News Roundup

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To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, it’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the criminal law world every week just happens to fit into a single blog post. This week saw the following:

1. Demario Atwater received a life sentence in federal court yesterday in connection with the killing of UNC student body president Eve Carson. The News and Observer story is here.

2. The USA Today reports on misconduct by federal prosecutors. The newspaper says that it has identified 201 instances of misconduct over the past decade or so, which a professor quoted in the article characterizes as a pattern of “serious, glaring misconduct.” Crime and Consequences offers a slightly different perspective here.

3. A somewhat happier story appeared in the New York Times, focusing on the career of United States District Judge Wesley E. Brown. Judge Brown is 103 years old, carries a full load of criminal cases, and while physically frail, is apparently mentally as acute as ever. In less than a year, he’ll become the oldest federal judge in history. Pretty impressive.

4. Equally impressive is the determination showed by both sides in a Florida murder case now set for a seventh trial. (Local story here.) There have been three hung juries, two (other) mistrials, and one conviction reversed on appeal, so far. From a distance, it’s sort of funny, but for those involved, it must be awful.

5. California, the state with the nation’s largest death row, has a new execution chamber, described in incredible detail here. California has been embroiled in litigation over the method of execution, but recent court developments may have cleared the way for the chamber to be used in the near future. Among other noteworthy facts: it was built entirely by inmates; cost $853,000; and has three separate viewing rooms — one for the condemned’s family, one for the victim’s, and one for other observers.

6. Also California-related, but much lighter: actresses (?) Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are entangled in the criminal justice system. Paris pled guilty to misdemeanor drug and obstruction charges in Las Vegas (very detailed local story here) while Lindsay Lohan may be going to jail as a result of a positive drug test while on probation, the Los Angeles Times reports here.

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