News Roundup

The deadly attack on the United States Capitol by extremist supporters of President Donald Trump continues to dominate the national news this week as federal and state law enforcement agencies undertake the massive task of identifying and arresting perpetrators from across the country.  Keep reading for more on this story and other news.

USCP.  Late last week, somber news emerged that U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick died of injuries he sustained while physically engaging with rioters.  Sicknick was a veteran of the New Jersey National Guard and had been deployed to both Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan in the late 1990s and early 2000s; he had served with the Capitol Police since 2008.  Another member of the Capitol Police who was on duty during the attack, officer Howard Liebengood, took his own life while off-duty in the days following; Liebengood had served with the Capitol Police since 2005.

Following the resignation of USCP Chief Steven Sund last week, Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman was designated acting chief this week.  Pittman is the first woman and the first African American to hold that position.

Livestreaming.  This blog often has explored the intersection of new technology and the criminal law but never before have those issues collided as forcefully as they did during the attack on the Capitol where countless people livestreamed and publicly photographed their own participation in the riotous attempt to overthrow the federal government.  While the full range of explanations for creating this contemporaneous record escapes easy characterization, the implications for the criminal investigation quickly are becoming plain to see.  The FBI is using the incriminating footage to continuously update a list of people wanted on suspicion of criminal activity.  Amateur internet sleuths are combing through an archive of Parler posts to identify potential participants.  And at least one criminal defense attorney has publicly acknowledged and contributed to the difficult position his clients faces in light of what he described as damning photographic evidence of wrongdoing.

CJIL Research Fellow.  Jessie has been keeping regular readers apprised of the work of the SOG’s Criminal Justice Innovation Lab, which seeks to promote a fair and effective criminal justice system through evidence-based research.  There’s exciting news out of the Lab this week with the announcement that it plans to hire a Postdoctoral Research Fellow who will examine issues of racial equity in the criminal justice system.  More details about the position and instructions for applying are available here.

Death Penalty.  Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice James G. Exum, Jr., recently published an article in the North Carolina Law Review arguing that our state’s capital punishment system is unconstitutional on the basis of being arbitrary, racist, and error prone.  The full article, entitled Capital Punishment in North Carolina: A Justice’s View on Why We Can ‘No Longer Tinker With the Machinery of Death’ is available here.

On a related note, the federal government recently executed Lisa Montgomery, the first female federal prisoner to be put to death since 1953.  Montgomery was convicted of killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett and cutting a baby from her womb in Missouri in 2004.  Montgomery became the eleventh federal inmate to be put to death since July following a 17-year hiatus on federal executions.

UNC MPA Students Professional Work Experience.  In addition to working with stakeholders in the North Carolina justice system, the School of Government houses UNC’s Master of Public Administration Program, one of the top programs of its kind in the country.  Many UNC MPA students take leadership roles in North Carolina local governments after graduation.  As part of the degree process, MPA students participate in a professional work experience internship where they serve in local, state, and federal governments or in the nonprofit sector.  If you work in an organization that could take advantage of assistance from one of these talented students, consider hosting a UNC MPA student for a professional work experience internship.  More information is available here, and you can submit your interest in being connected with an MPA student intern here.

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