Is having sex with your spouse “communication”? The court of appeals addressed this issue in State v. Godbey, a child sexual abuse case. The victim alleged that the defendant engaged in specific, unusual sexual acts with her. The court considered whether the defendant’s wife could be compelled to testify that the defendant engaged in similar acts with her, or whether those acts were covered by the confidential marital communication privilege. Continue reading
CNN reports that “[t]he latest FBI annual hate crimes report shows a sharp spike in the number of hate crimes nationwide, with attacks against Muslims increasing the most sharply.” The report is based on data from 2015, compared to 2014. While the percentage increase for crimes against Muslims was greatest, anti-Semitic incidents were the most prevalent in absolute terms. The report is available here. Has there been an increase in hate crimes after the recent presidential election? Yes. Or, no. Or, yes, just like after President Obama was first elected. We may need more than 10 days of data to answer that question definitively. Keep reading for more news.
Several years ago, the Sixth Circuit noted the “timeless question whether “spitting a ‘lugie’ towards someone, by itself, constitutes an ‘assault.’” United States v. Gagnon, 553 F.3d 1021 (6th Cir. 2009). I’ve been asked this question several times, and in today’s post, I set out to answer it. Continue reading →
Beyond the Bench, the podcast of the Judicial College here at the School of Government, is back with a new season. Professor Sara DePasquale takes the reins as the host for Season 2, which explores the issue of juvenile homelessness.
Sara explains that the season:
focuses on neglect and the child welfare system with a particular emphasis on homelessness. Through six episodes, you will hear about family homelessness in North Carolina, whether homelessness is neglect and requires a report to a county child welfare (or social services) department under North Carolina’s mandated reporting laws, and the different stages of a child welfare case. Each episode discusses a different stage in a child welfare case and includes the various voices and perspectives of the people involved. Those voices include homeless shelter staff, county department social workers and attorney, the children’s guardian ad litem, a parent attorney, and district court judges.
The topic isn’t directly criminal-law related, so future episodes will be announced on this blog in the Friday news roundup rather than in their own posts. However, issues like poverty, substance abuse, and instability relate both to juvenile homelessness and to the criminal justice system, so the show may be of interest to many readers. In fact, anyone who has ever seen a homeless child may wonder about the central question presented in episode one: is a homeless child, by definition, suffering from neglect?
I’ve listened to the teaser and the first episode, and I am excited about the season. As before, you can listen to Beyond the Bench at the podcast website, through the iTunes podcast store, or via Stitcher.
Sometimes officers have probable cause to believe that a person committed a crime, have probable cause that evidence of the crime will be found in the person’s residence, and seek a search warrant for the address at which the residence is located, but fail to include in the application a statement that the address in question is, in fact, the suspect’s home. What happens then? Continue reading →
It’s election season, and friends and family have asked me a few questions about crimes associated with voting. I’m not an expert on election laws – here at the School of Government, Bob Joyce is our go-to guy on such issues – but I’ve tried to respond correctly. Read on for the questions and answers. Continue reading →
In a recent interview with Katie Couric, Justice Ginsburg discussed San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his practice of kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. She described Kaepernick’s conduct as “dumb and disrespectful,” compared it to flag burning, and said “I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it.” Is it OK for a judge to say that? Continue reading →
Here’s a common fact pattern: Officers find a person in possession of drugs. The officers say, in effect, “we won’t arrest you if you’ll tell us who sold you the drugs.” The person then reports having recently purchased the drugs from a particular person at that person’s home. Does this provide probable cause to support a search warrant for the supplier’s home? Continue reading →
Law enforcement officers often seek search warrants for suspects’ cell phones. When they do, judicial officials must determine what sort of evidence is needed to support the issuance of a warrant. Many people have their phones with them at all times, and use their phones to document and discuss every aspect of their daily activities. Does that mean that when an officer has probable cause to believe that a suspect committed a crime, the officer automatically has probable cause to search the suspect’s cell phone for evidence of the crime? Or does the officer need a more specific nexus between the crime and the phone?