News Roundup

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Apparently the Supreme Court issued some sort of decision this week about broccoli, or health insurance, or something. But it wasn’t all mandates and Medicare: there were several significant criminal law developments in the news this week as well:

  1. Governor Perdue vetoed the bill that would have amended, or perhaps effectively repealed, the Racial Justice Act. The bill was passed by veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, but in the House, that required the votes of five conservative Democrats. They are likely to be the focus of intense lobbying as the legislature gears up for a possible veto override.
  2. Speaking of the legislature, both chambers have overwhelmingly approved S 105, which will make some, but not all, second-degree murders B1 felonies rather than B2. The bill also increases the penalties for several vehicular homicide offenses.
  3. The News and Observer ran this story a couple of days ago, about the Raleigh Police Department’s deployment of car-top license plate scanners. The devices simultaneously look in all four directions, identifying up to 3,000 license plates per hour and checking them to see, for example, if they are associated with a stolen car or a car that was used in a serious crime. The story contains an interesting discussion of civil libertarians’ concerns about the devices as well as the privacy and usage policies the police have adopted.
  4. Finally, the so-called Causeway Cannibal, the Miami man who stripped naked, attacked a homeless man in broad daylight, and began eating the victim’s face, apparently was not high on bath salts or any other synthetic drug, as previously believed: toxicology results showed only marijuana in his system. But synthetics aren’t in the clear yet, as a new story has emerged in Waco, Texas, where a man allegedly high on the synthetic cannabinoid K-2 attacked a neighbor’s dog and began to eat it. Both incidents open the door to possible dark humor about “the munchies,” but the cases are sufficiently gruesome that I will refrain.
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