News Roundup

We’ve long believed that the North Carolina Criminal Law Blog is the best, but now we have proof. A reader pointed me to this list of blogs run by law professors. Our traffic would put us among the top 25 blogs on the list. More significantly, we would be the only single-state blog in the top 50, and so the most popular single-state law professor blog in the country. It looks like we’re not eligible for inclusion on the list because we aren’t law professors at a law school, but we won’t technicalities stop us from claiming the crown!

In other news:

More scary in real life? In honor of Halloween, check out these pumpkins, carved to resemble the Justices of the United States Supreme Court. The craftsmanship is pretty impressive.


Miller retroactivity. Sentencing Law and Policy notes here that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania just ruled that Miller v. Alabama, __ U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012) (holding that the automatic imposition of LWOP on juvenile murderers violates the Eighth Amendment), is not retroactive. The retroactivity issue is pending before the appellate courts in North Carolina, has split courts nationally, and appears likely to require final resolution by the pumpkins the United States Supreme Court.

Rule 404(b) must work differently in Maryland. The Baltimore Sun reports here that Nelson Clifford has been acquitted in four straight jury trials over the past three years. In each case, he was charged with rape and his accuser testified against him. It sounds as though a different woman was involved in each incident. In each case, Clifford claimed the sex was consensual. In each case, the trial judge refused to allow prosecutors to introduce evidence of what they claimed was similar conduct, including the other charged offenses and “eight [additional] incidents in which [prosecutors] say Clifford broke into a home and sexually assaulted a woman.” Under North Carolina law, such evidence would almost certainly be admissible under Rule 404(b) as evidence of a common scheme or plan, as I discuss in this paper. Clifford’s repeated acquittals have sparked calls for changes to Maryland’s evidence rules. Of course, I don’t know the details of any of the cases and am not expressing an opinion about the defendant’s guilt or innocence.

New York stop-and-frisk ruling stayed. The Second Circuit has stayed the remedies imposed on the NYPD by United States District Judge Shira Scheindlin, who ruled that the police engaged in “indirect racial profiling” and abused their stop-and-frisk authority. The appellate court ruled that Judge Scheindlin violated ethics rules in her handling of the case, including creating an appearance of partiality by conducting “a series of media interviews” about the matter. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has the entire – very short – appellate opinion here.

Google Glass results in traffic citation. A California woman was cited for wearing Google Glass while driving, under a statute that forbids a driver from having access to an operating “television or video screen, or any other similar means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications.” There’s an exception for GPS devices which the driver might argue applies. Ars Technica has the story here. Perhaps I’ll be able to convince Shea to do a post on possible North Carolina implications of wearable computing.

What’s in a name? Finally, a story that made me chuckle. A Tennessee prosecutor recently moved to prevent the defense from referring to the prosecutor as “the government,” on the basis that it is “derogatory . . . and is meant to make the State’s attorney[] seem oppressive and to inflame the jury.” The defense attorney responded by stating that his client “no longer wants to be called ‘the Defendant,’” a term with a “negative connotation,” and would rather be addressed by “his full name, preceded by the title ‘Mister,’” or as “the Citizen Accused,” or “[t]hat innocent man.” Defense counsel had some suggestions for how the prosecutor ought to refer to the defense attorney, as well. You can read both parties’ motions at the Volokh Conspiracy here. The prosecutor’s motion was denied.

1 thought on “News Roundup”

  1. Thank you for the ‘good humor’ Jeff. I to had to laugh at “What’s in a name?” I always need a good laugh. As a rule I enjoy your “News Roundup” at the end of the week.
    As far as your ratings go this blog I would rate as #1. You have allowed me to express my thoughts and opinions as a ‘Citizen’ and not a professor, student, or ‘government’ employee. Thank you all for your educational posts.


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