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News Roundup

This week Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  Barrett took the Constitutional Oath, administered by Justice Thomas, in an evening ceremony at the White House South Lawn on Monday.  On Tuesday morning, Chief Justice Roberts administered Barrett’s Judicial Oath at a private ceremony at the Supreme Court Building.  Barrett’s swearing in followed a confirmation vote in the Senate that fell largely along party lines, with 52 senators voting to confirm her to the court and 48 voting against.  Susan Collins cast the only Republican vote against Barrett’s confirmation, saying the vote was not related to Barrett’s qualifications but a reflection of her view that the vote should have taken place after the upcoming election.  Keep reading for more news.

New SOG Bulletins.  Ian Mance from the SOG’s Public Defense Education group recently published two new bulletins on COVID-19 and criminal defense practice.  One deals with issues of pretrial release, examining arguments defendants have made when moving for bond reductions.  The other looks at access to counsel issues arising from the increased restrictions on visitation in many facilities.  Like Ian’s previous bulletins, both are available for free in the Public Defense Education’s COVID-19 Tool Kit.

CJIL Newsletter.  Regular blog readers know that Jessie has been doing a lot of interesting work in the SOG’s Criminal Justice Innovation Lab, including recent projects on jail occupancy rates, charging data, and pretrial release practice.  This week the Lab announced its newsletter – Lab Notes.  The October edition of the newsletter includes recent data on jail occupancy rates during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the Model Citation in Lieu of Arrest Policy, a collaboration with the NC Association of Chiefs of Police.  A direct link to the most recent newsletter is here and you can subscribe to it here.

Courthouse Closure.  Local court officials  announced that the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough will be closed to the public through Friday Nov. 6 due to an unspecified “exposure of COVID-19.”  The announcement says that first appearances still will be held daily, domestic violence matters will be heard remotely, and emergency filings in all matters may be made with the magistrate.

Raniere.  Keith Raniere, the leader of an organization called NXIVM that presented itself as a self-improvement program and was later revealed as a cult and pyramid scheme, was sentenced this week to 120 years in federal prison on sex-trafficking conspiracy charges.  NXIVM has been the subject of several recent docuseries, and one of the organization’s notable members, Seagram’s liquor heir Clare Bronfman, was sentenced for her role in the sex-trafficking scheme at the end of last month.

Defendant Drops Charges.  Rarely does a person’s expression in a mug shot capture the audacity of a fraud as well as that of Lisa Landon, a New Hampshire woman who recently was charged with false personation and falsifying criminal evidence after it was discovered that she pretended to be a prosecutor while filing paperwork to dismiss stalking and drug charges pending against her.  The plan apparently worked until a state forensic examiner scheduled to evaluate her competency to stand trial questioned whether the evaluation should be cancelled.  Not one for half measures, Landon had not only dismissed her criminal charges, she also entered a falsified court order waiving the filing fees associated with a lawsuit she brought against the local county government.

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