News Roundup

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Yesterday, I noted that the John Edwards jury had been deliberating for nine days. Apparently, nine days was long enough. As the News and Observer notes here, the jurors reported “that they were hopelessly divided on five of the six charges . . . but in unanimous agreement that [Edwards] was not guilty on one count.” Edwards could be retried on the five unresolved counts, but word on the street is that the Department of Justice isn’t interested.

In other news:

1. The State Bar has filed a complaint against Durham’s elected district attorney, Tracey Cline. The News and Observer has this story, noting that the complaint focuses mainly on Cline’s statements regarding Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson.

2. Summer’s here, and for many people, that means summer vacation. The Justices of the Supreme Court are exceptionally hardworking, however, and so will be using the summer recess to work second jobs, typically teaching law school summer sessions. They sound like pretty grueling gigs, according to this AP story, which reveals that Chief Justice Roberts will be teaching a course for the South Texas College of Law (the course is held in Malta); Justice Scalia will be teaching for Texas’s St. Mary’s University (the course is held in Innsbruck); Justice Alito will be teaching for Penn State (the course is held in Florence); and that Justice Ginsburg will add a North Carolina connection, teaching for Wake Forest (at courses held in Venice and Vienna).

3. A couple of interesting sex-offender-related stories turned up this week. This New York Times article chronicles “a new wave of laws restricting the movement of sex offenders,” noting that “[i]n recent years, communities around the country have gone beyond regulating where sex offenders can live and begun banning them outright from a growing list of public places,” such as parks, libraries, and swimming pools. The story notes that such laws, while easy to pass, are hard to enforce, and raises some public policy concerns. Meanwhile, the AP reports here that “[a] federal judge is considering the constitutionality of an Indiana law that bans registered sex offenders from social networking sites that can be used by children.” The lawsuit, brought by the ACLU, contends that the ban infringes offenders’ free speech rights.

4. Synthetic drugs have been in the news quite a bit this week, thanks to the appalling incident in Miami where a naked man assaulted a homeless person and ate 75 percent of the victim’s face, including his eyes and nose, before being shot by police. More gruesome details are available here. The current theory seems to be that the assailant was high on bath salts, a category of synthetic drug that has proven difficult to regulate and that seems to be widely available online. In a related story, Gizmodo notes here that authorities’ efforts to ban synthetic cannabinoids have largely failed, with manufacturers changing their formulations to stay one step ahead of the law.

5. Finally, I never get tired of stories like this one, about a Brooklyn gang. Members bragged about, and posted video of, their apparently quite serious criminal exploits on Facebook. The only problem was that several members had accepted friend requests from an NYPD officer, who used the information he obtained from Facebook to stay one step ahead of the gang, and ultimately, to arrest 14 gang members and charge them in a 102-count indictment.

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2 comments on “News Roundup

  1. Somewhat related question: what was the longest jury trial in the history of North Carolina state courts (both civil and criminal, from jury selection to verdict)?

  2. The trial of Robert Kelly, co-owner of Little Rascals Day Care in Edenton, is often referred to as the state’s longest (and costliest). Jury selection began July 22, 1991, and he was found guilty on 99 counts of child molestation April 22, 1992. His convictions and those of Dawn Wilson, another of the Edenton 7, were overturned by the N.C. Court of Appeals in 1995.
    I blog about the case at littlerascalsdaycarecase.org

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