News Roundup

The biggest national (and international) criminal law story this week involves the December 1988 terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103. The flight was destroyed by a bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people – many of them American students on their way home for the holidays. Two Libyan men alleged to have been involved in the attack were tried in 2001. One was convicted and imprisoned, and has since died. The other was acquitted. Two years ago, federal prosecutors charged a third man, former Libyan intelligence officer Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, who is thought to have been the bomb-maker. Al-Marimi is now in US custody and some reports indicate that he has confessed to his role in the attack. However, the circumstances of his reported confession and transfer to the US are unclear, with some suggesting that he was essentially kidnapped by a warlord, forced to admit guilt, and handed over to the US despite the lack of any formal extradition agreement between Libya’s dysfunctional government and the US. The Guardian has more here. I expect significant legal wrangling over the purported confession as the criminal case proceeds. Keep reading for more news.

Crypto wunderkind arrested amidst indications of massive fraud. Sam Bankman-Fried, son of two Stanford Law professors and founder of fallen cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has been arrested in the Bahamas and is being extradited to the US to face charges including wire fraud and securities fraud after his company collapsed, apparently after taking customer funds and using them in risky trades. CNBC has more here. And about the law professors? CNN Business has this article up noting that they are coming under scrutiny for their involvement in FTX, and potentially, their failure to use their expertise to identify what appear to be have been glaring deficiencies in corporate governance.

NC Attorney General considering whether to charge former Congressman (and Trump Chief of Staff) Mark Meadows with voter fraud. WRAL reports here that Meadows voted in North Carolina in the 2020 election, apparently claiming residency in a rented mobile home in the western part of the state. But the former owner of the property seems to have said that Meadows never stayed there. So, was he really a resident of North Carolina such that he was entitled to vote here? The SBI has investigated the matter and turned its report over to the office of Attorney General Josh Stein, which is considering whether to bring criminal charges. No timetable for a decision has been announced.

Outgoing Oregon Governor commutes sentences of all death row inmates. NPR has this article up about outgoing Democratic Governor Kate Brown, who is leaving office as a result of term limits. Brown just commuted the sentences of Oregon’s 17 death row inmates to life in prison, stating that she believes the death penalty to be wasteful, immoral, and impossible to administer fairly. We are only two years away from our own Democratic governor leaving office as a result of term limits, and I imagine that folks on all sides of the issue are interested in whether Governor Cooper will consider taking a similar action as his term draws to a close.

Police department starts chess club for kids. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin has this article about the New Bern Noble Knights, a chess club founded by the New Bern Police Department with help from a local chess instructor. The club meets twice per week for 12 weeks in order to teach kids the basics of chess as well as bigger life lessons about strategy and patience. The session was so popular it had to be moved to a larger venue, and future sessions are in the works.

Weirdly endearing (?) officer dressed as the Grinch gives speeding drivers smelly onions. WRAL has a story here about “Col. Lou Caputo, a 37-year veteran of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office” in Florida, who dresses up as the Grinch during the holiday season and stops motorists who are speeding in a school zone. Serious speeders get a serious ticket, but those just a few miles per hour above the limit are given a choice between a citation and a malodorous onion. It sounds like the onion is the preferred choice, with some drivers going so far as to eat it in front of Col. Caputo.

As evidenced by the preceding story, the end of 2022 is almost upon us. We will have a post on Monday and then will go dark for the holidays, returning in the new year. Have a safe and relaxing weekend.