There are presently more than a dozen pieces of legislation pending in the New York State Legislature to expand the use of DNA material. Recently a DNA data bank was utilized by Westchester County legal authorities to match the DNA of Francisco Acevedo for the murders of three woman in Yonkers from 2009.

Francisco Acevedo was arrested while driving intoxicated on January 26, 2009 in Brentwood Long Island. As part of that arrest Mr. Acevedo’s DNA was taken from him last year while he was serving a prison sentence in upstate New York. This was a result of multiple felonies convictions for driving while intoxicated convictions.

His DNA was compared to a data bank maintained by the State of New York which was established in 2004. The data bank linked him to three murder victims. Mr. Acevedo now faces multiple charges of first and second degree murder. Presently state law requires DNA to be collected from individuals convicted of felonies and a variety misdemeanors. The state of New York currently obtains DNA material from approximately 46% of all individuals convicted of crimes.

State Senator Dean Skelos, from Rockville Centre New York , wants the law modified so that DNA samples are taken from every single person arrested or under suspicion for committing a felony or misdemeanor.

State Senator Skelos claims that the Acevedo case is a good example of the types of crimes that would be solved if the states DNA data bases were expanded. Senator Skelos further stated that the expanded data base could solve crimes going back as long as 30 years. Senator Skelos was asked if he had privacy concerns regarding the expanding of the data base. His response was his job was to protect the public.

Expanding DNA data bases may be helpful in solving some crime however the over expansion of DNA collection makes me think of Aidous Hudley’s book “A Brave New World”. Americans are entitled to rights of privacy. A reasonable accommodation should be made for DNA collection but not at the expense of basic rights for American citizens.

If you are under suspicion or charged with a crime, contact the law office of Elliot S. Schlissel. We have been helping our clients with criminal matters for more than 30 years. Contact us at 1-800-344-6431 or by e-mail.

Picture courtesy of criminals.com.

There are 35 states in the United States of America that currently have death penalty statutes on their books. Utah is the only state in American that still has uses a firing squad as a method of execution.

On Friday April 23, 2010, a judge in Utah agreed to an inmates request that the death penalty that was rendered against him be carried out, in what can be considered on old west style of justice, by firing squad.

Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49 years of age was given a choice as to how the death penalty would be carried out. His choice was either lethal injection or to be shot in front of a firing squad that included a team of five men. Death by firing squad is a carry over from Utah’s territorial history.

Mr. Gardner has been advised that his appeals have been exhausted. He was convicted of killing a lawyer during a shoot-out in April 2005. The shoot-out resulted from Mr. Gardner trying to escape. His execution is scheduled for June 18.

Query: Will it be televised?

The criminal defense lawyers at The Law Office of Elliot Schlissel are available anytime at 800-344-6441 or by e-mail.

Picture courtesy of civilliberty.about.com.

In Ohio, cell phones protected by the 4th amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure by the government.

In a recent decision, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that police officers need to obtain a warrant in order to search a cell phone. This decision by the Ohio Supreme Court takes into consideration the fact that cell phones today go far beyond the means of basic communication. They are mini computers that store large amounts of personal information. From this point forward, the personal information becomes a protected privacy right, at least in the State of Ohio.

Although most searches require warrants, police officers are allowed to search their immediate surroundings when dealing with potential arrests for their own self protection. The Ohio case involves a man named Antwaun Smith. He was arrested on drug charges. At the time of his arrest his cell phone was ceased and later it was searched. The police found information important to their investigation on his cell phone calling records.

The recent ruling of the Ohio State Supreme Court was a divided 4/3 vote. The decision indicated that Mr. Smith’s protection against unreasonable search and seizures under the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution were violated. The court, in its decision stated that cell phones are “capable of storing a wealth of digitized information”. The court’s decision indicated that individuals using cell phones have an expectation of privacy which is protected by the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution. 

