News Roundup

New Governor Pat McCrory may be more focused on economic policy than on the courts and criminal justice, but he’s still done several things in his first days in office that might interest readers, like rescinding Governor Perdue’s executive order creating a judicial nominating commission; naming former legislator – and former probation officer – David Guice to head the Division of Adult Correction; and announcing that he would meet with legislative leaders in an effort to close “loopholes” in the video sweepstakes ban.

In other news:

  1. Presidential clemency. Speaking of executive terms of office, President Obama has been in the news for issuing just 22 pardons during his first four years in power. Check out this commentary at Sentencing Law & Policy, which claims that the only presidents to make less use of their clemency authority in their first terms were “George Washington, who probably did not have many clemency petitions to address during the first few years of the nation’s existence; William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia a month after taking office; and James Garfield, who was shot four months into his presidency and died that September.” I am not sure what the “right” number of pardons or commutations is, and I do not know how helpful such historical comparisons are. Fortunately, the New York Times knows – and it will tell you that President Obama has been insufficiently merciful in this editorial.
  2. DWI blood draws and exigent circumstances. The United States Supreme Court heard oral argument this week in a case that questions whether officers may draw blood without a warrant in DWI cases based on the exigency of dissipating alcohol content. Shea previously noted the case – and the national controversy over the issue – here. Professor Orin Kerr has some thoughts about the oral argument here. True junkies can read the transcript here, but all attorneys who handle DWI cases should be aware of the basics.
  3. India rape case. An astonishingly brutal rape and murder in India has the world’s attention. Several suspects have been charged, but court proceedings are not going well. I don’t know which is more troubling, that “[b]ar associations throughout Delhi have passed resolutions refusing to represent the five men who stand accused,” (NPR) or that once the defendants finally secured lawyers, one of them announced that the victim, a physiotherapy student who was kidnapped, assaulted, and raped for hours, eventually dying from her wounds, was “wholly responsible” for the attack and that she was not “a respected lady.” (Independent)
  4. Governor Easley. Speaking of lawyers, WRAL reports here that former Governor Mike Easley appears to be on the cusp of regaining his law license, which was suspended in connection with his conviction for campaign finance fraud.
  5. Quick stories. Finally, three quick stories caught my eye this week: (1) When a motorist flips off an officer, that doesn’t provide reasonable suspicion to justify stopping the motorist, according to the Second Circuit. (But I’ll bet it makes the officer a lot more alert to other traffic violations.) (2) If corporations are people, can you use one as a passenger to qualify for the carpool lane? This California man plans to find out. Lastly, (3) this Slate article reports on a Yale study “indicating that male jurors—but not female jurors—were more likely to hand a guilty verdict to obese women than to slender women.” I guess I’m not completely surprised by the apparent BMI bias, but it is still disheartening.

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