News Roundup

Down with the law reviews, up with the blogs. Or, so says Justice Kennedy in this Wall Street Journal story. “Professors are back in the act with blogs,” he proclaims, stating that his clerks regularly survey the blogosphere to see how academics view the cases that are before the Court. I feel sure that they spent hours focusing intensely on my Supreme Court preview!

In other news:

Speeding officers. The News and Observer ran this story this morning, reporting on a 20/20 story that found “troopers, sheriff’s deputies from Wake and Edgecombe counties and one unidentified law enforcement officer . . . speeding near downtown Raleigh.” The story notes that one officer was traveling at 80 m.p.h. en route to a donut shop while another traveled 75 m.p.h. in a 45 m.p.h zone on his way to work. The Highway Patrol reports that it has “taken appropriate action” regarding the troopers involved.

New sexual assault survey data. The Chicago Tribune reported here on a new medical journal article that concludes that “[n]early 1 in 10 young Americans between ages 14 and 21 acknowledges having perpetrated an act of sexual violence at least once, and 4% of a nationally representative sample of American kids reported attempting or completing rape.” The study used a relatively broad definition of sexual violence, but still, holy cow! And the problem is not limited to one slice or strata (stratum?) of society. In fact, the study concluded, “Latino and African American youths, and those from low-income families, were less likely to have coerced another person to engage in sex than were whites and those from higher-income families.” Most sexual violence took place in the context of boyfriend-girlfriend relationships.

New sexual assault survey data – prison edition. Another new report considered sexual violence in prisons and jails. This article in the New York Review of Books, summarizing Bureau of Justice Statistics data, reports that “3.2 percent of all people in jail, 4.0 percent of state and federal prisoners, and 9.5 percent of those held in juvenile detention reported having been sexually abused in their current facility during the preceding year.” This means that “nearly 200,000 people were sexually abused in American detention facilities” over a 12-month period. The survey “confirm[s] previous findings that most of those who commit sexual abuse in detention are corrections staff, not inmates”; that most victims are victimized repeatedly; and that gay and bisexual inmates are at particular risk of victimization. It was a surprise to me, but perhaps will not be to others, that “the rates of inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse reported by women were dramatically higher than the corresponding rates reported by men: among prisoners, 6.9 percent versus 1.7 percent.” Further, juveniles held in adult detention facilities were actually abused at a lower rate than juveniles in juvenile facilities, though it appears that much of the abuse in juvenile facilities involves female staff members abusing male inmates without the use of physical force. There’s a ton of other interesting material in the report, includigng some interesting data about the races of victims and abusers, and a truly disheartening discussion of detention facilities on Native American lands. Well worth a read.

More states to legalize marijuana? Activists certainly hope so. This Bloomberg article notes that California, Arizona, Alaska, and Oregon voters may soon have a chance to weigh in. Early polling data in California suggests that legalization may pass. But it didn’t last time around, so we’ll see if Washington and Colorado have been game changers.

State supreme court workload. The National Law Review has some interesting statistics on the workload of the North Carolina Supreme Court. “Through the end of September, the . . . Court has issued 41 opinions.  If the Court continues at its current rate, it will publish 52 opinions in 2013, three fewer than in 2012.  The Court has issued 19 opinions in civil cases, 18 opinions in criminal cases, three family law opinions, and one about worker’s compensation. . . . Of the 41 opinions, 18 opinions were decided per curiam, meaning that the matter was decided without a written opinion or a written opinion was issued without an identified author.” After discussing the number of opinions written by each justice – Mark Martin tops the list with six – the article observes that “[i]n civil cases, the Court took 317 days to rule[, while] . . . the Supreme Court took 552 days to resolve criminal appeals on its docket.”

Other stuff. Lots of other interesting stuff was reported this week, but this post is already too long. So I will close with what a story that I found uplifting. According to Al Arabiya, the first female lawyer in Saudi Arabia has just been licensed. Congratulations Bayan Alzahran, and good luck with your practice!

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