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News Scan

"Tension takes toll at Monroe prison":  Rikki King, Scott North, and Diana Hefley of the Herald (WA) have this article on rising tensions at Monroe prison after correctional officer Jayme Biendl was killed in the prison chapel, allegedly at the hands of inmate Byron Scherf.  An anonymous correctional officer reported to the Herald that Biendl's colleagues have begun questioning each other as to whether a staff error led to Biendl being left alone in the chapel with the serial rapist. The National Institute of Corrections conducted an independent review of the prison at Governor Chris Gregoire's request, and issued a report with 15 recommendations to improve safety conditions.  An internal investigation is scheduled to begin next.

California Attorney General Tours Border:  California Attorney General Kamala Harris met with state, federal, and local officials yesterday in Imperial County, California to discuss cross-border crime, reports Elliot Spagat of the AP.  Imperial County, largely a farming region, is also one of the main drug smuggling corridors between Mexico and the U.S.  The county's District Attorney Gil Otero stated that drug seizures in the area are measured in tons, not pounds.  Harris vowed to redouble efforts to prevent the Mexican cartel violence from spilling over the border.  

Minnesota Rules on Expert Testimony in Rape Cases:  The Minnesota Supreme Court yesterday ruled that in a criminal assault case in which the defendant argues the sex was consensual, expert witnesses may testify about the "typicality of delayed reporting, lack of physical injuries, and submissive behavior by rape victims."  The court reasoned this type of testimony could be helpful to the jury, because a rape victim's reaction to the crime may be beyond the knowledge of the jury.  "With this decision, we can educate jurors about some of the misconceptions [people] might have about why victims act the way they do when something like this happens to them," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi.  Abby Simons of the Star Tribune (MN) has this story.

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