News Roundup

Arkansas is preparing to execute eight death row prisoners over the course of eleven days later this month in an effort to carry out death sentences before one of the drugs the state uses for lethal injection expires.  NPR has an overview of the situation here.  The plan, which involves executing two prisoners a day, is being criticized on various grounds including that it diminishes the significance of the punishment, risks botched executions, exposes prison staff to significant stress, and leaves insufficient time for clemency appeals.  Keep reading for more news.

Gorsuch.  As USA Today reports, the Senate appears to be set to vote today to confirm the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.  Senators voted yesterday to change Senate rules, invoking the so-called “nuclear option” to end a filibuster by Democrats that was blocking a vote on Gorsuch’s nomination to the Court.

Peterson Interview.  Tonight’s episode of Dateline, entitled “Down the Back Staircase,” will feature interviews with Michael Peterson and many other people involved in his high profile murder case.  An article about the Dateline episode from the News & Observer quotes Peterson as saying that his recent Alford plea deal was “the most difficult decision [he] ever made in his life.”

Body-Cam Bill.  The Greensboro News & Record reports that state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require law enforcement officers in larger counties to wear and activate body cameras while interacting with the public.  The bill also provides that recordings from the cameras would be available to the public upon request.  The News & Record report suggests that the bill is somewhat controversial, with supporters saying that cameras could alleviate tension between law enforcement and the black community and opponents questioning the wisdom of providing recordings to the public.

Police Dog Competition.  The News & Observer reports that the SBI hosted the U.S. Police Canine Association’s National Dog Detector Trials this week in Raleigh.  Elite canine teams from across the nation competed in trials designed to test the ability of dogs and their handlers to detect hidden drugs and explosives.  There was a public demonstration of the dogs’ skills on Saturday at the N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Alabama Prison Violence.  The New York Times published an article last week that describes the shockingly violent conditions of an overcrowded and understaffed Alabama prison, the St. Clair Correctional Facility.  The article says that the Justice Department is investigating “reports of rampant violence and sexual abuse at the hands of both inmates and staff members” in male prisons in Alabama, and notes that the state’s prisons are running at 172 percent of capacity.

With Bob on Our Side.  Lawyers and judges get a lot of mileage out of Bob Dylan songs according to this piece from the ABA Journal. The News Roundup is no exception.  The ABA piece says that part of Dylan’s appeal is that his songs remind a profession driven by technicalities of text that there is power in creatively expressing concepts of justice.  I agree though I couldn’t help but notice a grammatically awkward sentence in the article caused by partially quoting a line from Love Minus Zero/No Limit.

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