The biggest national story this week is the just-completed execution of Dennis McGuire by the state of Ohio. Because the state was not able to procure pentobarbital, a drug historically used in executions, it used a novel combination of drugs that resulted in McGuire gasping and convulsing for 10 minutes or more. Whether McGuire was conscious or in pain is unknown, though his attorneys argued before the execution that the procedure could result in “air hunger” and a feeling of suffocation. Some on the other side of the issue are of the view that any suffering McGuire experienced pales in comparison to what he inflicted while raping and killing 22-year-old Joy Stewart, who was pregnant at the time of the crime. Further reading is available at CNN and the New York Times.
In other news:
- Sweepstakes brouhaha. The News and Observer has this story today, about two women who won over $150,000 at a sweepstakes parlor on Christmas morning, only to be denied payment of all but a tiny fraction of the amount by the parlor operators. The operators contend that their software was hacked and that their refusal to pay is justified.
- Major changes in federal drug guidelines coming? The United States Sentencing Commission recently proposed changes to the sentencing guidelines that apply in federal drug cases. The changes would reduce the base offense level for most drug crimes by two levels, which means that many defendants would see a 20% reduction in their guideline range. Sentencing Law and Policy has a detailed story with comments by two law professors who have studied the nuances of the proposal.
- California responds to 3D printed guns. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has this story up, which begins: “Prompted by growing concerns by law-enforcement authorities over undetectable 3D-printed guns, California is considering a new law that would make it a crime to assemble a weapon without permission from the state.” Permission would entail paying a fee and affixing a serial number to the gun. Prediction: it won’t be long before some jurisdiction at the other end of the political spectrum from California passes a law requiring all citizens to manufacture a firearm before age 21.
- Google Glass wearing driver acquitted. Speaking of California, the first person charged with DWG (Driving While Glassing) has been acquitted, due to a lack of evidence that the glasses were actually in operation at the time. With wearable computing the hottest thing in the technology world, Stanford Law Fellow Vivek Wadhwa is surely correct when he says “the fun is just starting.”
- Tastes like chicken? Finally, taking the weird news category to a new level, this Minneapolis Star-Tribune story begins: “A man admitted that he killed his pet cat, skinned the animal and baked it in his oven, explaining to authorities that he intended to prepare it as a meal with onions.” He was charged with felony animal cruelty, but his attorney argued that “at the end of the day, it’s meat. I don’t know why there’s the outrage about cooking a cat.” She also noted that mental health issues appear to have played a role in the case.