News Roundup

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A new justice is coming to the North Carolina Supreme Court. Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson is stepping down, and Governor Perdue says that she will appoint a successor. She plans to bypass the judicial nominating commission that she recently created to take politics out of judicial appointments. The News and Observer has more here and here.

In other news:

  • Stay current with the 2012 Criminal Law Winter Webinar: Case & Legislative Update. School of Government faculty members John Rubin and Alyson Grine will give you the skinny on new cases and statutes at 1:00 p.m. on December 7. Details, including registration information, are here (non-IDS folks, $65) and here (IDS folks, free).
  • Congress may make it more difficult for the police to read suspects’ email. The Senate Judiciary Committee has just approved a bill that would require law enforcement to get a warrant in order to access stored electronic communications. Current law often allows such access under a lower standard. Read more at Gizmodo or Ars Technica, but remember that the bill has a long way to go.
  • Does due process require a state to recognize an insanity defense? Idaho doesn’t. And the Supreme Court just declined to hear a case in which the defendant challenged Idaho’s position. Three Justices dissented, as Sentencing Law and Policy notes here.
  • An Oklahoma judge acknowledges that “[t]here are a lot of people who say I can’t . . . legally sentence someone to church,” but that’s pretty much what he did to a teenage defendant convicted of manslaughter after drinking, driving, and killing a friend and passenger in an accident. The judge put the defendant on probation for 10 years and ordered him to attend the church of his choosing weekly. See the contrasting reactions of the New York Times and Professor Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy.
  • Marijuana possession is now legal under state law in Washington. The Seattle Police Department has posted this helpful FAQ, entitled Marijwhat Now?, that offers tips like “you probably shouldn’t bring pot with you to the federal courthouse” and advises that “[a]s of right now,” police officers themselves still may not smoke pot. File it away for your next trip to the Pacific Northwest.
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