News Roundup

I would like to think that the blog is influential, but events this week called that hypothesis into question. Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens ruled that concealed handguns may be prohibited at the State Fair, notwithstanding my suggestion here that the better reading of the law is otherwise. The AP story is here. In other news:

The FBI still doesn’t like Apple’s new unbreakable encryption. I previously blogged about this here, but FBI Director James Comey continues to argue that Apple’s unbreakable encryption allows criminals to “place themselves beyond the law.”

John Grisham thinks “we’ve gone nuts” with imprisoning people who view child pornography. Contrasting at least some users of child pornography with “real pedophiles,” the novelist opined in an interview that “many of these guys do not deserve harsh prison sentences.” His comments, the backlash against them, and his ensuing apology and semi-retraction are summarized in this post at Sentencing Law & Policy.

Jails for sale. Falling crime rates and sentencing reform are national trends, leaving correctional institutions unused – and in some instances, available for purchase. As the WSJ Law Blog notes here, Portland, Oregon completed a new $58 million jail in 2004, but it has never been used and costs $300,000 per year to maintain. Attempts to sell the facility have failed. How surprising that there aren’t lots of alternative uses for concrete block buildings full of cells and integrated sink/toilets.

Court rules that prosecutor should not climb into the jury box with the jury. Seems like it might be self-evident, but apparently not. In a New Jersey case described here at the Volokh Conspiracy, the defense attorney was cross-examining a police officer. The defendant assisted by using a laptop, located at the State’s table, to play a recording. The prosecutor, purportedly “just looking for a place to stand,” literally climbed over the wall into the jury box until the judge instructed him to find a different place to stand. An appellate court agreed that the prosecutor’s conduct was improper and may have suggested to the jury that the defendant was so dangerous that the prosecutor could not be near him.

Laws against revenge porn. Finally, this Ars Technica story reports that the UK is about to become the first country to pass a national law against so-called revenge porn. In the United States, California already has a law making it a crime to distribute nude photos online with an “intent to harass or annoy.” Although some conduct of this kind might be criminal under existing North Carolina laws, we don’t have a statute specifically addressing revenge porn.

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