News Roundup

Many Americans have been paying close attention to the proceedings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Among the interested observers are federal prosecutors at the United States Department of Justice, who are increasingly frustrated with the Committee’s refusal to provide DOJ with transcripts of the Committee’s witness interviews. Politico reports here that DOJ thinks the transcripts may be useful in its effort to prosecute those who engaged in criminal activity during the attack. DOJ also views the Committee’s selective release of transcripts during televised hearings as fueling defense arguments that the Committee is making it impossible for defendant to get a fair trial.

January 6 sentencing. Speaking of January 6, the Associated Press has this article examining the sentences that have been handed down against Capitol rioters so far. I was not aware of the scope of the prosecution effort: over 800 people have been charged with crimes connected with January 6; over 300 have pled guilty; and almost 200 have been sentenced by a total of 20 different judges. Overall, “judges who have sentenced riot defendants have given lighter sentences than prosecutors were seeking in nearly three-fourths of the cases.” One judge stands out as imposing the most severe sentences . . . and that judge is a former federal public defender.

Senators reach a deal on gun safety. Early this week, several Senators announced a tentative agreement on gun safety legislation. The group included 10 Republicans, including both Senators from North Carolina, which is important because it may signal sufficient support to defeat a filibuster. WRAL has the story here. The potential deal includes (1) expanded background checks for gun buyers who are under 21, (2) incentives for states to adopt “red flag” laws (about which I wrote here), and (3) expanded federal funding for mental health. Of course, there is a long way to go before the framework agreement becomes law.

Durham DA clears officers involved in shootings. WRAL has this article reporting that “Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry sent letters last month to her colleagues in the Durham Police Department, Durham Sheriff’s Office and the Duke University Police Department, clearing officers in each agency for their roles in incidents in which law enforcement officers shot and killed people in January.”

New podcast about cold cases. I’m a regular podcast listener and am intrigued by What Remains, a new podcast by WRAL reporter Amanda Lamb. You can read more about it and listen to the trailer here, but this short passage gives a flavor of the theme: “There are human bones in boxes at every state medical examiner’s office in the country – just sitting there, forgotten, dusty, the epitome of what we think of as cold cases. So, we started thinking about what it would take to identify all these remains. That’s what this podcast is about – what those bones represent – to the families, to the investigators, to the forensic scientists, and what they intend to do about them.”

Ever wanted to be a School of Government faculty member? This could be your opportunity. We are currently recruiting for two positions that focus on criminal law and procedure. One position will be responsible primarily for working with magistrates (detailed position description here) and the other will be responsible primarily for working with prosecutors (detailed position description here). We want the best possible pool of applicants, so please spread the word!

Traffic stop gone good. Finally, WRAL has this story about a traffic stop. It involves a white officer and a black motorist, but unlike so many recent media stories that begin that way, it isn’t about how things went wrong. Instead, it is a story about shared humanity by the side of the road. Have a great weekend.