News Roundup

Results from the July bar examination are now available. Apparently, there were some, um, irregularities in the administration of the test. Above The Law reports that “[o]ne test site — which appears to have been a giant livestock pen at the state fairgrounds — lost power, causing all kinds of drama as the students tried to finish their essays on laptops that were being slowly drained of battery power.” And it quotes a bar applicant who asserts that “[o]n the way to the bathroom . . . I passed a couple of applicants crouched up on their chairs, trying to avoid the mice running underneath their feet . . . . A couple of braver test-takers took some sort of active charge and proceeded to poke the poor things with their pencils to get them away.” The Board of Law Examiners devised an alternate scoring system for applicants who suffered from the power outage. This is the first I’ve heard about the rodent issue.

In other news:

  1. I previously announced ASSET, the iPhone/iPad app I developed, with lots of help, about search and seizure law. It’s been available for a month, so I thought I’d provide a quick update. It has been installed by over 1500 people, and the reviews of the app — in the app store, in comments on the blog, and in comments directly to me – have been very positive. Although the app is designed mainly for officers, lawyers and judges have said that they find it useful too. And it’s free, so if you haven’t installed it, please try it. There’s considerable demand for an Android version, and we are cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to find funding to develop one.
  2. The fallout from United States v. Simmons – the Fourth Circuit case that ruled that certain North Carolina felony convictions don’t count as felonies under federal law – continues. A divided panel of the Fourth Circuit recently decided United States v. Powell, holding that Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, 130 S. Ct. 2577 (2010), the case that inspired Simmons, isn’t retroactive. The court’s opinion pretty clearly suggests that Simmons isn’t retroactive, either, yet apparently the government has decided to continue to allow de facto retroactive application in the interests of justice. I don’t keep up on federal law like I used to, so folks who are directly engaged in this issue, please weigh in if you think I’m missing something important.
  3. This Daily Beast story made my jaw drop. Apparently, Detroit police have over 11,000 untested rape kits that have been sitting around for years. That’s eleven thousand. A prosecutor stumbled on them in 2009, and since then, the prosecutor’s office has been pushing to have them catalogued and tested. So far, they’ve gotten through 153 of them. As a result, they have identified 21 serial rapists and have had 38 additional CODIS hits. One case has already resulted in a conviction and another in an upcoming trial. What’s worse, Detroit isn’t alone. New York and Los Angeles have recently made progress against similar backlogs, and Houston has one the size of Detroit’s. With an apparent hit rate of 40% when the kits are tested, that’s just mind-boggling to me.
  4. Finally, a couple of interesting developments on the Second Amendment front. First, a University of Texas law student is trying to develop a handgun that can be created on a 3-D printer – yes, a printable firearm. He acknowledges having some technical difficulties but promises to persevere: “[E]ven if the design is a little unworkable, it doesn’t matter, as long as it has that guarantee of lethality.” Meanwhile, the Sixth Circuit recently decided that a park ranger may detain for over two hours, at gunpoint, a man openly carrying an AK-47 pistol with a 30-round magazine. The detainee sued the officers, noting that he had immediately produced a Tennessee gun permit, which allowed him lawfully to carry a handgun in state parks. The court characterized the encounter as a valid Terry stop, stating that “[h]aving worked hard to appear

suspicious in an armed-and-loaded visit to the park, [the detainee] cannot cry foul after park rangers . . . took the bait.” (Hat tip: Volokh Conspiracy.)

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