I’ve been involved in the New Prosecutors’ School this week, but the flow of criminal law news has been constant.
First, the News and Observer had an interesting story yesterday, available here, about the use of protective orders under the discovery statute. The details are a little hazy, but it appears that a protective order was entered in a Durham murder case to protect the safety of a witness. The witness’s statements seem to have contained exculpatory information, creating a conflict between the protective order, which allowed the statement to be withheld, and the state’s Brady obligations, which required the statement to be disclosed.
Second, the Constitution Project released a report arguing that, nationally, indigent defendants’ right to counsel is suffering from inadequate funding, excessive caseloads, and poorly organized indigent defense systems. The committee that issued the report was co-chaired by Rhoda Billings, former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, and School of Government professor John Rubin also contributed. The report’s available here. Interestingly, North Carolina has already adopted several of the measures recommended by the report, including creating a state agency to oversee indigent defense; as far as I could tell, the report’s main criticism that applies to North Carolina is that our public defenders are appointed by Senior Resident Superior Court Judges, arguably limiting their independence.
Third, the Obama administration just released some Justice Department memoranda authorizing the CIA to use waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions, and other interrogation techniques with detainees. Story here. The author of the first memo, Jay Bybee, is now a federal court of appeals judge. But he’s also the subject of a DOJ ethics investigation, and some are calling for a criminal probe; he’s being represented, pro bono, by one of the nation’s largest law firms, as detailed here.
Finally, I’ll spare you a summary of the Domino’s pizza case from Conover. Suffice it to say that you can see more than you ever wanted to know about how certain employees prepared pizza on YouTube. Those employees are now facing felony charges as explained here.