It’s been quite a while since I assembled a news roundup, and as usual, there are more interesting, relevant news items than I can reasonably fit into a post. I’ll try to limit myself to the most noteworthy.
1. Timothy Hennis, acquitted of murder in a civilian trial 20 years ago, was convicted by a military jury in Fayetteville yesterday. The News and Observer’s story is here. The military trial didn’t violate double jeopardy because it was conducted by a separate sovereign, i.e., the federal government. The case is particularly newsworthy because Hennis was on the Death Penalty Information Center’s innocence list — actually, he still is, as of this writing, though apparently he will be removed. His presence on the list has been emphasized by critics of the list, such as the bloggers at Crime and Consequences.
2. Speaking of the death penalty, the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial recently in which it stated that “Los Angeles County sent more people to death row last year than any other county in the U.S.,” argued that we are “all guilty of state-sanctioned murder” if and when an innocent person is executed, and concluded that “L.A. prosecutors aren’t just being overzealous, they’re being inhumane” in pursuing the death penalty so frequently. The editorial has drawn considerable fire, including here and here. I will add one statistical note: according to Wikipedia, Los Angeles County is not just the most populous county in the United States, it is almost twice as large as the next biggest.
3. Law school clinics, particularly at state-funded institutions, have been a hot topic in the news and in the blogosphere lately. The New York Times reported on a controversy in Maryland where, after a clinic sued a major local employer, the state legislature took a keen interest in the clinic. Some argue that clinics are among the few entities capable of taking on established interests with deep pockets, while others contend that clinics should stay out of politically controversial issues. An argument that state-funded clinics involved in capital cases should provide equal time and support to both sides is here.
4. Other interesting tidbits include (a) this story about a sheriff who wants jail inmates to pedal stationary bicycles as the price of watching TV, (b) this story about a proposal in Louisiana to have drug offenders’ drivers’ licenses stamped “drug offender,” and (c) this blog post about a new civil libertarian video called “Ten Rules for Dealing with Police.” It apparently contains “useful advice for law-abiding citizens about how to properly exercise their rights to refuse searches that are not based on warrants or probable cause.”