News Roundup

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Certainly the most shocking story of the week comes from Cleveland, where Ariel Castro has been charged with abducting three women, sexually abusing them, and holding them captive for ten years. CNN has the basics here. One important legal question is whether Castro could be eligible for the death penalty, based on allegations that he impregnated one of the women, then deprived her of food and punched her in the stomach repeatedly, causing her to miscarry. As Sentencing Law and Policy explains here, Ohio’s murder statute encompasses causing “the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy,” seemingly opening the door to a capital prosecution.

In other news:

  1. Taxes on attorneys’ fees. The Republican leadership of the General Assembly has unveiled a plan to reduce state income tax rates but to expand the state sales tax to services, which generally aren’t covered now. The expansion would include lawyers’ fees, as the News and Observer reports here. Defense lawyers with substantial retained practices, what effect would the reform have on you?
  2. New judge. The News and Observer notes here that Governor McCrory has appointed Assistant District Attorney Ebern “Trip” Watson III a special superior court judge. Congratulations to Judge Watson.
  3. Judge Judy. Speaking of judges, though, Reader’s Digest is reporting that a TV judge, Judge Judy, received a higher popular approval rating than any of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices. (Crime and Consequences.) Sign of the apocalypse?
  4. Supreme Court. Speaking of the Supreme Court, and apocalypses, it came out this week that the Court has – or at least, had – plans to convene at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville in the event of a nuclear attack on Washington. The Wall Street Journal  reports here on the scheme, developed in 1956. The Inn’s marketing director says “there’s no termination date [on the agreement with the Court], so it really is up to the Supreme Court whether they enforce it or not. As far as the Grove Park Inn is concerned, we would be happy to welcome the court.”
  5. Gun news. A number of media outlets, including Gizmodo here, covered the recent firing of the world’s first entirely 3-D printed gun. Lawmakers are considering regulating or prohibiting such products, but that raises some interesting questions. For example, does Congress have authority under the Commerce Clause, or some other provision, to regulate the manufacture of guns entirely in one’s garage? Dust off the home grown wheat case and discuss. Meanwhile, I had a bit part in an interesting WRAL story about the effectiveness – or ineffectiveness – of the NICS background check system at preventing people with serious mental illnesses from gaining access to firearms. You can see the story here.
  6. Finally, sex offenders. The Associated Press reports here on efforts by the Bradford County, Florida Sheriff to place signs in the yards of convicted sex offenders reading “[Name] is a convicted sexual predator and lives at this location.” An example is pictured below. Post a comment if you have a perspective on the desirability or legality of this practice.

Sex Predator Signs

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6 comments on “News Roundup

  1. My question about the sex offender signs in Florida is if a vigilante attack, property damage, or other criminal act occurs as a result of the sign, is the county or state government legally liable giving the offender the ability to file a lawsuit?

    • Agreed that is a foreseeable outcome and fair to ask whether the government should be held liability giveen the reasonable foreseeability of property and personal harm, which might include the death of the person whose yrd the sign is in, and possibly his family, as a direct attack, or as a consequence of a family member coming to the person’s offender’s rescue.

  2. I love the sign idea, dont do the crime if you cant do the time, or at least deal with the shame.

    I think we as society spend way to much time on the offender and forget the victim.

  3. The problem with placing these signs in the yards of sex offenders is that there have been studies that show the more segregated from society sex offenders are, the more likely they are to re-offend. Certainly no one wants this paradoxical effect that would place more people in peril.

    Also, once sex offenders leave prison or are off of probation, they have done their time. It has never been suggested (in my recollection) that murders and other violent offenders have signs placed in their yards to warn potential victims. I think the real solution is preventing these types of crimes and longer prison sentences that include rehabilitation for the offender.

  4. We all have to keep in mind that sex offenders are people too and that there are a percentage of people that are convicted of se offense crimes everey year that were wrongfully accused of the crime. it does seem right but in all reality does that give every one the right to judge and punish when judgement and punishment has already been taken place. That would make everyone just as bad as the offender. Also the victum isn forgotten cause if you think about it victums can receive free rehabilitation to help them cope with what has happened to them and who do you think pays for that??? It all boils down to the fact that sex offenders do have problems and they need help and they have classes for them as well.
    The sign is extreme and is dangerous to those that are convicted of sex offense crimes whether they did it or not. sex offenders already have to be placed on a registry and be monitored by law enforcement by which ever means is needed to monitor them in the state of nc. using methods like gps tracking devices house arrest etc. some are not even allowed to see there own families due to the criminal charge so lets think about the situation and educate ourselves a little bit more because they are advertised on national tv in some states and are also advertised on the internet and for those who are innocent of the crime are paying a heavy price already for being wrongfully accused so lets look at the big picture before the finger is pointed cause if you think about it there is a history of sex offenders being murdered and then who is paying the prince for not knowing the person and whether or not the person really and truthfully committed the crime cause some are wrongfully accused

  5. I think the sign idea is very interesting. I think it is a good idea and I like the take from Sal “If you cant do the time”.

    The other interesting one is the one about the gun printed with a 3D printer. I think this could cause some real issues because a great point was brought up about does congress have the power to control things like that. It almost seems that the manufactures of these products should have enough awareness to limit some things that they can do.

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