News Roundup

There was tragic news from Bertie Correctional Institution this week where Sergeant Meggan Lee Callahan died Wednesday evening after being attacked by an inmate.  Craig Wissink, who is serving a life sentence for murder, is suspected of killing Callahan, according to this report from the Charlotte Observer.  State facilities have been directed to fly North Carolina flags at half-staff until sunset today in tribute to Callahan.

Arkansas Executions. The News Roundup has been following the controversial plan in Arkansas to execute eight death row inmates this month before one of the state’s lethal injection drugs expires.  Four of the executions have been temporarily blocked, but three have been carried out and another is scheduled for the Thursday evening preceding this News Roundup.  NBC News has an overview of the situation here.  Arkansas carried out two of the executions on Monday night; according to the Associated Press this was the first double execution in a single day in the United States since 2000.

Death Penalty. Though Arkansas is making the headlines, there’s death penalty news out of two other states this week.  The Oklahoman reports that “[a] bipartisan commission studying Oklahoma’s death penalty released a study Tuesday recommending the state continue its current moratorium on executions ‘until significant reforms are made.’” The recommended reforms are wide ranging, involving changes to everything from the drugs used for lethal injection to the procedure for capital trials.

Texas also is in the news after the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Texas Law School released a report saying that conditions on Texas’s death row, where solitary confinement is mandatory, are inhumane and amount to torture.  The New York Times has a story here.  Jeff blogged earlier this month about the U.S. Supreme Court finding that Texas’s method of determining whether a person was ineligible for the death penalty because of intellectual disability was flawed.

McCullough Retires.  A couple of weeks ago the News Roundup noted recent legislation that reduces the number of judges on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from fifteen to twelve.  Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the bill last Friday and the General Assembly overrode the veto Wednesday.  Before the veto was overridden, Judge Doug McCullough unexpectedly retired from the bench 36 days before reaching mandatory retirement age, giving Cooper the opportunity to appoint a replacement judge and preventing his seat from being eliminated upon his retirement.  In a statement McCullough said: “I did not want my legacy to be the elimination of a seat and the impairment of a court that I have served on.”

Supreme Court Tenure.  With the recent addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court, the blog EmpicalScotus took the opportunity to run some historical analytics on the tenure of the justices of the high court.  The post has a number of interesting bits of information, including that the youngest justices were 32 when they were confirmed and that presidents average an appointment to the court roughly every two years.

We Want You.  There’s a new job opening at the SOG – we’re looking for a Prosecutor Educator.  A primary responsibility of the Prosecutor Educator will be creating and maintaining a new on-line knowledge base for prosecutors that is expected to replace the current printed version of the prosecutor’s manual.  More information about the job is available here.

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