News Roundup

Officer-involved shootings have been a frequent topic of national news in recent months.  This week, there have been notable developments in two North Carolina cases.  First, the News and Observer reports that a Harnett County grand jury declined to indict a sheriff’s deputy, Nicholas Kehagias, who shot and killed John Livingston in November.  The report indicates that the decision comes “after months of unease in Harnett County” that included protests in front of the courthouse by Livingston’s friends and family.  The jury reportedly was asked to consider second-degree murder charges.  Though Kehagias will not face criminal charges, the News and Observer reports that Livingston’s family will pursue a civil case against him.

The other North Carolina case in the news involves a February incident in which Raleigh police officer D.C. Twiddy shot and killed Akiel Denkins.  WRAL reports that Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman announced Wednesday that no criminal charges will be filed against Twiddy.  The announcement follows an SBI investigation into the incident.  The report says that community leaders “appeal[ed] for calm in the community” at a prayer vigil on Wednesday night, and notes that local officials praised the community for maintaining calm throughout the investigation.  Keep reading for more news:

FBI Paid Hackers for iPhone Exploit.  The Washington Post reports that the FBI paid professional hackers a one-time fee for an exploit that took advantage of a previously unknown software flaw and allowed the FBI to access the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terror attack shooters.  According to the report, at least one person involved in the hack is a so-called “gray hat” hacker – a researcher who sells information about software flaws to governments and other organizations.  Use of such hackers is “often considered ethically murky” according to the report.

Judge Orders Release of Defendants Charged With Serious Felonies.  The New Orleans Advocate reports that a Louisiana judge has “ordered seven indigent inmates released from jail because of a lack of state money for attorneys to represent them amid a squeeze on public defense funding in New Orleans and across Louisiana.”  The defendants each face serious charges including robbery, rape, and second-degree murder.  Many of them have been incarcerated pre-trial for more than a year.  The judge ruled that the lack of defense funding constituted a Sixth Amendment violation, but stayed the release order pending an appeal.

Textalyzer & Implied Consent.  An article from Above the Law reports that New York State is considering authorizing police to use a device called a “Textalyzer” to determine whether a driver’s cellphone was active immediately prior to an accident in order to uncover cases of distracted driving.  The article also notes that next week the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Bernard v. Minnesota, a case which presents the question of whether, in the absence of a warrant, a state may make it a crime for a person to refuse to take a chemical test to detect the presence of alcohol in the person’s blood.  Shea claims that she has the SOG’s implied consent to host a listening party when the oral argument recording is released next Friday; I’m suspicious of that after reading her implied consent posts.

Love Crimes.  It’s no crime to fall in love, but it remains a crime in Utah for a married person to “purport to marry another person or cohabit[] with another person.”  As the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports, earlier this week the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a challenge to a Utah statute that criminalizes polygamy.  The stars of the television show “Sister Wives” challenged the law on constitutional grounds, but the 10th Circuit concluded that the matter was moot because the Utah County Attorney General adopted a policy that limited bigamy prosecutions.  Under the policy, the challengers did not face a credible threat of prosecution.

Email Notification Improvements. Lately, we’ve had some problems with email notifications regarding new blog posts not reaching some subscribers. We’ve looked into it and have decided to change to a different email notification tool, starting next week. The format may be slightly different but don’t be put off – it should work pretty much the same way. We hope for a seamless transition!


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