News Roundup

Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Americans across the nation observed the national holiday and celebrated Dr. King’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement.  ABC 11 reports here that N.C. State professor Jason Miller launched a website that contains a restored recording of a November 1962 speech that King delivered in Rocky Mount.  The website explains that King first delivered the famous “I have a dream” refrain during the Rocky Mount speech.  The tape recording of the speech was stored for nearly 50 years before being discovered in a library in 2013.  The analog tape was digitally restored and the nearly hour-long speech is now available for listening on the website.

Solitary Confinement.  Last week’s news roundup cited a report about the death penalty from Amnesty International that indicated that the trend in the United States seems to be towards fewer executions.  An article in the Yale Law Journal written by Ninth Circuit judge Alex Kozinski warns that, as the country shifts away from use of the death penalty, increased focus on the use of solitary confinement is needed.  Kozinski notes that “many more Americans are directly affected by solitary confinement than by the death penalty” and explains that the conditions of solitary take a “devastating psychological toll” on prisoners.  He urges activists to agitate for reform in this area of the criminal justice system.

Lawyer Resigns From Being Lawyer.  The News and Observer reports here that Greensboro attorney Lewis Pitts observed “an overall breach by the Bar as a whole of the most basic of professional conduct and ethics such that [he did] not want to be associated with the Bar.”  Pitts, however, did not want to go into inactive status but rather wished to relinquish his Bar membership entirely.  Apparently there was not a procedure for accomplishing Pitt’s goal until September of last year when the N.C. Supreme Court approved a relinquishment procedure.  According to the State Bar, “[t]he effect of relinquishment is the loss of all privileges of membership in the State Bar and, should the person desire to practice law in North Carolina again, the requirement that the person apply to the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners as if for the first time.”

Bluebook Brouhaha.  They say that three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and the fact that the Bluebook originated at Harvard.  However, in a bombshell report here, the Harvard Crimson explains that one of these certainties has recently been called into question.  Evidently two Yale librarians have discovered evidence that suggests that Yale may have produced a manual of legal citation rules that predates the Bluebook.  The evidence consists of a single page of a booklet of legal citation that “appeared to be a precursor to Harvard’s version.”  While this discovery hasn’t definitively identified the origin of the citation guide, it has generated a great deal of law librarian sniping with the Yale librarians vowing to “set the record straight” and characterizing Harvard’s account of the origin of the book as “wildly erroneous.”  While one would assume that the folks over at Harvard Law don’t intend to take these serious allegations lying down, at this point it’s only an assumption because the Harvard Law Review declined to comment on the record.

You’re Doing it Wrong.  If you tend to be confrontational, argumentative, or violent when you get pulled over for a traffic stop, the Raleigh Police Department has produced a video that it hopes will change your behavior.  WRAL reports here that at community meetings people often ask Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown how they should behave when they get pulled over.  Finding it easier to show proper behavior than to explain it, the department produced a video titled “Traffic Stops: What to Expect as a Motorist” and posted it to YouTube.  Among other things, the eight-minute video explains the legal standard for making a traffic stop, urges motorists to treat officers with respect, and provides information about consent searches.  Perhaps in an effort to make investigations easier for officers, the video also encourages motorists to “answer any questions the officer has” and indicates that a traffic stop concludes when the officer tells a motorist that he or she is “free to leave.”  Jeff discusses the law of traffic stops in detail in this paper which includes a discussion of questioning during a stop and a discussion of when termination of the stop takes place.

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