News Roundup

Jeffrey Epstein mugshot

Jeffrey Epstein in 2006. Photo from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office via Wikimedia Commons.

AG Barr concludes Jeffrey Epstein’s death due to ‘perfect storm of screw-ups’

U.S. Attorney General William Barr says he initially had suspicions about multimillionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein’s jailhouse death, but he eventually concluded that the convicted sex offender died by suicide. Barr told the Associated Press that he reviewed security footage and thinks the suicide stemmed from “a perfect storm of screw-ups.” Two prison guards have been charged with falsifying records to make it appear that they were performing required checks on the night Epstein died. (The Associated Press)

University of La Verne will go back to being California-accredited law school

The University of La Verne College of Law in California plans to let go of its ABA accreditation, seeking it instead with the state. Trustees voted in favor of the plan Nov. 18. The school was inspired to consider a change by a new ABA standard requiring at least 75% of a law school’s graduates who sat for a bar exam to pass within two years of graduation, a university spokesperson told the ABA Journal in October. The law school’s 2018 first-time bar passage rate was 31.49%. (Law.com, the Daily Bulletin)

‘Serial’ podcast subject fails to get SCOTUS to hear his appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear the case of Adnan Syed, whose murder case gained prominence after it was examined in the Serial podcast. Maryland’s top court ruled 4-3 in March that Syed’s counsel was ineffective for failing to contact an alibi witness, but Syed wasn’t entitled to a new trial because he wasn’t prejudiced by that failure. Syed was convicted of murdering a high school classmate he once dated. (NPR, CBS, the Baltimore Sun)

SCOTUS lets stand decision allowing defamation suit by climate scientist; Alito dissents

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to review a decision allowing climate scientist Michael Mann to proceed with his defamation suit against the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. A CEI blog post had labeled Mann the “Jerry Sandusky of climate science” because he “molested” data. A National Review blog post had that claimed Penn State engaged in a cover-up when it cleared Mann of wrongdoing. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented from the cert denial. He wrote that the case “presents questions that go to the very heart of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and freedom of the press: the protection afforded to journalists and others who use harsh language in criticizing opposing advocacy on one of the most important public issues of the day.” (Alito dissent at page 19 of PDF, Law.com, the Washington Post, SCOTUSblog)