South Carolina Moves to Shield Names of Police Involved in Shootings

SPUTNIK NEWS, 5 APRIL 2018, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

After four Greenville County Sheriff’s Deputies fatally shot 35-year-old Jermaine Massey on March 19, 2018 the officers were placed on administrative leave until the conclusion of the investigation. Unless their actions result in criminal charges, they will remain unnamed.

“While a case is under review and no charges are made, we’re not going to identify a particular officer who had just had to use his service weapon,” Wilkins told Greenville News. “We’re not going to subject him to scrutiny by the public until a case has been vetted and completed.”

Wilkin’s policy makes exceptions for officers whose identities are already exposed, for example, by a bystander’s video of their shooting.

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Florida law allows driverless vehicles. Does the law go too far?

TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2 APRIL 2018, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

To many, driverless cars still seem a far-off concept, one their grandkids might experience. But state Sen. Jeff Brandes has spent the better half of the past decade making them a reality in Florida.

The St. Petersburg Republican pushed to make the state a leader in autonomous vehicles, starting with legislation in 2012 that made it legal for self-driving cars to operate on Florida’s roads. Bills that followed removed the need for a human to be in the car at all.

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Askwith Debates – Charter Schools: Expanding Opportunity or Reinforcing Divides?

HARVARD EDUCATION, 29 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. DEREK BLACK:

Rapid growth in the number of public charter schools, which now serve more than three million students nationwide, has sparked debate over their implications for educational equity. Proponents contend that charters provide an escape valve for low-income, mostly minority students in struggling school districts, while critics allege that charters serve a select few, reinforce racial and economic school segregation, and destabilize urban communities. Some prominent organizations within the civil rights community have called for a moratorium on charter growth. Do charter schools enhance or undermine equity in American education? Should their growth be encouraged or curtailed? Join us as leading educators, policymakers, and researchers come together to debate the charter school movement and its future.

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‘Hey, mute’: After they shot Stephon Clark, officers cut their audio. And that adds to the outcry

LA TIMES, 31 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

Among the unanswered questions that have fueled anger in the wake of Stephon Clark’s shooting is why officers muted their body cameras after firing 20 shots at the unarmed black man.

Community activists and the Clark family’s attorney say the silencing came at an unsettling moment, as officers were regrouping following the shooting. Sacramento’s police chief said the issue is part of the investigation, adding that the decision to turn off the audio “builds suspicion.”

The incident draws attention to law enforcement rules dictating when officers can switch off the audio on their body cameras, coming at a time when the devices increasingly are being used to record police interactions with the public. Policies on muting cameras vary from department to department.

Officers muted body cameras in Stephon Clark shooting. Why?

CNN, 26 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

About seven minutes after Sacramento police fatally shot an unarmed black man in his grandmother’s backyard last week, officers were instructed to mute their body cameras.

Stephon Clark, 22, was in the backyard March 18 when two police officers shot at him 20 times. Police said they thought he was holding a gun. But investigators say they did not find a weapon at the scene, only a cellphone near the man’s body.
 

Body cameras tell truth, right? Not so fast, professor warns

JACKSONVILLE.COM, 23 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

The law professor had one main message for prosecutors when he came to town: You shouldn’t always believe your eyes.

As the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the police union hammer out details to implement body-worn cameras, prosecutors took an afternoon last week to learn how to use that evidence in court.

“As a prosecutor, any time we can have video footage of significant events in a criminal action it’s essential for us,” Chief Assistant State Attorney Mac Heavener said before the training. “The jury essentially becomes a witness to the things that happened.”

But then Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina law professor and one of the foremost body camera experts, raised his hand to interject. “Actually, I’m going to spend time this afternoon about why that’s not true.”

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Turmoil in UA athletic department prompts review of policies involving sexual violence, discrimination

TUSCON.COM, 10 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

The University of Arizona is making changes in the wake of a firestorm of court filings involving sexual harassment and domestic violence issues in the athletic department.

Starting this week, an attorney who specializes in gender discrimination law will lead a comprehensive review of the university’s processes and policies and also examine how the UA coordinates with supporting agencies such as law enforcement and health care.

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State at a Standstill for Method of Executing Condemned Criminals

SC PUBLIC RADIO, 22MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. COLIN MILLER:

South Carolina has two methods of executing condemned criminals: lethal injection and electrocution. But because convicted prisoners are allowed to choose between them, almost all will choose lethal injection (the last electrocution in the state was in 2008). This presents a problem, according to Brian Stirling, director of the state Department of Corrections. The state has run out of the drugs used for lethal injections, and the manufacturers refuse to sell the state more for fear of backlash, because the state has no law to shield the companies’ names from public disclosure. Thus, if a prisoner on death row chooses lethal injection, the state would not be able to carry out the execution. This has not happened thus far, said Stirling, but the day could be coming.

USC law professor Colin Miller said that’s largely the impetus for a law up for debate by the General Assembly. It would dictate that in cases where the state is unable to carry out a sentence of death by lethal injection, the default method of execution would be the electric chair. Though lethal injection is perceived to be a more humane, less painful method of execution, Miller said that’s not always the case, as there are examples nationally of botched executions by lethal injection. For this reason, he added, there’s a strong possibility that other states may also pass laws to default to electrocution as their lethal drugs run out or expire, or other means of execution become unpopular with the public.

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Uber suspends self-driving auto testing after cyclist is killed

NEWBURGH GAZETTE, 20 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

Uber autonomous auto causes first death by a self-driving vehicle; company responds on Twitter. The 49-year-old woman, Elaine Herzberg, was crossing the road outside of a crosswalk when the Uber vehicle operating in autonomous mode under the supervision of a human safety driver struck her, according to the Tempe Police Department. He said he did not yet know how close Herzberg was to the vehicle when she stepped into the lane. However, after the incident and with federal safety regulators sending teams to investigate the crash, several congressmen have halted their efforts over safety concerns. Uber’s self-driving software or autonomous mode requires cars to be fitted with a variety of equipment in order to detect its surroundings.
 

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