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What is the legal rationale for accepted legal defenses against or excuses from criminal responsibility
1. Dan White had been elected as a city supervisor of San Francisco. White resigned on November 10, 1978. Four days later, he changed his mind and asked Mayor George Moscone to reappoint him to his former position. The mayor refused. On the morning of November 27, White confronted the mayor and demanded to be reappointed. When the mayor refused, White shot the mayor five times. White reloaded his gun, walked across the hall to City Supervisor Harvey Milk’s office, and shot him four times. Milk was a leader in San Francisco’s gay community with whom White frequently clashed. After shooting Moscone and Milk, White fled but shortly thereafter went to the police and confessed. He was charged with first degree murder. During the trial psychologists called by the defense testified that White’s behavior was the result of long term depression excaberated by a craving for junk food. They testified that White’s judgement and ability to control his behavior were altered by the huge amount of sugar he had consumerd the night before the killings. The so called Twinkie defense worked. White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter instead of first degree murder on May 21, 1979, he was sentenced to a prison term of 7 years to 7 years, 8 months. White was released from prison after serving 5 years, 1 month, and 9 days of his sentence. He committed suicide on Octiver 21, 1985.
a. What is the legal rationale for accepted legal defenses against or excuses from criminal responsibility? Do you agree with the rationale?
b. Should all legal defenses or excuses be abilished? Why or why not?
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2. The sexual assault and murder of 7 year old Megan Kanka in New Jersey October 31, 1994, struck a national nerve. Megan was assaulted and killed by a neighbor, Jesse Timmendequas, who had twice been convicted of similar sex offenses and was on parole. In response to the crime and public uproar, the state of New Jerseyenacted ‘Megan’s Law.’ The law, as originally passed, required sex offenders, upon their release from prison to register with New Jersey law enforcement authorities, who are to notify the public about their release. The public was to be provided with the offender’s name, a recent photograph, a physical description, a list of the offenses for which he or she was convicted, the offender’s current address and place of employement or school, and the offender’s automobile license plate number. The Supreme Court has upheld Megan’s Law.
Currently, all 50 states and the federal government have Megan’s Law that require sex offenders released from prison to register with local law enforcement authorities. Many of those laws, like New Jersey, require that the law enforcements officials to use the information to notify schools and day care centers and in some cases, the sex offenders neighbors. In 1997, California enacted a law allowing citizens access to a CD ROM with detailed information of 64,000 sex offenders living in California who had committed a broad range of sex crimes since 1944. Megan’s laws are not uniform across states. For example, not all states require active community notification; many of them (including the U.S government) only make the information available to the public.
In 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Oam Lycher Sexual Offender Tracking and Identification Act which called for a national registry of sex offenders, to be completed at the end of 1998. The national registry allows state officials to submit queries, such as the name of the job applicant is a registered sex offender in any of the participating states.
a. Is Megan’s Law a good law? (Consider the ideal characteristics of the criminal law.)
b. Is Megan’s Law fair to sex offenders who have served their prison sentences (i.e paid their debt to society)?
c. What rights does a sex offender have after being released from prison?
d. What rights does a community have to protect itself from known sex offenders who have been released from prison?
e. When the rights of an individual and the rights of a community conflict, whose rights should take precendence? Why?
3. An off duty police officer was seated in a restaurant when two men entered, drew guns, and robbed the cashier. The officer made no attempt to prevent the robbert or apprehend the robbers. Later the officer justified the conduct by stating that an officer when off duty is a private citizen with the same duties and rights as all private citizens. Do you agree? Explain.
4. You are the commander of the operations division of a medium sized police department in charge of patrol, criminal investigation, and traffic sections.
a. What would you do if several officers from each of the sections came to you and said that they believed that job stress was hindering officers performace and endangering the health of several officiers in each of the units?
b. How would you fo about validating their clains of job stress in the work environment?
c. If it was determined that dtressors such as shift changes that were too frequent, poor communication among the various ranks, and a lack of sufficient safety equipment were present, what would be your plan to improve working conditions and reduce job stress?
d. Provide step by step summary of what you would do.
