Houston news outlet FOX 26 recently highlighted a new report from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at UT Austin that examines COVID deaths in Texas prisons and jails, where the positive test rate is 490% higher than the rate in Texas as a whole. There are a number of notable findings in the report, including that 80% of people who died from the virus in jails were pretrial detainees and that nine people died after being approved for parole but before they were released. Slightly more than 10% of the people who have died in association with Texas correctional facilities were staff members. The full report is available here. Keep reading for more news.
The Greensboro News & Record reports that jury trials resumed this week in Guilford County after a nearly eight-month suspension due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The News & Record story discusses the difficult balance Guilford and other jurisdictions across the state are trying to strike as they grapple with a backlogged trial calendars amid increasing virus infection rates. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading →
A march from Wayman’s Chapel AME Church in Graham to the Alamance County Court Square on the last day of North Carolina early voting received national attention this week when law enforcement officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd and made several arrests. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.
This week Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Barrett took the Constitutional Oath, administered by Justice Thomas, in an evening ceremony at the White House South Lawn on Monday. On Tuesday morning, Chief Justice Roberts administered Barrett’s Judicial Oath at a private ceremony at the Supreme Court Building. Barrett’s swearing in followed a confirmation vote in the Senate that fell largely along party lines, with 52 senators voting to confirm her to the court and 48 voting against. Susan Collins cast the only Republican vote against Barrett’s confirmation, saying the vote was not related to Barrett’s qualifications but a reflection of her view that the vote should have taken place after the upcoming election. Keep reading for more news.
This week the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Purdue Pharma will plead guilty to three federal criminal charges related to the company’s distribution of its opioid painkiller OxyContin. The company will plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws, offenses generally arising from Purdue Pharma’s efforts in coordination with others in the medical field to dispense OxyContin without a legitimate medical purpose. As the Associated Press reports, the plea deal is part of an $8 billion settlement that includes a $2 billion criminal forfeiture, a $3.54 billion criminal fine, and $2.8 billion in civil damages. The deal does not absolve the Sackler family, who owned the company while it engaged in the illicit activity, from criminal liability and some are calling for members of the family to face charges. Keep reading for more news.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held four days of hearings this week on President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. The committee is expected to approve her nomination along party lines and has scheduled that vote for October 22. Barrett currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia in the late 1990’s. Prior to becoming a federal judge, Barrett spent 15 years as a law professor at Notre Dame. She noted in her opening statement that if confirmed she would be the only sitting Justice who didn’t attend Harvard or Yale. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading →
Yesterday afternoon, federal and state officials announced that 13 men had been arrested and charged with various criminal offenses arising from plots to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, kill law enforcement officers, and attack the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing. Many of those arrested were affiliated with a group known as the Wolverine Watchmen that has been described as an extremist private militia. Six men are facing federal kidnapping conspiracy charges and six others have been charged with a Michigan state terrorism offense. The federal criminal complaint is available here. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading →
WLOS reported this week that the Macon County Sheriff’s Office has been identified as a COVID-19 cluster after multiple employees tested positive for the virus. In a statement posted to Facebook, the department said that cases in the department ranged from mild to severe. Public access to the sheriff’s office will be restricted over the next few weeks but the department will continue to provide its regular services. Keep reading for more news.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last Friday at her home in Washington at age 87. Ginsburg served on the Court for 27 years after being nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She previously held a seat on the D.C. Circuit. Ginsburg spent much of her career litigating gender equality cases, cofounding the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU in the early 1970s. More recently she had become a cultural icon, widely known for her strenuous workouts and “Notorious R.B.G.” nickname. Ginsburg famously was close friends with the late Justice Antonin Scalia. At a ceremony this week, Chief Justice John Roberts described her as “tough, brave, a fighter, a winner” and added that she was “thoughtful, careful, compassionate, and honest.” Ginsburg will lie in state in the United States Capitol today, the first woman to receive that honor. Keep reading for more news.