News Roundup

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This blog passed two million hits this week. It has far surpassed the modest expectations I had when it began. Thanks to everyone who is part of the blog community for contributing to its success.

In other news:

  1. Bill to allow non-lawyer judges. As the News and Observer notes here, the General Assembly is considering a bill, H 397, to allow certain non-lawyers to become district court judges. Interestingly, while every United States Supreme Court justice so far has been a lawyer, it is not constitutionally required that a justice be an attorney.
  2. New York stop and frisk trial. A high-profile civil trial began this week over the use of stops and frisks by the New York Police. The police say that they’re using lawful tools to drive crime down, while some citizens believe the police are unfairly targeting minorities and are alienating residents. The Huffington Post has the scoop here.
  3. Death penalty repeal in Maryland? The ebb and flow of the death penalty continues, with Maryland moving towards abolishing the punishment. What would repeal mean for the five inmates currently on death row in the Old Line State? Sentencing Law and Policy ponders the point here.
  4. DC law professor on searching cell phones incident to arrest. Orin Kerr, perhaps the leading scholar in the area of crime and technology, recently expressed his view of how the Fourth Amendment should apply to searching a cell phone incident to arrest. It’s likely to be an influential opinion. In a nutshell, he argues that the restrictive standard for searching cars incident to arrest announced in Arizona v. Gant should be extended to phones.
  5. CDC on texting while driving. I’m not sure there’s an eastern seaboard connection here, but the CDC has completed some survey data on drivers’ cell phone usage. Half of younger drivers admit to texting or emailing while driving. I’m tempted to say, and the other half are lying about it, but of course there are many responsible younger drivers. Anyhow, check out the chart below:

CDC Report re Texting While Driving

6. Miscellany. Finally, a couple of stories that struck me as odd or funny or both. First, an Ohio prosecutor has indicted Punxsutawney Phil for “misrepresentation of early spring,” and is seeking the death penalty. “When he betrays us like this, something has to be done,” proclaimed the Butler County Prosecuting Attorney. But he doesn’t expect an easy case: “His defense will be he didn’t know his rear end from a hole in the ground.” Second, no real criminal law angle here, but I couldn’t pass up this blog post, entitled Scotland Considers Law Recognizing Wedding Ceremonies Performed by Jedi Knights. Finally, actress Lindsay Lohan, who has “appeared in court at least 20 times before four Los Angeles judges who have now found her in violation of probation six times,” has been sentenced to . . . a rehabilitation facility, as a result of two new misdemeanors and a new probation violation. Some view the courts’ unwillingness to impose meaningful incarceration as “an emblem of the unseriousness of criminal law in California.” Without piling on Ms. Lohan, who appears to have an uncontrolled substance abuse problem, I will admit that her lawyer’s remarks to the media cracked me up. Among them, that Ms. Lohan is “now on a wonderful path and a journey that I think is going to be very rewarding.” Ms. Lohan’s father, who has some problems of his own, described the lawyer as a “parasite” and nearly came to blows with him on the courthouse steps.

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2 comments on “News Roundup

  1. Before the General Assembly votes to allow non-lawyer judges in certain district courts, they should all read this New York Times article about the many abuses that result from non-lawyer judges in rural counties.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/25/nyregion/25courts.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  2. Why just members of the LEO already? Clerks, Magistrates, and LEO’s are all part of the State’s Police powers. Why not have non-bar people from outside that community with the proper understanding of law included?

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