News Roundup

Yesterday, Justice Stephen Breyer officially resigned his seat on the Supreme Court of the United States after 28 years of service. Justice Breyer, universally described as a kind and humble person, was one of the more liberal members of the current Court on criminal justice matters. In his famous dissent in Glossip v. Gross, 576 U.S. 863 (2015), he argued that the death penalty “in and of itself” constitutes a cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. His replacement and former law clerk, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, was sworn in by Chief Justice Roberts. ABC news has more details here, including a lovely picture of Justices Breyer and Brown Jackson together. Keep reading for more news.

Durham detainees stay in school. The Durham County Sheriff’s Office and the Durham Public Schools have a joint program designed to allow jailed high school students to continue their studies. The school system provides a full-time teacher to serve inmates’ educational needs. WNCN reports here that one of the inmates – detained in connection with a murder charge – recently received his diploma and participated in a virtual graduation.

Hemp legalization bill and others heading to Governor Cooper’s desk as legislative session winds down. WRAL has a story here about the flurry of bills coming out of the legislature as it works to wrap up this year’s session. The story mentions a hemp legalization measure, changes to the DVPO process, and a temporary suspension of certain automatic expunctions as among the bills for the Governor to consider. And of course, he has a budget to review.

Kelly sentenced to 30 years for sex trafficking. Former R&B singer R. Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge in New York. He was convicted of sex trafficking and other charges in connection with repeated sexual activity with underage victims. Kelly reports that he was himself a victim of sexual predation as a child, which the judge noted may partly explain, but cannot excuse, his behavior. One of his victims, now an adult, has revealed that she and Kelly are engaged. Kelly is facing additional charges in federal court in Chicago. CNN has details here.

“Cryptoqueen” added to the FBI’s most wanted list. The FBI has added Ruja Ignatova to its list of the top 10 most wanted criminals, only the eleventh time in history that a woman has “accomplished” that. Ignatova, a Bulgarian lawyer with an Oxford degree, is popularly known as the Cryptoqueen. She created a cryptocurrency called OneCoin and allegedly bilked investors in the coin out of over $4 billion. She was last seen in 2017, when she flew to Greece. Her current whereabouts are unknown and the BBC has launched a podcast about the case. ABC News has more here.

Brittney Griner’s trial begins. WNBA star Brittney Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport a week before Russia invaded Ukraine. She was charged with bringing less than a gram of cannabis oil into the country. The United States government has concluded that she is being wrongfully detained. CNN reports here that her trial began today near Moscow. The hearing included testimony from the airport employee who searched Griner’s bags. It is expected to continue next week, at which point Griner will have the opportunity to testify if desired.