News Roundup

The Racial Justice Act is nearing repeal. Both chambers of the General Assembly have passed S 306, an omnibus capital punishment bill that does away with the Act. Governor McCrory has previously criticized the Act, so a veto is not likely. The News and Observer editorializes against the repeal here. Assuming that the Act is repealed, litigation will ensue over whether defendants who have already filed claims under the Act have a vested right to have their claims heard despite the repeal. In other news:

Gun bill. the General Assembly is on the precipice of passing H 937, an omnibus firearms bill that, among other things, (1) requires the clerk of court to report certain information – such as certain involuntary commitments, findings of incompetency, and findings of not guilty by reason of insanity – to the National Instant Background Check System within 48 hours; (2) repeals the requirement that individuals seeking to purchase a pistol first get a permit from the sheriff; (3) further restricts local government authority to prohibit concealed handguns at recreational facilities like greenways; and (4) creates a new “armed habitual felon” status for a person who, having been convicted of one “firearm-related felony,” commits a second. The bill appears to have passed both chambers in slightly different forms, and has been engrossed, whatever that means. My vague understanding is, it’s close.

NSA data collection. The controversy over the NSA’s data collection programs continues. Congress held a hearing at which the NSA director faced some tough questions, and the ACLU has filed suit in its capacity as a Verizon customer.

Elderly marijuana trafficker? Loving husband? Both? Across the border in South Carolina, a 66-year-old man was charged with drug trafficking after he was found growing 137 marijuana plants in his back yard. He “claims he has been growing the marijuana to assist his wife of 40 years who suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The drugs increase her appetite and help her sleep.” The defendant told the media that he has “a moral obligation to make [his] wife as comfortable as possible.” The story notes that he “welcomed the police into his home voluntarily and made some coffee while they confiscated his plants.” He was released on his own recognizance.

Women’s court apparel. Finally, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog notes here that a (male) Tennessee judge circulated a memo to the local bar stating that “women attorneys were not being held to the same standard as . . . men” as far as professional dress, and advising that “a jacket with sleeves below the elbow is appropriate [for court] or a professional dress equivalent.” Acknowledging that “[i]t’s sort of a delicate issue,” the judge said he was moved to action after seeing too many women in sleeveless dresses and one in a golf shirt, and hearing from another judge about a female attorney who appeared in court in sweatpants. Look, I agree that wearing sweatpants to court is not OK. But I would be very hesitant to dictate a dress code for women. It’s a lot easier being a guy, when your fashion choices pretty much come down to blue suit vs. gray suit.

3 thoughts on “News Roundup”

  1. Given the somberness and gravity of the court room I see no reason why women should be treated any differently than men. There ARE sex neutral suits and ties available to be worn by women and the court room is not a fashion show to begin with. Attention should be on the judge and proceedings…not diverted to admire a display of plumage of the opposite sex.

    Shall we say “Equal treatment under the law.”

  2. I truly have no disagreement with dressing appropriately for court. However, women’s attire and men’s attire are two entirely different subjects. I assure you that you can put a women in a button-down shirt and a tie, and there will be issues that men have no understanding of. The classic look for court was designed around men, and women’s attire has had to adapt to it. That is fine, and it is a challenge women have had to face along with the right to be there in the first place. Men simply do not face the same scrutiny women do when it comes to their attire, as long as they are wearing a jacket, dress shirt, tie, some form of dress pants, and dress shoes. I assure you, the first time a woman comes to court wearing a tie in your district, someone one will comment.


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