The Ohio court’s ruling creates a new type of privacy. As hand-held devices become more and more sophisticated, they will contain more and more personal information. Individuals rights of privacy in devices that are basically hand-held mini computers should be protected by the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution. I have every hope that when a case presents itself, the NY Court of Appeals will make a similar ruling that respects individuals rights of privacy against unreasonable searches and seizures of all types of hand-held telephones and computer devices.

Should you, a friend or a loved one be subject to what amounts to be an unreasonable search, the criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Elliot S. Schlissel can use their expertise and diligence to protect your rights and the rights of a friend or a loved one. E-mail or call us at 1-800-344-6431.

Picture courtesy of the Daily Iowan.

To Taser Or Not To Taser

January 25, 2010

(The “Don’t Tase Me Bro!” Video – See minute marker 1:50)

 The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ruled that the use of a taser stun gun by a police officer can be considered, under certain circumstances, excessive force which leaves the police officer open to be sued for the injuries received by the tasered individual. The taser is an electric stun gun. It is powered by a lithium battery inside his handle. It shoots two bob prongs which are attached to the end of a wire that is 21 feet long. The prongs hook on to a person’s skin or clothing. When the prongs hit the individual, they discharge 50,000 volts of electricity for up to 5 seconds. This has the effect of temporarily incapacitated the tasered individual.

Although the taser is considered a non-lethal weapon, in some situations it has caused deaths.

In the case before the Ninth Circuit, Carl Bryan, had an emotional break-down after receiving a series of traffic tickets. While the police officer was writing out the traffic tickets, Mr. Bryan exited his vehicle and started to curse at himself. Mr. Bryan was distraught, crying and yelling giberish while beating his thighs.

A police officer on the scene, Officer McPherson tasered Mr. Bryan from approximately 20 feet away. Upon being hit by the taser, Mr. Bryan fell face down to the ground. The fall caused him to break four teeth.

The court held that at no time did Mr. Bryan present a threat to Police Officer McPherson. He neither made any verbal threat or presented a physical threat. The police officer should have spoken to Mr. Bryan first and warned him if he did not control himself he could be tasered.

As a result of this decision, Mr. Bryan can bring a civil lawsuit against Officer McPherson and his police department for injuries he received by the use of excessive force (being tasered) during his traffic stop. This is one of the first cases in the nation to create a legal standard concerning the use of taser stun guns.

Should you have an encounter with law enforcement officials who have acted inappropriately, call the criminal defense and civil litigation attorneys at the law offices of Elliot Schlissel by e-mail or at 1-800-344-6431. You may have a remedy available through a Civil Lawsuit.

The government of Iran recently acknowledged that a minimum of three of the young people held in the Iranian jails were beaten to death. This is a rare victory for governmental critics. 

It had previously been explained that meningitis was the cause of these deaths. However, the coroner’s office has stated that this is incorrect. The three died of severe beatings. The wounds to the protestors bodies were the cause of their death.

Twelve officials from the Kahrizak prison have been charged with murder. This was the prison on the outskirts of Taran where prisoners were tortured and raped.

It is claimed that 72 of the protestors were killed by their jailors. The government of Iran claims only 30 protestors died.

The Iranian government had initially denied all accusations of improper treatment of prisoners. Prosecutors have also stated this month that a doctor who originally exposed the mistreatment and torture of prisoners died from poisoning. It is alleged the cause of this doctor’s death was celery that contained an overdose of blood pressure medication. The opposition in Iran claims he was murdered because he was cooperating with prosecutors. The 26 year old doctor, Raminpour Andarjaini, had previously testified before Parliament. He advised Parliament that he treated protestors that died from torture. However, he was forced to lie by Iranian security officials as to the cause of their death on their death certificates.

The judiciary in Iran has been active involved in efforts to silence opposition protestors. The judiciary has been involved in the trial of more than 100 protestors, reformers and opposition leaders. The judiciary’s position is that the protests are part of an overall international plot to overthrow the Iranian government.

As always, for any kind of legal help, you can contact the Law Office of Elliot S. Schlissel at any time, 24/7, either by e-mail or at 800-344-6431.

Picture courtesy of the Seattle Times.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.