News Roundup

Whoa! A very busy news week. Here’s the rundown:

PD becomes DA. Public Defender Andy Womble has been appointed by Governor McCrory to fill the remainder of the term of deceased District Attorney Frank Parrish in District 1, as the Outer Banks Voice notes here. If a public defender has ever before become a district attorney in North Carolina, I’m not aware of it, though switching sides among assistants is quite common.

District court judge seeks seat on court of appeals. As the News and Observer reports here, “Judge William F. Southern III of King is seeking the seat being vacated by Judge Bob Hunter, who announced in August that he will not run for re-election next year. Wake County Superior Court Judge Lucy Inman has also said she plans to run for Hunter’s seat.” The story notes that Southern is registered as a Republican, though the race is officially non-partisan.

Clerk working four jobs. The News and Observer also recently featured this story about Renee Wilkins, who works in the clerk’s office in Wake County. She’s had one small raise in four years, like many state employees, and she works three other jobs to make ends meet for herself and her children. She often sleeps just an hour or two per night. District court can be pretty interesting, but even so, I’m not sure I’d be able to keep my eyes open.

Convicted child rapist receives probation. The Athens, Alabama News Courier reports here on a story that has attracted national attention. Defendant Austin Clem was convicted of raping a family friend twice when she was 14 and once when she was 18. Judge Jimmy Woodruff, Jr. sentenced Clem to no active time, suspending his prison sentence in favor of two years of “community corrections” – apparently a form of enhanced probation – and three additional years of supervised probation. Another media report is here. Suffice it to say, neither the prosecutor nor the victim are pleased.

Congressman pleads guilty to drug crime. The Washington Post reports here that Freshman Rep. Trey Radel of Florida just pled guilty in the District of Columbia courts to misdemeanor possession of cocaine. Apparently, he bought $250 worth of cocaine from an undercover officer in Washington last month. Radel announced a leave of absence from Congress, promised to seek treatment, and apologized for his conduct. He gave no indication that he plans to resign. No word on whether he has been consulting with the mayor of Toronto on public relations strategies.

Upcoming forensic science CLE. Registration is now open for the one-day training Fundamentals of State Crime Laboratory Forensic Science Disciplines, to be held in Raleigh on January 17. The event is cosponsored by the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services. The program agenda and full details are available on the course webpage.

Archaic laws, in pictures. Finally, I was amused by this series of photographs of violations of archaic laws. Examples include an Alabama law against having an ice cream cone in one’s back pocket, and a Wisconsin ban on serving apple pie without cheese. I was born in Wisconsin, and I’m pretty sure that there’s an informal prohibition there on serving any food whatsoever without cheese. What goes well with grapefruit? Cheese! What goes well with chocolate ice cream? Cheese! And so on.

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