News Roundup

Two Iowa police officers were shot and killed early Wednesday morning in ambush attacks that made national news.  As the Des Moines Register reports, Urbandale Police Officer Justin Martin and Des Moines Police Sgt. Anthony Beminio each were shot while in their vehicles. The lone suspect, Scott Michael Greene, was apprehended a few hours after the shootings.  Early reports indicate that Greene had a run-in with Urbandale officers in the middle of last month after an incident at a high school football game where he waved a Confederate flag in front of a group of African-Americans and was ejected from the stadium.  The stadium is located at a traffic intersection where one of the officers was shot.  Keep reading for more news.

Targeted Police Shootings.  Wikipedia indicates that Justin Martin is believed to be the first Urbandale officer to be killed in the line of duty and that Anthony Beminio is the first Des Moines officer to die from homicide since 1977.  An article from FiveThirtyEight says that this has been “the deadliest year in decades for terror attacks targeting police officers.”  The article goes on to say that, “[o]verall, the job of policing has gotten safer in recent decades,” and that the number of officers killed by firearms represents a “very small” share of all gun deaths in the United States.  Nevertheless, targeted attacks on law enforcement officers haven’t occurred as frequently as they have this year since the 1970’s.

DA’s Offices Under Investigation.  The Greensboro News & Record says that the SBI confirmed last week that the district attorney’s offices in Rockingham and Caswell/Person counties are “at the heart of a criminal investigation into whether there has been a theft of state funds [from the NCAOC].”  The report says that the SBI confirmed that both offices have been under investigation since July.

Packingham.  SCOTUSblog reports that the United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari in Packingham v. North Carolina.  The case presents the question of whether North Carolina’s law that makes it a felony for registered sex offenders to use certain websites violates the First Amendment.  The North Carolina Court of Appeals found the law unconstitutional in 2013 but the state Supreme Court reversed that decision last year.

Wildlife Refuge Acquittals.  The Oregonian reports that late last week a federal jury acquitted all of the defendants involved in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff.  One defense attorney quoted in the report called the acquittal “stunning” while another said it was “more than we could have hoped for.”  The Oregonian has published email correspondence with one juror that purports to explain the jury’s reasoning.

Politics.  Election day is just around the corner and there are a number of stories in the news this week involving the intersection of criminal law and politics.  The Marshall Project has an article that rounds up some of the election season’s “soft-on-crime attack ads” including a few from North Carolina.  The L.A. Times reports that a California judge has denied the ACLU’s request that voters be allowed to take ballot selfies.

Beast Mode.  In the winter of ’53 a terrifying creature tormented the town of Bladenboro – equal parts panther, bear, and vampire, the beast devoured pet dogs in the dead of night.  Half a century removed from the horror, the town now celebrates Beast Fest on an annual basis.  This year’s event reportedly included a 5k fun run (or walk), live music, and two N.C. House candidates coming to blows near the main entrance of the festival and vowing to file criminal charges against each other.

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