News Roundup

Reuters reports that following rehearing en banc of a case decided last year, the Fourth Circuit has ruled that police do not need a warrant to obtain historical cell site location information from cell phone service providers.  The majority opinion concluded that the third party doctrine precludes a person from claiming a legitimate expectation of privacy in the location information because it has been voluntarily conveyed to the service provider.  The court’s opinion is available here.  Keep reading for more news.

Warrants for Android Location Data.  The Verge has an article that says that law enforcement officers have been requesting warrants authorizing them to obtain location information from Google that is much more precise than the historical cell site location information at issue in the Fourth Circuit case.  Apparently, Android phones use a “Location History system” that uses GPS, cell site information, and Wi-Fi access points to “build a persistent portrait of where a user has traveled with their phone.”  Historical CSLI is so 2015 (but we’ve got a helpful publication about it).

Naloxone in Schools.  WRAL has a report that says that school administrators and medical experts are beginning to consider whether North Carolina schools should keep the opioid-reversal drug naloxone on hand in case a student overdoses.  The report indicates that the school resource officers at Carrboro High School and McDougle Middle School are among the few in the state who have immediate access to the drug and training on how to use it.     

President Carter Opposes Fully Decriminalizing Prostitution.  In an op-ed for the Washington Post this week, Jimmy Carter says that he “agree[s] with Amnesty International, UNAIDS and other groups that say that those who sell sex acts should not be arrested or prosecuted, but [he] cannot support proposals to decriminalize buyers and pimps.”  Carter argues for an approach called the “Nordic model” which “involves decriminalizing prostituted women” but “treats purchasing and profiting from sex acts as serious crimes.”  The New York Times Magazine has an article that explains why Amnesty International opposes the Nordic model and supports decriminalizing consensual sex work.      

Judge Argues for Limiting Peremptory Challenges.  The New York Times has an op-ed from Jon Newman, a senior Second Circuit judge, that argues that the best way to end racial discrimination in juror selection “is to limit the number of jurors that lawyers can strike for no reason at all to just one or two per side.”  In Newman’s view, eliminating peremptory challenges entirely would be opposed by both prosecutors and defense attorneys and is “unlikely to be achieved,” but he thinks “reducing the number will do significant good.”  In North Carolina, parties are entitled to six peremptory challenges per defendant in non-capital cases and fourteen per defendant in capital cases.

Police Rewarded for Showing Restraint. The Associated Press reports that “[a] few police agencies in the U.S. have begun rewarding officers for showing restraint in the line of duty, putting the tactic on par with bravery.”  The report indicates that the Philadelphia and Los Angeles police departments have awards that recognize officers who de-escalate conflicts, and that the Department of Justice plans to recognize the tactic with awards later this year.

Comfort Dog Assists Child Witness.  USA Today reports that the Tennessee Court of Appeals has found that it was permissible for a comfort dog to be in the courtroom to assist a child rape victim while he testified.  According to the report, the trial court “instructed the jury that no inference of sympathy should result from the dog’s presence.”  A Tennessee pattern instruction on comfort dogs reportedly is being developed.

N.Y. City Council to Reduce Punishment for Low-Level Offenses.  News outlet ABC 7 NY is reporting good news for New Yorkers: the City Council plans to downgrade public urination and other minor offenses from misdemeanors to “violations.”  The reduction in offense severity means that the offenses will be handled in civil court and that the potential jail punishment will be reduced to one day from a current maximum of 90 days.

Al Capone’s Cell Historically Inaccurate.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that seventh grade antique collector Joey Warchal noticed that “something was very wrong” in Al Capone’s cell during a recent tour of Eastern State Penitentiary.  At the time of his tour, a 1942 Philco A-361 radio was being displayed in Capone’s cell, but Warchal pointed out that the radio was manufactured years after Capone left the penitentiary.  Not content for this travesty to persist, Warchal has secured a 1929 Philco model 76 that he thinks will be a suitable replacement.

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