News Roundup

I usually listen to sports talk radio on the way to work – normally Mike and Mike – but I mix in a little NPR when the conversation lags. This week, I turned the dial just in time to catch this terrific story about exonerations, which reported that “[a]t least 87 people were set free for crimes they did not commit last year, the highest number since researchers began keeping track more than 20 years ago.” Contrary to public perception, and perhaps contrary to recent history, very few were based on newly tested DNA evidence. More resulted from reinvestigation by law enforcement or review by conviction integrity units in prosecutors’ officers. I am sure that in many instances, police and prosecutors were pushed, asked, or encouraged to review these cases, but it still struck me as worth highlighting the role that these actors in the criminal justice system are playing in combating wrongful convictions.

In other news:

Complete your required CLE. The annual CLE deadline is quickly approaching. If you have not already met your CLE requirements, the Indigent Defense Education group at the School of Government offers 37 online CLE programs, including three ethics offerings and one substance abuse offering.  You can see the options here.

Story about DWI checkpoints in Raleigh. The News and Observer ran a story this week about the frequency of DWI checkpoints in Wake County (“most every weekend”) and the federal grant support that the city recently obtained to support the checkpoints. The story is interesting and is available here, but it looks like the paper has dramatically expanded its paywall so it may be hard for non-subscribers to access.

Don’t mess with Preet. Insider trading prosecutions in federal court in New York aren’t usually within the scope of this blog, but after the recent conviction of Matthew Martoma, the office of United States Attorney Preet Bharara is 79-0 in insider trading cases since 2009. Everyone knows that you should “never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line,” but an equally strong case can be made that you should not mess with Preet when insider trading has been alleged. The WSJ Law Blog has more details here.

Lead exposure and crime rates. Sentencing Law & Policy has this new post about the connection between childhood lead exposure and crime rates. The argument considered by the post is that the hard-to-explain drop in crime from the early 1990s on is actually easy to explain as a result of the elimination of lead-based paints and leaded gasoline in the 1970s. It’s an intriguing possibility, and raises questions about whether there are environmental hazards to which children are exposed today that will have epidemiologically significant effects decades into the future.

Zimmerman boxing news. Finally, George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin but was acquitted of all charges by a Florida jury, is back in the news due to a planned celebrity boxing match against rapper DMX. DMX claims that he will break every rule in boxing and “beat the living [bleep] out of Zimmerman.” For his part, Zimmerman reports that he has previously done “boxing-type training for weight loss,” which sounds less than intimidating. Even reporting on this planned spectacle makes me feel a little dirty, like I am part of America’s cultural decay!

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