According to a recent AP poll, discussed here, only 8% of Americans said that they felt very confident about the “people who are running” blogs, while 47% lacked confidence in bloggers. Ouch! At least we are held in greater esteem than Congress. Click the link to see Americans’ views of the Supreme Court, the military, state and local government, and the media, among other institutions. In other news:
1. The Innocence Inquiry Commission has been busy recently. According to the News and Observer, “[f]ormer SBI agent Duane Deaver picked up a courtroom victory Wednesday when a Superior Court judge dismissed a contempt of court charge alleging false and misleading testimony before the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission in 2009.” The testimony at issue concerned blood testing done by Deaver in connection with the Greg Taylor case. The paper reports that the case was dismissed pursuant to a “settlement order,” which contained the following statement: “Deaver acknowledges the confusing nature of his testimony, and he understands how the Commission could have been misled.” Meanwhile, the Commission has presented another case to a three-judge panel. As the News and Observer explains here, the matter concerns two defendants who pled guilty to a Buncombe County murder, but now profess their innocence. Another man has since confessed to the crime, and DNA evidence appears to support his claim of responsibility.
2. As reported in the Hickory Daily Record, the Zahra Baker case has come to a conclusion. Elisa Baker, the girl’s stepmother, pled guilty to second-degree murder and other crimes, and was sentenced to between 15 and 18 years in prison. It appears that the child’s father, Adam Baker, was not involved in the killing. Elisa Baker’s attorney stated that she was “sorry for the hurt she has caused,” and pointed out that she directed police to locations where some, but not all, of the girl’s remains have been recovered.
3. Several interesting stories cropped up this week outside North Carolina. The Los Angeles Times ran this story about the use of post-partum depression as a defense in criminal cases. It’s an interesting read overall, and includes the following noteworthy statistic: “Melissa Murray, a UC Berkeley professor of family and criminal law, said she found 18 cases in which women charged with murdering their children asserted a defense of temporary insanity because of postpartum psychosis. About half the women were acquitted and committed to mental institutions for treatment.”
4. Sentencing Law and Policy reported here on a Tennessee county that has banned sex offenders from the public library. (Offenders may still use the library’s “online services.”) At the Volokh Conspiracy, Eugene Volokh argues that the ban is constitutional, notwithstanding a contrary ruling on point by a New Mexico court.
5. And a few smaller tidbits. Casey Anthony has been ordered to reimburse almost $100,000 to law enforcement agencies for costs spent searching for her daughter. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that violent crime dropped substantially in 2010, continuing a long and marked decline. And federal court practitioners will be disappointed to know that online access to court records through the PACER system will soon be more expensive — the price is rising from 8¢ per page to 10¢. Ars Technica argues here that PACER is unlawfully being used as a revenue generator for the courts.