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News Roundup – North Carolina Criminal Law

This will be the last news roundup of the year. We’ll likely have a post or two early next week and then go dark for the holidays, returning in early January. We appreciate your readership this year, as well as your feedback, your topic suggestions, and all the other ways that you participate in the blog community. However you may celebrate the season, we wish you a happy and restful break. Read on for a selection of the week’s news.

Men charged with killing 3,600 eagles. Two men were charged in federal court this week with unlawfully killing 3,600 birds, including bald and golden eagles, and selling eagle parts on the black market. The AP has the story here. Most of the alleged activity took place on a Native American reservation in Montana. One of the men reportedly texted a potential buyer to brag that he was on a “killing spree.” The defendants “face 13 counts of unlawful trafficking of bald and golden eagles and one count each of conspiracy and violating wildlife trafficking laws.”

Mom whose 6-year-old shot his teacher to be sentenced for child neglect. Remember the little Virginia boy who shot his teacher? The AP reports here that his mother, Deja Taylor, will be sentenced today for felony child neglect. The crime carries a maximum term of five years in prison, but the prosecution has agreed to recommend a sentence of six months. According to the article, the child “told authorities he got his mother’s 9mm handgun by climbing onto a drawer to reach the top of a dresser, where the firearm was in his mom’s purse.”

Beth Wood saga draws to a close. State Auditor Beth Wood is stepping down today. She has faced an array of legal and political problems after crashing a state vehicle last year around this time. According to WRAL, the remaining criminal charges against her are expected to be resolved today as well. The story indicates that “Wood was charged . . . with two misdemeanors after an eight-month probe by the State Bureau of Investigation found she used at least one state-owned vehicle for private purposes in 2021 and 2022, including traveling hair appointments and dental appointments.” The nature of the expected resolution isn’t revealed in the story. Wood has expressed an eagerness to move on to the corporate speaking circuit.

Center for Public Integrity Report on ethics and conflicts on state supreme courts. The Center for Public Integrity recently released a report focused on conflicts of interest in state supreme courts. The gist of the report is that state supreme court justices regularly hear cases that involve some degree of conflict. A common example, apparently, is when a justice hears a case involving a corporate party in which the justice owns stock. According to the report, that’s a no-go in federal court, but state judicial ethics rules often don’t clearly prohibit it. One example in the report involves Chief Justice Newby, who allegedly heard cases involving Duke Energy despite owning company stock. The report covers a number of other examples as well. To be clear, I’m not an expert on judicial ethics and haven’t looked at this issue deeply enough to have an opinion about it, but I did find the report provocative.

You can’t wear a ski mask in Philadelphia anymore. The AP reports here that the city council voted 13-2 to “ban ski masks, or balaclavas, in public spaces like schools, recreation centers, parks, city-owned buildings and on public transportation.” Violations of the ordinance are punishable by a $250 fine. The law contains exceptions for religious headwear and protests. The measure is apparently intended as a response to criminals wearing masks to avoid identification. The ACLU doesn’t like it and I foresee a court challenge by a First-Amendment minded, or maybe just cold-natured, resident of the City of Brotherly Love.

Biglaw salary bump. I’m considering becoming a first-year associate at a major law firm in New York. Above the Law reports here that many firms are now paying $225,000, plus bonuses of at least $15,000, to brand-new lawyers. Of course, once you pay New York Taxes, New York rents, and the cost of a cab taking you home every night because you don’t want ride the subway when you leave work at 11 p.m., that salary works out to around eighteen cents an hour. So on second thought, maybe I’m OK where I am.

Florida man double dip. I’m not moving to New York, and I’m definitely not moving to Florida. Apparently the holidays bring out the worst in Florida man. One stole an ambulance, then led deputies on a high speed chase. Unfortunately for him, this local story reveals that he “took a wrong turn . . . and ended up right where deputies wanted him – on their front lawn.” That’s right, he basically crashed into the jail. Apparently there was only “minor cosmetic damage” to the grass in front of the Sheriff’s Office, and I suppose it made booking a breeze. Meanwhile, another Florida man was involved in a road rage incident, but reportedly he went old school. Like, Ye Olde School. He pulled out a sword and brandished it at the victim, mercifully failing in his attempt to stab the other man.

Be careful out there and have a wonderful holiday season.

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