News Roundup

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The state Senate passed its budget this week. It’s different from the Governor’s budget and also from the House budget, so nothing is final and there’s plenty of negotiation left to be done. But the Senate budget has quite a few noteworthy features. It would eliminate Prisoner Legal Services, instead giving inmates access to computer terminals for legal research. (The News and Observer reports on that idea here.) It would move the SBI from the Attorney General’s control to the Department of Public Safety. (More on that proposal here; so far, it appears that the AG, the Governor, and the law enforcement community oppose it.) It would eliminate special superior court judges; would not restore drug treatment court funding; would provide no raises for state employees; and would make Class 3 misdemeanors punishable only by a fine in most cases, apparently in an effort to save money by eliminating the necessity for appointed counsel for most Class 3 misdemeanors. The entire budget is available here.

In other news:

  • Caylee’s Law, HB 149, has been passed and signed by the Governor. Among other things, it makes it a felony to fail to report a child that has been missing for more than 24 hours. The bill was named after Caylee Anthony.
  • ProPublica just released this interesting article about why the pace of executions has slowed down across the country. Essentially, the piece contends that death penalty opponents have pressured the chemical suppliers that manufacture or distribute the drugs used in executions to stop supplying them to state prison systems. It’s a fascinating story and one that raises questions about whether North Carolina would be able to resume executions even if the various legal barriers to executions were removed.
  • O.J. Simpson, serving a long prison term after being convicted of armed robbery (or something) in connection with an attempt to recover sports memorabilia items (or something) in Nevada (or somewhere) is back in court (again), arguing that his attorneys rendered ineffective assistance. The Juice apparently has plans for a law school speaking tour upon his (possible) release, saying “They teach the trial of the century in law school. So, who better to talk about it than me?” See more at Above the Law if you’re not tired of OJ by now.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy reports here on a former Texas prosecutor, now a judge, who was arrested and charged criminally for allegedly failing to disclose exculpatory evidence in a murder trial over 25 years ago.
  • Finally, while there’s nothing funny about murder, there is something funny about a murder defendant who was apprehended as a result of butt dialing 911, enabling law enforcement to record him saying that he planned to kill the victim. WSJ Law Blog.
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2 comments on “News Roundup

  1. I can understand the effort to save money associated with appointing counsel for Class 3 Misdemeanors (and with simple possession of marijuana in particular), but I think Judges will still have to appoint counsel at the first appearance since the court doesn’t have any idea what the Defedant’s record level will be at the time he is convicted (if convicted) of the Class 3. The proposed change says that max punishment is a fine if there are less than 3 convictions, but the court always advises as to the max punishment w/ the highest record level since there’s no way to know what the defendant’s record will be in a few months, even if he/she is a Level 1 at the first appearance. Thoughts?

  2. Hats off to Reprieve for throwing sand into the gears of the state-operated death machine and to ProPublica for detailing its cold-blooded looniness — Dream Pharma, for crissakes!

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