News Roundup

It’s a ritual of fall: one faculty member or another receives an inquiry about whether registered sex offenders covered by G.S. 14-208.18 may attend a county fair or the State Fair. I tend to doubt that most agricultural fairs are intended “primarily” for kids, which would make them per se off limits, but I think it would be awfully difficult for a covered offender to make his or her way around most such fairs without running afoul of the 300-foot rule and/or the prohibition against being present at places minors gather for “regularly scheduled . . . programs.” We don’t have a case yet discussing sex offenders at fairs, but we may soon. WRAL reports here that a sex offender has been arrested after allegedly posing as a ride inspector at the “kiddie land” portion of the State Fair. Weirdly, WRAL also reports that a second sex offender has been arrested after flying a camera-equipped drone over the fair.

In other news:

First, they came for the drones . . . Speaking of drones, WRAL notes here that “[c]oncerned about rising reports of close calls and safety risks involving drones, the government announced Monday it will require many of the increasingly popular unmanned aircraft to be registered.” The details of the registration requirement aren’t yet available, but it sounds as though it may be limited to larger and higher-flying drones.

Garner anti-police graffiti a hate crime? Police One reports here that “[t]he phrase ‘kill a cop, save a child’ was found sprayed on several buildings [in Garner this week], including a mural on the Garner Police Department’s new police station.” The police chief has described the incident as a hate crime, and the department is offering a substantial reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator. It’s going to cost thousands of dollars to repair the mural, which I thought looked very nice.

New report finds bias in federal sentencing. Sentencing Law & Policy notes here that the Bureau of Justice Statistics commissioned a study on bias in sentencing. The study concludes that “black men received roughly 5% to 10% longer prison sentences than white men for similar crimes, after accounting for the facts surrounding the case,” and that women received more lenient sentences than men.

NC law schools’ bar passage rates look good by comparison . . . Just 31% of first-time Arizona bar takers from Arizona Summit Law School passed the July bar, despite the school paying students to take extended bar preparation courses and allegedly offering to pay some students – presumably those the school thought unlikely to pass — to refrain from taking the bar. Above the Law covers the brouhaha here. By contrast, the North Carolina school with the lowest bar passage rate for first-time takers is the Charlotte School of Law, at 46%. Not great, but quite a bit better than 31%. The rest of our law schools achieved 60% or higher passage rates, with several at or near 80%.

New Grisham book reviewed. Finally, I admit that I reflexively read John Grisham’s books. He’s got a new one called Rogue Lawyer. As this mostly positive review at Above the Law explains, it’s about “a criminal defense attorney specializing in an extremely narrow area of the law: clients that are so unpopular that no other attorney will go near them.” It sounds like the character works out of his vehicle, which calls to mind Michael Connelly’s excellent Lincoln Lawyer series.

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