I love Fridays! Here’s the news of the week:
1. The Youth Accountability Task Force, which was charged by the General Assembly with studying the age at which young offenders should be treated as adults, has released its recommendations. WRAL’s story is here and provides a link to the group’s report. The short version is that it recommends increasing the age from 16 to 18 “only for misdemeanors and low-level nonviolent felony offenses.”
2. The News and Observer reports here that “A legislative committee . . . overwhelmingly approved a dozen proposals to restore credibility to the State Bureau of Investigation and upgrade scientific standards at the state’s crime lab.” The proposals relate to the training of analysts, the certification of the lab, and reforms of the discovery process, among other issues.
3. House Majority Leader Paul Stam is preparing to introduce a bill that would add a good faith exception to the state’s statutory exclusionary rule, according to this report. Apparently, he’s introduced similar bills twice before, without success. But with the recent changes in the composition of the General Assembly, it is certainly possible that the third time will be the charm.
4. Web magazine Slate has an interesting piece about the aging of the federal judiciary. It states that “aging and dementia are the flip side of life tenure, with more and more judges staying on the bench into extreme old age. About 12 percent of the nation’s 1,200 sitting federal district and circuit judges are 80 years or older.” The piece does note that advanced age may also bring wisdom and judgment.
5. I stumbled across this fascinating Seattle Times article recently. It discussed a bill that has been introduced in the legislature for the state of Washington, which would give trial judges the power to prohibit pro se defendants in sexual assault trials from personally questioning the complaining witness. (The defendant could be required to submit questions through a third party.) The bill “followed a case last year when a rape victim climbed on top of the King County Courthouse and threatened to jump before scheduled questioning by the defendant at the trial.” Opponents argue that the bill violates the Confrontation Clause. I’m hoping to convince Jessie Smith to do a post about this proposal, so stay tuned to see if I succeed!
6. Finally, everyone’s doing jury duty lately. In Washington , DC, Justice Kagan is doing it. In Boston, Sal Esposito is doing it. The latter is significant only because Sal is a cat. His request to be excused on the basis that he doesn’t speak English has apparently been denied.