News Roundup

On Monday, a grand jury in Wake County returned a presentment against Attorney General Josh Stein and two people affiliated with his 2020 electoral campaign. The presentment asked the Wake County District Attorney to “submit for grand jury consideration an indictment” charging a violation of G.S. 163-274(a)(9), which makes it a misdemeanor to “publish . . . derogatory reports with reference to any candidate in any primary or election, knowing such report to be false or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity, when such report is calculated or intended to affect the chances of such candidate for nomination or election.” The basis of the presentment is a television ad run by Attorney General Stein’s campaign during the 2020 election cycle, accusing Stein’s opponent, Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill, of leaving “1,500 rape kits on a shelf.” On Tuesday, a divided panel of the Fourth Circuit enjoined further state court proceedings pending resolution of a federal lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s campaign and related parties, claiming that the statute at issue violates the First Amendment. The issuance of the injunction pending appeal indicates that the panel believes the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits, but the matter is to be briefed expeditiously and argued in December. Keep reading for more news.

Officer pleads guilty in connection with Breonna Taylor search warrant. Former Louisville Police Department detective Kelly Goodlett pled guilty in federal court this week to knowingly falsifying the affidavit that supported the search warrant that was issued for Taylor’s residence and to conspiring with other officers to cover up the falsehoods after the fact. Specifically, prosecutors said that “she was aware that the affidavit in support of the warrant falsely claimed that the target of the warrant, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, was receiving packages from the US Postal Service at Taylor’s home,” when in fact “officers knew the suspect was not living at Taylor’s home and hadn’t visited for weeks.” CNN has the story here. Goodlett is expected to testify against two other former officers who have been charged federally. Those trials are scheduled for October.

Pro se defendant admits on the stand that he unlawfully possessed a gun, shot an officer. Jarred Ford represented himself in a federal criminal trial this week in the Eastern District of North Carolina. He was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, charges that arose out of a traffic stop on I-95 during which he allegedly shot and severely injured a law enforcement officer and was shot several times in return. During the trial, Ford testified, “I pulled out my firearm and fired four or five times . . . .I shot the deputy.” Ford’s conduct prompted Judge Terrence Boyle to remark, “You understand this is about whether you were a felon in possession of a firearm, correct? And, you just admitted you had a firearm several times.” The jury returned a guilty verdict after just 12 minutes of deliberations. The prosecutor incisively observed that “the big moment was the confession on the stand.” WRAL has more details here. State charges remain pending and the admissions Ford made under oath in federal court may complicate his defense to those charges.

Redacted Mar-a-Lago search warrant application to be released today. The federal magistrate judge who issued the search warrant for former President Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago has agreed with the Justice Department that the application must be redacted before it is released to the public. CNN reports here that the judge found that DOJ met “its burden of showing that its proposed redactions are narrowly tailored to serve the Government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire Affidavit.” The redacted affidavit is to be released by noon today.

Why do these things always happen in Florida? The Tampa Bay Times reports here that a “man bailed out of the Pinellas County jail on a drunken driving charge on Sunday [immediately upon his release] tried to break into three sheriff’s office vehicles parked on the facility grounds, according to arrest reports.” In what seems to have been a surprising development to the arrestee, he was caught and charged with “auto burglarly” under Florida law. In explaining his conduct to officers, the man stated that he “thought his keys were in the vehicles.”