On Tuesday the Justice Department charged 50 people, including celebrities and business leaders, with participating in nationwide bribery and fraud schemes that allowed their children to be admitted into top universities despite lacking the necessary qualifications. As the New York Times reports, parents, college preparatory businesses, university officials, and coaches paid and accepted bribes in order to secure spots at various competitive universities. The schemes were fractured and complex – sometimes a test proctor was bribed to adjust a student’s standardized test score, other times a coach was bribed to falsely label a student as an athletic recruit. The common denominator in the sprawling schemes was the exchange of significant amounts of money. The Times story describes situations where parents paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in at least one case more than $1 million, in order to fraudulently secure a spot for their child at a desirable school. Keep reading for more news.
Davis Appointed. As the Associated Press reports, Governor Roy Cooper appointed North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Mark Davis to fill the associate justice seat on the Supreme Court vacated by Cheri Beasley after her recent appointment as Chief Justice. Davis has served on the Court of Appeals since 2012, and previously was a Special Deputy Attorney General in the NC Department of Justice. Davis said that he is proud to be the first Jewish jurist on the state high court. With Davis’s appointment, the court now will be comprised of six Democrats and a lone Republican, Associate Justice Paul Newby. Senate President pro tempore Phil Berger criticized Cooper’s appointment of Davis, characterizing it as a partisan decision. Cooper now must appoint someone to fill Davis’s seat on the Court of Appeals and also soon will appoint a replacement for Judge Robert Hunter as he will reach mandated retirement age at the end of the month. Keep reading for more news.
Court Appointment Tradition. Last month the News Roundup noted that Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby had criticized Governor Cooper for not appointing him as Chief Justice, saying that Cooper had broken with nonpartisan tradition by not elevating the senior associate justice to the chief justice seat. An article in the News & Observer published late last month looks at the history of appointments since 1969 and raises the question of whether there really is a meaningful tradition of elevating the senior associate justice in a nonpartisan manner. The article says that while it is true that in 6 of the last 7 appointments to the chief justice seat the governor has chosen the senior associate, each of those appointments involved a senior associate and governor of the same political party. The one instance during the examined time period when a governor broke from this practice (Jim Martin appointing Rhoda Billings in 1986) involved a governor passing over a senior associate of the other political party in order to appoint someone from the governor’s own party.
Criminology for Court Officials. What punishments work to reduce crime and improve outcomes for criminal defendants? What factors drive our prison population? Early next month Jamie is leading a one-day Criminology for Court Officials course here at the SOG that examines these issues and others. The course, designed for judges and other court officials, offers 5 hours of CLE credit and is taking place on April 5. Hit the link for more information about how to apply for the course and other details about its content.
Obituary Crimes. Add another to the long list of low and shameful offenses cataloged in the News Roundup – WRAL says that Wake Forest police are searching for Timothy James Crowe who is alleged to have committed B&E and larceny of a widow’s home while she attended her husband’s funeral. The number for the Wake Forest Police Department Tip Line is included in the WRAL story.
Cardinal Jailed. This week former Vatican treasurer and “the most senior Catholic figure ever to be found guilty of sexual offenses against children,” Cardinal George Pell, was sentenced to six years in prison in Australia. Pell maintains that he is innocent and has filed an appeal.
Divine Discipline. Early last year the News Roundup noted the unusual case of a Texas judge informing a jury in a sex trafficking case that God told him that they should acquit the defendant. The judge later told the attorneys involved in the case that he was “sorry if [he] messed anything up.” Another judge later ruled he did mess something up, that something being the trial, and declared a mistrial. The Texas Judicial Commission also recently issued a public warning to the judge over the incident.