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News Scan

Federal Judicial Appointments:  While partisan battles swirl around the President's nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, as noted by Kent Scheidegger in a recent post, appointments to federal district courts and courts of appeal are also of great importance.  Josh Katz of the New York Times discusses the opportunity the new administration will have to reshape the federal judiciary over the next four years.  While Senate Republicans have been blamed for obstructing confirmation of President Obama's judicial appointments, Mr. Katz notes that over the past eight years Obama's appointments have replaced about 40% of today's federal judiciary.  This suggests that much of the reshaping has already been done. 

Florida Court Upholds Death Sentence:  The Florida Supreme Court has upheld a jury's unanimous 2008 verdict to sentence the murderer of a corrections officer to death.  Orlando Sentinel journalist Gal Tziperman reports that the court's 5-2 opinion held that because the sentencing jury was unanimous in sentencing murderer Enoch Hall to death, his sentence did not violate the Supreme Court's Ring v. Arizona requirement that the authority to impose a death sentence rest with the jury.  In 2008, while serving a life sentence for kidnapping and sexual battery, Hall attacked and killed Donna Fitzgerald, a 50-year-old corrections officer, stabbing her 22 times with a metal shank.  Other officers found Office Fitzgerald's body with her pants and underwear pulled down to her knees.  

Ohio Swamped With Overdose Deaths:  Following a narrative that is playing out across the country, the state of Ohio is being overwhelmed with fatal overdoses of heroin and fentanyl.  KTLA5 reports that the Montgomery County Coroner is running out of space to hold the bodies of overdose victims.  In January 2017 the county, which includes the city of Dayton, had already had 145 overdose deaths, representing over 60% of the total autopsies for that month.  In Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, there were 517 overdose deaths last year, up from 228 in 2015. This is compelling evidence that America needs to reduce sentences for the "non-violent" crime of drug dealing.     


Nothing on the Flynn resignation?

Is there an important criminal law issue there?

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