News Roundup

The case of a former Stanford University student, Brock Turner, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman at a party on the university’s campus is receiving national attention this week because Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail and three years of probation.  The case is viewed by some as an example of a privileged white person receiving an unjustifiably lenient sentence for a serious crime.  The Wall Street Journal has an overview article here. The Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge who sentenced Turner, Aaron Persky, has come under fire; an online petition calling for his recall has received nearly a million signatures.  The victim’s statement to the court, largely directed at Turner, has become popular online and is available here.  An editorial from the San Jose Mercury News arguing that Turner’s sentence was too light is available here.  An opinion piece from the same paper, written prior to sentencing, arguing that a jail rather than a prison sentence would be appropriate is available here, and a similar piece from the National Association of Public Defenders is available here.  Keep reading for more news.

Kidnapping Victim Recounts Ordeal.  WRAL reports that Frank Janssen, the father of Wake County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Janssen, testified this week about his experience being kidnapped at the behest of a gang member, Kelvin Melton, whom Colleen had prosecuted for attempted murder.  In relatively sensational fashion, Frank was rescued by FBI agents who traced his location based on a cell phone that Melton was using to orchestrate the kidnapping from his cell at Polk Correctional Institution.

Access to Body Camera Footage Debated in Legislature.  The News and Observer reports that the General Assembly is considering a bill that “would require law enforcement to release videos when a person shown or heard in the video requests a copy.”  The bill specifically provides that recordings are not public records as defined by G.S. 132-1.  The bill is House Bill 972. Frayda Bluestein has a post over on Coates’ Canons that breaks down the as-introduced version of the proposed legislation, though the bill has been substantially revised since it was introduced; the current version of the bill is here.  

Judicial Elections.  As the Charlotte Observer reports, incumbent Justice Robert Edmunds will face Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan in the November election for the open seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court following Tuesday’s special primary.  A seat on the North Carolina Court of Appeals also will be up for grabs in November.  The Bladen Journal reports that the State Board of Elections has designated a special filing period for the seat that runs from July 11 to July 15.

Philadelphia DA to Stop Seeking LWOP for Juveniles.  The New York Times has an editorial that says that Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has decided to stop seeking life without parole for juveniles in all future cases.  Following Montgomery v. Louisiana, Williams also plans to “seek new sentences for all of the 300 or so prisoners who have been serving mandatory life without parole for homicides they committed as juveniles.”

Texas Man Gets Life for DWI.  Texas news outlet ABC 13 is reporting that Texas man Donald Middleton has been sentenced to life in prison following his ninth conviction for DWI since 1980.  Middleton had been sentenced to prison for DWI previously, and, remarkably, still had a valid license when he was arrested most recently.

McDonalds Robbery Foiled by Special Forces.  The Telegraph reports that an armed robbery of a McDonalds in France didn’t go as planned because a significant number of diners at the restaurant were members of one of “the most effective anti-terror forces in Europe” who specialize in counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and battling organized crime.  The commandos tackled one robber as he tried to leave the restaurant and shot the other in the stomach.   

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