News Roundup

My colleagues and I have been busy orienting new district court judges this week, so I haven’t paid much attention to events taking place outside the confines of the Knapp-Sanders building. But that hasn’t stopped the criminal news from coming. Here are the highlights:

  • Former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was convicted on Thursday of rape and other sexual assault charges arising from his victimization of eight women, most of whom he came in contact with through his work. The Associated Press reports on the trial and verdict here. Many of the women who alleged that Holtzclaw sexually assaulted them lived in the low-income, minority neighborhood that Holtzclaw patrolled. Several had criminal records and problems with drug abuse. The jury recommended that Holtzclaw serve 263 years in prison for his crimes.
  • In related news, the AP recently reported on the results of its investigation of sexual misconduct by law enforcement officers in the United States. That investigation “uncovered about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault; sex crimes that included possession of child pornography; or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens or having consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse.” The AP thinks those numbers are low, given that some states lack a system to decertify officers for misconduct.
  • No Club Med in Durham. The News & Observer reports that the self-appointed Durham Jail Investigation Team is getting results. They’ve protested conditions in the jail, including an alleged lack of sanitation, adequate food, and medical treatment. Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews announced yesterday that the National Institute of Corrections will inspect the jail early next year and make recommendations for improvements.
  • If you follow social media you already know that Serial has launched its second season. The podcast’s first season made famous the prosecution of Adnan Syed for the 1999 murder of his high school classmate and ex-girlfriend and triggered heated and public debate about Syed’s guilt. This season features Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier released by the Taliban last year after five years in captivity in exchange for five Taliban commanders.
  • Finally, in news that some readers may find disturbing, the AP reports that “[h]undreds of bottles of counterfeit wine were crushed and destroyed in Austin, Texas on Thursday.” These bottles were seized from Rudy Kurniawan, a former wine collector sentenced to ten years in federal prison for swindling buyers out of more than $20 million. (Have these people never heard of Two Buck Chuck?) The fate of this wine strikes me as particularly unfortunate given the demand during this season of merriment and extended visits from relatives.
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