News Roundup

A lot of attention was focused on Cupertino, California this week as Apple introduced a new iPhone and company founder Steve Jobs died. There’s a gossamer connection to the blog, since a previous version of the iPhone was the subject of this prior post. In other news:

1. Also in California, the DEA has begun a crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries. (Recall that marijuana use for medical purposes is permitted under California law, but that it remains a violation of federal law.) This appears to be a reversal of previously-announced Obama administration policy. See stories here and here.

2. The North Carolina crime of assault on a female is the subject of this new post on the Volokh Conspiracy. Professor Eugene Volokh notes that the offense — which makes a male-on-female assault a more serious crime than a male-on-male, female-on-female, or female-on-male assault — was upheld against an equal protection challenge in State v. Gurganus, 39 N.C.App. 395 (1979) (relying on the fact that “the average adult male is taller, heavier and possesses greater body strength than the average female”). However, Volokh argues that Gurganus is inconsistent “with the Supreme Court’s Equal Protection Clause cases, both before 1979 (Craig v. Boren (1976)) and since (United States v. Virginia (1996)).”

3. Having recently been summoned for jury duty, I was particularly interested in this story on the WSJ Law Blog, reporting on judges in Texas and Florida who have issued show cause orders to people who ignored their summons (summonses?). Apparently, in Florida, a six-month sentence could be imposed upon the scofflaws.

4. I have argued before — see this post, and this one — that when traffic stops, custodial interrogations, and other interactions between officers and suspects are videotaped, courts may scrutinize those interactions more closely and critically than they otherwise would. Here’s a longer, and probably more insightful, discussion of the same phenomenon by Professor Orin Kerr. It’s still a short piece, and worth a read by officers, prosecutors, and defense lawyers alike.

5. Finally, a few quick tidbits. The gun-rights litigation in the District of Columbia continues to be interesting. As described here, in the latest round, a divided D.C. Circuit “largely rejected [the plaintiff’s] challenge to D.C.’s ban on some semi-automatic rifles and new gun-registration requirements.” Speaking of the nation’s capital, Justice Scalia testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee recently, and got off a few one-liners, complaining that “federal judges ain’t what they used to be,” due to the proliferation of federal judgeships, and expressing his hope that “the living Constitution will die.” Finally, the ABA Journal reports here that Houston trial lawyer Joe Jamail is the richest practicing lawyer in the country, with a net worth of $1.5 billion. Perhaps Justice Scalia would say that a billion dollars ain’t what it used to be, but it still sounds like a lot to me.

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