News Roundup

There have been several sad and frightening stories in the news recently, from the apparent murder of UNC undergraduate Faith Hedgepeth, to the ice cream truck operator charged with being a sexual predator, but the one that may have struck the deepest nerve is the fatal shooting of Kathy Bertrand by her ex-husband in Raleigh. As this News and Observer piece notes, she did everything that victims of domestic violence are supposed to do: she moved out, ended the relationship, obtained a protective order, and moved on with her life. But it wasn’t enough.

In other, less somber, news:

  1. I posted yesterday about the possibility of class-based disparate treatment in the criminal justice system. This new empirical study concerns sex-based disparities in sentencing, and finds “large gender gaps favoring women” in every aspect of sentencing. That finding is consistent with the conventional wisdom among practicing attorneys, though of course much could be said about reasons for the apparent differential.
  2. Technology-oriented readers who aren’t in a coma after two days of continuous iPhone 5 media coverage may be interested in what appears to be increasing momentum to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and its patchwork of standards for law enforcement access to email, text messages, Facebook posts, and the like. This story says that Sen. Patrick Leahy is about to introduce legislation that would impose a statutory warrant requirement on almost all law enforcement access to electronic communications. I couldn’t find the bill on THOMAS, but already pending, and to the same general effect, is this bill introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York.
  3. A California appellate court opinion that is making the rounds on the internet offers at least two pieces of good advice at the very outset:

We strongly discourage anyone from choosing crime as a career. Nevertheless, as with any pursuit in life, one should be prepared. For instance, if you are planning to carjack someone, you should make sure you can drive a stick-shift.

You can probably imagine how that came up.

4. Finally, another bit of advice, this time for lawyers. If you are a public defender and your client’s family brings him a set of court clothes for his murder trial, don’t take a picture of his skivvies and post them on Facebook. Even if they are leopard print. A lawyer in Florida did just that, resulting in a mistrial . . . and in the lawyer losing her job.

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