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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If D.A. Jackie Lacey won’t charge the LAPD officer who shot Brendon Glenn, some ask: When would she prosecute?

LA TIMES, 18 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

Seth Stoughton, a professor at University of South Carolina School of Law and a former police officer, reviewed Lacey’s memo and said he believed the evidence was strong enough to bring to a jury.

“If the prosecutor is unwilling to even present the case to a jury because the officer has a facially plausible story, then all an officer has to do is say, ‘He was reaching for my gun,’ or, ‘I thought he was reaching for my gun,’ ” Stoughton said.

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Arizona emerged a self-driving hotbed before Uber’s deadly crash

THE STAR ONLINE, 21 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:
 
Just a few weeks before the deadly Uber accident, Arizona expanded its permissive stance toward autonomous vehicles. On March 1, the state issued an update to Governor Ducey 2015 executive order meant to reflect “advancements in technology and testing” of autonomous vehicles. In effect, the move permitted commercial robotaxi services, taking a step further than just allowing public-road testing, according to Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant professor of law at the University of South Carolina. 

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Cutting ‘Old Heads’ at IBM

PRO PUBLICA, 22 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. JOE SEINER:

IBM’s latest actions aren’t anything like what most ex-employees with whom ProPublica talked expected from their years of service, or what today’s young workers think awaits them — or are prepared to deal with — later in their careers.

“In a fast-moving economy, employers are always going to be tempted to replace older workers with younger ones, more expensive workers with cheaper ones, those who’ve performed steadily with ones who seem to be up on the latest thing,” said Joseph Seiner, an employment law professor at the University of South Carolina and former appellate attorney for the EEOC.

“But it’s not good for society,” he added. “We have rules to try to maintain some fairness in our lives, our age-discrimination laws among them. You can’t just disregard them.”

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SFPD Chief Scott fires rookie officer who shot alleged carjacker in Bayview

MISSION LOCAL, 12 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott on Friday fired the rookie cop who, four days into his police career, shot dead an alleged carjacker. In return, the police union fired back a fusillade of its own, accusing Scott of cowardice and political expediency.

Other officers — who would not speak on the record for fear of retribution from the police union — told Mission Local they backed the chief. One emphasized that cops must be held accountable for failing to follow procedures, including warning someone before shooting, and firing through a closed window.

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Robot drivers may be safer than humans, but tech companies are way behind in proving it

LA TIMES, 21 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

As long as robot cars roam public streets and highways, they will occasionally kill people. That’s an ugly truth that no one in the driverless vehicle industry can deny.

Will those robot cars kill people at significantly lower rates than drunk, stoned, tired or distracted human drivers do now? Automakers, technology companies, politicians and regulators are betting they will, as driverless vehicles are rolling out faster than almost anyone expected as recently as a year ago.

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A small gamble

SC LAWYERS WEEKLY, 15 MARCH 2018, FEAT. PROF. JOE SEINER:

March Madness is here. The time where college basketball fanatics, casual fans, and the wholly disinterested gather in office break rooms to drop off their tournament prognostications and a couple of dollars for the pot.

But before you fill out that bracket, ask yourself: Am I willing to go to jail for this? Am I really about that life?

Maybe it’s not quite that serious, but as Lawyers Weekly has been reminded, it’s still illegal gambling.

“It’s clear that these violate South Carolina law,” said University of South Carolina School of Law professor Joe Seiner. “Any type of office pool that you would benefit monetarily from [is illegal].”

The only state more restrictive in its gambling laws, according to Seiner, is Utah.

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Zero tolerance discipline policies won’t fix school shootings

THE CONVERSATION, 15 MARCH 2018, WRITTEN BY: PROF. DEREK BLACK:

As outrage over the Parkland school shooting persists, lawmakers are looking for actual policy solutions. Unfortunately, they sometimes misunderstand or misuse the facts that should drive policy.

The Trump administration and its supporters are latching onto school discipline reform as the solution. But by reform, they do not mean improving school climate, ensuring fairness or getting students the mental and social services they need. They mean doing away with the school discipline reform the Obama administration helped spur. They mean doubling down on zero tolerance. Last week, Florida’s Republican Sen. Marco Rubio went so far as to write that “federal guidance may have contributed to systemic failures to report Nikolas Cruz’s dangerous behaviors to local law enforcement.” Cruz is accused of carrying out the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

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