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May 14, 2012

Posted by Alexandra Natapoff at 04:56 PM

Radio interview: Law & Disorder, WBAI-New York

Here's an interview I did with the syndicated radio show Law & Disorder, hosted by Heidi Baghosian, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild, Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and New York attorney Michael Smith: Law & Disorder, April 23, 2012, (about 9 minutes in).


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Posted by Alexandra Natapoff at 04:40 PM

In the news: released jailhouse informant accused in new murder

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports on a jailhouse informant who was released in exchange for his testimony. Two months later, he was charged in the murder of a 15-year-old. From the story:

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge McKay Chauvin told James Mallory in February that he wasn't a good choice to be released from prison on shock probation, given his criminal history -- and, in fact, the judge had already denied the request previously.

But Chauvin nonetheless released him at prosecutors' request after Mallory came forward with what he called "bombshell" information in a letter offering the Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney's Office evidence against several defendants in exchange for helping him get out of a nine-year prison term.

Now, just two months later, Mallory is charged with murdering a 15-year-old boy.


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Posted by Alexandra Natapoff at 04:21 PM

Law review article on Rachel's Law

The Boston College Journal of Law & Social Justice has published this note, Toward Efficiency and Equity in Law Enforcement: "Rachel's Law" and the Protection of Drug Informants. It focuses on an important provision in Rachel's Law that was eliminated, that would have required police to provide potential informants with counsel. Here's the abstract:

Following the murder of Rachel Morningstar Hoffman--a 23-year old college graduate--Florida passed "Rachel’s Law," which established new guidelines for the police when dealing with confidential informants. Immediately prior to its enactment, lawmakers stripped Rachel's Law of key provisions. These provisions required police to provide a potential informant with an attorney before agreeing to any deal. Opponents of these provisions argue that they hamstring law enforcement agencies in their efforts to prosecute drug crimes. Rather than serving as an obstacle to effective law enforcement, the attorney provision in the original version of Rachel's Law enables efficient prosecution of crimes and protects minor drug offenders who may be unsuited for potentially dangerous undercover informant work. This Note recommends that the attorney provision be restored to Rachel's Law, and encourages other states to enact similar statutes.


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Posted by Alexandra Natapoff at 04:12 PM

In the news: Seattle ATF informant with history of crime against women

A story by the Seattle Times about an ATF informant with a disturbing history of violence against women: Violent criminal on federal payroll as informant. The story begins like this:

Despite a history of abusing women and violent behavior in prison, Joshua Allan Jackson managed to become a federal informant, trigger a citywide Seattle police alert and hold a 18-year-old woman as his sexual prisoner.


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Posted by Alexandra Natapoff at 03:49 PM

Impact of 'Rachel's Law' on informant use

The Tallahassee Democrat has published this article about the effects of Rachel's Law on informant use in Florida, four years after the death of Rachel Hoffman: Four years later, Hoffman's death still impacts CI use. The article concludes that the Tallahassee police department made some significant changes.

For six months immediately following Hoffman's death, the department suspended the use of all CIs. For a long time, no one wanted to work narcotics cases, which often rely on informants, the chief said.

"We had to be confident in our investigators that they were ready," [Chief] Jones said.

An audit of department confidential-informant files conducted about six months after Hoffman was killed found lax record keeping and noted areas of improvement. Personnel were moved, the vice unit was made a part the Criminal Investigations Division of a new Special Investigation Section and supervision was stepped up.

Today, TPD's rules governing the handling of confidential informants mirror that of Rachel's Law, which was spearheaded by Hoffman's parents and provides some safeguards for vulnerable informants.

"I think we've got a very good policy now," Jones said. "We have elevated ourselves and are back in the lead and set the tone for the state."


Tallahassee is reminiscent of Los Angeles in the 1990s. After a massive grand jury investigation concluded that the jail was rampant with unreliable informants and that police and prosecutors were relying on them, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office instituted significant changes. Today, it has some of the most rigorous regulations for the tracking and use of jailhouse informants in the country: Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Legal Policies Manual.


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Snitching by Alexandra Natapoff A Barnes & Noble Best Pick of 2009

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