A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: New York Penal Law

Wanna’ Bet?

By Jennifer Williams

A bet was made. A game was watched. Money exchanged hands.

This didn’t take place in a seedy underground location amid whispers and slips of paper discretely changing hands. No, I’m talking about a bet I made recently from the couch in my living room. I was betting that the U.S. would beat Mexico in an impending fútbol match and I was making my bet loudly, sure and proud that I would emerge victorious.  My husband, by the way, is from Mexico, and he was backing his bet with as much fervor and pride as I did (which means a tied match was the best possible outcome in the Williams-Alvarez household).

I never thought twice about the laws that might punish me for such a gamble. That is until The New York Times introduced me to Nelson Urena. Arrested on March 13, Mr. Urena had 38 slips of paper in his jacket, $1,024 in his back pocket, and was charged with promoting gambling.

From a basement apartment on East 115th Street, Mr. Urena engaged in “playing the numbers”, an illegal form of gambling involving hundreds of little sheets of paper, numbers jotted on chalkboards, and a runner who goes around to take bets from others.

As of 2008, one in six Americans reportedly gambled on sports. It’s easy to see why.  Even a long and scoreless Mets game can be made exciting if you’ve got a bet on it.

And surely the bet I made was different than Mr. Urena’s, right? No runner. No jotting down. No basement.

But was my wager on the outcome of a soccer game against the law? What about Super Bowl bets, NBA gambling, or bets on the Oscars? LASIS investigates.

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On Trial for a Hate Crime: What are Hate Crimes and Why Does it Matter?

By John Kosa

Update at the end of this story

So I killed someone.  That makes me a bad guy?” asked Keith Phoenix as he was arrested for bashing in the skull of Jose Sucuzhanay on a chilly December night in Brooklyn.  The New York Times reported that prosecutors are saying “the crime was motivated by hate” and Phoenix and his friend Hakim Scott, are now on trial for murder as a hate crime, manslaughter and assault.

Many crimes are motivated by hate but hating someone is not a crime.  The defendants have pled not guilty to the charge of murder as a hate crime, and their lawyers are spending time in court denying the hate crime charge.

But The Times did not explain what makes a crime a hate crime – and why it matters.

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Ambulance’s Delay Is an Issue in Long Island Hate-Crime Trial

By Tafiya Khan

On November 8, 2008, Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was stabbed in the chest near a train station in Patchogue, Long Island.  Lucero’s friend called 911 at 11:55 p.m.  The hospital was only three miles away, but Lucero was not brought to the hospital for another forty minutes.   By that time, Lucero was dead.

As reported in the New York Times, Jeffrey Conroy, 19, is accused of second-degree murder as a hate crime, gang assault, and other charges related to Lucero’s stabbing, and the ambulance’s “delay will most likely play into [Conroy’s] defense” at trial.  But the Times did not discuss the validity of such a defense.

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