News Roundup

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I’ve been at the beach the past couple of days, teaching at conferences. (It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.) One of the talks I gave was about GPS tracking, so this story about a man who discovered a tracking device on his car and the FBI’s subsequent efforts to retrieve the device, caught my eye. The subject gave the device back upon request, but legally, I wonder if the FBI “abandoned” the item when agents attached it to the subject’s car. Heck, someone once threw a dirty sock into my car when I left it parked with its convertible top down, and I didn’t go looking for the owner.

In other news:

1. Locally, the big news continues to be centered in Raleigh, where the News and Observer reports that a hearing will be held to determine whether SBI agent Duane Dever committed contempt of court by giving false testimony to the Innocence Inquiry Commission. The paper is also reporting that Colon Willoughby, the Wake County district attorney, has “has initiated a criminal probe into unreported flights by the campaign of Gov. Bev Perdue.” And a final tidbit of state capital news: former Speaker of the House Jim Black has been released from federal prison.

2. North Carolina’s also been in the news lately because of this ranking of America’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods. We have two areas in the top 25: the North Tryon Street area of Charlotte is number 11, and the East 21st Street area of Winston-Salem is number 16. Durham, my oft-maligned hometown, doesn’t rate.

3. The New York Times has an interesting story that may capture some of the differences between the United States and Europe: a French trader who lost $7 billion of his employer’s money doing unauthorized trades was just sentenced to three years in prison. This commentary argues that under the federal sentencing guidelines, the same crime here would have carried a 100-year term.

4. Speaking of foreign countries, California police deployed a helicopter-guided manhunt in response to the theft of a cell phone (not a fancy Apple prototype, either), while the Volokh Conspiracy notes that a Texas appellate court has upheld the introduction of evidence of a defendant’s Satanism during the penalty phase of a capital trial.

5. Finally, there have been a couple of stories lately than can only be categorized as “judges behaving badly.” In Pennsylvania, a judge “was cited [for disorderly conduct] earlier this month for allegedly approaching women near the state Capitol and passing out acorns he had hollowed out and stuffed with condoms.” The judge’s jurisdiction? The city of Intercourse. Seriously. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, the headline “federal judge charged with buying drugs from stripper” pretty much says it all, but the sordid details are here.

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2 comments on “News Roundup

    • Wait! I thought they were all innocent!

      What a shame that a guilty man gets to walk free, while those two victims now have to suffer with the knowledge that their rapist is walking free. I wonder if the Innocence Project will still list him as one of their, “Exonerated,” on its website.

      For another great example of this, look up the story of Timothy Hennis. Hennis was convicted of rape and murder in state court in the 80’s and sentenced to death. His conviction was overturned on a technicality. He was retried again in the 90’s, and was found not guilty. The “Innocence” movement held him up as one of their examples of an “innocent” person who was wrongfully convicted. Fast forward to 2006, when the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office decided to retest some DNA evidence. The retested evidence tied Hennis to the crime. Fortunately for the victims (and unfortunately, it turns out, for Hennis), Hennis was in the Army when he committed the murder. The Army recalled him from retirement, and held a Court Martial for him for murder. He was convicted a second time for the murder, and sentenced to death.

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