News Roundup

This will be the last post of 2011. I’m off next week and many of our readers are, too. It’s been a fantastic year on the blog. We rocketed past a million total hits and saw a massive increase in email subscriptions. I have been particularly happy to see a nice uptick in the number of comments being posted to the blog. Many of the comments are quite substantive, and benefit from a practice-oriented perspective that we at the School of Government sometimes don’t quite grasp. So thank you for reading, subscribing, and contributing. As always, we welcome your suggestions about how to make the blog better.

In other news:

1. In Chapel Hill, Laurence Lovette was convicted of killing Eve Carson and sentenced to life in prison without parole, as the News and Observer reports here. He is also facing a first-degree murder charge in Durham, where he is alleged to have killed Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato.

2. I noted last week that Governor Perdue vetoed the de facto repeal of the Racial Justice Act. That led District Attorney Rick Shaffer of Lincoln and Cleveland Counties to resign from the Governor’s Crime Commission, as detailed here. Meanwhile, the Governor has called the legislature into session January 4 to address a possible override of the veto. As discussed here, the conventional wisdom is that an override vote will succeed in the Senate but fail in the House.

3. The FBI has released crime data for the first half of 2011, and has found yet another drop in violent and property crime rates. Sentencing Law and Policy has the basics and several interesting links here.

4. A couple of offbeat stories from across the nation: In Texas, an 83-year-old man has been paroled after serving nearly 60 years in prison for a variety of crimes. Asked about his plans, he initially told a reporter that he was “too damn old to do any robbing,” but then left himself a little wiggle room by saying, “I think I am anyway.” Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, an appellate court ruled that offering sex in exchange for World Series tickets isn’t prostitution.

5. Finally, one of my periodic forays into legal writing. Above the Law recently ran an item on whether “pleaded” or “pled” should be used to express the past tense of the verb “to plead.” As in, “the defendant [pled/pleaded] guilty and was sentenced to probation.” The very short summary of the item is that they’re both OK. But I wonder if there is a convention here in North Carolina. So take a moment to vote in the poll below, indicating which you use more frequently. Have a happy holiday season, and we’ll see you in the new year.

Pleaded, or pled?

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4 thoughts on “News Roundup”

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Take it from an old hand, the Blog is a fantastic practice tool, and gives Old Albert’s dream of reaching those without the means or time to keep up with the law, a large turbocharge!

    I was one of his last hires, after surviving the grading system in his last Criminal Law class. He was kind enough to mention my experience in the Greensboro Police Department (as an IOG local overnment intern) to John Sanders, who ultimately took a chance on me, tucked me under Dexter Watts’ and Ben Loeb’s wings, and let me teach in the SHP Basic, Wildlife Basic, and other law enforcement education programs to earn my way through UNC Law School, graduating in 1970.

    That was so long ago that Bob Farb was probably in about the third grade!

    There were no computers of course, and copy machines were more likely of the mimeograph style than not. The basement wing of the IOG reaching out towards the brand-new law school consisted of dorm rooms with connecting bathrooms, where more than one set of night-managers were caught frolicking with female students in the Drivrs License Examiners Schools, to Marjorie Bounds great distress, usually resolved by Mr. Sanders’ unique ability to buffer any brand of indigestion, no matter the source.

    I shared one of those offices, Number 010, looking out onto the parking lot from the ground level, with a fellow named Don Stephens, in number 011, who has done ok for himself as a Wake County Superior Court Judge. (Hi Don, your Grace.)

    They moved Dexter down onto our hall from somewhere up on the second level near Don Heyman. Took an hour to move him and his desk; took two weeks to sort out and move the stacks and stacks of all kinds of papers Dexter was famous for.

    We went on the road, as I recall, in the Spring of 1972, to explain to law enforcement and judicial officials, (in those days prosecutors and judges thought they were on the same side, so we did not have separate sessions for them, and of course none at all for criminal defense bar), (wink!), to explain the brand new Controlled Substances Act. We held six sessions around the State, where the hardest questions were about why pot was in a separate schedule. Most of those folks thought pot was for hippies, or blacks, and that they (not it) did not deserve special misdemeanor status, but ought always to be treated as felons. Remember, Texas was still giving folks twenty years for less than an ounce! Later they decided to divide things up into separate conferences for DA’s and Superior Court Judges, and I was privileged to work for both, and even to suggest expanded services to indigent services lawyers and later, when they came along , to the new “Public Defenders.” Wonderfully, your blog incorporates them all today, as they should be, each an integral part of the Justice system.

    But oh, the older I get, the more I seem to digress.

    What I wanted to say is that it is awfully hard for you present day faculty men and women to appreciate how really wonderful this site is, without being reminded by some of us really old codgers about where ywe came from. It is almost like comparing Old Albert’s Franklin Street “hole in the ground” with today’s modern SOG facility.

    Anyway, keep up the wonderful work, and circulate this message if you will, to other SOG Bloggers there, as testament that your modern efforts continue the wonderful tradition of benefits begun in Mr. Coates’ imagination at Harvard, and continued by your predecessors, who remain proud of the way you all are serving that tradition.

    Finally, rather than take a poll on pleaded or pled, pick up the phone and call Margaret Taylor, whose word was and will always be, for me, final on such matters. (She is a resident at Carol Woods.)

    With my kindest regards to you all,

    Bob Epting
    Chapel Hill, NC

  2. What a fantastic note from Bob Epting, thanks for posting that.

    As to pleaded/pled, this was one of the first things that drove me nuts when I entered the appellate world. I’d always used “pled”, but I found that NC’s appellate courts primarily (although not exclusively) used “pleaded” in the current era [please no flames for this unscientific finding, it was just my observation]. In a perfect world, I’d stick with “pled”, but I admit to having used “pleaded” more or less consistently throughout my time as an appellate attorney.

    Just my two cents.

  3. I avoid the “pled/pleaded” question by using wordy phrases like “entered a guilty plea” so that I don’t have to decide which is right!

  4. No offense meant, but this is the kind of question that puzzles me some. Either one is correct, so how can anyone possibly tell you which one to use? More importantly, in my experience the actual problem is that some people use “plead” instead of “pled” or “pleaded” because they think that it is pronounced the same way, and is both the present and the past tense of “to plead” (similarly to “lead” being used as both the present and the past tense of “to lead”). A very recent example of this mistake is found at the top of page 18 of the North Carolina Court of Appeals opinion in State of North Carolina v. Travis Lynch (12/20/2011). Click on this link for the opinion in State v. Lynch. Thanks. Rich McMahon.


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