On Monday morning, a man detonated a pipe bomb inside a subway corridor in New York, seriously injuring himself but, because the device malfunctioned, not causing serious harm to anyone else. Apparently intending to carry out a devastating suicide attack, Akayed Ullah posted a message on his Facebook page saying “Trump you failed to protect your nation,” and set off for the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan with a homemade pipe bomb strapped to his torso. The device did not fully detonate, likely sparing many lives. Ullah has told investigators that he carried out the attack for the Islamic State, and he has been charged with several terrorism offenses.
Keep reading for the final blog post of the year – the North Carolina Criminal Law blog is signing off for the holidays and wishing our readers a safe and happy season. We’ll have new posts beginning January 2.
Register of Deeds. The News & Observer reports that former Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick turned herself in to law enforcement officers this week after being indicted on charges of embezzlement. The report says that Riddick has been accused of embezzling more than $900,000 from the Register of Deeds office during her time there. Three other former employees of the office also have been indicted as part of an investigation into how $2.3 million went missing from the office over a nine-year period.
Death Penalty. Last week, the News Roundup noted that prosecutors will seek the death penalty in murder cases arising from the escape attempt at Pasquotank Correctional Institution. WRAL reports that this week House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger released a statement calling for executions to resume in North Carolina. The report notes that the state hasn’t executed anyone since 2006 because of various legal challenges to the death penalty.
Porch Pirates. In 1974, Jimmy Buffet lamented that he was two hundred years too late to plunder the high seas. See Jimmy Buffett, A Pirate Looks at Forty, on A1A (Dunhill Records 1974). As it turns out, Buffett was 40 years too early and in the wrong environment – there’s plundering aplenty on the porches of Wake Forest in the age of Amazon, according to this report from ABC 11 News. The report says that Wake Forest police captured a pair of so-called “porch pirates” who allegedly cruised neighborhoods snatching recently delivered packages before residents had a chance to collect them. Presumably, the porch pirates had never encountered a package intentionally rigged with explosives to discourage this kind of behavior.
Markham Cite. School of Government clients know that when tricky sentencing or probation issues arise, Jamie Markham is just a phone call away and always willing to help. There’s evidence of the value Jamie’s work in the recent North Carolina Supreme Court case State v. Moore, where the court cites Jamie’s 2012 book The North Carolina Justice Reinvestment Act in a discussion of the purpose of that significant legislation.
Court Costs. The News & Observer reports that two trespass convictions arising from protests at the Legislative Building over House Bill 2 now are the basis for a challenge to court costs in North Carolina criminal cases. This week, two defendants convicted of trespass filed a motion contending that use of their criminal court costs to fund activities other than support of the public school system violates the North Carolina Constitution. The argument is based on a constitutional provision requiring that the clear proceeds of penalties, forfeitures, and fines collected for a breach of the state’s penal laws be used exclusively for maintaining free public schools. A couple of years ago, Jamie blogged about a North Carolina Court of Appeals case involving the constitutional provision and a specific fee assessed in improper equipment cases.
Kozinski. The Washington Post reported late last week that six women have accused 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski of sexual harassment. The women all were clerks or externs for Kozinski, and claim that he “subjected them to a range of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments.” In addition to other inappropriate behavior, two former clerks told the Post that Kozinski asked them to view pornography in his chambers. This week, legal blog Above the Law posted a story that suggests that rumors of Kozinski’s behavior caused some in the legal community to advise female law students to avoid clerkships with the influential judge.
Life Lessons. The Greenville Daily Reflector reports that when Christopher Lee Edwards’ grandmother discovered that her fine china, jewelry, and family heirlooms had been stolen from her home, she immediately suspected that her grandson was the culprit. She was right, of course, and Edwards pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny in Pitt County last week. Noting that the circumstances of the offense were particularly objectionable, Superior Court Judge Jeffery Foster sentenced Edwards to spend Christmas in jail. As unpleasant as it is, that punishment is considerably lighter than the vigilante justice meted out the last time the News Roundup reported on someone stealing from their grandmother – you’ll be shot in the leg by your own father if you pull that nonsense in Bladen County.