In Italy, six scientists have been convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison for failing to predict an earthquake. Seriously.
In other news:
- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has just launched this website, which offers information on the restoration of rights after a criminal conviction in all 50 states and the federal system. The entry on North Carolina, here, summarizes the law and practice regarding pardons, expunctions, and certificates of relief. It also cites the Collateral Consequences Assessment Tool previously profiled here.
- The Austin American-Statesman recently ran this article about Texas’s move from a three-drug protocol for executions to a one-drug technique. The best part of the article may be the map of the United States with different colors representing states with a one-drug protocol, a multi-drug protocol, no death penalty, or a death penalty that in on hold as a result of litigation. North Carolina, rightly, is in the last category.
- UNC football legend Lawrence Taylor is back in court in connection with paying to have sex with a 16-year-old. He previously pled guilty to a misdemeanor in the case and received probation. Then the young woman sued Mr. Taylor in civil court. The trial is ongoing, and according to this AP report, Mr. Taylor testified that he often hired women for “company” but didn’t necessarily expect sex: “I still like the chase . . . [but] I like to stack the odds in my favor. . . . I don’t like to work too hard.” Good grief. (No criminal angle here, but another UNC football player who doesn’t like to work too hard apparently recently submitted, for a communications class, a blog post that “was virtually identical to a passage on an education website written by four 11-year-olds for their peers.” Ouch.)
- The Ninth Circuit recently decided a case that may cast some doubt on a North Carolina statute. The case is United States v. Wolf Child, available here. A short summary is here, but an even shorter summary is that the defendant, then age 22, was at a party when he attempted to have sex with a 16-year-old who had passed out. He pled guilty to “attempted sexual abuse,” and was sentenced to 86 months in prison, plus a term of supervised release. The sentencing judge imposed a condition of supervised release that precluded the defendant from living with or being in the company of anyone under 18, specifically including his own children and those of his fiancee. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit ruled that this implicated “the fundamental right to familial association,” which it described as a “particularly significant liberty interest.” It ruled that the district was required to, but did not, “make special findings on the record supported by evidence in the record, that the condition is necessary for deterrence, protection of the public, or rehabilitation, and that it involves no greater deprivation of liberty than reasonably necessary.” The case calls to mind G.S. 15A-1343(b2)(4), which requires judges to impose on sex offenders a probation condition that they “[n]ot reside in a household with any minor child if the offense is one in which there is evidence of sexual abuse of a minor.” See also G.S. 15A-1368.4(b1) (similar condition for post-release supervision). As Jamie noted here, the court of appeals has upheld the probation condition against a constitutional challenge, but the defendant in that case had been convicted of a crime against a household member, which strengthened the State’s position.
- Finally, staying with the Ninth Circuit theme, I enjoy reading opinions by that court’s Chief Judge, Alex Kozinski. He’s a libertarian-leaning Republican appointee, a brilliant legal mind, and a bit of an odd bird. As you might guess, he’s frequently at odds with his colleagues, never more so than in a recent case where he filed neither a concurrence, nor a dissent, nor a concurrence-in-the-judgment, but rather an opinion captioned simply, “Chief Judge Kozinski, disagreeing with everyone.”