News Roundup

Nationwide, the biggest criminal law news of the week comes out of Florida, where Casey Anthony was found not guilty of the murder of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. I personally did not follow the case closely, but many of those who did were apparently surprised by the result. Anthony was convicted of four counts of providing false information to authorities and sentenced to one year in jail for each, to run consecutively. But with credit for the time she has already spent in jail plus applicable sentence reduction credits, she’s set to be released before the end of the month. Commentary on the case runs the gamut, with some calling the acquittal “an inexplicable blunder and a miscarriage of justice” and others saying “the system worked.”

Anthony’s misdemeanor sentences call to mind a couple points of North Carolina criminal law. In Florida, “good time” for jail inmates is apparently a matter of local county policy. Not so in North Carolina where, for the most part, the state Department of Correction’s “regulations concerning earned time credits . . . shall be distributed to and followed by local jail administrators . . . .” G.S. 148-13(e). The most recent version of those regulations (effective May 31, 2011) is available here. Also note that in North Carolina it would not be permissible to max and stack all four of those misdemeanor sentences. Under G.S. 15A-1340.22(a), the cumulative length of consecutive misdemeanor sentences cannot exceed twice the maximum sentence authorized for the class and prior conviction level of the most serious offense. That law is discussed in this post.

Other items of note:

1. The News & Observer reports here that Wake County will continue to operate its drug treatment court despite the program being cut from the state budget. County commissioners voted to use federal grant funds to cover the costs of the court, which many believe promotes long-term savings by reducing probation revocations and recidivism.

2. The Criminal Justice Section of the N.C. Bar Association has published the latest edition of its newsletter, the True Bill. It includes thought-provoking reflections from a defense lawyer, an elected district attorney, and a district court judge; a model law firm policy on social networking and electronic media; and short pieces by me (on the purposes of sentencing), Shea (on drug identification), and Jeff (on his recent trip to the Supreme Court).

3. Though it’s not really focused on lawyers in criminal practice, this piece considers how law school is, in the current economic environment, a lot like football when it comes to the likelihood of having a successful professional career. The odds of getting “drafted” by a firm are slim, and just like there are “10 special teams players clinging to a roster spot” for every Peyton Manning, only a handful of all associates will make partner.

4. And finally, this story about a 19-year-old woman who got caught trying to sneak her husband out of prison is worth a look. She was at the prison for a conjugal visit. The escape attempt apparently went well until she got to a flight of stairs. When she bumped her wheeled suitcase into one of the steps “something inside the bulky suitcase moved,” alerting guards to the scheme. They found her husband “curled up inside the suitcase in a fetal position.”

Category: Uncategorized | Tags: