As the Washington Post reports, the Senate confirmed Christopher A. Wray as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this week. Wray served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department from 2003 to 2005. At the Justice Department, Wray worked under former FBI director James Comey who was serving as Deputy Attorney General during that time. Wray was confirmed with bipartisan support, and was sworn in by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday. Keep reading for more news.
NCDOJ Lay Offs. The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Attorney General Josh Stein has laid off 23 attorneys and a similar number of support staff in response to a $10 million cut to the budget of the North Carolina Department of Justice. The Citizen-Times report says that because of the layoffs, local prosecutors will be tasked with handling initial appeals for misdemeanor cases and probation revocations, and will also handle appeals brought by pro se defendants.
Manhunt Update. Last week the News Roundup noted that a manhunt in Western North Carolina ended with the arrest of Phillip Michael Stroupe, II, in McDowell County, but that a Mills River man, Tommy Bryson, who owned the truck Stroupe was driving when captured was missing and thought to have been kidnapped. Sadly, Bryson was found dead over the weekend. Stroupe has been charged with murder and District Attorney Greg Newman announced that he would seek the death penalty in the case. WLOS reports that hundreds of people attended a vigil for Bryson this week
U.S. Supreme Court Technology. The U.S. Supreme Court approaches technological change cautiously. Back in 2013, Justice Kagan said that while their law clerks frequently emailed each other, the Justices had not yet acclimated to newfangled electronic messaging, preferring to correspond with each other on paper reminiscent of that used in the nineteenth century. Were they to use the internet, the justices would’ve been shocked to read in the National Law Journal this week that the Court will begin using an electronic case document filing system beginning in November and that the Court’s website was revamped late last month.
Virtual Traffic Court. The U.S. Supreme Court isn’t the only court that can boast about fancy technological advancements in recent weeks. Last week, Buncombe County commenced a pilot project that allows citizens to request a reduction of speeding offenses online and potentially avoid a trip to court. WLOS had a story about the program last month. The goal of the program is to reduce crowds at the courthouse and reduce the hassle of dealing with a traffic ticket.
Sanctuary Cities. The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has sent letters to four cities that had expressed interest in the Department’s new Public Safety Partnership, a program that aims to help law enforcement agencies fight violent crime, informing them that that they will be ineligible to participate in the program unless they cooperate with federal immigration authorities in investigating immigration violations. Cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts are known as “sanctuary cities,” and the four cities receiving the letters were Baltimore, Albuquerque, Stockton, and San Bernardino.
Can’t Rewind. Reuters reports that Baltimore Police Officers have been quite successful at finding hidden drugs recently. Unfortunately, video evidence from officers’ body cameras suggests that some of this success may be attributable to officers planting the drugs prior to discovering them. Last month the Baltimore public defender’s office released footage of an officer placing drugs in a suspect’s yard, and this week the office released footage showing a similar incident during a traffic stop. The city’s police commissioner has suggested that the officer involved in the incident in the suspect’s yard may not have planted the drugs, but instead may have been impermissibly staging a cleaner reshoot of an earlier legitimate discovery.