News Roundup

With the short holiday week, the News Roundup comes a few days early.  We hope our readers have a safe and happy holiday.  We’ll be back to blogging on Monday.  Keep reading for the latest in criminal law and Thanksgiving news.

ICE.  The News & Observer reports that the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, visited Raleigh earlier this week to meet with Republican officials regarding the decisions by some North Carolina sheriffs to stop cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  The N&O says that Wolf spoke about a Durham case where an 18-year-old, Bryan Jose Guzman, was charged with committing a murder while on pretrial release for armed robbery charges.  Guzman was on pretrial release despite being the subject of an ICE detainer request.

Turkey Pardon.  The annual tradition of the President of the United States pardoning turkeys on Thanksgiving has been covered extensively on this blog.  Jeff has conducted significant research on the issue, analyzing in this 2017 post whether it is a federal crime to be a turkey (it is not) and examining trends in clemency in this 2013 post.  Last year I noted the harrowing ordeal of Slow Poke, a pageant-winning possum pardoned in 1970 by Governor Bob Scott following public outcry over Scott’s plan to serve him as the main course at an executive banquet.

This year, I am pleased to report what may be the biggest turkey news this blog has seen – the turkeys that were pardoned yesterday by President Trump at the White House hail from Clinton, North Carolina.  As ABC 11 reports, Clinton farmer Wellie Jackson raised the birds, Bread and Butter, spending months getting them ready for the spotlight.  Congratulations to Jackson.

DOT Travel.  The Thanksgiving holiday always is one of the busiest travel times for Americans.  To ensure the state’s roadways are safe, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol is positioning troopers every 20 miles along I-40.  To keep traffic flowing smoothly, the Department of Transportation is suspending most construction on major highways and suggests that motorists use to get updates about traffic conditions.  If you don’t want to worry about traffic at all and are headed to Cary, Durham, or Greensboro, NC DOT encourages you to take the train.  Stay safe out there.

Syed.  As NPR reports, on Monday the United States Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by Adnan Syed, a man who was convicted of murdering a former girlfriend in Maryland and whose case attracted the attention of legal nerds across the country when it was featured on the popular podcast Serial.  Lower courts in Maryland had ordered that Syed receive a new trial because of an ineffective assistance of counsel issue but the state’s highest appellate court overturned that order in a 4-3 decision earlier this year.  The NPR story notes that Syed, who was 17 years old at the time of the murder, intends to litigate a Miller v. Alabama issue in Maryland state court. 

Broken Justice.  The PBS Newshour recently released a new podcast called Broken Justice that explores the indigent defense system in Missouri.  As the News Roundup has previously noted, Missouri’s system has been in a funding crisis for a while, and it looks like Broken Justice spends significant time examining the negative consequences of the lack of funding on defendants, attorneys, and the court system generally.

Opening a Can.  The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports that late last week a New York man made a pair of mistakes, one bad and the other terrible.  The bad mistake was his decision to burglarize a house; the terrible mistake was to choose the house of 82-year-old Willie Murphy, a woman standing 5-feet tall and weighing 105 pounds who is the 2018 World Natural Powerlifting Federation Upstate New York champion (Lifter of the Year in 2014).  When the “young man” burst through her door, Murphy broke a table over his head, beat him with a broom, and poured a bottle of shampoo into his eyes.  After this opening salvo, she, in her words, began “whaling on that man” reasoning that if it was “[her] time to go to hell” then she would be “taking him with me.”  When police arrived, the man was taken to the hospital by ambulance and Murphy, who was unhurt, posed for selfies with officers.  Since the incident, Murphy’s landline has been blowing up – she reported having 37 messages on her answering machine in the following days.

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