5. For causing the fatal wreck that killed Army Sgt Thomas E Towsers Jr 22 year old Andreq Gaudioso was ordered to send the Soldier’s family a post ever week for 15 years. According to Tower’s father ‘At first I thought I wanted prison for Gaudioso. Then I thought it would be better to force himn some way to remember – at least once a week- what he did. I think this does that. The unusual sentence does not specify what Gaudioso should write on the post card, which must be presented to his probabtion officer with the 28 cents postage paid. Gaudioso, who had traces of street drugs in his blood when he veered left of center at more that 80 mph in the rain and smashed almost head on into Tower’s car, must also pass drug tests. If he fails to send the weekly postcards, or if he fails the drug tests, Gaudioso could be sent to prison for 15 years.
a. What do you think of this creative sentence?
b. Do you think that creative sentences like thisone should be allowed? Why or why not?
c. Is the punishment for Gaudioso proportional to the crime? Should it be?
d. Do you think Gaudioso’s sentence will deter others? Why or why not?
6. A California prison inmate received a donor heart. He had suffered congestive heart failure the month before. The inmate was serving a 14 year sentence for roberrt, and the transplant and treatment for his illness cost California tax payers $1 million. Medical orifessionals defended the transplant, saying the recipient met medical criteria. Prison officials cited a 1976 Supreme Court decision and a 1997 California ruling by the 9th US Citcuit Court of Appeals requiring them to meet inmate medical needs. Critics point out that, among other things, at the time of the surgery, more than 4,000 Americans were on a waiting list for the heart transplants, and 700 would die that year waiting for one. The prison inmate died about a year after receiving the transplant. Prison authorities noted that he had failed to maintain rigorous medial rountines following the transplant.
a. Should prison inmates be eligible for organ transplants?
b. Does it matter whether they can pay for the,?
c. What does the law require prison officials to do abbout organ transplants?
d. Should the ‘less eligibility’ principle apply to organ transplants? Why or why not?
e. Should there be limits to the medical services provided to prison inmates and, if so what should the limits be?
7. You are a probation or parole officer. Your caseload averages 100 clients.
a. A client tells you that her boss is treating her unfairly at work because of her criminal record and probationor parole status. Your client is afraid of being fired and having her probation or parole revoked. What do you do?
b. You discover that a client is using marijuana. You like the client, and other than the marijuana yse, he has been doing well on probation or parole. What do you do?
c. You have a problem client who is using drugs (marijuana and cocaine), hanging out with a bad group of people and probably commiting petty thefts to support their drug habit (although you have no hard evidence of this) You have warned the client to stop theis behavior, but she has ignored your warnings. Futhermore, the client has threatened to harm you and your family should you revoke her probation or parole. What do you do?
d. You have a client who, as a condtion of his probation or parole, is required to earn his GED. Although the client has been attending classes regularly and seems to be trying very hard, his teacher informs you that the client does not have the intellectual capacity to earn the GED. What do you do?
8. It is the year 2028 in Washington DC and public service officers, formerly called pollice officers, are flying routine patrol with the aid of their new jet packs. While flying over a condo near the city’s center, two of the officers, using their bionic eyes and ears, detect what appear to be half dozen men plotting to bomb theWhite House. Surverying the condo from the sky perch, the officers see, stored in a bedroom closet, enough of a new, illegal, and largely undetectable hydrigen based explosive to do the job. The officers, using the ultra small two way communication devices implanted in their larynxes, communicate to headquarters what they have seen. They await further orders.
a. Do the officers have probable cause to obtain a seach warrant from a magistrate or make an arrest? If you were a proponent of Packer;s crime control model, what would your answers be? If you were a proponent of Packer’s due process model, what would your answer be?
b. How might the legal issues of the right to privacy, the admissibility of evidence, the exclusionary rule, and the plan view doctrine affect law enforcement officers use of this new technology?
c. What restraints, if any, should be imposed on law enforcement officers use of this new technology? Of you were a proponent of Packer’s crime control model, what would your answer be? If you were a proponent of Packer’s due process model, what would your answer be?