The Supreme Court announced on Monday its adoption of a Code of Conduct setting out the ethics rules and principles that guide the justices. In a statement accompanying the rules, the Court stated that for the most part, the provisions were not new as the Court historically has been governed by “common law ethics rules” derived from a variety of sources. The Court stated that it was adopting the Code to “dispel” the “misunderstanding” that justices regard themselves as unrestricted by ethics rules. Adoption of the ethics rules did not quell the criticism related to recent reports of gifts and benefits bestowed on some justices and critics were quick to point out that the new code lacks an enforcement mechanism.
Nominee for the Fourth Circuit. CBS News reports that President Biden on Wednesday announced five nominees to federal judgeships, including Nicole Berner, the general counsel of the Service Employees International Union, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. If confirmed, Berner would be that court’s first openly LGBTQ judge.
An Epidemic of Everything. The New York Times reported here about a “new and perilous period” in the United States’ battle against illicit drugs and addiction. Opioids, such as fentanyl, remain a problem, but are only part of the sad story of addiction. The Centers for Disease Control say that most of the people addicted to opioids also take other illicit substances, which complicates treatment and confounds policy choices. Among those substances are the animal tranquilizer xylazine, which reportedly can char human flesh (and which my colleague Phil Dixon wrote about here), anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Klonopin, and recreational stimulants like cocaine and meth. One addiction specialist said that treating for opiates is relatively easy due to the availability of medications like buprenorphine and methadone, which can subdue cravings. Meth, in contrast, “is a monster.”
Video of arrest by police in Charlotte goes viral, and not in a good way. WRAL reported Monday on a video widely circulated on Instagram that shows Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers restraining a woman on the ground while a fifth officer appears to punch the woman several times. Police officials have said the woman and a man were smoking marijuana in public when officers approached. The woman reportedly punched an officer in the face, the man had a firearm, and the two refused arrest. According to the police department, the officer struck the woman in the thigh and told her to “stop resisting.”
The Associated Press reported here on Police Chief Johnny Jennings’s comments at a Wednesday news conference. Jennings said he understood the outrage expressed by the public and “the emotions that come when you look at a video that involves an officer who is punching a female.” He said he had been involved in similar physical struggles in his 32 years of policing and that he had never “been involved in using force that has looked pretty and has looked good to the public.”
Talk about dropping a dime. I don’t know if anyone actually dropped a dime on the four Philadelphia men indicted for stealing more than 2 million dimes from a truck loaded at the U.S. Mint, but the men are said to have literally dropped more than a few such coins. The men reportedly engaged in a spree of robberies from tractor-trailers passing through the area, in which they netted items ranging from frozen crab legs to liquor. The men allegedly broke into the truck containing six tons of dimes with bolt cutters while the driver was asleep. They made off with a large portion of its load, but did leave thousands of coins scattered over the lot. The Associated Press has the story here.
Phil drops the mike. My colleague Phil Dixon, Director of Public Defense Education at the School, has released a new episode of his North Carolina Criminal Debrief podcast. You can listen here. According to the show notes, this episode “covers the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of review in State v. Diaz-Tomas regarding dismissal with leave, the Court’s grant of review in the substitute analyst case of Smith v. Arizona, the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Arthur on drug identification, and recent legislation in the state impacting drug trafficking, the Good Samaritan law, and more.”
South Carolina may have the Murdaughs, but Florida has the Adelsons. The Associated Press reports that 73-year-old Donna Adelson, the matriarch of a South Florida family who made its fortune practicing dentistry, was arrested Monday night at Miami International Airport on charges of orchestrating the hit-man murder of her ex-son-in-law. Just a week ago, Adelson’s oral surgeon son was convicted on the same first-degree murder charge. Adelson and her husband were about to board a one-way flight to to Dubai and Vietnam (countries that happen not to have an extradition treaty with the United States) when she was arrested. Adelson is charged with arranging the 2014 murder of Florida State University law professor Daniel Markel, who was previously her son-in-law, and who was shot in the head inside his Tallahassee garage. Hello, Netflix, are you filming yet?
Fatal fungi. Since this is the last news roundup before Thanksgiving, I thought I’d end with a poisoning. (When you work in the area of criminal law, sometimes macabre is the only choice.) An Australian woman was arrested for murder this week after three of the four guests she invited to lunch at her home in July were hospitalized the next day and died. Authorities say she served them poisonous mushrooms. The murder victims were her ex-husband’s parents and aunt. The fourth guest, her ex-husband’s uncle, also was hospitalized, but survived. The Associated Press has the story here.
Stay away from the exes and any questionable fungi and have a safe pre-holiday weekend.