News Roundup

The nation and the state continue to discuss events in Ferguson, Missouri and in Staten Island, New York. One direct impact of the controversy in North Carolina is that the Legislative Black Caucus plans to introduce legislation in the 2015 session that would require law enforcement officers to wear body cameras, according to this WRAL story. The details of the proposal are not yet clear.

In other news:

More Ferguson fallout. Several jurisdictions are considering legislation that would require special prosecutors, rather than local DAs, to handle criminal investigations of police shootings. The AP has this story on point. Meanwhile, lawyers in Portland, Oregon, are about to release a smartphone app called Driving While Black that is “aimed at teaching people of color how to stay safe during traffic stops,” according to this local story. And some law students have requested, and obtained, extensions on taking final exams as a result of trauma from the non-indictments in Ferguson and Staten Island, as discussed critically here.

Ban (with exceptions) on racial profiling by federal law enforcement officers. The United States Department of Justice has issued a new policy generally barring federal law enforcement from racial profiling, though the policy has exceptions for border and airport enforcement. It doesn’t bind state or local law enforcement.

Profile of the Supreme Court bar. Reuters has a three-part story about the “elite cadre” of lawyers who regularly appear before the Supreme Court. Some of it won’t surprise anyone: it’s mostly white guys at big law firms, many of whom clerked on the Court. But there are some interesting nuggets in there, including, at the very end, a profile of Tom Goldstein, a lawyer who didn’t go to a fancy school and who started a Supreme Court specialty practice from his spare bedroom.

Senators want information about Stingray use. I recently blogged about Stingrays, and noted that they have been in the news quite a bit in Charlotte. But not just in Charlotte – a group of Senators has asked the Department of Justice to answer a series of questions about the frequency of, and justification for, the Department’s use of Stingrays. Ars Technica has the story here.

Harvard lawyer bullies Chinese restaurant owner, apologizes. For the most part, I like lawyers, and I think we get a bad rap. But some of us earn all the opprobrium we receive. Consider, for example, Benjamin Edelman, a Harvard Business School professor – and Harvard Law School graduate – who was overcharged by $4 when he ordered Chinese food. Naturally, he demanded a $12 refund as treble damages and threatened to report the restaurant to Massachusetts’ consumer protection authorities if he didn’t get his twelve Washingtons. Guess what? When the internet found out about the story, the professor lost his case in the court of public opinion, and ended up posting an apology on his website. The Boston Globe has the original story here and the apology here.

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