William Freivogel | St. Louis Public Radio

William Freivogel

William Freivogel

William H. Freivogel is director of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

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Federal prosecutors in complicated white-collar cases that end in mistrials often win convictions the second time around, according to a study by Washington University law professor Kathleen Brickey. Brickey, an expert on white-collar crime, pointed to the study in the wake of the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial that ended in a mistrial on 23 of 24 counts against the former governor and a conviction on the other count of lying to FBI agents.

While the jury in the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial took the weekend off, court watchers had time to read between the lines of the jury's cryptic note to the judge and to reflect on the Blagojevich trial strategy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 30, 2008 - One of the nation's leading experts on congressional power says that the U.S. Senate does not have the authority to exclude Roland Burris from the Senate, as Democratic leaders have threatened to do.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Dec. 18, 2008 - The legal tangle faced by the Illinois impeachment committee may have a legal solution. But a political solution may be the best way to solve the Blagojevich problem.

That's the assessment of both a lawyer and a political scientist.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 17, 2008 - The Missouri Supreme Court resoundingly rejected on Tuesday the claim by the St. Louis Board of Education that the state takeover of the school district had violated St. Louis voters' rights and the rights of elected board members to serve.

In a unanimous decision, Judge Patricia Breckenridge wrote that the district's loss of accreditation in 2007 and the resulting transfer of authority to a state-appointed board did not violate the fundamental right to vote of the people of St. Louis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 26, 2008 - The mixed verdict in the Lori Drew cyberbullying trial in Los Angeles won't be thelast judgment on the controversial prosecution of the St. Charles County woman for her involvement in sending MySpace messages that mayhave led to the 2006 suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier of Dardenne Prairie.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 20, 2008 - Judge Richard Leon ordered five of six Algerians released.  The Algerians had been arrested in 2001 in Sarajevo for allegely plotting to blow up the U.S. embassy there.  President Bush even mentioned the plot in the 2002 State of the Union speech.  More recently, the government has dropped that claim, but maintained the men had planned to go to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban and al-Qaida.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 14, 2008 - Before he was a candidate for president and before he was a U.S. senator, Barack Obama was a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago. Few presidents in the past century have entered the Oval Office with such a developed and sophisticated understanding of the Constitution and the courts.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 13, 2008 - The case of the 7 Aphorisms is perplexing because it involves the intersection of two First Amendments doctrines - the right of free speech and the ban against an establishment of religion. Another difficulty is that the case involves the court's confusing public forum doctrine, which generally bars the government, in a tradition forum like a public park, from discriminating against speech based on its content.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 6, 2008 - The most immediate question raised by passage of Prop. 8 is the validity of marriages performed after the May court ruling and before passage of Prop. 8.  California Attorney General Jerry Brown says those marriages are legal, but not everyone agrees.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 31, 2008 - Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon and Gov. Matt Blunt had asked the court to allow enforcement of the 2006 law that makes it a crime to picket or protest "in front of or about" a funeral from an hour before it starts to an hour after it concludes. The law was passed in response to the military funeral protests of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka. The church believes that God kills American soldiers as punishment for the "don't ask, don't tell" policy permitting gays in the military.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 24, 2008 - An 11th hour stay of execution for Troy Davis was issued by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday. A three-judge panel said that "upon our thorough review of the record, we conclude that Davis has met the burden for a provisional stay of execution."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 17, 2008 - Judicial selection in Missouri is complicated by the sharp criticism that conservatives, including the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, direct at Missouri's Non-Partisan Court plan. Gov. Matt Blunt has joined this criticism, complaining that he has not had enough influence on the panels that choose a slate of three nominees for judgeships.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 16, 2008 - The Alton Telegraph is fighting a subpoena from a Madison County grand jury seeking the identities of anonymous Web posters who may have information about a murder case. First Amendment experts say the case could break new legal ground.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 14, 2008 - What was a Missouri story last week mushroomed into a national one this week as former Sen. John C. Danforth and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin hammered Sen. Barack Obama's connection to ACORN, the social advocacy group that has been accused of voter registration fraud in Kansas City.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 13, 2008 - Last week, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ordered the release of the 17 Uighurs, who have been held for seven years at the Guantanamo Bay prison.  The judge ruled that the government no longer had a right to hold the men, having abandoned the claim that they are enemy combatants. The judge's order has been stayed by the appeals court in Washington, D.C. to give the government more time to make its case.  (Scotusblog has a good summary and background information here .)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 2, 2008 - Sarah Barracuda showed up for the vice presidential debate at Washington University Thursday night with Sen. Joseph Biden. Gov. Palin looked straight into the camera to appeal directly to "Joe Sixpack," promising to put the "government back on the side of the people and to stop the greed on Wall Street."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 29, 2008 - An internal Justice Department investigation concluded that the removal of former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves in western Missouri was the "inappropriate" result of political "pressure" from the office of Sen. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., which was upset with Graves' brother, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo. The report said that Bond's office contacted the White House seeking Todd Graves' removal and then tried to keep its involvement secret. Removal of a U.S. attorney for political reasons, in this way, undermines the Justice Department's independence, it said.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 25, 2008 - The EEOC in St. Louis has sued Hollister for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by refusing at its Galleria store to accommodate Lakettra Bennett's Pentecostal beliefs.  Hollister has a "Look Policy" required female sales personnel to wear either short skirts or pants while at work.  Bennett asked to wear a longer skirt because her religion does not permit pants or skirts that don't cover the knee.  Hollister, the edgy clothing store, fired Bennett when she refused to wear the short skirt.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 23, 2008 - There are two main constitutional questions about the bailout bill. One is whether Congress violates the Constitution by cutting off all judicial review. The second is whether this is an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to the Treasury secretary.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 14, 2008 - Late last week, liberal bloggers circulated a long list of books that Palin allegedly wanted off the shelves.  There was just one problem. There was no basis for the claim.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 11, 2008- COLUMBIA, Mo. - Chris Koster, the Harrisonville Democrat running for attorney general, said Thursday that he would support the continuation of the Missouri Non-Partisan Court plan as it now operates. His opponent, Republican Mike Gibbons of Kirkwood said he wants some changes in the plan, which has been criticized by some conservatives.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 11, 2008 - COLUMBIA, Mo. - Jay Nixon, Missouri's attorney general and the Democratic candidate for governor, said Thursday that if elected he would immediately release emails being withheld by Gov. Matt Blunt. Rep. Kenny Hulshof , the Republican candidate, sidestepped the issue, saying, "I'm not sure of all of the nuances" of the case. But Hulshof added a "hallmark of a Hulshof administration will be accountability, openness and integrity."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 6, 2008 - In life, Mike Swoboda seemed like a perpetual motion machine as he moved around his town of Kirkwood shaking hands, joking with old friends, listening to people's problems, tutoring elementary school students and always recruiting volunteers for community service. Swoboda died Saturday morning after difficult months recovering from gunshot wounds and fighting cancer. He was 69.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Sept. 5, 2008 - A film on white privilege had just concluded and the 140 people at Saturday's meeting of the Community for Understanding and Healing were about to break into discussion groups when they received the shocking news. Former Kirkwood Mayor Mike Swoboda had died earlier in the morning Swoboda had been gravely wounded in the Feb. 7 City Hall shootings at which five city officials had been killed by Charles L. "Cookie" Thornton. The killings had led to the formation of the community group.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 4, 2008 - A new judicial evaluation system run by the Missouri Bar recommended that voters retain all but one of the 41 judges up for retention in November. The one is St. Louis County Associate Circuit Court Judge Dale W. Hood of Kirkwood. Hood, a former assistant prosecuting attorney in St. Louis County, was rated poorly by lawyers for not "demonstrating appropriate demeanor on the bench" and not "weighing all evidence fairly and impartially."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 3, 2008- Among the 280 people arrested Tuesday in events surrounding the RNC was Amy Goodman.  A YouTube video appears to show that the left-wing newscaster was arrested as she crossed a line established by police.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 30, 2008 - On Aug. 27, Denver police arrested Asa Eslocker of ABC news as he and his camera crew stood on a public sidewalk outside the Brown Palace hotel, trying to interview senators and vips leaving a fundraiser. He was working on a story about the influence of lobbyists on elected officials. Eslocker was charged with trespassing, failing to respond to a lawful order and interfering with a police officer.

Video of the incident shows a cigar-smoking police sergeant, backed up by other officers, grabbing Eslocker by the neck and twisting his arm behind his back.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 26, 2008 - The Obama campaign has maintained in letters to the Justice Department that the American Issues Project - headed by Ed Martin, the former Blunt chief of staff and funded by a big swift boat contributor - is violating federal election law. Rick Hasen, who writes a respected election law blog, says that Obama may be right.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 25, 2008 - In the years that I covered the Judiciary Committee for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I saw Biden preside over controversial hearings about the nation's civil rights policy and the fitness of Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter and Clarence Thomas to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

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