News Roundup

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The legislature is in full swing. H 725, [update: fixed link] a bill that appears to raise the juvenile age to 17, but only for misdemeanors that are not motor vehicle offenses, has passed the House. Its prospects in the Senate are rumored to be uncertain. And H 1078, a bill that would eliminate special superior court judgeships as each judge’s current term expires, has been introduced. (Recall that last session saw an effort to abolish the judgeships in one fell swoop, leading my colleague Michael Crowell to post this analysis of the legislature’s authority, or lack thereof, to abolish the jobs of sitting judges.) There are other bills of note in the mix and we will keep you posted about significant developments.

In other news:

Debtor’s prison. Several readers pointed me to this interesting series of stories by NPR, about the nation-wide rise in courts fees and costs; the disparate impact those fees have on poor defendants; and the frequency with which defendants are effectively imprisoned due to an inability to pay the fees. Costs and fees have certainly been rising in North Carolina, and the issue deserves more detailed attention, perhaps in a future post.

The times, they are a changin’. The top selling game on iTunes is Weed Firm, a game about building a marijuana empire, while pundits are pondering whether products liability plaintiffs’ lawyers will have the marijuana industry for lunch. (Best line: “If you think trial lawyers made a windfall on tobacco, just wait until they get a handle on marijuana. The scientific and medical evidence against marijuana now dwarfs what we knew about tobacco at the time of the surgeon general’s report of 1964. No warning label in the world could shield marijuana growers and sellers from the tsunami of tort liability they should face from distributing a product with so many known harmful effects.”)

The FBI enters the recording era. Since 1908, the agency has had a policy of not recording interviews. That policy has changed, with a new presumption that agents should record custodial interviews of suspects. Agents are also encouraged to consider recording other interviews, such as witness interviews. The new policy states that it creates no rights, “procedural or substantive” for those who are (or are not) recorded.

Speaking of marijuana and the FBI . . . James Comey, the director of the agency, recently noted that the agency’s anti-marijuana policy makes it difficult to hire cyber experts. These young whipper-snappers apparently “want to smoke weed on the way to the interview.” The FBI is “grappling” with the possibility of changing its policy. Perhaps a rule against recording cyber agents while they roll a joint on the job?

Sweet article about the founding of the School of Government. Finally, the Durham Herald-Sun just ran this piece about Albert Coates and his work in building what was then called the Institute of Government. The article quotes one North Carolinian as saying, “The Institute of Government has made all the difference for our state. But, today, not enough people appreciate how much we owe it.” I think we get a fair amount of appreciation, but of course more would always be welcome!

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2 comments on “News Roundup

  1. Cling tightly to your wallets and ‘unalienable rights’.

    The State Legislatures (and other members of the State body corporate) want what is left in the working mans wallets so they can pay themselves, and subsidize corporations.

    According to the State all the rights of People (Unalienable or otherwise) come from the State (them), and they can be abridged, denied, and stripped away at their collective will.

    The State has proclaimed itself to be the great ‘creator of all mankind’ whom endowed on their creations (People (State Body Politic)) ‘limited privileges’ created, granted and controlled by them.

  2. The ” pundits ” that fret about liability over weed have blanks for ammo..there are NO peer reviewed scientific studies that prove any serious negative effects from cannabis. ALL of the latest real research shows that not only is weed non-toxic and benign, but in the words of DEA admin. Judge Francis Young : ” “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care.

    [DEA Administrative Law Judge – 1988]”

    The feds have been growing and distributing cannabis for decades under the compassionate use program, and the NIDA admits that it is not physically addictive, unlike alcohol. No human being has ever died from ingestion, and all of the scare tactics used by prohibitionist profiteers fails to convince anyone with knowledge of the issue. It is doubtful that there will be many people claiming harms from weed, and they could not prove a causitive link in any regard using real evidence. In court a plaintiff cannot simply parrot the lies and nonsense spewed by the prohibitionist lobby and expect a jury to believe it.

    Comparing weed to tobacco is like comparing a Yugo to a Kenworth semi…they are both vehicles but the similarities end there. No one can produce real and valid proof that weed has any ill effects deserving of the attention of the courts, which is one reason that the states have been doing what the feds should have done long ago: normalizing the cannabis market as an inevitible reality and for the governments to quit siding with the drug cartels as to policy. I am sure that some lawwyers would love another reason to sue someone, but trying to find evidence of weed’s harms will be a task not many attorneys will find worthwhile.

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