News Roundup

The new year is off to an interesting start. Here are some of the week’s top developments:

Wake County DA not seeking re-election. Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby has announced that he will not seek re-election in November. The News and Observer reports that District Court Judge Ned Mangum is “contemplating a possible run for the office,” while ADA Boz Zellinger “plans to seek the seat.” The filing period is next month so further developments are likely.

New special superior court judges appointed. Governor McCrory has named two new special superior court judges: Beecher Reynolds Gray, an administrative law judge from Durham, and Marty McGee, a district court judge in Concord. They replace Shannon Joseph and William Pittman, Democratic appointees whose terms expired. Details here.

Technology overtaking Kyllo? The Consumer Electronics Show took place this week in Las Vegas. Among the gadgets unveiled was a thermal imaging attachment for the iPhone, discussed here on CNET. Recall that the United States Supreme Court ruled, in Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27 (2001), that the use of a thermal imager on a home was a Fourth Amendment search because thermal imagers were not in general public use. I’ve previously noted the availability of inexpensive thermal measurement devices at Lowe’s and Home Depot, but this development takes things to a new level. Does it sound the death knell for the holding in Kyllo?

Nearly half of all black males arrested by age 23. I was startled to read recently that 49% of black men in the United States are arrested at least once by age 23. The Wall Street Journal has the story here. I was also surprised to read that 44% of Hispanic males and 38% of white males have had the same experience by that age.

Vouchers for lawyers, and paying for prison perks. Market-based solutions are all the rage these days. In Texas, they’re experimenting with a voucher system by which indigent defendants can choose their own lawyers. The New York Times has the story here. Meanwhile, check out this article about whether prisoners should be allowed to pay for upgraded accommodations. It may not surprise you to learn that in Bolivia, prisoners can pay for a spacious cell with private bath, kitchen, and cable TV. But would it surprise you to learn that here in the United States, some inmates pay $75 to $155 per day for “a private cell in quiet areas away from violent offenders”? I guess money talks, even in prison.

Practice your penmanship! Finally, in California, a man entered a Wells Fargo bank and handed the teller a note. His apparent attempt to rob the bank was foiled when . . . the teller couldn’t read his handwriting and called a manager to assist. The man fled but was quickly apprehended, according to this report.

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