Magistrates want mo’ problems. Actually, just mo’ money. By statute, magistrates are supposed to be paid according to a step system, with specific salaries attached to particular lengths of service as prescribed in G.S. 7A-171.1. For several years, though, magistrates have been “frozen” and not allowed to move to higher steps. Now a group of 40 magistrates has sued over the freeze and is seeking class action status. The News and Observer story is here.
Chief Justice Parkers hears final cases. Though her retirement is still a few months away, Chief Justice Parker recently participated in the final oral arguments of her tenure. WRAL notes the moment, and the Chief’s gracious remarks, here.
“Another move afoot to put SBI under Governor’s control.” So reads the headline of this News and Observer article, which suggests that the budget process could be used to place the SBI within the Department of Public Safety, which answers to the Governor, rather than under the independently-elected Attorney General. The idea has been discussed several times in recent years, but with the Attorney General looking increasingly like a gubernatorial candidate, the political implications of the possible move are garnering more attention.
Prosecutors earn less than courthouse custodians. At least new prosecutors in Massachusetts do, according to a report by the state’s bar association. Above the Law summarizes the story here. As it happens, new prosecutor salaries in North Carolina are pretty much on par with those in Massachusetts, though I would guess that custodians probably make less here.
Botched execution doesn’t change minds on capital punishment. NBC News reports here that the recent botched execution in Oklahoma hasn’t diminished the level of support for the death penalty, and that many Americans are open to alternatives to lethal injection if that method proves unreliable.
Defense lawyer facing discipline for arguing that his client would never have let a witness to a murder survive. A Kansas lawyer began his closing argument by describing his client, who was on trial for murder, as a “professional drug dealer” and a “shooter of people.” Then the attorney argued that if his client had shot and killed the victim, he wouldn’t have been so foolish as to leave an on-scene witness alive. Perhaps predictably, the defendant was convicted and sentenced to death, and the attorney is now facing disbarment. The attorney contends that the argument in question was developed by his client and that the lawyer was just the messenger. Regardless of the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings, the attorney says that he plans to stop practicing law, which he no longer views as “productive,” and instead hopes to “devote his time to growing vegetables in an aquaponics garden, in which manure created by fish in a tank is pumped over vegetable plants growing in a trough.” The ABA Journal has the story, including links to local sources, here.