News Roundup

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Most of the office chatter around the SOG this week concerned the new lawsuit challenging the recently-enacted retention election procedure for North Carolina Supreme Court Justices. The basic question is whether that procedure satisfies the state constitution’s requirement that justices be elected. The Fayetteville Observer has more information here. But that wasn’t the only interesting story of the week.

NCBA post Judicial Performance Evaluation Survey results. They’re available here. A later survey will assess recently-appointed judges and non-incumbents seeking election.

Freddie Gray trial begins. Recall that several law enforcement officers have been charged criminally in connection with the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. The first trial started this week. WRAL has the story here.

DNA analysis is now so good, it’s bad. Or so suggests this post at the Geekquinox blog about the possibility of detecting “transfer DNA.” The idea is that when A touches B, and B then touches some evidence or is present at a crime scene, a small amount of A’s DNA may be transferred to the evidence or the scene, and that DNA may be detected by today’s sensitive forensic testing techniques, creating the misleading impression that A touched the evidence or was at the scene. I don’t know how likely detection of such “transfer DNA” is, but the report at least calls into question the idea of DNA invincibility.

Alabama officers reportedly plant drugs on African-Americans . . . maybe. This local article from Alabama made a huge splash this week by claiming that “[a] group of up to a dozen police officers on a specialized narcotics team [in Dothan, Alabama] . . . planted drugs and weapons on young black men for years”; that the unit was led by officers who belong to an extremist group that advocates a black return to Africa; and that the entire situation was covered up by, among others, the district attorney. But some who trumpeted the article initially have now raised questions about the accuracy of the story. A writer for the Washington Post discusses the matter here.

Winter criminal law webinar coming soon. Finally, a great early holiday gift for the lawyer in your life would be registration for John Rubin and Alyson Grine’s upcoming webinar. Although oriented towards defense lawyers, the webinar is open to all and may be of interest to anyone involved in the criminal justice system. The basics:

The Winter Criminal Law Webinar: Case and Legislative Update will cover recent criminal law decisions issued by the North Carolina appellate courts and U.S. Supreme Court and will highlight significant criminal law legislation enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly. School of Government faculty members John Rubin and Alyson Grine will discuss a wide range of issues affecting felony and misdemeanor cases in the North Carolina state courts. The webinar, broadcast live from the School of Government, includes a dynamic visual presentation, live audio, and interactive Q & A.

The big event will take place next Friday, December 11, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. It’s free for IDS employees, $75 for others. For more information or to register, go here.

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One comment on “News Roundup

  1. RE: DNA analysis is now so good, it’s bad.

    If the suspect identification in cases were based solely on DNA evidence then defense attorneys might have a point. However, no law enforcement officer I know would place all their eggs in one basket like that. I was trained, and I pass on that training, that you don’t stop when you get a DNA “hit” but rather you continue on and develop all OTHER methods of identification such as finger prints, video, witnesses, footprints, Social Media comments and pictures that also serve to identify the suspect.

    A fingerprint, witness, and the ubiquitous moronic Facebook braggart confession in conjunction with a DNA hit will certainly shut down any defense attorney in a heartbeat.

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