News Roundup

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For the second time in two weeks, I’ll start with a heartwarming, positive story about a police officer. In 2014, Raleigh Officer J.D. Boyd broke up an altercation involving a man named Cory Sanders. Sanders confronted Officer Boyd and swung at him with a knife; Boyd drew his pistol on Sanders. Sanders eventually surrendered and was charged with assault. This week, Boyd encountered Sanders again. Sanders apologized for his behavior and told Boyd that he was now working at a good job and was staying out of trouble. On social media, Boyd posted pictures of Sanders and himself and wrote “I was glad it ended well for us both that day, and I am ecstatic now to learn that he has turned his life around and we can embrace as friends.” A number of media outlets have the story, including WRAL here.

In other news:

Budget deal increases court funding. The General Assembly is in the process of passing the final budget for the next biennium, and Governor McCrory has pledged to sign it. The court system will receive a $10 million recurring budget increase, as well as some one-time funds. IDS saw its budget increased by about $3 million, but was moved under the authority of the Administrative Office of the Courts, as the News and Observer reports here. One relatively detailed summary of the budget’s impact on the courts is here.

North Carolina police chief forced out for calling Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization. Surf City, North Carolina police chief Mike Halstead was forced to resign this week after writing on Facebook that Black Lives Matter is a “terrorist group” advocating “the murders of a race of people and a group of public servants.” The Wilmington Star News has the story here.

Is the death penalty on life support? So asks Professor Doug Berman over at Sentencing Law and Policy. His post, here, excerpts a USA Today article, available here in full, that covers the recent decline in executions nationally. But Professor Berman observes that the potential exists for a significant uptick in executions in the remainder of calendar 2015, making the trajectory of the ultimate punishment less clear.

Basic black, please: judges can’t add color to their robes. At least not in Florida. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports here on the Florida Supreme Court’s rule on point. According to the court:

Depending on the color or pattern of the robe or the type of embellishment worn, some may wonder whether the presiding judge is a “real judge” or whether the judge will take the proceedings seriously. Robe color also could be seen as a reflection of a judge’s mood or attitude that day. Should a defendant facing the death penalty feel trepidation when the presiding judge appears in a red robe or feel more at ease when the robe is green? The possibility that the unique attire of the judge assigned to one’s case could raise these concerns and thereby diminish public trust and confidence in the proceedings is not acceptable.

The public should not have to guess as to the meaning of different colored, patterned, or embellished robes. Promoting uniformity in judicial attire, by requiring all judges to wear unembellished, solid black robes, will no doubt avoid these concerns and promote public trust and confidence. The people of Florida have a right to expect equal justice every day, in every court in this state, and should not have to question whether equal justice is being dispensed based on the color of a judge’s robe.

 

Right off the bat, I’m not aware of any North Carolina rule limiting judges’ attire in this way. Readers, are you?

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