News Roundup

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Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes has been sentenced to 12 life terms plus 3,378 years in prison. He did not receive the death penalty due to the vote of a single holdout juror. CNN’s stories about the sentencing hearing are here and here; the statements from the surviving victims and the families of the deceased are difficult to read.

In other news:

Federal charges against prison guards linked to kidnapping of prosecutor’s father. Two former North Carolina correctional officers have been charged in federal court with bringing cell phones, drugs, money, and other contraband into Polk Correctional Institute for inmates. The conduct came to light in connection with the investigation into the kidnapping of the father of Wake County prosecutor Colleen Janssen. Polk inmate Kevin Melton has been accused of masterminding the kidnapping, apparently communicating with the outside world through smuggled cell phones. This News and Observer story has the details, though it is unclear from the story whether the officers in question provided the specific phone or phones allegedly used by Melton.

Drones, drones, everywhere? The General Assembly has passed a new law that may clear the path for expanded law enforcement use of drones. Approval from the State Chief Information Officer is still required but several other hurdles have been lowered or cleared away. S.L. 2015-232.

State supreme court denies LEXIS free access to AOC database. The North Carolina Supreme court recently ruled on LEXIS’s public records request seeking a copy of the ACIS criminal record database maintained by the AOC. In a nutshell, the court ruled that the AOC did not need to comply with the request at no cost and that the AOC could negotiate with LEXIS over paid access to the database. Obviously this has implications for other third party providers of criminal record information as well. My colleague Frayda Bluestein, our expert on the public records laws, posted about the decision here.

Can New York City ban topless women in Times Square? Apparently, body-painted, costumed, and/or outlandishly dressed women without shirts have become a mainstay in Times Square, where tourists pose for pictures with them in exchange for tips. Mayor Bill DeBlasio doesn’t think that this is family-friendly and wants to put a stop to it. But New York law doesn’t prohibit women from going topless, and legal experts seem to think that the mayor’s hands are tied. Read more at the Volokh Conspiracy and CNN.

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3 comments on “News Roundup

  1. I wonder if providing inmates easier access to telephones would reduce the value of smuggled cell phones. Phone providers to jails and prisons have a monopoly and charge high fees. Some inmates (like Kelvin Melton) probably want cell phones because the conversations are not monitored. Many others though probably want to speak with family and friends without the hassle and expense of the prison phones.

  2. To limit inmates’ use of cell phones, it seems to me that prisons might be constructed in such a way as to cut off access to the cellular network. Even without resorting to technological, interference-based measures (which may run afoul of FCC regulations) a would drastically reduce the benefits of cell phone possession in a correctional facility.

    • I messed up the link tag. What I meant to type was, “Even without resorting to technological, interference-based measures (which may run afoul of FCC regulations) a faraday cage ( would drastically reduce the benefits of cell phone possession in a correctional facility.”

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