News Roundup

The top story of the week concerns Patrick Cannon, who was the mayor of Charlotte until he was arrested Wednesday on federal corruption charges. He resigned his post, as the News and Observer reports in detail here. Some commentators are predicting a trial, with the defense arguing either (a) entrapment or (b) that there was no quid pro quo, i.e., that the assistance Cannon allegedly offered to undercover FBI agents posing as real estate developers was not in exchange for the money he allegedly received from them. That’s certainly possible, but remember that 97% of federal criminal cases end in guilty pleas.

In other news:

Wake County District Attorney’s office transitions. Long-time Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, who had already announced that he would not run for re-election this fall, will be leaving office early. According to this Triangle Business Journal story, he’ll be joining the “government regulatory and criminal investigations” team at the McGuireWoods law firm. Wake County District Court Judge Ned Mangum, who is running unopposed for re-election this fall, has been named the interim District Attorney by Governor Pat McCrory. WRAL has the story here.

Federal judge weighs in on female lawyers’ attire. Shea blogged here about the recent brouhaha regarding how female lawyers dress. Federal district court judge Richard Kopf has joined the fray on his blog, in a post titled On being a dirty old man and how young women lawyers dress.

Speaking of federal judges . . .  former federal judge Paul Cassell writes here about a recent opinion by federal judge James Browning, concluding that the federal sentencing guidelines for drug offenses aren’t unduly harsh. Judge Browning expressly rejects the reasoning adopted by federal judge John Gleeson, who ruled otherwise in an influential previous opinion. Meanwhile, federal judge Patti Saris, who chairs the federal sentencing commission, gave a speech at Georgetown arguing that we are in the midst of a “generational shift” away from overly punitive drug sentences.

Attorney General argues both sides, P.J. O’Rourke picks one. It may be hard to get federal judges to agree, but Michael DeWine, Attorney General of Ohio, can’t even agree with himself: he is briefing both sides of an election law case that is before the Supreme Court, as the New York Times reports here. The case concerns an Ohio law making it a crime to lie during political campaigns. In the same case, humorist P.J. O’Rourke has filed an amicus brief. He’s definitely opposed to the law, arguing that

[D]isparaging statements about one’s opponent (whether true, mostly true, mostly not true, or entirely fantastic) are cornerstones of American democracy. . . . After all, where would we be without the knowledge that Democrats are pinko-communist flag-burners who want to tax churches and use the money to fund abortions so they can use the fetal stem cells to create pot-smoking lesbian ATF agents who will steal all the guns and invite the UN to take over America? Voters have to decide whether we’d be better off electing Republicans, those hateful, assault-weapon-wielding maniacs who believe that George Washington and Jesus Christ incorporated the nation after a Gettysburg reenactment and that the only thing wrong with the death penalty is that it isn’t administered quickly enough to secular-humanist professors of Chicano studies.

The full brief, which makes fun of the Chief Justice and gleefully commits several other cardinal sins of Supreme Court advocacy, is available here.

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