Former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is without question the biggest news of the week. CBS News says that bars across the country opened early to serve drinks to customers while they watched the testimony live. The Chicago Tribune says that workplace productivity was expected to plummet Thursday, much as it does during March Madness, as workers tuned into the testimony at their desks. Keep reading for more news.
Leaks. On Monday the Justice Department announced the first criminal prosecution arising from leaked classified information during the Trump administration. A 25-year-old intelligence contractor with top secret security clearance, Reality Leigh Winner, was arrested in Georgia by the FBI for allegedly leaking to a news outlet an intelligence report from the N.S.A. regarding Russian cyberattacks. Winner has been charged under the Espionage Act, and the New York Times story at the link says that such a charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Word of Faith Mistrial. Last week the News Roundup noted that a criminal trial arising from alleged abuse at the Word of Faith Fellowship church had commenced. Fox News reports that this week a mistrial was declared after the jury foreman, Perry Shade, brought outside materials, including North Carolina case law, into the proceeding. The trial judge held Shade in contempt, sentencing him to 30 days in jail and fining him $500.
In a separate incident prior to the mistrial, Chad Metcalf was charged with a crime after allegedly harassing jurors in a hallway by telling them to reach a verdict. Metcalf’s mother told the Associated Press that his harassing behavior probably was a joke, and that he isn’t associated with the church.
Historical Cell-Site Location. Whether law enforcement officers must have a warrant in order to legally collect historical information about the location of a cellphone from service providers is a question that has been litigated extensively in recent years. A number of federal circuit courts of appeal have held that a warrant is not required because people voluntarily convey their location to service providers by using their phones. The United States Supreme Court granted cert this week in Carpenter v. United States, a case that puts the issue squarely before the high court. Carpenter is a significant case about the interaction between the Fourth Amendment and modern technology, and will be closely watched according to The National Law Review.
Unintended Consequences. The Johnston County Report says that a father and son were arrested over the weekend after the father, Mark Edwards, called police to report that his son, Marshall Edwards, had threatened him and was growing marijuana in the camper where he lived behind the elder Edwards’s home. When the police arrived, Marshall informed them that his father also was growing marijuana in his home. Both were charged with manufacturing marijuana according to the report.
Gavel. Though the breed is known for intelligence and strength, traits desirable in police dogs, Gavel the German Shepherd didn’t have the temperament to serve on the frontlines of the Queensland Police – he was too dang sociable, according to the Brisbane Times. With a career in policing cut short, Gavel was still called to public service and is now the official vice-regal dog of the Government House. Do not click the link unless you are prepared to see Gavel as a puppy in his police dog uniform.