News Roundup

Come on, fellow citizens! Enough with the nudist exhibitionism in residential neighborhoods! According to this local story, a Salisbury man has been arrested and charged with indecent exposure after “sitting in the back yard totally naked . . . less than thirty feet from where [a neighbor’s] teen daughter was riding a horse.” We’ve had several somewhat similar incidents in the state recently, and regular readers may recall the controversy over whether nudity in one’s home or yard that is visible to others qualifies as indecent exposure. (I discussed that issue here.)

In other news:

United States Attorney steps into the sweepstakes brouhaha. According to this WRAL report, a number of major electronic sweepstakes businesses have agreed to stop operating in the state as a result of discussions with the United States Attorney’s Office. The story doesn’t say why the USAO took an interest in the issue or what leverage the USAO would have in the matter. If anyone has more information that they’re in a position to share, please post a comment.

Cattle rustlin’ is alive and well. According to WRAL, an Alamance County man has been charged with embezzlement in connection with the theft of 189 Black Angus cattle worth $371,700. That’s a lot of beef, but everything’s bigger in Texas, including cattle rustling. This article explores the connection between beef prices (up) and cattle theft in the Lone Star State (up, because there’s more incentive to steal, but down, because cattle owners are taking more precautions).

Altered fingerprints. The current issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin has an intriguing and unnerving story about people who alter their fingerprints in an effort to evade detection by law enforcement. Techniques include the Z-pattern cut, the “burn method,” and sandpaper. Ouch.

The technological revolution and prison, an uneasy fit. I stumbled on two stories about technology and corrections this week that I thought were interesting. Here, Gizmodo discusses how JPay, an inmate telecommunications provider, claims ownership of all content sent through its network. So if an inmate writes a Mother’s Day poem to his mother, or draws a picture for his daughter, and sends them through JPay, they belong to the service. And here is a skeptical take on video visitation, which portrays it as a system that mainly benefits the companies that provide it at the expense of the inmates and their families, who pay for it. I take both stories with a grain of salt, but I do think it is important to be vigilant about how these sorts of services are structured and who they serve.

Finally, Baltimore. I haven’t followed the Freddie Gray case extremely closely, but I did note this interesting profile of Marilyn Mosby, the 35-year-old head prosecutor in Baltimore. WRAL has a story here about how difficult it may be for Ms. Mosby to prove the charges that she has brought.

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2 comments on “News Roundup

  1. If we had more prosecutors like Marilyn Mosby we’d have less crime. It’s a shame that so many criminals are given passes just because they wear badges.

    On a related note: the rationale for the exclusionary rule suppressing illegally-seized evidence is to deter police/government misconduct. We could prosecute the law-breaking police thereby more effectively deterring their misconduct. We might then be able to use illegally obtained evidence against defendants. Instead of letting two groups of criminals off the hook to deter crime, wouldn’t it make more sense to prosecute both? Maybe not, but it is a possibility. I suppose the reason we don’t do that is because the police/government criminals would not be vigorously prosecuted and the prosecute-both approach works as a deterrent only if the prosecution is vigorous.

  2. I was wandering if SOG would do a post on the Baltimore crisis, but I didn’t expect much due to the highly contentious atmosphere associated with this incident. First off, there is absolutely no excuse for Freddie Gray to have sustained the type of injury that he did while in police custody without immediate medical attention being provided. No matter the criminal history or quality of a person that someone is, their life holds value and it is imperative that our criminal justice system search for the truth in regards to what caused his death. If the officers are determined to be criminally culpable in this man’s death then I will 100% support this criminal prosecution and subsequent conviction.

    The problem in this situation is the police officers in this case are being prosecuted in the way that our founding fathers were defiantly opposed to as this is a political prosecution produced to quash an angry mob that has been oppressed by years of failed policies and discrimination. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Ms. Mosby and her husband as I believe they are motivated by good intentions, but I believe at this time Ms. Mosby is so emotionally invested in this situation that she is using this scenario to somehow punish the entire history in this country of police misconduct.

