News Roundup

As the New York Times reports, Attorney General William Barr said this week that a shooting at a naval air station in Pensacola, Florida, last month was an act of terrorism and asked Apple to unlock two iPhones used by the shooter.  In early December, a Saudi Air Force cadet training in Florida, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, killed three sailors and wounded eight others after opening fire in a classroom where he was training with the U.S. military to become a pilot.  Attorney General Barr said that Apple had not provided substantive assistance in accessing Alshamrani’s iPhones but Apple disputed that claim, saying that it had been working with the FBI since the shooting occurred and had given investigators access to his iCloud account and other data.  As the Times report notes, the standoff is reminiscent of a 2016 case where Apple refused to break the encryption of a phone used by a shooter in a California terror attack.  Keep reading for more news. 

Jobs.  The School of Government recently announced that it is recruiting for two faculty positions that readers of this blog may find interesting.  One position is a tenure-track assistant professor who will specialize in criminal law.  The duties of that position include planning and teaching in programs and conferences for judicial officials, advising officials about legal issues, and writing practical scholarship.

The other is a tenure-track position focusing on land use law and planning.  The duties of that position include planning and teaching in programs and conferences for state government officials, advising government officials on legal and policy issues, and writing practical scholarship.  Take a look at the postings, spread the word, and apply if you are interested.

Juvenile Defender Training.  A lot has changed recently with regard to juvenile delinquency proceedings in North Carolina.  To keep defense attorneys up to date, the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services are cosponsoring an Intensive Juvenile Defender Training course on March 4 and 5.  The course is geared towards attorneys who have been representing juveniles in delinquency proceedings for less than two years or who have not practiced in the area for a period of time.  The deadline for registration is February 26 and more registration information is available at the link above. 

Citation or Arrest.  As regular readers of this blog know (see posts here and here), a law enforcement officer’s decision as to whether to issue a citation or make a custodial arrest for a low-level criminal offense often has significant consequences for the person accused of wrongdoing.  This week the School of Government’s Criminal Justice Innovation Lab, led by Jessie Smith and in collaboration with the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police and NC State University, announced the launch of The Citation Project.  The project seeks to improve policing practices through implementation and rigorous evaluation of citation in lieu of arrest pilot programs across the state.  Read more about the project here.

Cummings Resigns.  The News & Observer reported this week that Guilford County District Court Judge Mark Cummings has resigned following a misconduct investigation by the Judicial Standards Commission.  His resignation is part of an agreement with the Commission that requires that he never run for a North Carolina judicial office again.  Several allegations were part of the investigation, including that Cummings directed a clerk to falsify a court document, changed a bond amount set by a superior court judge, and filed to run for office in a district in which he did not live.  Cummings denied all of the accusations against him.

Ghosn.  The effectiveness of money bail at assuring the appearance of defendants in criminal proceedings currently is a hot topic in North Carolina and other jurisdictions across the country.  Recently, a high-profile case of bail jumping captured headlines around the world.  As the New York Times reports, Carlos Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan, forfeited millions of dollars of bail in Japan after dramatically fleeing the country where he faced charges of financial misconduct.  In addition to the bail forfeiture, the Times article says that Ghosn spent substantial sums of money to identify and exploit Japanese transportation security weaknesses in order to flee to Lebanon.

Bad Wig Bandit.  The Charlotte Observer reports that the FBI is asking for the public’s help in identifying a serial bank robber in the Charlotte area.  The man has held up three banks in as many weeks and has employed unusual disguises that have earned him the nickname “the Bad Wig Bandit.”  Photos and contact information for authorities can be found at the link.

2 thoughts on “News Roundup”

  1. The thing with the government badgering Apple to unlock phones is annoying. The Pensacola case is particularly dumb as the phones in question are older models (iPhone 5 and iPhone 7) and are nowhere near as secure as newer models. There are tools (Graykey being the most famous, Cellebrite has worked on older iphones) that can get you in.

  2. I’m very interested to see what the Citation Project results will be. After being in law enforcement for over a decade I feel pretty confident in saying that no officer really wants to go through the hassle of taking someone to jail. It’s time consuming on the front end (transport), and on the backend (additional paperwork that may be required by police department policy or state).

    Most of my arrests are non discretionary, where I generally have to arrest either due to law (domestics, DWI, or felonies), or because the offender is likely to contribute their criminal behavior (I&D, disorderly conduct type charges).

    I know some agencies have mandatory arrests policies for certain offenses, whether written or unwritten, though (a friend of mine told me his department generally arrests for shoplifting cases whereas everyone else I know tends to cite unless it’s a repeat offender).


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