News Roundup

On Tuesday, Sayfullo Saipov killed eight people and injured twelve others by driving a truck down a bike lane in Manhattan in an apparent terror attack.  It has been reported that Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, was inspired by Islamic State propaganda videos and closely followed instructions for committing such an attack published in an ISIS magazine last November.  The attack is the deadliest terror attack in New York City since the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.  Keep reading for more news.

President Suggests Death Penalty.  In tweets posted in the days following the terror attack in New York, President Donald Trump suggested that Saipov should be punished with the death penalty.  A New York Times article says that presidents typically are advised not to comment on pending criminal cases because doing so opens the door to arguments that the defendant will not receive a fair trial, but the story notes several instances where former presidents, including Nixon, Bush (43), and Obama, have commented on pending cases.

Special Counsel.  On Monday, the Department of Justice Special Counsel’s Office, led by Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, announced that Paul J. Manafort and Richard W. Gates had been indicted on various criminal charges arising from their work as political consultants for foreign governments.  Though Manafort served for a time as the chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the charges announced this week are unrelated to Manafort’s involvement in the campaign.

The Special Counsel’s Office also announced that a former Trump campaign advisor, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty in October to making false statements to FBI agents regarding his interactions with foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials.

Correctional Officer Passes.  Sadly, Correctional Officer Wendy Shannon died this week as a result of injuries she sustained during the attempted escape at Pasquotank Correctional Institution last month.  Shannon is the third person to have died of injuries sustained during the violent escape attempt. [Update: WRAL reports here that a fourth employee has died.]

Inmate Captured.  WLOS reports that an inmate who escaped from custody while receiving medical treatment at a doctor’s office on Wednesday was taken into custody yesterday.  Michael Calloway reportedly assaulted a transportation officer during the medical procedure and fled into nearby woods, causing schools and businesses to lock down and setting off an intense manhunt.

Stephens Retires.  The News Roundup previously noted that Wake County Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens had announced his retirement.  As WRAL reports this week, after 33 years on the bench Stephens has retired.  Superior Court Judge Paul C. Ridgeway has taken his place as the county’s senior resident judge.

Lawyer Dog.  The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that the Louisiana Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a defendant who argued that an interrogation should have stopped when he said to officers: “why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog cause this is not what’s up.”  A justice who concurred in the refusal to hear the case wrote that “the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a ‘lawyer dog’ does not constitute an invocation of counsel.”  That view ignores the likelihood that the defendant was not asking for a canine attorney but rather was referring to his interrogator informally as “dawg” or “dog,” as is common in spoken language.

Milwaukee Here I Come.  USA Today reports that Wisconsin resident Amber Schmunk recently conjured a creative transportation solution when she was unable to fit a plastic wading pool into her minivan – she strapped both the pool and her nine-year-old son to the roof of the van so that the child could hold the pool in place.  Her initial court appearance for a felony reckless endangerment charge is scheduled for later this month.

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