News Roundup

I’ve been enjoying WRAL’s website lately. The News and Observer is putting more content behind a paywall, and WRAL has had a series of interesting criminal justice stories. The most recent is this one, an inside look at North Carolina’s Crime Victims Compensation Fund. Prosecutors, VWLAs, and law enforcement officers may be especially interested in the story’s perspective on how well they are doing at connecting eligible victims with compensation.

In other news:

Obama commutes sentence lengthened by typo. The New York Times has the bizarre story here, but in a nutshell, a federal drug defendant was sentenced to an extra three years in prison because of a scrivener’s error in the calculation of his sentencing guidelines. No one noticed the problem until the defendant himself did several years later, and at that point, he was time-barred from fixing it. President Obama stepped in and cut the sentence back to what it should have been all along. Over at Sentencing Law & Policy, Doug Berman says he is “disgusted” by the “inhumane” conduct of the federal prosecutors who invoked the time limits on federal habeas petitions to defeat the defendant’s claim. I don’t know enough to agree, but it certainly sounds bad.

The panopticon is here. And it’s in Compton. (The pan-Compti-con?) Gizmodo reports here on an initiative by Compton, California police to use aerial surveillance cameras to record absolutely all out-of-doors activity in a 25 square mile area, allowing them to create a lasting digital record of criminal activity. It’s uncharted territory, but I seriously doubt that pervasive and persistent surveillance of that nature comports with the Fourth Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court in United States v. Jones. Other cities have also been experimenting with the system.

Amazing article tells you how to really improve your writing. Oops! Two of the ten pointers are to stop using the words “amazing” and “really.” The article is short, provocative, and worth a look. It’s here.

Shame on you! An Ohio man was sentenced to wear a sign stating in part “I am a bully” and “I pick on disabled children” after he pled no contest to disorderly conduct for allegedly abusing a neighbor’s family by spitting on them and smearing feces on their home and car. The man told the media that the judge had “destroyed” him and that the sentence wasn’t fair at all. WRAL has the story here.

A suit and fake glasses are not going to help this defendant. Jonathan Schmidt of Lake Elsinore, California, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly being involved in a knife fight. His mug shot, below, suggests that his appearance may be a challenge for the defense. Sure, the defendant can wear a suit and fake glasses, but somehow, I don’t think that’s going to do the trick. Perhaps a makeup artist is required – recall this prior post, where I noted a case in which a makeup artist was provided at state expense to an indigent defendant.

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3 comments on “News Roundup

  1. Should defense attorneys think twice before outfitting black clients in fake glasses?

  2. Finding a prosecutor with some shred of basic morality is a rarity, and the fact that Fed prosecutors tried to stop justice from being done illustrates perfectly the disgusting conduct that seems to become common when absolute immunity is given to people in a position to flaunt such a horrible policy. An error in writing means three extra years out of a human beings life, and any rational and moral mind would instantly strive to correct such a situation, but instead some prosecutor, a soulless and amoral person, decided to thwart the correction due to a technicality, not caring that to do so would mean an obvious injustice.

    Let’s face it: prosecutors, in all but a few exceptions, care little or nothing about justice, but just on convictions and appearing ” tough on crime”, usually as part of an upward move in their offices or to a judgeship or into the mire of politics, which their callous and smug self assurance fit’s well. In many cases, prosecutors have fought tooth and nail to keep people locked up simply to avoid the publicity of their past skullduggery…when someone is exonerated, the blame lies directly on the cops and even more so on the DA’s, and they will sacrifice decency and the rule of law to avoid any negative onus on themselves.

    Having a conscience is obviously not a prerequsite for prosecuting.

  3. Judge Kozinski , chief appeals judge from the 9th Circuit issued a blistering condemnation of prosecutors…read this:

    And here is a prosecutor that made a deal with a jailhouse snitch and hid it from the defense..this resulted in an innocent man being put to death…in Texas of course..and nothing will be done about it:

    Brady violations are rampant…prosecutors care only about the end result, a conviction and more glory for his office and political aspirations, and the People suffer and die..what a sick situation. When a prosecutor is found to have violated the rules, he or she should serve the same sentance that was imposed on the accused..that would put a halt to the problem pretty fast…sadly, prosecutors are almost never sanctioned, despite egregious violations.