News Roundup

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Short week, short news roundup. National attention remains focused on Ferguson, Missouri, where attorneys for Michael Brown’s family have weighed in on the prosecutor’s handling of the grand jury proceedings concerning Brown’s shooting. The attorneys “criticized everything from the types of evidence . . . presented to the jury to the way it was presented and the timing of the grand jury’s decision,” according to this story on WRAL. There were several Ferguson-related protests locally, including one that blocked a freeway in Durham. Opinion is certainly divided about the prosecutor’s management of the process, as this Think Progress story notes.

In other news:

Justice Beasley wins in recount. The State Board of Elections certified its results yesterday, including the result of a recount in the race between state supreme court justice Cheri Beasley and challenger Mike Robinson. As in the preliminary count, Justice Beasley won by over 5,000 votes.

Charlotte stingray applications and orders unsealed. I recently blogged about stingrays, the devices used by police to locate suspects’ cell phones. It’s not completely clear what legal standard must be met in order for police to use them, and historically, most court orders authorizing their use have been sealed. In Charlotte, the police, prosecutors, and the media recently reached an agreement paving the way for the unsealing of a large number of applications and court orders that were issued in connection with older cases. It may be largest release of stingray-related documents that has ever taken place, and both the Charlotte Observer (story here) and national tech privacy watchdogs like Ars Technica (stories here and here) are covering it intensely.

Funding for the courts. This News and Observer editorial argues for more funding for the courts. It’s a familiar cause and one that many readers of this blog likely support. The statistic that caught my eye was that North Carolina is third from last among the states in court funding as a percentage of the state budget.

Finally, a cautionary tale for Thanksgiving. Many of us will be spending time with our families over the long holiday weekend. Enjoy one another’s company, but think twice before playing board games. They can set the stage for violence, as illustrated by this New Hampshire story reporting that a woman was arrested after she “got into an argument with her boyfriend over a game of Monopoly and slapped him with an open hand in the face.” Lest readers dismiss this as an isolated incident, I note that in New Mexico, when Monopoly goes bad, it goes very, very bad. Be careful with the parlor games and have a good holiday.

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2 comments on “News Roundup

  1. The School of Government and this blog are a couple of things I’m always thankful for. You and your fellow bloggers manage to convey important information in a way that is easily accessible to everyone.
    Happy Thanksgiving, Jeff.

  2. As it was set up, I believe from prior teachings (long ago) that when the state court system was set up, it was intended to be largely self supporting through the collection of court costs, thereby letting those who create the costs pay the costs. However with each passing year, it seems that more ways are found to justify a higher percentage dismissals meaning that taxpayers are funding more that was expected. More often than not, it seems that the courts are being used for collection agencies for worthless checks, failure to pay for “rent to own” property, and now as a collection agency for vehicle taxes.

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