News Roundup

The top story of the week may be that the SBI “and its insurers have agreed to pay $12.475 million to two innocent men who spent a total of 31 years behind bars,” as reported in this News and Observer story. The men in question are Floyd Brown and Greg Taylor. The latter was exonerated by a three-judge panel as a result of proceedings by the Innocence Inquiry Commission. I previously explored some of the legal provisions regarding compensation for the wrongly convicted here.

In other news:

Moral Monday Deferral Deal? ABC News reports here that Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby has offered almost 1,000 Moral Monday protestors deferred prosecution with dismissal to follow the payment of court costs and 25 hours of community service.

Judge Hunter to Retire. Judge Bob Hunter has announced that he will retire from the court of appeals when his term ends in 2014. (Which Judge Bob Hunter on the court of appeals, you ask? That would be “Mountain Bob,” not “City Bob,” who is running for a seat on the state supreme court.) Wake County Superior Court Judge Lucy Inman has announced that she will run for the court of appeals seat. The News and Observer covers the story briefly here.

Law School ROI. The legal job market stinks, but some law schools offer a much better return on investment than others. U.S. News ran the numbers, and this story at Above the Law summarizes the results. A North Carolina law school is ranked number two, ahead of Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. You’ll have to read the story to find out which one.

Some Responses to Attorney General Holder’s Speech. Attorney General Holder’s speech about mandatory minimum sentences – which I noted here– has generated quite a bit of discussion this week. A commenter on this blog pointed out this response by the National District Attorneys Association. A conservative legal commentator wrote this piece arguing that Holder’s proposals just don’t go far enough.

New York Stop and Frisk Ruling. In New York, a federal district judge ruled that “ruled on Monday that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of minorities in the city,” in the words of this New York Times story. The judge described the police as engaging in “indirect racial profiling,” and ordered a number of remedies, including the use of wearable cameras by some officers and the appointment of an attorney to monitor the efforts of the police department to address the issue. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has promised to appeal.

Do You Need to Understand English to Serve on a Jury? Yes, here in North Carolina. See G.S. 9-3 (providing that in order to serve on a jury, a prospective juror must be able to “understand the English language”). No, in New Mexico, where the state constitution provides that the right to serve on a jury may not be restricted “on account of religion, race, language or color, or inability to speak, read or write the English or Spanish languages.” The state supreme court recently admonished trial courts not to exclude jurors who can’t understand English, advising that instead, they are to provide interpreters for the jurors. The Washington Post has the story here.

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