News Roundup

Students across the country walked out of class for 17 minutes at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday morning in a mass protest against gun violence in the wake of the school shooting in Florida last month.  The demonstration came exactly one month after the shooting and the 17-minute duration represents the 17 people who were killed.  At Columbine High School in Colorado, students added 13 minutes to their protest to represent the victims of the 1999 shooting at that school.  Keep reading for more news.

Asheville.  Fallout continued this week from the jaywalking stop in Asheville that turned into an assault of the suspect by an officer.  WLOS reports that Buncombe District Attorney Todd Williams dismissed 27 pending cases involving the officer, Christopher Hickman, because Hickman no longer could serve as a credible witness; the Fraternal Order of Police’s lodge in the city was vandalized with graffiti; and fake jaywalking signs indicating that violators would be abused by the Asheville Police Department popped up in the city’s downtown.

Body Cams.  The Asheville jaywalking incident came to the public’s attention because body cam footage of the stop, which took place last summer, was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times last month.  The City now has petitioned the Buncombe Superior Court to release all footage related to the incident.  The process of petitioning the court to release body cam footage is relatively new in North Carolina, and a recent story in The News & Observer discusses the state’s experience with the procedure to date.

Judge of the Year.  The Wilmington Star-News reports that New Hanover County Chief District Court Judge J.H. Corpening recently received the David W. Soukup Judge of the Year Award at the National Court Appointed Special Advocate’s conference in Boston.  Corpening was recognized in part for developing a program that helps drug-addicted mothers with addiction recovery as well as reunification with their babies.  The program is called the Intensive Reunification Program and is entering its third year of operation.

Durham Dispute.  The Durham Herald Sun says that Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols criticized District Court Judge Fred Battaglia this week for comments that Battaglia made regarding the ADA who prosecuted the Confederate monument destruction cases that Battaglia presided over a few weeks ago.  As the News Roundup previously noted, Battaglia acquitted one defendant and dismissed charges against two others.  The Herald Sun reports that during a meeting with the public at the Durham GOP headquarters last week, Battaglia said that the ADA had limited experience and characterized her as “third string.”  In a statement, Echols said that the comments were “inappropriate, unnecessary, and inaccurate.”

In Oklahoma U.S.A.  With lethal injection drugs becoming increasingly scarce, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced this week that his state would seek to implement the novel execution method of asphyxiating death row inmates with nitrogen gas.  The linked report says that nitrogen sometimes is used in assisted suicide.  Oklahoma has not yet developed a protocol for the use of nitrogen in executions.

Job.  Blog readers may be interested to learn that the General Assembly’s Bill Drafting Division is hiring a Courts/Criminal Procedure/Law Enforcement Staff Attorney.  More information about the position is available at the link.

Consummate Professional.  A few years ago, the News Roundup noted that the Navy’s intelligence chief at the time, Vice Admiral Ted “Twig” Branch, wasn’t allowed to access classified information because he was under investigation for corruption.  The Washington Post reports that after a four-year investigation of Branch, federal authorities were unable to verify allegations that Branch was bribed with prostitutes by corrupt defense contractor Leonard Francis.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that the investigation revealed that Branch accepted extravagant meals, cigars, and various other gifts from Francis, whom Branch extolled for his “unmatched professionalism.”

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