News Roundup

The officer-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and the associated protests in Charlotte continue to be in the local and national news.  Mecklenburg County Public Defender Kevin Tully gave his view on the unrest in Charlotte late last week on NPR’s All Things Considered.  The Charlotte Observer reports that the Charlotte Police Department has announced that it will “reverse course and be more open about releasing videos of police shootings to victims’ families and the public.”  The move comes after the department was reluctant to release footage of the Scott shooting in the days immediately following the incident.  The Observer report notes that a new state law regarding law enforcement recordings, S.L. 2016-88, goes into effect on Saturday.   As the Observer reports, the new law is generating controversy; some say it reduces law enforcement transparency and accountability while others view it as an improvement over the current patchwork of local policies regarding recordings.  Keep reading for more news.

DNA Sketch.  A few weeks ago the News Roundup noted that the 2012 murder of UNC student Faith Hedgepeth remains unsolved.  This week WRAL reports that investigators have released a composite sketch of a suspect.  The sketch is unusual – it isn’t based on eyewitness identification but rather was generated based on the “DNA traits” of the suspect.

Lawyer-Involved Shooting.  Yet again, a mass shooting is in the news.  As the Washington Post reports, “[a] man who injured nine people in a shooting rampage in Houston on Monday was wearing military clothes and Nazi emblems during the attack, and was carrying nearly 2,600 rounds of ammunition inside a [car] parked at the scene.”  The shooter, Nathan DeSai, was an attorney who “ran a small firm where he practiced business, criminal and family law.”  DeSai was shot and killed by police.

State Senator Indicted on Federal Charges.  The News & Observer reports that state senator Fletcher Hartsell was indicted by a federal grand jury Monday on charges involving “misusing campaign money over an eight-year period.”  According to the report, “[t]he indictment alleges Hartsell engaged in a scheme to solicit and obtain campaign money . . . that he spent on personal items and services.”  The federal charges follow Hartsell’s indictment on state charges earlier this year related to certifying false campaign-finance reports.

Animal Punishments.  The Orange County man who made news earlier this summer when he was bitten by his pet king cobra pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor this week according to WRAL.  He was sentenced to two years of supervised probation and must “pay $4,000 to the state for costs related to snake removal.”

In Fayetteville, a Fort Bragg soldier, John Garrett Burrow, pleaded guilty to a felony animal cruelty charge arising out of an incident where he tied up his puppy and tossed it in a pond to drown.  In addition to 30 days in jail, 100 hours of community service, and a five-year ban on pet ownership, Burrow also must carry a photo of the dog in his wallet while spending two years on probation.

Doctor Overbills NC Prisons.  The News & Observer reports that a state audit released Wednesday reveals that a “doctor hired under contract to work in prisons overbilled the state by $567,125 over three years by falsifying time sheets.”  According to the report, the “state Auditor’s Office referred the finding to the State Bureau of Investigation and Wake county District Attorney Lorrin Freeman.”

Get Off My Lawn.  Some self-described “law nerds” have gone into the lawn-sign business according to the ABA Journal.  In an effort to assist homeowners in revoking any implicit license that may exist from societal custom for strangers to approach the front door of a home, two law professors are selling yard signs that announce to the world: “stay out.”  It’s a wonder that people don’t like lawyers.  

Memphis Blues.  Memphis news outlet WREG Channel 3 reports that a Memphis woman received a double dose of shock “after catching two burglars having sexual intercourse in her house and ransacking the place.”  Victim Jamie Barnes told WREG that she arrived home to a scene that was “absolutely horrible” and quickly armed herself with a broom in order to dispatch the naked intruders.  There’s no official word, but this could be a case of fools mixing Texas medicine and railroad gin.  See Bob Dylan, Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, on Blonde on Blonde (Columbia Records 1966) (describing disastrous consequences of such mixture on one’s sense of time).

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