Jeff’s away and has left me in charge of the news roundup. So there’ll be no Gizmodo stories this week. (I’m still figuring out how to work my iPhone.) Fortunately, the week was full of criminal law news that doesn’t require the cracking of any source codes.
1. The General Assembly adjourned on Tuesday, July 3, ending its work for 2012 with some pre-4th-of-July legislative fireworks. In the waning hours of the session, the legislature overrode Governor Beverly Perdue’s veto of three controversial bills: the bill modifying the 2011 state budget act (now S.L. 2012-142), the bill authorizing fracking in North Carolina (now S.L. 2012-143), and the bill amending the Racial Justice Act (now S.L. 2012-136).
Like the Racial Justice Act itself, the amendments to that 2009 legislation have attracted national as well as statewide attention. Law Professor Doug Berman’s comment that “the reform of the RJA in North Carolina does not end a significant number of notable legal and policy question[s] surrounding the administration of capital justice in the Tar Heel State” already has proved prescient. The News and Observer reports here that four death row inmates have filed documents in Cumberland County court challenging the amendments and seeking to have their cases heard under the 2009 law.
2. Speaking of legislation, my colleague John Rubin has been dutifully summarizing criminal legislation as it is enacted. If you’d like to receive those summaries via email, you may sign up here. No need to worry if you’ve missed the first few email updates. You can get up to speed by reading the compilation of criminal legislative summaries, which will be posted on the School’s website later this summer.
3. George Zimmerman, the Florida man accused of killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin is back in the news this week. After a lengthy second bond hearing, a Florida judge set Zimmerman’s bond at $1 million, significantly higher than the $150,000 initial bond that he revoked in June after determining that Zimmerman misrepresented his finances. Zimmerman’s wife is charged with perjury for allegedly lying about the couple’s finances at the first bond hearing. She was arrested last month and briefly jailed before posting a $1,000 bond. Zimmerman’s bond obviously will prove harder to satisfy. One local attorney commented that he doubted Zimmerman could “back a million dollar bond unless he has every relative and friend willing to put their houses up for him.”
4. The Daily Tar Heel, UNC Chapel Hill’s student newspaper, published on Thursday this letter from Paul Frampton, the UNC physics professor who has been jailed in Argentina on drug smuggling charges after two kilos of cocaine were found in his luggage last January. Frampton wrote that a unified attempt to achieve governmental intervention, that involves “the Ministers of Science and of Justice, as well as the president of Argentina” is underway and that he “hope[s] to get out next week.” Notwithstanding his confinement and lack of Internet access, Frampton reports that he has “already published five refereed journal articles in 2012.” Impressive. I’m sitting in the comfort of my office with full-blown internet access and haven’t yet hit item five on the news roundup.
5. On a wetter, if not lighter, note, Wisconsin police managed to arrest an apparently drunken boater last weekend, but only after a two-hour swim-off. When police approached 27-year-old James Lynch, he jumped from his boat into the lake and swam away from the officers. After what the sheriff conceded was not exactly a “high-speed pursuit,” officers pepper-sprayed Lynch and took him into custody. CBS News reported that Lynch would not be appearing on the U.S. Olympic swim team, but was due to appear in court this week.
Finally, I couldn’t possibly end the week without acknowledging the passing of North Carolina’s native son, Andy Griffith, who portrayed everyone’s favorite town sheriff. So long, Andy. We’ll miss you.