News Roundup

The Senate Judiciary Committee held four days of hearings this week on President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The committee is expected to approve her nomination along party lines and has scheduled that vote for October 22.  Barrett currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia in the late 1990’s.  Prior to becoming a federal judge, Barrett spent 15 years as a law professor at Notre Dame.  She noted in her opening statement that if confirmed she would be the only sitting Justice who didn’t attend Harvard or Yale.  Keep reading for more news.

Sheriff Apology.  The Greensboro News & Record reports that Davidson County Sheriff Richie Simmons recently apologized for the conduct of one of his department’s investigators in responding to a private dive team’s discovery of a submerged vehicle in the Yadkin River containing the remains of a Lexington teen who has been missing since February.

The News & Record report says that the family of Nicholas Alexander Allen had repeatedly asked the sheriff’s department to check the river for the missing vehicle and the missing team, fearing that he had taken his own life in an area of the river he was known to fish.  The private dive team, which runs a YouTube channel for funding, discovered the car and Allen’s remains and contacted the sheriff’s department.  Simmons said that the investigator’s response upon arriving at the scene was not empathetic towards Allen’s family or appreciative of the dive team’s efforts.  He expressed his sympathies to the family and said that his department would strive to do better in its interactions with grieving families.

Northam.  Last week the News Roundup noted that several men associated with self-styled militia extremist groups had been arrested for state and federal criminal offenses arising from plots to kidnap or kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.   As USA Today reports, this week an FBI agent disclosed in court proceedings related to those charges that some of the suspects also discussed abducting or harming Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

Chase Death.  WRAL reports that a 19-year-old man was killed early Thursday morning after a high-speed chase in Nash County where he drove a Porsche at speeds estimated at 170 mph.  Video footage from the scene showed that the vehicle had broken into two pieces after leaving the road and entering a wooded area.

No Chase Charges.  The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams did not find any evidence that a sheriff’s deputy violated the law during a vehicle pursuit that resulted in Melissa Nicole Patton’s death in July.  A Buncombe County sheriff’s deputy observed Patton driving erratically near the Blue Ridge Parkway on the morning of July 5 and activated his blue lights.  After a short chase on the parkway, the deputy decelerated and terminated the chase because of foggy conditions.  Soon thereafter, Patton was involved in a fatal single-vehicle crash after losing control in a curve.

Lakers Win, Eye Lost.  The Los Angeles Times reported this week that several people suffered serious injuries from being hit with “less lethal” projectiles fired by LAPD officers to disperse celebrations of the Lakers winning the NBA Championship on Sunday night.  Officers fired the projectiles after the LAPD declared the celebrations to be unlawful gatherings as storefronts were damaged and people threw bottles and other items at officers.  William Gonzalez lost an eye, another man lost eight teeth, and at least two others were hospitalized with head injuries.  The L.A. Times story says that past injuries from less lethal projectiles have resulted in stricter policies regarding their use, including that they must be fired below the belt line, but that videos of various events have shown that those policies frequently are not followed.

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