News Roundup

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An organization called Concerns of Police Survivors has designated today the first National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. The organization argues that “[i]n light of recent negativity directed toward law enforcement nationally, there is a need to show law enforcement officers that our citizens recognize the difficult and sometimes impossible career they have chosen, in public service to us all.” It suggests taking steps like thanking an officer, wearing blue, or posting a positive story about police on social media.

Officers have a tremendous amount of power, and as a result face constant scrutiny. In my view, such scrutiny is entirely appropriate. At the same time, it is a great idea to recognize and to be grateful for the many officers who are doing their very best to perform a tough job. Especially given the recent assassination of two officers in New York and the overall increase in officer deaths in 2014 (discussed here in the Washington Post), today seems like a good a day to do so.

In other news:

North Carolina’s Chief Justice calls for more money, technology, cases. Mark Martin was just sworn in as the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The News and Observer reports here on his remarks at the ceremony. Among other things, he called for “adequate funding” for the courts; for a focus on innovation throughout the court system, including implementation of electronic filing; and for his court to hear and to decide more cases than it has in recent years.

First felony prosecution for stealing Venus flytraps. On Dec. 1, 2014, stealing Venus flytraps became a Class H felony under G.S. 14-129.3. The law will not lie in desuetude. According to the Wilmington Star News, here, four men have just been charged with stealing over 900 flytraps. The obvious question is whether that’s one offense or 900 offenses. I don’t know how it was charged in Wilmington, but perhaps we will find out.

Independent Weekly and innocence project lawyers question whether man convicted of murder is guilty. The Independent just published this story about Derrick McRae, convicted of murder in Rockingham in 1998. Innocence project lawyers at Duke Law have taken McRae’s case and are litigating a motion for appropriate relief. The defendant has a history of mental illness and some witnesses’ stories appear to have changed over time, so there are some interesting ingredients in the mix. The state is opposing the motion.

Ferguson grand juror seeks right to speak. The USA Today reports here that one of the grand jurors who considered whether to charge officer Darren Wilson with a crime in connection with the shooting of Michael Brown is suing for permission to speak publicly about the case. Professor Eugene Volokh writes here that the juror has a strong First Amendment claim. The papers filed so far suggest that the grand jury was divided about whether to charge Wilson.

Judge takes defendant’s shoes as bail. Finally, Above the Law has this story about a Massachusetts  judge who accepted a defendant’s Nikes as security for his release. Points for creativity, I suppose, though I doubt that the clerk was delighted to be entrusted with the guy’s athletic shoes. Also, I hope the defendant satisfies his obligations and gets the sneakers back, since I suspect that the school system (or whoever receives bail forfeitures in Massachusetts) would be equally unenthusiastic about receiving a pair of used kicks.

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