News Roundup

Eleanor Aker, the print shop operator at the court of appeals, has retired. Ms. Aker is 86 and worked for the state for nearly 40 years. Chief Justice Parker presented her with the Old North State award upon her retirement. Ms. Aker told WRAL: “I love to work. . . . I’ve enjoyed every day of it.” Hopefully she will find equal joy in retirement. Congratulations to her.

In other news:

  1. Crime rate down. This News and Observer story begins, “The overall crime rate in North Carolina declined for the fifth year in a row in 2012, to the lowest level since 1976, lead [sic] by a double-digit drop in juvenile crime.” Experts can’t agree on an explanation for the drop. Other tidbits from the story: Durham’s crime rate is about twice as high as in other Triangle counties; Vance County has the highest crime rate in the state, due largely to property crimes; and Robeson County has the state’s highest violent crime rate.
  2. NAACP opposes deal for Moral Monday protestors. The Wake County District Attorney’s Office has offered to dismiss charges against Moral Monday protestors who agree to perform 25 hours of community service and pay $180 in court costs. WRAL reports here that the NAACP, which organized the protests, “does not advocate” that protestors accept the deal, which it described as a “ransom.”
  3. College athletes in trouble. I was struck this week by three stories involving different athletes at different universities in different kinds of trouble. First, the News and Observer reports here that NC State football player Shadrach Thornton entered into a deferred prosecution agreement after being charged with assaulting his girlfriend. Thornton was suspended for one game as a result of the incident. Second, ESPN reports here that UNC basketball player P.J. Hairston pled guilty to speeding and unsafe movement after being charged with reckless driving for traveling 93 m.p.h. on I-85. That resolves one of Hairston’s multiple run-ins with the law this summer. It appears that Hairston will miss some, but not all, of UNC’s games this season as a result of his actions. Finally, this News and Observer story focuses on Brandyn Curry, a Charlotte native who is playing basketball at Harvard. Curry, like 125 other students, was apparently involved in “academic dishonesty after . . . collaborating [improperly] . . . on a take-home exam.” As a result, he was effectively kicked off the basketball team, and out of school, for a year. Other interpretations are possible, but one could conclude that Harvard takes misconduct by athletes more seriously than ACC schools do.
  4. Montana rape case. A Montana judge is at the center of a controversy because he (1) imposed what amounted to a 30-day sentence on a middle-aged high school teacher who had sex with a 14-year-old student who later committed suicide, and (2) initially justified the sentence by saying that the girl was “as much in control of the situation” as the defendant and was “older than her chronological age.” The judge has since apologized for his remarks and is considering vacating the sentence, according to this local article.
  5. Drug dogs and the legalization of marijuana. Finally, have you been wondering what a drug dog’s alert means in states where marijuana is legal under state law? Professor Orin Kerr has. In this post, he notes that an “alert may not amount to probable cause if marijuana was decriminalized,” and wonders whether “it depend[s] on whether the dog is used by state agents (who work for the sovereign that has decriminalized marijuana) or by federal agents (who work for the sovereign that has not”).” He also notes that in Washington state, police are retraining their dogs so that they don’t alert to marijuana. Not an issue here in North Carolina, at least not yet.

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