News Roundup

The old media motto is “if it bleeds, it leads.” But today, I’m leading with a good news story of danger averted. Dan Hicks, a Raleigh PD officer, talked a man off the edge of a freeway overpass Wednesday night and gave him a hug. Officer Hicks explained to WRAL that the man in question “got a big old Dan Hicks bear hug, whether he wanted it or not. . . . [H]e was not going to be given the opportunity to go over that bridge again. He got to stand there with me for a second and get that hug. Call it tactical, call it compassionate, I think it was probably both.” Well done, Officer Hicks.

In other news:

Baltimore pays Freddie Gray’s family $6.4 million. Staying with police-related news, Baltimore has agreed to head off a civil suit by settling with the family of Freddie Gray, the young man who died in April as a result of injuries sustained while in police custody. The settlement is for $6.4 million, as WRAL notes here. The officers involving in the incident have been charged criminally but have not yet been tried.

Jury recommends death sentence for former head of North Carolina KKK. As the Washington Post reports here, a Kansas jury has recommended a death sentence for Frazier Glenn Miller, a former Grand Dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Miller shot and killed three people at or near a Jewish center in Overland Park. He was motivated by anti-Semitism, and at trial, declared himself “proud” of the killings, though none of the three victims turned out to have been Jewish. Miller will formally be sentenced in November. The news stories I’ve seen all refer to the jury’s “recommendation.” I don’t know whether, under Kansas law, such a recommendation is binding on the judge.

WFU law professor: train defenders in plea bargaining. Ron Wright, a professor at Wake Forest University’s law school, has co-authored a new paper arguing that defense attorneys don’t get enough training in negotiation. Such training takes a back seat to trial advocacy even though far more cases are resolved by plea than by trial. The paper’s on SSRN here and is tasty food for thought. I’m pretty sure that a study of prosecutors would reach the same conclusion.

Prosecutor resigns after supervisors recommend reduced sentence for drug dealer who threatened to kill her. This interesting piece in the Carolina Journal begins: “Federal prosecutor Denise Walker, who was forced into hiding for six weeks as a result of a drug dealer’s threats to have her killed, later resigned when her superiors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Raleigh proposed a lesser sentence for the drug dealer and blocked any mention of his murderous intentions in a pre-sentencing report.” The basis for the recommended reduction was the defendant’s testimony against one of his associates. The sentencing judge rejected the recommendation and imposed a life sentence. It’s worth a read for a bit of an inside look at the world of federal criminal court.

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