Late last week President Donald Trump signed three Executive Orders that a White House blog post says are intended to “fight crime, gangs, and drugs; restore law and order; and support the dedicated men and women of law enforcement.” A press release from the White House says that one of the orders directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to develop a strategy to more effectively prosecute people who commit crimes against law enforcement officers; that the second order establishes a task force led by Sessions to reduce crime and restore public safety in American communities; and that the third focuses energy and resources on dismantling drug cartels and other transnational criminal organizations. Keep reading for more news.
The Durham Herald-Sun reports that the long saga of the Michael Peterson murder case may conclude later this month with a plea bargain. As the Herald-Sun article recounts, Peterson was incarcerated for eight years after being convicted in 2003 of murdering his wife, Kathleen Peterson. He was granted a new trial in 2011 based on a court’s finding that former SBI analyst Duane Deaver had given misleading and false testimony at the original trial. The Herald-Sun article does not have details of the agreement, but a report from WRAL says that Peterson will enter an Alford plea to voluntary manslaughter. Keep reading for more news.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump nominated Tenth Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch to the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Widely viewed as having a similar ideological mold as the late Justice Antonin Scalia, SCOTUSblog says Gorsuch favors textualism, thinks the criminal law should be clear, and is a good writer. The Washington Post has a sample of his criminal law writing. Keep reading for more news Continue reading →
President Donald Trump recently tweeted that he will name his U.S. Supreme Court nominee on Thursday of next week. With the nomination on the horizon, various news outlets are weighing in on appointments to the federal judiciary: CBS News has a report saying that two judges, Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, have emerged as the top contenders for the Supreme Court vacancy; Politico reports that Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, is in favor of Hardiman, with whom she currently serves on the Third Circuit; The Volokh Conspiracy has a piece that discusses potential appointments to the circuit courts of appeal. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading →
Today in Washington, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the forty-fifth President of the United States. By their nature, presidential inaugurations always are massive undertakings for law enforcement agencies. President-elect Trump’s is no exception, and news reports suggest that it may pose unique challenges. In addition to significant numbers of supporters, D.C. Police reportedly are preparing for many thousands of protestors to flock to the nation’s capital for the event. Keep reading for more news.
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According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, the nation’s police officers say that “recent high-profile fatal encounters between black citizens and officers have made their jobs riskier, aggravated tensions between police and blacks, and left many officers reluctant to fully carry out some of their duties.” In a survey of more than 8,000 officers, roughly three-quarters of respondents said that they are more reluctant to use force when it is appropriate and a similar number reported less willingness to stop and question people who seem suspicious. While these results are generating headlines, the survey is wide-ranging and includes a variety of information about officers’ experiences in a challenging profession to which an overwhelming majority (96 percent) feel strongly committed. Keep reading for more news.
As the New York Times reports, the sentencing phase of Dylann Roof’s federal death penalty trial began this week following his December conviction on thirty-three charges arising from murdering nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof is representing himself during this phase of the trial. In a brief opening statement, Roof repeatedly told jurors that he was not mentally ill. In what is described as a “white supremacist manifesto” disclosed during the prosecution’s opening statement, Roof wrote that he did not regret his actions and had “not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.” An opinion piece from NBC News argues that Roof “has a constitutional right not to try to spare his own life.” Keep reading for more news.
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Stories about heroin and opioids have been a hot topic in the News Roundup this year as jurisdictions across the state and country have struggled with an unprecedented surge in overdoses. CBS News reports that a record number of Americans died from drug overdoses last year. Heroin deaths rose twenty-three percent to nearly thirteen thousand deaths, a figure which exceeds the number of gun homicides over the same period of time.
Keep reading for the final blog post of the year – the North Carolina Criminal Law blog is signing off for the holidays and wishing our readers a safe and happy season. We’ll have new posts beginning January 3.
Diners at a Washington D.C. pizza restaurant, Comet Ping Pong, were terrified Sunday when a North Carolina man, Edgar M. Welch of Salisbury, entered the restaurant and fired a rifle in an effort to “self investigate” an online story known as “Pizzagate.” Keep reading for more details about this bizarre incident and for more news of the week.
As the Charlotte Observer reports, Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray announced Wednesday that the officer who fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott earlier this year lawfully used deadly force and will not face criminal charges. Murray explained that a CMPD and SBI investigation into the shooting indicated that Scott was armed with a handgun during the deadly confrontation with officers and ignored commands to drop the weapon. According to another report by the Observer, protestors marched from CMPD headquarters to the city center following the announcement; speakers at the protest called for increased police transparency. Keep reading for more news.