin was not criminally charged and his case was settled on undisclosed terms, but a Justice Department guide for prosecutors on the CFAA points to the 7th Circuit ruling as “the leading authority” for the position that when an employee is doing something disloyal to an employer, authorized access to the computer ends under the law.

Citrin’s lawyers, Ronald Marmer and John Koch, of Jenner & Block in Chicago, had no comment. Citrin is now CEO of Cargo Ventures in Doral, Florida, according to his company’s web site.

Unless the Supreme Court ultimately weighs in, the inconsistent decisions will continue, said lawyer John Dozier, of Dozier Internet Law, a Glen Allen, Virginia law firm.

Without clarity, he said, “what is going to be illegal in one part of the country is not illegal in the other.”

The cases are USA v David Nosal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 10-10038 and International Airport Centers LLC v Jacob Citrin in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals No. 05-1522 and USA v Aleynikov, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York 10-00096.

(Editing by Martha Graybow, Edward Tobin and Leslie Gevirtz)

Virginia hears Opposition to Prison Privatization of its Sex Offender Program

The State of Virginia is getting a lot of opposition to the prison privatization of a state facility setup to detain violent sex offenders after they have served their sentences. The program has seen a four fold population increase since 2006 when legislators expanded the offenses list from 4 to 28. The budget for the program has increased 10 fold and is about 4 times more expensive than housing a prisoner in the rest of the states prisons.

Now the state is considering privatizing the program to help reduce costs. If history shows us anything the number one way that private companies accomplish this is by firing personnel. Unfortunately this leads to more situations where the more violent criminals take advantage of fewer guards and create more issues than before.

In our race to look ‘tough on crime’ we have again failed to take a longer term view of what it means to lock more people up for longer and longer. Turning prisons into a profit driven business just exacerbates the issue as companies give the government prisoner quotas to fill. Stay tuned.

Privatization of Va. sex offender program opposed

By: LARRY O’DELL | The Associated Press
Published: July 31, 2012
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Eleven organizations sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell on Monday opposing offers by two companies to operate a state facility that detains violent sex offenders for treatment after their sentences are completed.

State officials are considering privatization as a way to control costs of the rapidly expanding civil commitment program at the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Burkeville.

The state spends about $97,000 annually to treat each offender at the 300-bed facility – more than quadruple the cost of housing a prisoner. The program’s budget has increased tenfold since it started in 2004.

A report late last year by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, the General Assembly’s investigative agency, projected the number of committed offenders could reach 600 by 2016 unless the program’s growth is slowed. The facility now houses 289 and double-bunking may become necessary.

“What is currently an overcrowded situation at VCBR could become dramatically worse if run by a company that increases its profits at the expense of programs and operations, including security,” the coalition of civil rights, labor, criminal justice reform and religious organizations said in its letter to McDonnell.

The organizations said the companies that have submitted proposals have had problems running some facilities elsewhere.

The state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services “is taking a comprehensive look at the two private companies who proposed to run VCBR … to determine whether privatization of the program is the right fit for Virginia,” department spokeswoman Meghan McGuire said in an email.

The department received the unsolicited proposals under the state’s Public-Private Education and Infrastructure Act, which does not impose any deadline for making a decision.

Virginia’s civil commitment program began its drastic growth spurt in 2006, when lawmakers expanded from four to 28 the number of crimes that would make an offender eligible. At the same time, the state began using a risk assessment questionnaire to measure the likelihood that offenders would commit another sex crime.

Since then, the number of those determined eligible for commitment jumped from about 7 percent of all sex offenders being released from prison to about 25 percent, according to the JLARC report.

The report said Virginia’s process is so flawed that some offenders could needlessly spend years locked up while others who tell officials they are likely to offend again are released.

Tracy Velazquez, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute, said Virginia officials should examine their policies rather than just turn the facility over to a private operator.

“There are certainly better and less expensive ways to protect public safety than the questionable practice of civil commitment,” Velazquez said. “Locking people up forever and letting people make money off of it is not a solution.”

The Justice Policy Institute was one of the organizations writing the letter to the governor.

Justice Department to reform New Orleans Police with Consent Decree

In what will admittedly be an expensive arrangement for the city of New Orleans the chief lawyer for the Federal Government, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu made the announcement today. After the Mayor requested the Federal Government start an investigation in 2010 it did not take long for them to make this decision based on decades of police abuse and neglect in protecting its citizens. One year after starting its investigation the Feds determined that there were a multitude of institutional problems with the department including: use of deadly force without justification, multiple unconstitutional arrests and racial profiling.

From the Huffington Post article on the same story:

Among its provisions:

_ All officers will be required to receive at least 24 hours of training on stops, searches and arrests; 40 hours of use-of-force training; and four hours of training on bias-free policing within a year of the agreement taking effect.

_ All interrogations involving suspected homicides or sexual assaults will have to be recorded in their entirety on video. The department also will be required to install video cameras and location devices in all patrol cars and other vehicles within two years.

_ The department will be required to completely restructure the system for paying officers for off-duty security details, develop a new report format for collecting data on all stops and searches and create a recruitment program to increase diversity among its officers.

_ The city and Justice Department will pick a court-supervised monitor to regularly assess and report on the police department’s implementation of the requirements.

_ The city and police department can ask a judge to dissolve the agreement after four years, but only if they can show they have fully complied with its requirements for two years.

The parallels between what has been found in the New Orleans Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office(MCSO) in Arizona are uncanny. Especially as Sheriff Joe Arapaio took the stand today in a trail accusing his department of widespread racial profiling. Unfortunately in the case of the MCSO the leaders of the department are not encouraging any reform as evidenced in Arapaio’s guarded defense today.

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