National District Attorneys Association Newsclips January 13, 2012

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1 National District Attorneys Association Newsclips January 13, 2012 Today s Clip Headlines Alabama, Federal Prosecutors Promise To Put Spotlight On Human Trafficking Alabama Courthouses Could Face Layoffs, Budget Cuts Gov. Rick Scott s Budget Axe Targets Women s Prison In Broward Attorney General Schmidt Expands Task Force On Human Trafficking Kentucky Lawmakers Begin Debate On Restricting Cold Medicines Used In Meth Judges Get Say On Plea Deals Minnesota Lawmakers Urged To Make Neglect A Felony Did Haley Barbour Overlook Mississippi Constitution Before Mass Pardon? Cooper Hails New N.C. Law Tracking Meth Ingredients Clip Synopses and Links The Birmingham News Alabama, Federal Prosecutors Promise To Put Spotlight On Human Trafficking Human trafficking is an ugly crime that is happening in our backyard, Alabama and federal prosecutors said today. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and U.S. Attorney George Beck of the Middle District of Alabama said in a press conference today that they want to shed light on a crime that they said unfortunately often goes undetected. Trafficking victims are often runways or other vulnerable people and often forced to work into the commercial sex industry, the prosecutors said. The Birmingham News Alabama Courthouses Could Face Layoffs, Budget Cuts More than 100 workers in courthouse clerks offices across Alabama soon could face layoffs. Calhoun Circuit Clerk Ted Hooks tells the Anniston Star that even with flat funding, courts would still have to cut workers. The state s judicial system could face another 25 percent funding for the coming year.

2 Many clerks offices are already operating 30 to 40 percent below the work force levels recommended for Alabama courthouses by the National Center for State Courts. The cuts are causing backlogs of paper filing, like in Madison County, where residents getting divorced must wait between 18 and 24 months before their cases are final. The Miami Herald Gov. Rick Scott s Budget Axe Targets Women s Prison In Broward Seven prisons, including a women s facility in Pembroke Pines, will be closed as part of Gov. Rick Scott s plan to trim the state budget. The real-life impact of Gov. Rick Scott s proposed budget cuts is hitting home as the state targets seven prisons for extinction, including all-women lockups in Broward and Hillsborough counties. The prison closings threaten to put up to 1,300 state employees out of work, wreak havoc on rural areas where prisons are economic powerhouses, and force inmates families to drive greater distances to visit loved ones at a time when gas prices are again climbing. The Lawrence Journal-World Attorney General Schmidt Expands Task Force On Human Trafficking Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he wants to improve the state s efforts to fight human trafficking. Schmidt announced Wednesday he s expanded an existing task force to include more perspectives on the issue. He wants the task force to work with lawmakers and Gov. Sam Brownback to strengthen state laws. The task force had included police, prosecutors, social workers and victims. The new members include a forensic nurse, a Sedgwick County corrections official and Rep. Steve Brunk of Wichita. 2

3 The Courier-Journal (Louisville) Kentucky Lawmakers Begin Debate On Restricting Cold Medicines Used In Meth Cold-medicine prescriptions urged If Kentucky wants to stop methamphetamine production in its cities and towns, it needs to start requiring a prescription for some over-the-counter cold medicines, according to several speakers at a legislative hearing Thursday on the issue. Speaking to members of the Kentucky Senate and House judiciary committees convened in a joint session to hear testimony about other states efforts to regulate the availability of pseudoephedrine, Weaver noted that Oklahoma maintains a meth offender registry but has still seen an increase in meth labs. Weaver told the committee he would like Oklahoma to move to a prescription system. The Boston Globe Judges Get Say On Plea Deals The state s highest court today confirmed a little-known judicial power to ignore prosecutors and shorten criminal sentences in plea deals if the judge believes justice may not have been done. In a 6-1 decision, the Supreme Judicial Court s decided to make it clear that judges are allowed to shorten sentences because of mitigating circumstances. The court also asserted that prosecutors cannot revoke a plea deal if a judge shortens the agreed-upon sentence. Justice Francis X. Spina, the cases sole dissenter, worried that the case could open the door to judges using their power to act as pseudo-defense attorneys. State statute on judicial powers of sentencing is hazy: A judge cannot impose a sentence that exceeds the terms of the [plea bargain] recommendation, but the law says nothing about whether a judge can shorten the sentence agreement. Over the years, a few judges took the ambiguity of that statute to mean that reducing sentences was allowable, and two of those cases prompted the high court s ruling today that the practice is fair. an_ignore_prosecutors_and_issue_shorter_sentences_in_plea_deals/ 3

4 Minneapolis Star Tribune Minnesota Lawmakers Urged To Make Neglect A Felony Those who mistreat the elderly or other vulnerable adults often get off with a slap on the wrist, even in cases of death. Caregivers who intentionally neglect the elderly or other vulnerable adults could face felony prosecution for the first time in Minnesota under a legislative proposal unveiled Thursday that would close what proponents say is a gaping hole in state law. Prosecutors say current misdemeanor penalties don t allow them to properly punish violators, even in extreme cases where months of horrendous treatment ends in serious harm or death. The Christian Science Monitor Did Haley Barbour Overlook Mississippi Constitution Before Mass Pardon? Outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says the state parole board had already approved release of 90 percent of the some 200 convicts he pardoned. But a judge blocked 21 of the pardons, citing the state s constitution. A Mississippi judge has temporarily blocked 21 of over 200 executive pardons and medical releases given this week by outgoing Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, raising further questions about whether the former presidential aspirant used his pardon powers injudiciously. Circuit Judge Tomie Green temporarily blocked the pardons of 21 current and former inmates after a complaint by Attorney General Jim Hood, who was visibly angered by what he considered Governor Barbour s violation of the state constitution. Under the law, those seeking pardons have to publish their intentions in local newspapers, and Mr. Hood said that, in at least some of the cases, Barbour granted the reprieves even though notices had not been published. In a statement about the decision, Barbour, a largely popular governor who left office Tuesday because of a term limit law, said the state parole board had already approved release of 90 percent of those pardoned, that the majority of them had already been released, and that his main goal was to restore voting and even hunting rights for Mississippians who had paid their price to society. Mississippi-constitution-before-mass-pardon-video 4

5 The Winston-Salem Journal Cooper Hails New N.C. Law Tracking Meth Ingredients A law in effect for less than two weeks has already blocked more than 1,600 questionable purchases of products that contain the main ingredient for methamphetamine, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Thursday. Cooper said the law, which requires pharmacies to use an electronic system to keep track of purchases of products containing pseudoephedrine, has rapidly become an important tool in North Carolina s battle with meth, after a year in which police discovered a record number of labs making the drug. Found in many medications for the common cold, pseudoephedrine is the main ingredient in meth. The tracking system allows the State Bureau of Investigation to see when someone is trying to make multiple purchases of large amounts of the medicine, a potential tipoff that they want it for meth rather than a case of the sniffles. A state pharmacists group was more cautious, saying it is concerned the law might put a disproportionate burden on the shoulders of community pharmacists. Upcoming Courses To see a full list of our upcoming courses, their dates, summaries and registration forms, please visit Member Benefits New NDAA membership benefits available: Need Case Assistance? NDAA can help. Send a message to NDAA s prosecutor assistance address and we will get your request to one of our program specialists or out to prosecutors around the country. 5

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