News Roundup

In a previous news roundup, I posted an item about how to write like Chief Justice Roberts. But sometimes a negative example can be as useful as a positive one. In that connection, check out this petition for rehearing filed in the Ninth Circuit. Referring to the panel as a bunch of “slime ball, piece of [bleep], ass clown judges” is probably not the best way to advance your cause.

In other news:

1. Elena Kagan has cast her first vote as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. As the Los Angeles Times reports, it was a dissenting vote in an interesting method-of-execution case from Arizona, which was predicated on the nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental previously discussed on this blog.

2. The Los Angeles Times had another interesting story this week: the California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the dismissal of 18 criminal cases from Riverside County based on a “lack of available courtrooms and judges.” The precedent apparently will also apply to 300 other cases, some of them quite serious.

3. This Gallup poll asked people around the world “do you feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live?” Among residents of Singapore, 98% feel safe. Care to guess whether Americans or Europeans feel safer? Or which Latin American country has the lowest percentage of secure residents? The results are pretty interesting. (Hat tip: Crime and Consequences.)

4. Continuing on an international bent, the government of Mozambique is banning unregistered prepaid cell phones. Some developed nations have done this because such phones may be used in criminal activity, and there is legislation pending before Congress that would require all phones in the United States to be registered. The authorities in Mozambique say that they are motivated by similar concerns, but at least one local media outlet argues that the government’s action is actually a response to recent anti-government riots “which were coordinated by mobile phone text messages.”

5. Of course, the balance between privacy and surveillance is a live issue closer to home as well. Automotive blog Jalopnik reports here that license plate scanners that “match[] every passing car to crime databases” found the car belonging to a murder victim and led to an arrest.

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