News Roundup

I love highlighting my colleagues’ great work on the blog. Shea already announced her new book this week, but also check out Jessie Smith’s interview on WUNC, talking about the backlog at the State Crime Lab and the practical solutions a working group identified. And take a look at the new electronic platform for all the manuals produced by the School’s Indigent Defense Education group. As a teaser, next week, the blog will feature a newly-released manual that is available on the platform.

In other news:

State supreme court recount. WRAL reports here that Mike Robinson has asked for a recount in his race with Justice Cheri Beasley. According to the initial count, Robinson lost by 5,400 votes. Final results are expected next week.

Crime lab losing scientists due to low pay. The News and Observer reports here that the director of the State Crime Lab told a General Assembly committee that the Lab simply “cannot compete with the salaries” being offered to forensic scientists by other employers, resulting in a high turnover rate and exacerbating backlogs.

Death penalty news. Soon-to-be-former Attorney General Eric Holder finds it “hard to believe” than America has never executed an innocent person, according to this news report. Meanwhile, NBC News reports here that lawmakers in Utah are considering a proposal to allow executions by firing squad if lethal injection drugs are unavailable.

Body cameras, transparency, and public records requests. Body cameras for law enforcement are all the rage these days. But as more agencies move towards implementing wearable cameras, practical problems have cropped up. In some states, perhaps including North Carolina, the resultant footage is not covered by public records laws, limiting the potential transparency benefits of the cameras. In other states, the resultant footage is available to the public, but that brings its own problems. In Seattle, a pilot program implementing cameras may crumble in the face of impossibly burdensome records requests.

Not a good career move. We all make mistakes, but when you’re a chief of police, it’s best not to be found intoxicated and unconscious behind the wheel at a Taco Bell drive through (thru?) at 1:00 a.m. Even the chief acknowledges that it was “unfortunate,” according to this piece in leading journalistic outlet Raw Story.

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