News Roundup

Local and national reaction to the General Assembly’s approval in a one-day special session last week of House Bill 2, the “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act,” is dominating the news.  The Charlotte Observer’s initial report about the bill being signed into law is available here.  Over on the SOG Coates’ Canons blog, Trey Allen has a thorough overview of the new law and Norma Houston takes a look at its impact on city and county contracts.  In connection with the Charlotte controversy, Jeff considered the criminal implications of restroom usage by the opposite sex in this post from last year.

Proponents have argued that the new law is intended to protect public safety, but critics say it is discriminatory.  The News and Observer reports that Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper has announced that his office will not defend the law which has already been challenged in federal court.  In response, Governor Pat McCrory released a video criticizing Cooper’s decision, and N.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger called for Cooper to resign.  Keep reading for more news.

Crime Doesn’t Pay.  But according to this report from the Washington Post, refraining from committing a gun crime does pay for certain violent offenders.  The report details a controversial program in Richmond, California called “Operation Peacemaker Fellowship” where ex-convicts mentor the city’s gang members and suspected criminals with the hope of preventing future violence.  The program has numerous unusual features, one of which is that participants receive monthly payments for participation.  According to the report, other jurisdictions are interested in implementing a version of the program. 

Wake DWI Cases Dismissed.  WRAL reports that “Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman is dismissing more than 100 cases of driving while impaired after a judge found that a Wake sheriff’s deputy lied on the stand.”  A district court judge determined that Wake Deputy Robert Davis had given false testimony in at least three cases.  Davis was fired after more than a decade of service.

Asset Forfeiture Program Resumes.  The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department has announced that it is resuming payments from the federal Asset Forfeiture Fund to local law enforcement agencies under what is known as the “Equitable Sharing Program.”  Under the program, law enforcement agencies may use federal forfeiture policies, which reportedly are “more permissive than many state policies,” to keep a large percentage of certain seized assets.  Sometimes the assets are seized without warrants or indictments.  A report from the Greensboro News & Record indicates that the Burlington Police Department and the Alamance County Sherriff’s Department expect to receive money from the program when distributions resume in April.

A Picture of You.  North Carolina Lawyers Weekly reports that forensic artists who draw composite sketches of criminal suspects based on eyewitness descriptions continue to be valuable resources for law enforcement agencies, but their numbers are dwindling in an age of increasingly pervasive electronic surveillance.  While the NYPD has a three-person team of artists, many other agencies now rely on independent contractors.

Finalists for Durham Police Chief.  The News and Observer reports that Durham has selected two finalists for the city’s open police chief position.  According to the N&O, “[t]he finalists are Deputy Chief Cerelyn J. Davis, who serves over the Strategy and Special Projects Division of the Atlanta Police Department, and Maj. Michael J. Smathers, who oversees the Field Services Group of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.”  People quoted in the report state that each candidate was impressive in mock press conferences conducted during the hiring process and that each candidate demonstrated a “commitment to police professionalism.”

Riding Down the Line.  The News Roundup keeps close tabs on instances of vigilante justice around the country. This week’s story comes from CBS Los Angeles which reports that a woman shopping at a California mall was the victim of a purse snatching that ultimately was foiled by a hero on horseback who just happened to be nearby.  Reportedly, upon witnessing the crime, the unidentified man spurred his steed and chased the outlaw around the mall, eventually recovering the purse.  He returned the purse to the rightful owner in the general vicinity of a Sears store.


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