News Roundup

As the News & Observer reports, late last week the Fourth Circuit struck down significant portions of the Voter Information and Verification Act, legislation passed in 2013 that, among other things, required photo ID at polls and shortened the early voting period.  The Fourth Circuit concluded that certain provisions of the legislation were enacted with racially discriminatory intent, and enjoined the implementation of those provisions.  The News & Observer article says that politicians who support the Act, claiming that it is designed to prevent voter fraud, intend to appeal the decision and consider it to be politically-motivated.  Election officials reportedly are “scrambling to comply” with the ruling.  Keep reading for more news.

Raise the Age.  Jessica Smith has a column in the Greensboro News & Record this week that discusses a proposal to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction in North Carolina to 18.  The proposal comes from the Criminal Committee of the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law & Justice.  Along with the Criminal Committee’s report, interim reports from the other committees of the NCCALJ are available online, and the Commission invites public comment on the reports.  Smith serves as the reporter for the Criminal Committee and LaToya Powell served on the Subcommittee on Juvenile Age.  Keep reading for more news.   

Pinging in Your Ear.  Earlier this week the Second Circuit ruled that exigent circumstances supported officers “pinging” a murder suspect’s cell phone in order to locate and arrest him. Law professor Orin Kerr has a post on the Volokh Conspiracy that analyzes the decision.   If you aren’t familiar with the now common practice of pinging a cell phone, Jeff has a book that may interest you.

Obama Commutes More Sentences.  Politico reports that President Obama commuted the sentences of 214 people earlier this week as part of a “Justice Department initiative to ease punishments for low-level drug offenders who received long sentences due to mandatory minimums.”  The report says that “Obama has granted more commutations than his nine most recent predecessors combined.”

New Indigent Defense Attorney in Missouri.  The Missouri indigent defense system is facing a severe funding crisis, and the Director of the Public Defender System and the Governor have been in conflict over the issue.  A seldom-used provision of Missouri law authorizes the Director to “[d]elegate the legal representation of any person to any member of the state bar of Missouri.”  The Governor is an active member of the state bar.   You see where this is going – in perhaps the only indigent defense appointment to ever qualify as a mic drop, the Director has called the Governor into service and ordered him to enter an appearance as counsel of record in a criminal case.

Unbridled Spirit Bridled in Charlotte.  The Charlotte Observer reports that a Kentucky man intoxicated by Tennessee whiskey was subdued by an American Airlines pilot in Charlotte and charged with various crimes after becoming violent and disruptive as his plane taxied to the airport.  After his plane landed, Michael Kerr became agitated and attacked a flight attendant.  The pilot of the plane then tackled Kerr, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police dragged him off the plane, and a U.S. District Court Judge banned him from flying on commercial airlines.

Pokémon Problems.  As previously noted on the News Roundup, the nation has a Pokémon problem on its hands.  Over the weekend, Raleigh police ejected around 100 people from Nash Square who were playing the game after the park closed for the day.  Up in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to prohibit sex offenders under community supervision from playing the game. In Las Vegas, a hold-up turned into a shoot-out when a Pokémon player with a concealed carry permit exchanged fire with armed robbers.  Stay safe out there.

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