News Roundup

In Durham, a man who shot at police during a traffic stop, and who was also served with warrants for first-degree sexual offense and other crimes, was given a total bail of $7.8 million. Durham’s chief magistrate told the News and Observer that it is not the highest bail in the county’s history. Readers, what’s the highest bail you’ve seen?

In other news:

  1. Also in Durham, Duke lacrosse case accuser Crystal Mangum is charged with first-degree murder in connection with her boyfriend’s stabbing death. She’s elected to proceed pro se, with one of her complaints about her lawyer being that he “offered a plea agreement . . . in which she would get time served in exchange for pleading guilty to assault with a deadly weapon.” Most murder defendants would give their lawyers a medal for negotiating such a deal, but of course I don’t know all the facts of the case. (The State denies that it extended such an offer.)
  2. The race between Paul Newby and Sam “Jimmy” Ervin for the former’s seat on the state supreme court has crossed the $1 million barrier, according to this snippet from the News and Observer.
  3. In an unfortunate reversal of a long-term trend, crime rates spiked in 2011, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. It’s the first increase since 1993, and it’s big: violent crimes rose 18%. Reported crimes didn’t jump in the same way, raising the possibility that people are reporting crimes less. Crime and Consequences crunches the numbers here.
  4. A huge cache of just-released documents shows extensive sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts organization from 1965 to 1985, together with an attempt to both address and cover up the problem. Where have we heard this story before?
  5. A federal district judge in Nebraska struck down the portion of Nebraska’s sex offender registration law that prohibits sex offenders from using social networking websites that are available to minors: “This ban precludes the offenders described in the statute from using an enormous portion of the Internet to engage in expressive activity. . . . The risk [of sex offenders using social networking sites to perpetuate sex crimes against children] is far too speculative when judged against the First Amendment. The broad scope of the ban is a fatal deficiency.” The Volokh Conspiracy has the story here. North Carolina, of course, has a similar statute, G.S. 14-202.5.
  6. Finally, New Yorkers are all atwitter about the pending sentencing of former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta, convicted of securities fraud for giving inside information to a friend who ran a hedge fund and who used the information to his financial advantage. I haven’t followed the case, but this post at Doug Berman’s Sentencing Law and Policy blog notes that among the hundreds of people who have written letters asking the judge for leniency are Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Will the support of these luminaries help Gupta? Professor Berman wonders whether “the very high-profile nature of the folks writing on Gupta’s behalf could, directly or indirectly, risk creating the impression that Gupta’s extraordinary prominence and connections provide a special reason not to give him any kind of special break at his federal sentencing.” Makes sense to me, but I’d be interested in others’ reactions.

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