Six police officers were shot on Sunday in Baton Rouge in yet another targeted attack on law enforcement officers. Three of the officers died and the gunman later was killed in a shootout. Early reports suggest that the shooter, like the perpetrator of the attack in Dallas earlier this month, may have been motivated by recent officer-involved shootings of black men. President Obama wrote an open letter to law enforcement expressing his support, thanking officers for their service, and urging the nation to come together in a trying time. Keep reading for more news.
Misdemeanor Diversion Program. The News & Observer reports that 16- and 17- year old offenders are participating in a new misdemeanor diversion program in Orange County that is modeled after a Durham program. Under the program, eligible teen offenders must attend an educational court hearing, perform community service, and participate in treatment programs. If a teen successfully completes the diversion program, he or she is not charged with a criminal offense.
Another Acquittal in Freddie Gray Case. As the Wall Street Journal reports, another officer who was facing charges arising from the 2015 death of Freddie Gray has been acquitted. The officer, Lt. Brian Rice, was acquitted of manslaughter and other charges following a bench trial. Four of the six officers facing charges related to Gray’s death now have been tried and none have been convicted.
Missouri City Settles Suit Alleging Unconstitutional Incarceration. The New York Times reports that a “small city bordering Ferguson, Mo., has agreed to pay $4.7 million to compensate nearly 2,000 people who spent time in the city’s jail for not paying fines and fees related to traffic and other relatively petty violations.” Two nonprofit organizations and the St. Louis University School of Law brought the suit against the city. A similar suit against Ferguson is pending.
Booker Proposes Defender Office for Supreme Court Advocacy. The Bloomberg Law Blog reports that New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has introduced a bill which would create a “Defender Office for Supreme Court Advocacy.” In Booker’s view, there’s a “structural imbalance” between the government and criminal defendants in Supreme Court litigation because the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office represents the federal government before the Court but no analogous office exists to represent criminal defendants.
Ginsburg Regrets Criticizing Trump. The Washington Post reports that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has expressed regret for publicly criticizing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. In recent interviews, Ginsburg called Trump a “faker” and said that he would damage the country and the Supreme Court if elected. Ginsburg’s comments were widely criticized, but Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, wrote an op-ed in the L.A. Times saying that there was no reason for Ginsburg to apologize.
Legal T.V. Netflix plans to air new episodes of the popular crime documentary “Making a Murderer.” The documentary examines the case of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was convicted of murder after being exonerated by DNA evidence following 18 years of incarceration for a rape conviction. PBS has released a film titled “Pervert Park” that documents the lives of people living in “Florida Justice Transitions . . . a trailer park that is home to 120 sex offenders struggling to reintegrate into society.” The film is available for streaming here.
Police Lure Criminals with Pokémon. News outlet WMUR ABC 9 reports that police in Manchester, New Hampshire announced on Facebook that a rare Pokémon had been discovered in their booking area and invited certain “lucky” people to the station to catch the beast. In what turned out to be a crafty ruse, the invitees actually were Manchester’s most wanted criminals. Sadly, Pokémon-playing Manchester residents have not been spared from the rash of robberies afflicting players of the popular game.