News Roundup

This week the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the United States Supreme Court.  Jackson currently sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and her prior experience, following graduation from Harvard Law School where she was an editor of the law review, includes serving as vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission and working as a federal public defender.  Judge Jackson would be the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court if she is confirmed.

Death Penalty Opinion.  Speaking of the U.S. Supreme Court, yesterday the Court decided in Ramirez v. Collier that a Texas man on death row likely would prevail in a suit against the state alleging that its prohibition on having his pastor “lay hands” on him and “pray over” him during his execution violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 and the First Amendment.  SCOTUS Blog has a summary of the Court’s ruling here.  Justice Thomas, who has been hospitalized this week with an infection, dissented from the Court’s opinion.

Federal Inmates to Move from Mecklenburg Jail.  The Charlotte Observer reports that the federal government is planning to move inmates that it houses at the Mecklenburg County jail to a facility in Georgia as the jail has struggled with staffing issues in recent months.  The Observer report says that the Sheriff’s Office requested the transfer and that federal officials had been looking for an alternative location as the Mecklenburg jail no longer provides certain services.  Federal detainees are said to constitute 22% of the facilities total adult population of 1,244.

Former Sheriff Passes.  The Fayetteville Observer reports that former Cumberland County Sheriff Earl Ray Butler passed away last weekend at the age of 85.  Butler served as the Sheriff of Cumberland County for more than two decades before retiring in 2016.  The Observer report recounts his long career and significant influence on his community.

Motorcycle Shootout.  The Fayetteville Observer reports that three people were killed and several others were injured in what has been described as a shootout among members of rival motorcycle gangs in the city last Saturday night.  Two of those killed were from North Carolina and the third was from New York.  No arrests have been made in connection with the shootings but police are reviewing extensive security camera footage and license plate reader data.

Facility Update.  WRAL reports that Wake County will receive $1.5 million in federal funds to help support a DNA testing lab situated in the Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification and provide more space for the Wake County emergency management team.  The projects are scheduled to be completed in 2023.

Deadly Force Justified.  The Wilmington Star-News reports that District Attorney Ben David announced this week that two Pender County deputies were justified in using deadly force in a 2021 encounter where they fatally shot Kevin Glenn Swinson.  An investigation that included a review of body cam footage of the incident showed that Swinson pointed a rifle at the deputies during a standoff, causing them to shoot him several times.  It was later discovered that the rifle was not loaded.  Both deputies have returned to work.