Shea wrote yesterday about the top news around here: the killing of three Muslim university students by a man who lived in the same Chapel Hill apartment complex as the victims. It’s part of a string of tragic events for university students in the state, including the deaths of nine Appalachian State University students since September, the murder of UNC student Faith Hedgepeth in 2012, and, farther back, the killings of student body president Eve Carson of UNC and graduate student Abhijit Mahato of Duke in 2008. Terrible for the students, obviously, and of course crushing for their parents. Tough times.
In other news:
Domestic violence charges against Greg Hardy dismissed. Hardy is the Carolina Panthers defensive end who was convicted in district court of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. He appealed for trial de novo but the State dismissed the charges in part because the alleged victim refused to cooperate and the State was unable to serve her with a subpoena. I wrote a bit about the case here.
Online CLE available from the School of Government. My colleagues who work in indigent defense education asked me to share the following opportunity:
The Indigent Defense Education Program at the School of Government offers a variety of courses that cater to your scheduling needs at reasonable prices. Courses are taught by experienced faculty and legal professionals that have knowledge of legal issues and their effects on your practice. You can find more information regarding our courses by viewing our Online Training-CLE page at https://www.sog.unc.edu/resources/microsites/indigent-defense-education/online-training-cles . Please bookmark our page and check back periodically as we are continuously adding new courses.
Jury selection in the ‘American Sniper’ murder trial is made more difficult by the film’s success. The man who shot and killed Chris Kyle, the subject of the book and movie American Sniper, is standing trial in Kyle’s hometown. (The defendant admits the shooting and has pled not guilty by reason of insanity.) Kyle was a local hero even before the book and movie were released but the search for impartial jurors has been made even more difficult by the multimedia blitz. The WSJ Law Blog has a short video explainer here.
Conservatives and the criminal justice system. Last week I noted a New York Times article that observed that judges are more conservative overall than other lawyers, and that lawyers as a group lean left. Many judges are former prosecutors, so one might reasonably ask whether prosecutors are more conservative than other lawyers. The article says no. As a group they are actually slightly to the left of all lawyers, though less liberal than public defenders.
All of those groups are far to the left of the Koch brothers, but the Huffington Post notes here that criminal justice reform is one of the Kochs’ top current priorities. Their work is centered around “five pillars for reform: The right not to be prosecuted for accidentally breaking the law; fair treatment under the law; competent and fair representation; mandatory minimum reforms; and restoration of rights.” It’s an agenda that indigent defense attorneys can get behind, proving once again that criminal law makes strange bedfellows.
The lighter side. Finally, a couple of stories that made me smile during a disheartening week. First, fans of Breaking Bad will enjoy this article entitled 12 Things Every Lawyer Should Learn from Saul Goodman. Of course “Better Call Saul!” makes an appearance. Second, the New York Daily News ran this article about court-appointed defense lawyers traveling to Africa for a deposition in a terrorism case. They’ve moved to fly in business class because “[t]ravel by coach will make it impossible for the attorneys to work and or sleep effectively upon our arrival.” Airplane travel does involve conditions of confinement that would be unconstitutional if imposed in prison, but the prosecutors say they’re going in sardine class and so should their counterparts. The article is neither fair nor balanced but does contain some funny one-liners, like “Defense lawyers for three reputed terror goons have a fear of flying — in coach.” That’s a fear I can get behind.