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News Roundup

On Tuesday, officials in Winston-Salem held a press conference announcing coordinated efforts to deter gun violence in the city.  As the Winston-Salem Journal reports, there were more homicides in Winston in 2019 than in any other year in the past quarter century.  Chief of Police Catrina Thompson, Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, District Attorney Jim O’Neal, U.S. Attorney Matt Martin, Mayor Allen Joines, and Councilman James Taylor all spoke at the press conference, with Thompson saying that they would “use every one of the resources [they] have” to pursue individuals involved in violent crime.  Keep reading for more information about the efforts in Winston and other criminal law news.

Winston.  The Winston-Salem Journal article says that the city seized 900 guns in 2019 and is on pace to exceed that number in 2020.  Police Chief Thompson said that one issue that the city faces is lawfully owned guns being stolen and then used in criminal activity.  She also said that the department’s Violent Crimes Investigation Team will begin working in conjunction with the gang unit in 2020 in an effort to reduce the violence currently plaguing the city.  Last year, the sheriff’s department and police department began working together on high visibility “saturation” patrols in some areas and those efforts will continue in 2020.  In addition, a U.S. Department of Justice grant will enable the city to deploy gunshot detection technology covering 3 square miles of the city.

Crumpler Passes.  In other news from the City of the Arts, the Winston-Salem Journal reported this week that prominent Winston attorney Fred Crumpler passed away on Sunday at the age of 89.  Among Crumpler’s notable cases was that of Henry Alford, who Crumpler advised to plead guilty to second-degree murder without admitting guilt in order to avoid the possibility of being sentenced to death while facing first-degree murder charges.  The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that plea, and now attorneys across the country recognize the Alford plea as a term of art. The Journal article says that in addition to being a widely respected practitioner in multiple fields of law, Crumpler also led a life of adventure, flying planes, riding motorcycles, diving, and caring for a wide variety of animals.  He also worked at the Institute of Government after graduating from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1957.

IDS Seeks Executive Director.  The North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services recently announced that it will be hiring a new Executive Director, the job posting is here.  The position closes on February 18 and the Commission expects to conduct interviews on March 26 or 27.  Thomas Maher, the longtime Executive Director of IDS, will be going to the Duke University School of Law to be the Executive Director of the Center for Science and Justice.

McCutcheon Trial Begins.  WLOS reports that trial began this week in a Buncombe county murder case that drew media attention in the western part of the state when it occurred more than three years ago.  Brenda McCutcheon was indicted in 2018 for murdering her husband, Dr. Frank “Buddy” McCutcheon an Arden plastic surgeon, in 2016.  The WLOS report says that the couple were being investigated by the IRS at the time of the Frank McCutcheon’s death.

Church Security.  Another report from WLOS says that the Yancey County Sheriff’s Office recently adopted a new policy that permits off-duty deputies to drive their patrol cars to church on Sundays and park the vehicles outside in an effort to deter violence during the services.  The policy is a response to recent high profile shootings at churches in other parts of the country,

Counterfeit Goods.  If you recently found a great deal at the Greensboro flea market on a pair of Jordans, some Ugg boots, a Gucci purse, and a Rolex, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news – you may have bought fakes.  The Greensboro News & Record reported this week that agents with the North Carolina Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force recently conducted a sweep of the market that turned up almost half a million dollars’ worth of counterfeit designer merchandise and resulted in criminal charges against five people.  As the News & Record report notes, the task force was created by Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in 2004.

Cyber Security PSA.  Readers, if you receive a What’s App video message from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, do NOT open it.  Sadly, this warning comes too late for Jeff Bezos, who I assume is a regular reader of the blog.  As the New York Times reports, Bezos received such a message from the crown prince in 2018 after the pair exchanged numbers at a dinner in Los Angeles.  Shortly after receiving the message, Bezos’s phone began transmitting three hundred times the amount of data that it normally had been sending.  Bezos also began receiving messages from the crown prince’s account that suggested that Bezos’s private communications were being monitored.  You’ve been warned.

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