News Roundup

There was a ton of criminal law news this week, but far and away the news item that I found most intriguing was this one about new food offerings at the State Fair. Rattlesnake corn dogs? Sign me up! And by that, I mean sign me up on the list of people who will never in a million years eat a rattlesnake corn dog! As far as actual criminal law news goes, the week’s top stories follow.

Columbus County sheriff suspended, new sheriff named. Last week’s news roundup covered the scandal involving Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene, who was recorded talking about “Black bastards” and telling a subordinate, “Every Black that I know, you need to fire him to start with, he’s a snake.” WECT reports that this week District Attorney Jon David filed a petition to remove Sheriff Greene, alleging misconduct, maladministration, and corruption, and asserting that Sheriff Greene engaged in “racial profiling” of employees. Superior Court Judge Doug Sasser suspended Sheriff Greene pending a hearing on the petition. WECT continues that William “Bill” Rogers has been named acting sheriff. Sheriff Rogers recently retired after more than 20 years with the Highway Patrol.

Mecklenburg County sheriff no longer enforcing minor traffic violations. Staying with the sheriff theme, WRAL reports here that “[t]he Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday that it will no longer be pulling over drivers for minor traffic violations, like driving with a revoked license, having a tail light out, or inspection violations.” The policy change is “part of an effort to address racial inequality in the county,” including disparities in traffic stops. The office will continue to enforce traffic laws that it views as having a more substantial impact on public safety.

Mar-a-Lago search warrant going to the Supreme Court? I would bet against it, but SCOTUSblog notes here that the legal team working for former President Donald Trump is “asking the justices to allow a special master to review about 100 documents marked as classified that the FBI seized from Trump’s home.” In a nutshell, the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump’s residence and seized thousands of documents. Trump asked a federal district court to appoint a special master to review the documents to ensure that the FBI didn’t take any documents that were privileged or otherwise protected from seizure. The Justice Department appealed and the Eleventh Circuit said that about 100 of the documents – the ones marked classified or above – were exempt from the special master’s review and could be used immediately by the FBI in its ongoing investigation. Now Trump is asking the Supreme Court to reverse the Eleventh Circuit, arguing that “[a]ny limit on the comprehensive and transparent review of materials seized in the extraordinary raid of a president’s home erodes public confidence in our system of justice” and impairs the work of the special master. The emergency petition was directed to Justice Clarence Thomas, who is the Circuit Justice for the Eleventh Circuit, but Court watchers say that Justice Thomas is likely to refer the matter to the entire Court.

Proof that criminal law is necessary. Rattlesnake corn dogs are proof of human ingenuity. But other news items this week reminded me our species has other traits that are not as flattering. For example, we seem to be a bunch of cheaters. CNN has this story reporting that “[t]he would-be winners of almost $29,000 at an Ohio fishing tournament were disqualified . . . after it was discovered their fish were stuffed with lead weights and fish fillets.” Meanwhile, the refined world of international chess was rocked by a report seemingly confirming that American chess prodigy Hans Niemann – who recently defeated world champion Magnus Carlsen while playing black – “likely cheated more than 100 times in online chess . . . [including] in several games involving prize money.” Niemann has admitted cheating in online chess in the past, though not to the extent the new report suggests. However, Niemann beat Carlsen in person, not online. Does that mean he didn’t cheat? Perhaps, though some have speculated about the possibility of using vibrating anal beads (!) or other concealed technologies to provide computer-assisted guidance at key junctures. ESPN has this story about the “fight for the soul of the game.” It is all the more interesting because Niemann is playing right now at the U.S. Chess Championship. After two matches, he has 1.5 points and is tied for first place. The tournament is employing extraordinary anti-cheating measures including a variety of devices that scan for concealed electronics.

New episode of the NC Criminal Debrief podcast now available. Finally, you can get the latest analysis from my colleague Phil Dixon here or wherever you get your podcasts. The show description says that the episode “discusses recent criminal law news, along with a review of recent decisions by the North Carolina appellate division. Topics include the recent raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, the trial penalty, and confrontation rights at trial and probation violation hearings.”