    There is no doubt that law enforcement has much room to improve in regards to developing relationships with minority communities. There is no doubt that law enforcement like every other occupation in this world has actors within its ranks that are corrupt. There is no doubt that law enforcement in this country must respect their respective state constitutions and the US Constitution holding it dear to their heart and remember that as an agent of this government, it is their responsibility to uphold the freedom that many have fought to protect and preserve. A police officer is the symbol of the power and force of the government to compel its citizens to act in accordance with the law. Without law enforcement, the courts have no ability to enforce their orders and legislators have no ability to gain compliance with their laws beyond citizens voluntarily deciding to go along.

    The major issue that I have with this whole situation is the sentiment as expressed by some including the comment above. Many people have commented about how police officers are treated differently in the criminal justice system. Ms. Mosby has suggested a new legal theory in America that would have a chilling effect in regards to charging a police officer with false imprisonment for arresting someone when it is later subjectively ruled to be lacking in sufficient probable cause. Charging false imprisonment should be exclusively reserved for situations where a law enforcement officer engages in a “shocks the conscious” type arrest that completely and fundamentally lacks a reasonable basis for such seizure, otherwise known as operating in bath faith. If this becomes the standard which I know will never be the case as it is beyond ridiculous, no law enforcement officer will ever make a warrantless arrest again. It would be too risky and quite frankly what person in their right mind would choose to be a police officer.

    The comment above has suggested that a law enforcement officer should be criminally charged for obtaining evidence against a suspect that is later ruled by a judge to be subject to the exclusionary rule. Ok, let me get this straight, Mr. Rand has on his own website the following words, “Laws can be difficult to understand, cumbersome, unreasonable, daunting, and overwhelming if you are not a lawyer” and he thinks it is reasonable to potentially prosecute a 21 year old police officer for potentially making an honest mistake in obtaining evidence that violates the Constitution as interpreted by an appellate court case that the officer may not have any knowledge of. Case law and binding precedents rapidly change in our common law court system with variances all throughout the country and mistakes will inevitably be made. Lawyers can’t agree on the law, judges can’t agree, and appellate panels to include Supreme Court Justices themselves sometimes do not agree on a decision (think how many cases have dissenting opinions and rulings overturned), yet in a country where there is a presumption of innocence and due process rights of ALL citizens, some wish for a police officer to be locked up as a penalty for obtaining evidence that is later suppressed by a court of law or making an arrest that is later ruled for whatever reason to be lacking in sufficient probable cause. I suppose we should lock up judges when a defendant’s conviction is later overturned based on an error by the judge.

    The difference between regular citizens and law enforcement’s treatment in the criminal justice system is law enforcement is the government and it is their job to respond to these scenes. Law enforcement does not get to choose the cases they investigate or choose the scenarios they are presented with. Law enforcement does not get the option to say well your case is too complicated or I don’t like it so I am staying out of it because it too risky or dangerous. It is the entire concept of sovereign immunity that many people are forgetting about. Certain jobs like prosecutors, judges, and police officers can’t be accomplished without some form of immunity whether qualified or absolute. If a police officer engages in potential criminal conduct in his off time, he or she is treated no differently than a regular citizen. If we are prepared as a society to treat law enforcement acting in official capacity as some suggest, I can guarantee you that the collapse of society will shortly follow. That is not to say that law enforcement should not be held accountable and in some cases criminal prosecution is warranted, but the thinking of some is pure lunacy.

    I hope these events in Baltimore strike a much broader discussion among those in all walks of life that are willing to come to the table and bridge the gap that is so much needed. This type of rhetoric that divides the community is appalling. Law enforcement and the prosecution of citizens in this country have surely had instances of wrong doing and there are many things to improve on. The fact remains that none of us as humans are perfect and people must come to the realization that sometimes the offending party is the person staring back at them in the mirror.