News Roundup

This will be the last blog post of 2013, and in fact, the last one until January 6, 2014, as we will be on our annual holiday hiatus until then. It may be an interesting holiday season, considering that a district attorney in Pennsylvania has announced the arrest of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for FUI (Flying Under the Influence).

In other news:

“Grinch” sentenced to 70 years. In Texas, a “woman known as the Christmas ‘Grinch’ for stealing Christmas lights from a . . . family’s home was sentenced to 70 years in prison . . . after she was convicted of a separate burglary,” according to the story here. The case that resulted in the sentence involved the theft of a weed trimmer and a power washer from a garage, though the defendant had a prior record of more serious crimes and was sentenced under the Texas three strikes law. It sounds as though the Christmas light theft was introduced as Rule 404(b) evidence at the trial. (Hat tip: Sentencing Law & Policy.)

Last minute stocking stuffer? Gizmodo notes here that you can now purchase a pocket Breathalyzer for just $30. An even cheaper alternative is simply to realize that if you need to take a Breathalyzer to determine if you’re legal to drive, you probably shouldn’t drive.

Last holiday hurrah in Mississippi. The Mississippi Department of Correction has announced that it will stop offering conjugal visits for inmates on February 1, 2014, making this the last holiday season such visits will be allowed. This article provides a number of interesting practical details regarding the number of inmates who were eligible for such visits, the frequency with which such visits were permitted, and the availability of contraceptives. The article indicates that only five other states allow conjugal visits.

Rare wine – not a great gift idea. If you have ever suspected that wine connoiseurs don’t really know what they’re talking about but just randomly spit out pabulum like “bouquet,” “notes of pear and quinoa,” and “crisp finish,” the recent conviction of wine dealer Rudy Kurinawan may lend support to your skepticism. The New York Times reports here that he was charged with “defrauding some of the country’s wealthiest [wine collectors] by selling bottles of purportedly rare and sought-after vintages that were counterfeit products of his own kitchen alchemy: mixing old bottles of wine and creating bogus labels.” He sold up to $35 million of wine per year, but doubts arose when, for example, “[a] 1947 Burgundy lacked the ‘unctuousness’ one would expect.” “Unctuous” means greasy or oily, and I really can’t imagine a greasy wine being desirable, but hey, I’m no expert! Anyhow, the rare wine market appears to be rife with counterfeits, so consider steering clear of it as far as holiday gifts go.

Sweepstakes guilty verdict in Superior Court. Departing from the holiday theme, two defendants have been convicted in Superior Court in Tarboro under the sweepstakes statute, G.S. 14-306.4. The details are in this local story. I believe that these are the first Superior Court convictions in the state, but if readers are aware of others, please let me know.

Thanks. Finally, thanks to all who read, comment on, and suggest material for the blog, and thanks to my colleagues who contribute to it. Have a happy and safe holiday break and best wishes for the new year.

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