Chief Justice Mark Martin delivered the 2017 State of the Judiciary Address at the North Carolina Bar Association’s annual meeting over the weekend. A video of the address is available on YouTube. In his remarks, Chief Justice Martin called on the General Assembly to let North Carolinians vote on whether to change the state constitution so that judges are selected using a merit-selection system. The Asheville Citizen-Times has a report about the proposal here. Keep reading for more news.
The General Assembly passed a $23 billion state budget bill this week that includes provisions likely of interest to blog readers. In what would be a significant change to the criminal justice system, the proposed budget raises the age of juvenile court jurisdiction such that most cases against 16- and 17-year-olds will be handled in the juvenile system, rather than the adult system, beginning in December 2019. The News Roundup previously noted that the proposal to raise the age had broad support from law makers and criminal justice system stakeholders. A more controversial provision of the bill cuts roughly $10 million from the administrative and legal services budget of the Department of Justice. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading →
On Wednesday, a man with a rifle ambushed Republican members of Congress at a park in Virginia as the lawmakers held a morning baseball practice in preparation for the annual Congressional Baseball Game, which was held yesterday. Five people were wounded, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was in critical condition at the time of writing. Two Capitol Police officers engaged the gunman in a shootout where he was fatally injured. The gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, seemingly was motivated by political animus – he reportedly asked whether the lawmakers were Democrats or Republicans before the attack. The Washington Post has comprehensive coverage of the incident. Keep reading for more news.
Former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is without question the biggest news of the week. CBS News says that bars across the country opened early to serve drinks to customers while they watched the testimony live. The Chicago Tribune says that workplace productivity was expected to plummet Thursday, much as it does during March Madness, as workers tuned into the testimony at their desks. Keep reading for more news.
The News & Observer reports that Governor Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit against legislative leaders last Friday that, among other things, contends that the new law that reduces the number of judges on the Court of Appeals impermissibly changes the length of a judge’s term without a supporting amendment to the state constitution. The Observer report says the lawsuit is “one of a series that Cooper . . . has filed since taking office in January” and is part of an ongoing power struggle between Cooper and legislative leaders. Keep reading for more news.
A suspected suicide bombing that killed twenty-two people at a concert in Manchester, England, is the major news story of the week. BBC News has an overview of the situation here. A 22-year-old Manchester man, Salman Abedi, has been named as the suspected bomber, and seven other men, some of whom are related to Abedi, had been arrested in connection with the attack at the time of writing. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombing, and the U.K. has raised its terror threat level from “severe” to “critical,” meaning that another attack may be imminent. Keep reading for more news.
The investigation into Russian involvement in the presidential election continues to dominate the news this week. On Wednesday, the Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller as special counsel responsible for leading the investigation. The appointment comes after it was reported that former FBI director James Comey kept memos contemporaneously documenting his conversations about the investigation with President Donald Trump. Mueller previously served as FBI director under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Keep reading for more news.
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The big news of the week was President Donald Trump’s unexpected removal of James Comey as FBI director. The News Hour has an overview of the situation here. FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe will take over for Comey until a new director is appointed by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate. There have been seven full-time directors of the Bureau since 1935; this is only the second time that a director has been fired. Keep reading for more news.
The Charleston Post and Courier reports that Michael Slager, a former North Charleston police officer who shot and killed Walter Scott in 2015, pleaded guilty this week to a federal criminal charge of deprivation of rights under the color of law. The incident involving Slager and Scott was captured on video which appeared to show Slager shooting at Scott’s back after a scuffle. As the News Roundup previously noted, a homicide case against Slager ended in a mistrial late last year. As part of the plea deal, other state and federal charges pending against Slager will be dismissed. Keep reading for more news.
There was tragic news from Bertie Correctional Institution this week where Sergeant Meggan Lee Callahan died Wednesday evening after being attacked by an inmate. Craig Wissink, who is serving a life sentence for murder, is suspected of killing Callahan, according to this report from the Charlotte Observer. State facilities have been directed to fly North Carolina flags at half-staff until sunset today in tribute to Callahan.