A deadly terrorist attack outside the British Parliament in London is dominating international headlines this week. As the New York Times reports, a British-born man, Khalid Masood, has been identified as the perpetrator and the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Three people were killed, including a Utah man, when Masood drove a vehicle into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and then fatally stabbed a police constable. Masood was shot and killed by police. Keep reading for more news.
A Wilmington traffic stop involving an Uber driver has received national attention over the past two weeks because officers involved in the stop falsely told the driver, who happened to be a lawyer, that it was illegal to film police. Jesse Bright, a criminal defense attorney and part-time Uber driver, was using his cellphone to record his traffic stop when an officer told him to stop recording because it violated a recently enacted law. In fact, there is no such law and Wilmington and New Hanover County law enforcement officials later released statements confirming that it is legal to record encounters with police and encouraging citizens to do so.
Over the past week the Associated Press has published reports describing instances of physical and emotional abuse at the Word of Faith Fellowship church in Spindale. According to the AP, congregants, including children, “were regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in a violent form of deliverance meant to ‘purify’ sinners by beating out devils.” Former congregants have alleged that two members of the church who are assistant district attorneys in Prosecutorial District 25 helped cover up the abuse. Keep reading for more news.
As the New York Times reports, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument this week in Packingham v. North Carolina, a case that presents the question of whether prohibiting sex offenders from accessing social networking websites, as North Carolina does with G.S. 14-202.5, violates the First Amendment. If you’re not up to speed on Packingham, check out Jamie’s 2013 post discussing the North Carolina Court of Appeals decision holding G.S. 14-202.5 facially unconstitutional, and then check out Jeff’s 2015 News Roundup entry explaining the North Carolina Supreme Court’s subsequent reversal of the lower appellate court. A transcript of the oral argument is available here and a SCOTUSblog argument analysis, suggesting that the Justices were skeptical of the constitutionality of the law, is available here. Keep reading for more news.
Earlier this week the SBI executed a search warrant at a Hoke County administrative office, taking control of the building Monday afternoon and searching it for several hours. County officials quoted in the Fayetteville Observer suggest that the investigation involves an issue with employee time sheets, but Sherriff Hubert Peterkin said that time sheets aren’t the exclusive focus. Another article from the Observer says that one county employee resigned on Tuesday and a Sherriff’s deputy was fired. Keep reading for more news.
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Late last week President Donald Trump signed three Executive Orders that a White House blog post says are intended to “fight crime, gangs, and drugs; restore law and order; and support the dedicated men and women of law enforcement.” A press release from the White House says that one of the orders directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to develop a strategy to more effectively prosecute people who commit crimes against law enforcement officers; that the second order establishes a task force led by Sessions to reduce crime and restore public safety in American communities; and that the third focuses energy and resources on dismantling drug cartels and other transnational criminal organizations. Keep reading for more news.
The Durham Herald-Sun reports that the long saga of the Michael Peterson murder case may conclude later this month with a plea bargain. As the Herald-Sun article recounts, Peterson was incarcerated for eight years after being convicted in 2003 of murdering his wife, Kathleen Peterson. He was granted a new trial in 2011 based on a court’s finding that former SBI analyst Duane Deaver had given misleading and false testimony at the original trial. The Herald-Sun article does not have details of the agreement, but a report from WRAL says that Peterson will enter an Alford plea to voluntary manslaughter. Keep reading for more news.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump nominated Tenth Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch to the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Widely viewed as having a similar ideological mold as the late Justice Antonin Scalia, SCOTUSblog says Gorsuch favors textualism, thinks the criminal law should be clear, and is a good writer. The Washington Post has a sample of his criminal law writing. Keep reading for more news Continue reading →
President Donald Trump recently tweeted that he will name his U.S. Supreme Court nominee on Thursday of next week. With the nomination on the horizon, various news outlets are weighing in on appointments to the federal judiciary: CBS News has a report saying that two judges, Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, have emerged as the top contenders for the Supreme Court vacancy; Politico reports that Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, is in favor of Hardiman, with whom she currently serves on the Third Circuit; The Volokh Conspiracy has a piece that discusses potential appointments to the circuit courts of appeal. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading →
Today in Washington, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the forty-fifth President of the United States. By their nature, presidential inaugurations always are massive undertakings for law enforcement agencies. President-elect Trump’s is no exception, and news reports suggest that it may pose unique challenges. In addition to significant numbers of supporters, D.C. Police reportedly are preparing for many thousands of protestors to flock to the nation’s capital for the event. Keep reading for more news.
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