News that Fits


March 19, 2015

As fans complete their March Madness bracket sheets for their office pools, many will wonder, if only fleetingly, is this legal?  While we will not opine on the legality of such endeavors in this post, we draw your attention to at least one prosecutor’s office that thinks otherwise.  Fox News reports that a New Jersey man faces criminal prosecution after the pool he managed grew to an $837,000 pot and payouts were being made to the Genovese crime family.  It seems the Know Your Customer rules apply to those running sports brackets as well as banks.

Federal Criminal Law

March 4, 2015


The Washington Post reports how an FBI agent was able to procure drugs to feed his heroin addiction – by skimming them from bags seized as evidence in criminal cases.  Our own Steve Levin is quoted in the article, “It’s shocking that there was such little oversight,” said Steven H. Levin, a private lawyer in Baltimore with 10 years’ experience as a federal prosecutor. “It’s something you would expect to see on a made-for-TV movie. . . . You’re thinking, there is no way that could ever happen. And that’s what happened.”

In a related story, “Man Figures He Has 2 More Bites of Roommate’s Leftovers Before It’s Noticeable.

International Criminal Law


February 20, 2015

Here at Levin & Curlett, we keep an eye on the global tumult that may lead to international criminal proceedings in The Hague, whether before the International Criminal Court of one of the ad hoc Tribunals.

Of late, our attention, as well as the world at large, has been focused on the Islamic State (or ISIL, or ISIS, or Da’esh, depending on whom you ask).  This week the United Nations Security Counsel expressly condemned the murder of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.  “The members of the Council further emphasized that such ‘continued acts of barbarism perpetrated’ by ISIL do not intimidate them but rather stiffen their resolve that there has to be a common effort amongst Governments and institutions, including those in the region most affected, ‘to counter ISIL, Ansar Al Sharia entities…and all other…entities associated with Al-Qaida,’ as the Council resolved in its resolutions 2170 (2014) and 2199 (2015), adopted just last week.” Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also condemned the actions.

Whether through military engagement or the mechanism of international criminal justice, or both, the threat must be checked.



February 17, 2015

Lance Armstrong loses $10 million arbitration ruling.

The New York Times reports that an arbitration panel has ordered the cyclist to pay $10 million in a fraud dispute with SCA Promotions citing an “unparalleled pageant of perjury, fraud and conspiracy” related to the cover-up of Armstrong’s use of performance enhancing drugs.  Armstrong’s lawyer stated that the ruling is “contrary to Texas law” and predicted it would be overturned in court.  Such confidence is, in all likelihood, misplaced.  Courts routinely uphold awards even when the law is misapplied by arbitrators.  The standard to throw out an arbitration award requires the panel to have acted “in manifest disregard of the law.”  That standard is rarely met.  If I were a betting man, I’d wager Armstrong eventually writes the check.

Public Corruption

February 16, 2015


Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has spoken of an “epidemic” of prosecutorial misconduct in California.

Both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have published editorials since yesterday calling for legal reform that will allow prosecutors to be held accountable for misconduct.

Further illustrating the widespread and pervasive nature of corruption in the criminal justice system, on Saturday the Baltimore Sun’s Mark Puente published an article examining how a criminal case can fall apart when the police are, shall we say, less than truthful in their affidavits submitted to courts in support of search warrants.

Baltimore drug probe crumbles after court challenge