News Roundup

Unquestionably the most shocking story of the week comes from Wake County, where an assistant district attorney’s father was kidnapped, apparently at the behest of an inmate the prosecutor had helped put away for life. The father was held for five days while his family received death threats, but he was rescued in Atlanta and is apparently physically unharmed. WRAL has the story here. A year ago, I wrote about the dangers of being a prosecutor, but I didn’t even think to explore the possibility that family members might also be at risk. Scary.

In other news:

Supreme court justice becomes district attorney. Former state supreme court justice Bob Orr has been appointed the interim district attorney in district 24, encompassing Watauga County and four other along the Tennessee line. A local news report is here.

Federal drug sentences to fall. The United States Sentencing Commission voted yesterday to reduce the sentencing guidelines that apply in drug cases, meaning the guidelines will be reduced unless Congress intervenes in the next 180 days, which it is not expected to do. Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered federal prosecutors not to object to defense requests to apply the reduced guidelines right away, even though they have not yet taken effect. The Commission will take up later the question of whether the reduction will apply retroactively. Relevant reading includes this post at Sentencing Law and Policy and this one at Crime and Consequences.

A jurisdiction that really needs to review its juvenile age. In North Carolina, there’s considerable controversy about charging 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. As the Topper from Dilbert would say, that’s nothing! In Pakistan, a nine-month-old baby has been charged with attempted murder in connection with an attack on a police officer, apparently by the child’s father and other relatives and neighbors. The New York Times reports here that “the screaming child was produced in court, and had to be comforted with a milk bottle as a court official recorded his thumbprint.” The infant is “free on bail until his next hearing,” but the reports do not discuss the conditions of his release. Electronic monitoring, perhaps? ABC News states here that the police have told the family that they are “dropping [the] investigation,” though the charges have not yet been dismissed.

Law grads’ job prospects bleak . . . but not any more bleak than last year. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports here on the latest batch of employment numbers from the ABA, and it’s a good-news-bad-news kind of thing: only 57% of 2013 graduates had long-term, full-time, J.D.-required jobs, which is terrible. But it isn’t any worse than 2012, and as class sizes shrink in the coming years, that number could improve.

Has marijuana reform gone to the dogs? Finally, Maryland is about to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and a controversial new article suggests that medical marijuana may reduce DWI fatalities. But the Administrator of the DEA testified before Congress that marijuana legalization is bad for dogs, who may ingest the substance and then have difficulty vomiting up other dangerous items that they have ingested. Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin responds that pot legalization would be good for pets because “every year hundreds or thousands of dogs are needlessly slaughtered in overaggressive police raids undertaken as part of the war on drugs.”

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