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News Roundup

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This week the ACLU of North Carolina and North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services filed a class action lawsuit in state court arguing that solitary confinement practices used in the state’s prisons constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the state constitution.  In the suit, the plaintiffs say that people in solitary confinement “face substantial risks of serious psychological and physiological harm” and ask for a court order ceasing current practices and directing the formulation of new ones that comply with the constitution.  Two of the named plaintiff inmates each have been in solitary confinement for more than 10 years; about 3,000 inmates were in solitary confinement at the end of July of this year.  The News Roundup previously has noted that the Department of Public Safety has been investigating ways to reduce the use of solitary confinement.  Keep reading for more news.

Hasty Passes.  WLOS reports that Buncombe County Chief Assistant District Attorney Rodney Hasty passed away unexpectedly over the weekend.  Hasty worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Buncombe from 1995 to 2009, rejoining the office in 2015 after a few years in private practice.  An obituary and information about funeral services is available here.  Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues.

Creighton.  Former Buncombe County Assistant Manager Jon Creighton reported to federal prison this week to begin serving an 18 month sentence for corruption while in office.  Former county managers Wanda Greene and Mandy Stone also have begun serving their sentences.  Creighton reported to a facility in Kentucky, Stone is serving her sentence in West Virginia, and Greene is serving hers in Texas.  A contractor who participated with the officials in corrupt activities, Joe Wiseman, has not yet begun serving his sentence according to the Citizen Times.

Assisted Living Charges.  The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has prohibited an assisted living facility in Winston from admitting new residents after finding multiple patient care “deficiencies,” including allegations that employees at the facility were encouraging residents suffering from dementia to fight each other for the employees’ entertainment.  Late last week Tonacia Tyson, Marilyn McKey, and Taneshia Jordan each were charged with assault offenses for their alleged involvement in the fights.  The women had been fired from the facility, Danby House, in June when the allegations first came to light.

Mysterious Assaults.  The Wilmington Police Department said this week that a string of assaults occurring at downtown bars over the past two years may be connected to each other and are asking for the public’s help with the investigation.  Detectives are investigating 11 reports of assaults involving male victims, four of whom were sexually assaulted.  The Wilmington Star-News says that the assaults generally have occurred around closing time and have involved victims who had been drinking.  It appears that the victims may have been drugged because they have woken up downtown the next morning with no memory of the night.  Contact information for the Wilmington PD is available at the Star-News link.

Child Pornography Bust. This week the Department of Justice announced that a collaborative investigation with British, German, and Korean law enforcement agencies has resulted in hundreds of child pornography arrests worldwide.  As Reuters reports, the agencies took down a darknet site called “Welcome to Video” that they described as the world’s “largest child exploitation market by volume of content.”  The site exchanged access to 250,000 videos for cryptocurrency, and nearly half of the site’s content library consisted of images that had never before been seen by law enforcement.  At least 23 underage victims who were being actively abused were rescued as a result of the operation.

Back to School CLE.  Jeff has blogged about it and I’m sure your calendars are marked, but here’s a reminder that the School of Government and the North Carolina Judicial College are hosting the Back to School: CLE @ SOG continuing legal education event next month.  On November 22 right here at the SOG there will be 6 hours of high-quality CLE on offer, including an ethics hour and a technology hour.  We’ll provide the lunch and the parking, you provide an attorney who needs CLE credit.  Here’s the registration page.

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