News Roundup

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I didn’t round up the news last week because of the Thanksgiving holiday, so I’m awash in interesting stories today. Perhaps the biggest story is that the General Assembly has voted to amend the Racial Justice Act in a way that would effectively repeal the law. The News and Observer has the story here. The key question now is whether Governor Perdue will sign the amendment, veto it, or allow it to become law without her signature. If she vetoes it, a Republican override effort would need the support of a handful of  Democrats in the House to succeed. In other news:

1. The federal criminal prosecution of former Senator John Edwards is set to begin in February. The latest legal wrinkle, as described by the News and Observer, is that “prosecutors . . . are trying to prevent two former Federal Elections Commission chairmen from testifying as expert witnesses.” Essentially, the experts propose to testify that money given to Edwards to support his mistress and to keep her from public view cannot properly be characterized as campaign contributions. The prosecution contends that expert testimony on the law is inadmissible.

2. The New York Times ran a provocative article about law schools’ emphasis of theory over practice, and the resulting skills deficit in new lawyers. The article is here, but perhaps predictably, I was drawn to this factoid about the legal professoriate: “One 2010 study of hiring at top-tier law schools since 2000 found that the median amount of practical experience was one year, and that nearly half of faculty members had never practiced law for a single day.” Wow.

3. The economy’s not so good and local governments’ budgets are tight. In Riverside County, California, authorities have responded by charging inmates for the expenses of their jail stays. According to the Los Angeles Times, “[c]riminals in county lockups will be billed up to $142 a day starting in December — fees to reimburse the county for food, clothing, healthcare, security and other jail expenses. To collect, the county will garnish wages and slap liens on homes once inmates are free.”

4. Next week, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Williams v. Illinois, a Confrontation Clause case that concerns the use of substitute analysts. Stanford professor and Supreme Court advocate Jeffrey Fisher argues in the New York Times that the use of substitute analysts violates the Confrontation Clause. We’ll see if the Supreme Court agrees. Jessie Smith’s preview of the case is here. As she explains in that post, North Carolina’s appellate courts have allowed the use of substitute analysts if the stand-ins have formed their own opinions and are not mere mouthpieces for the conclusions of the absent analysts.

5. Finally, some news out of Ohio, where a man attempted to steal a police car, but couldn’t figure out how to put the vehicle in drive. Fortunately, he had a backup plan. Unfortunately, the backup plan was to “use[] the . . . police radio to ask dispatch how to put the car in gear.” Surprisingly, dispatch wasn’t able to help, and the criminal mastermind was arrested.

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8 comments on “News Roundup

  1. “One 2010 study of hiring at top-tier law schools since 2000 found that the median amount of practical experience was one year, and that nearly half of faculty members had never practiced law for a single day.”

    I guess that supports the saying “those that can do, and those that can’t teach.”

    • Speaking as a professor, ouch!

  2. Your comment to item 2, “Wow,” pretty much applies to all five of these items, but with a little more emphasis: Wow!

  3. Jeff-My colleague, Katherine Taylor has a pending case where a girl stole a school bus, drove it around and got a DWI. Yes, naturally the bus she stole was a “short bus.” Truth stranger (and funnier) than fiction.

  4. 1. The Edwards prosecution is a witch hunt if ever there was one. Politically motivated no doubt. I was an early Edwards supporter, and aghast at his unbelievable hubris when the truth came out (he needs lessons from Schwarzenegger on hiding a love child) but prosecuting him is a waste of taxpayer resources.

    2. Not surprised at the profs’ lack of practice, but isn’t that what the ‘trial practice’ classes are for? Where the instructor is a litigator. Don’t know. I was green coming out of law school but had the practice classes and felt ok in the real world. It is really all about individual confidence or lack thereof.

    3. I’m sorry but charging people for being in jail seems like extra punishment not included in their sentence. Don’t think that should fly as a matter of Constitutional Law. If they aren’t fined as part of the sentence, tacking on a monster fine to their jail time is so wrong. Stupid and bound to increase recidivism.

    4. Substitute analyst issue sounds pretty technical. On the face of it, I’d have to agree the Confrontation clause is violated if the witness who appears wasn’t listed on the witness list. That’s just a no-no.

    [Editor’s note: commercial links removed.]

    Enjoyed your blog, thanks.

    wye

  5. John says:
    October 21, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    What about very old pjcs for minor misdemeanors showing up as convictions on employment background checks. For instance, a PJC entered in a resist public officer case in 2001 at age of 18 is now showing up as a conviction in county-level check and on third-party searches. Court has destroyed all records except the “guilty” line on the background check. Is there any recourse for clearing these inaccurate records up? Any options for expunction?
    Reply

    Lea says:
    November 7, 2011 at 11:01 am

    This is what I am interested in knowing as well! Please help! I was caught with a roach on my 18th Birthday, also in 2001 and was given a PJC. I did have to pay indigent court costs of like 200 bucks or so. However, I am now 27, have since served in the military, and am a full time college student. The pjc is showing up as a conviction at the county courthouse and 3rd party checks. It recently prevented me from admission to a surgery tech program. Am wondering if expunction is an option? PLEASSSEEEEE HELLLPPP!
    Reply
    Bailey says:
    November 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I was wondering the same thing. In 2009, I received a PJC for misdemeanor Medicaid Fraud and was told this was not going on my record and it would not hinder me from getting my certifications. Recently, I graduated from college and when I applied for teaching positions, my application was denied due to the PJC showing up on my record. In this economy, it is already tough to find jobs, especially when you have children.

    Please someone explain if this could be expunged. Also, why does North Carolina offer PJC’s if it cannot be expunged and if it goes on the person records?? This does not seem right at all. In ALL other states that offer PJC’s, it DOEs NOT go on your record. It is like getting a second chance to do what is right; however, North Carolina is saying it is for life.
    Reply

    Tara says:
    August 29, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I received a PJC for domestic trespassing can this be expunged from my criminal record?
    Reply

  6. Changing Laws are important. If NC offers PJC, which means no conviction, then why are the charges showing on the individuals criminal record? NONE of this makes any sense. A individual can get off on a possible drug offense and have the record expunged (per say if they are under 18 years old); however a person who committed (as adult) a crime which was a misdemeanor is actually convicted. This makes NO sense and the law should be challenged. Many other states which offer PJC’s do so without it showing up on the individual record. PJC’s are meant for people who have NEVER had criminal charges, who ARE deemed to be individuals who are most likely NOT going to commit the crime or any other crime ever again, and SECOND CHANCES. Why does NC PJC laws convict a person for life, if they have paid their dues. Help all of us understand this.

  7. #3 is very interesting, but a little bit strange for me. I believe this is a very hard decision for the government to make. But my concern is, will those criminals be able to pay such cost? Besides, the government will only get the reimbursement in the next several years, after the criminals released. Maybe at that time the economy situation already get better. According to County Supervisor Jeff Stone’s statement, the estimation of potential amount collected by applying this regulation is just 25% (in future value of course). So, is it necessary for the government to stipulate this regulation only for a small future benefit but can trigger another criminal action taken by the free criminals with such obligation / “debt”?
    I’m sorry for my bad grammar, since English is not my native language.. 🙂 Thanks for your sharing. Nice post.

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