Mexico Touts Arrests of El Chapo’s Tunnel Team

Mexico’s Attorney General this week announced the arrest of six people (and a few more with arrest warrants who are not yet caught) who helped Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escape from Altiplano prison in July. She didn’t name them but their names are available on Mexican news sites. (More here and here.)

Several were arrested in July and August — in other words, not all are new arrests, just newly disclosed arrests. So who are they? See below: Read More

Tuesday Open Thread

Here’s an open thread. All topics welcome.

It is really cold here:

Forecasters say temperatures in Denver will top out at 4 degrees on Tuesday before dropping to as low as minus 9 at night with a wind chill of minus 15. A 70 percent chance of snow remains until this evening through which about an inch is expected to fall.

The keyless entry system in my Jeep went haywire yesterday. As I was pulling it into my garage it flashed a message saying there was no key activated and the engine shut down. (At least I had finished parking it.) I can start the engine with the key fob but I keep getting that message. Jeep says I have to take it in. Not what I want to do when it’s 4 degrees out, the roads are slick ice and the jeep dealer is 15 miles away. What if the engine shuts down on the way to the dealer?

I think I’ll just stay home, test my new Spanish learning program, play with WordPress some more and maybe get some work done.

Mexico AG: Unhappy with Zambada-Niebla Deal, No Plan to Extradite El Chapo

Murillo Karam, Attorney General for Mexico, gave an interview today to Radio Fórmula during which he expressed displeasure with DOJ‘s recent plea deal with Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, son of Sinaloa co-leader Ismael Zambada-Garcia. (The details of Zambada-Niebla’s plea agreement are here.)

He also said Mexico presently has no intention of extraditing Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the U.S. (“no tenemos ninguna intensión de mandarlo a Estados Unidos.”) He added that Mexico still hasn’t received a formal extradition request for Chapo’s extradition. [More…]

He also said Mexico presently has no intention of extraditing Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the U.S. (“no tenemos ninguna intensión de mandarlo a Estados Unidos.”) He added that Mexico still hasn’t received a formal extradition request for Chapo’s extradition. Read More

George Zimmerman Lawyers Seek Sanctions Against Prosecutor

There are lots of new developments in the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case. Before I get to them, some readers will remember that about 10 days ago, I wrote about the newly released ABC recording of a portion of Benjamin Crump’s March 19, 2012 interview with Witness 8 and said I would follow-up with analysis.

My analysis turned out to be more than 10 typewritten pages and difficult to convert into a blog post with accessible links. I posted it earlier today, in pdf format, since it is far too lengthy for a blog post.

Although it was written before the defense filed a 58 page motion asking Judge Nelson to reconsider her denial of its request to depose Martin family lawyer Benjamin Crump, and this week's Motions for Sanctions against the State, I think it is still relevant and also provides some context, especially for those who haven't followed all the goings on with Witness 8, the woman who says she was on the phone with Trayvon minutes before the shooting.

Now on to the recent developments:

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Bill Introduced to Provide Some Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Relief

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I think the biggest problem in our criminal justice system for the past 25 years has been rigid mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Today, Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rand Paul introduced the bi-partisan Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013. According to Sen. Leahy:

The bipartisan Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 expands the so-called “safety valve” that allows judges to impose a sentence below the mandatory minimum in qualifying drug cases to all federal crimes. By giving judges this greater flexibility, they will not be forced to administer needlessly long sentences for certain offenders, which is a significant factor in the ever-increasing Federal prison population and the spiraling costs that steer more and more of the justice budget toward keeping people in prison, rather than investing in programs that keep our communities safe.

Currently a “safety valve” provision allows low-level drug offenders to avoid mandatory minimum penalties if certain conditions are met. The bill we introduce today would extend that safety valve to all Federal crimes subject to mandatory minimum penalties, allowing a judge to impose a sentence other than a statutorily designated mandatory sentence in cases in which key factors are present. The judge would be required to provide notice to the parties and to state in writing the reasons justifying the alternative sentence.

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Supreme Court : Copyright Infringement Cases, Different Outcomes

The record companies are happy today. Text book publishers and authors are not.

The Supreme Court has denied cert in the case of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a native American who uploaded, downloaded or otherwise shared 24 songs on Kazaa, a now-defunct music file-sharing service, for personal use. The record companies sued, and the ultimate judgment against her, after several retrials and appeals with jury verdicts as high as $1.9 million, was $222,000, or $9,250 per song. The issue, according to the Petition for Cert (which includes the 8th Circuit and trial court's opinions in the Appendix portion):

Is there any constitutional limit to the statutory damages that can be imposed for downloading music online?

Under the copyright infringement statute, it is not necessary for the record company to show actual damages or that the infringer profited from the work. It can seek statutory damages, which allow up to $150,000 for each infringement. The remedies section of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 504, provides:

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