News Roundup

As the News & Observer reports, the Orange County Republican Party headquarters in Hillsborough was firebombed and vandalized over the weekend. According to the report, “[a] flaming bottle was thrown through a window of the office” and an adjacent building was vandalized with paintings of a swastika and the phrase “Nazi Republicans leave town or else.” The incident drew the attention of both presidential candidates, and vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence and Governor McCrory each visited the headquarters. McCrory has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. Keep reading for more news.

Where All the Judges Are Above Average. The North Carolina Bar Association has released the 2016 Election Edition of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Survey. The document presents the results of the Bar Association’s survey of North Carolina lawyers about their opinions of the professional qualities and skills of candidates who are running to be trial court judges.

Kania Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter. The Asheboro Courier-Tribune reports that a jury convicted former UNC student Chandler Kania of involuntary manslaughter earlier this week. Kania was charged with second-degree murder for driving the wrong way on the highway while intoxicated and killing three people. Kania already had pleaded guilty to three counts of felony death by motor vehicle, among other charges, and was sentenced to consecutive prison terms on the felony death charges.

News & Observer Liable for Libel. The News & Observer reports that a Wake County jury has returned a $7.5 million libel verdict against the paper. Plaintiff Beth Desmond, an agent for the State Bureau of Investigation, sued the News & Observer “for libel over 2010 coverage of her ballistics analysis and testimony in a 2006 murder trial in Pitt County.” According to the article, the paper “had reported that independent firearms experts questioned whether she knew anything about firearms analysis, and that some suspected she fabricated evidence to help Pitt County prosecutors win a murder conviction.” As the News Roundup previously noted, the scientific validity of firearm analysis, and many other forensic disciplines, recently has come under increased scrutiny.

I’ve Just Seen a Face. The Washington Post says that a new report from the Center for Privacy & Technology at Georgetown University’s law school suggests that “[t]he growing use of facial-recognition systems has led to a high-tech form of racial profiling, with African Americans more likely than others to have their images captured, analyzed and reviewed during computerized searches for crime suspects.” Various problems contribute to the phenomenon including that the databases are rarely “scrubbed” of innocent people and some systems “struggle to distinguish among darker-skinned faces.” The report is titled “The Perpetual Line-Up” and is available here.

She Ain’t Got Time for Your Blues. The Washington Post reports that a Houston 911 operator, Crenshanda Williams, may have hung up on thousands of calls between October 2015 and March 2016. In one instance, seemingly annoyed by a security guard’s attempt to report highway drag racing, Williams tells the guard just before hanging up: “Ain’t nobody got time for this. For real.” She now faces two counts of interfering with an emergency communication.

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