News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: Alleged unlicensed PD failed ethics exam; is puppy-mill law unconstitutional?

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Public defender accused of working without a license failed ethics part of bar exam

A public defender in New Orleans accused of working without a law license twice failed the ethics portion of the bar exam. The attorney general’s office last week obtained a warrant to arrest the would-be lawyer, Ashley Crawford, for alleged payroll fraud and unauthorized practice. ( here and here)

Lawsuit challenges puppy-mill sales ban

Pet stores in Maryland have filed a lawsuit challenging a state law than bans the retail sale of dogs and cats obtained from commercial breeders. The suit says the No More Puppy-Mill Pups Act of 2018 unconstitutionally discriminates against out-of-state breeders. (WUSA9, the Associated Press)

Judge denies new trial for imprisoned man after prosecutors say he is innocent

A Missouri judge has denied a new trial for St. Louis man Lamar Johnson, despite prosecutors’ assertion that his conviction was based on perjured testimony and prosecutorial misconduct. Johnson has been in prison for 24 years serving a life sentence. Judge Elizabeth Hogan said Johnson had to file his new trial motion within 15 days of conviction, and he has raised some of the same issues in habeas appeals. (The Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug. 23 decision)

Prosecutor plans to expunge tens of thousands of pot convictions

Cook County, Illinois, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx plans to automatically expunge tens of thousands of marijuana convictions in partnership with a tech nonprofit called Code for America. Possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana will be legal in Illinois beginning in 2020. Code for America will scan conviction data for records eligible for expungement and complete paperwork for prosecutors to present to judges. (The Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times)

Magistrate judge says prosecutors withheld evidence in coal executive’s prosecution

A federal magistrate judge says the conviction of coal executive Donald Blankenship should be overturned because prosecutors failed to turn over evidence that could have led to his acquittal. Blankenship was convicted of conspiracy to violate mine safety regulations, a misdemeanor, in a 2010 West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 people. He was the former CEO of Massey Energy Company. The magistrate’s recommendation goes to a federal district judge for consideration. (The New York Times)

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