News Roundup

The Baltimore Sun reports that prosecutors have dropped all remaining charges against police officers in cases related to the 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray.  The decision to end the prosecutions was motivated by the fact that no officer who had already faced trial had been convicted.  Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby reportedly decided that it was unlikely that convictions could be secured in the remaining cases, but defended the decision to bring charges given that the medical examiner’s office classified Gray’s death as a homicide.  Though the state criminal cases are resolved, administrative investigations of the officers are ongoing and the Justice Department is expected to release the results of a civil-rights investigation of the Police Department soon.  Keep reading for more news.

Innocence Evidence Post-Conviction.  The Statesville Record & Landmark reports that a North Carolina State bar panel has agreed on the wording of a proposed rule that would require prosecutors to disclose evidence of innocence that is obtained after a person has been convicted of a crime.  Reportedly, the proposed rule would direct prosecutors about handling situations where they learn of “new, credible evidence or information creating a reasonable likelihood that a convicted defendant did not commit an offense of which the defendant was convicted.”  Fourteen other states have a similar rule.  

Jordan Contributes to Improve Officer-Community Relations. WRAL reports that Michael Jordan is donating two million dollars to help build trust between law enforcement and African-Americans.  Jordan is donating half the money to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the other half to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Batson Backstory.  The podcast More Perfect, a Supreme Court focused spin-off of the radio show Radiolab, recently released an episode titled “Object Anyway” that examines the events surrounding the Supreme Court’s decision in Batson v. Kentucky.  This blog has posted on Batson-related issues numerous times, including posts from this year available here and here.  Emily Coward, the author of one of those posts, says that the Batson podcast is engaging, accessible, and worth a listen (much like Beyond the Bench).

Felons Voting.  Election season is in full swing, but some Virginia felons won’t be casting a ballot according to this report from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  The Virginia Supreme Court has struck down an executive order from Governor Terry McAuliffe that restored voting rights to certain convicted felons.  The court said that the order was unconstitutional.  In an opinion piece motivated by the Virginia decision, a Yale law professor says that prisoners should be allowed to vote, regardless of their crime.  The News Roundup previously has noted a similar article.

Assessing Risk Assessment Tools.  FiveThirtyEight has a story that examines the use of risk assessment tools in the criminal justice system.  The tools are drawing a lot of interest in systems across the nation right now, and the story says that Pennsylvania is preparing to begin using risk assessment in sentencing.

Teens Use Drone to Catch Boat Thieves.  Combining two of the News Roundup’s favorite topics, vigilantes and drones, ABC News reports that two teens foiled the theft of their boat by chasing the thieves with a drone.  Rudely startled from their 11 a.m. vacation home slumber by the suspicious sound of their motor boat being whisked away, the teens flew their drone into action and pursued the thieves.  Police were able to use the drone’s video footage to track the boat and apprehend the suspects.

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