Several high profile murder trials are headed for a conclusion in the near future. The News and Observer covers the Robert Stewart trial here (the defendant admits killing eight people at a nursing home, but contends that due to his mental illness and use of prescription drugs, he is not legally culpable), and the Joshua Stepp case here (the defendant acknowledges killing his 10-month-old stepdaughter but claims that his conduct is attributable to his post-traumatic stress disorder). In other news:
1. I’ve blogged previously about the controversy over the right to record the police. The First Circuit recently weighed in. You can read an excerpt and analysis of the court’s decision here — there’s also a link to the full text of the opinion — but the short version is that the court held that there is such a right, and in fact, that it is firmly established such that an officer who violates it is not entitled to qualified immunity.
2. Sentencing Law and Policy has this story about a Texas inmate, scheduled for execution later this month. In 2000, then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn said that the defendant was unfairly sentenced to death based on the testimony of a psychologist “who regularly told juries that defendants were more likely to commit future criminal acts because they were black or Hispanic. He based his testimony on the fact that blacks and Hispanics are overrepresented in the Texas prison system when compared with the state’s general population.” Nonetheless, the defendant has not been awarded a new sentencing hearing. There’s a bit of presidential politics potentially in play, since the defendant, among other steps, has asked Texas Governor and Republican presidential contender Rick Perry to stop the execution.
3. The WSJ Law Blog recently ran this item, noting that “a Colorado jury [recently] awarded almost $300,000 to the daughter of a burglar who was shot and killed in 2009 while breaking into an auto lot.” The plaintiff claimed that the business owner essentially waited in ambush and used deadly force on a burglar who did not pose a risk of serious injury or death to the business owner.
4. A couple quick items that may be of interest: (1) CNet reports here on a South Carolina woman who tried to buy a stolen iPad for $180, but actually bought . . . an iPad sized block of wood with an Apple logo on it. (I marvel at her desire to report to the police that she was defrauded in an attempt to buy stolen goods.) (2) President Obama’s uncle has been arrested for drunk driving, according to the Boston Globe. It appears that he’s wanted by immigration authorities as well, and that when arrested, he said “I think I’d like to call the White House.” The President has since stated that he will not intervene in his uncle’s legal affairs. (3) Farther afield, Yahoo! News reports that “Bonn, the former West German capital, has introduced a parking meter for prostitutes, a first in Germany, in order to tax those who . . . work the streets. . . If prostitutes fail to buy a ticket [for about $9], valid overnight from 8 pm to 6 am, they will first be warned and then fined.” Opponents of the measure argue that prostitutes already pay income taxes on their earnings and should not be subjected to an additional financial burden.