News Roundup

The biggest headlines this week surrounded the confirmation of Elena Kagan as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The New York Times has the basics here, and Dahlia Lithwick at Slate has a provocative piece suggesting that we might be in for many, many years of skirmishes between Justice Kagan and Chief Justice Roberts. But there was plenty of other news, too:

1. The News and Observer ran a lengthy article discussing the first death row inmates to file claims under the Racial Justice Act. All five are black, and all five were convicted of killing whites. Each inmate is relying in part on a study conducted by two professors at the Michigan State University law school. It’s a different study than the one I mentioned two weeks ago, which apparently remains under wraps. But the conclusion appears to be similar: that the death penalty is more likely to be imposed in cases in which the victim is white. Interestingly, several of the inmates have asked the state supreme court to order a consolidated hearing.

2. In light of our new DNA-collection law, folks might be interested in this Chicago Tribune article, which spotlights a case in which DNA collected from an arrestee seems likely to exonerate a man falsely accused of killing his daughters. (Hat tip: Crime and Consequences.)

3. Canadian media baron Conrad Black has this essay about his time in federal prison. Some of his comments are quite insightful. Others, like his condemnation of public defenders as “stooges of the prosecutors,” are inane. But my favorites are the ones that show that some extremely wealthy people can remain a little disconnected from reality no matter what, as when he bemoans the fact that the private plane his wife hired to come and meet him for his release was a “very tired and sluggish . . . plane without a washroom.” I just hate it when my charter jet isn’t up to snuff!

4. Finally, a couple of head scratchers. The Washington Post reports about a Florida case in which a burglar, apprehended in the act by his victim, is now suing the victim for “distress” inflicted by the victim in the course of handcuffing the burglar. A case with plenty of jury appeal, I’m sure. And the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a man who robbed a Wendy’s “was so upset with his haul that he twice called the restaurant to complain,” specifically insisting that “next time there better be more than $586” in the register.

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