Opening Statement
March 27, 2019
Edited by Andrew Cohen
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Pick of the News

Cognitive dissonance and the Second Amendment. A federal ban on bump stocks for guns overcame a Supreme Court challenge and became official yesterday. USA Today At the same time, Trump administration officials were defending their decision to make it easier for gun manufacturers to export guns. House Foreign Affairs Committee And the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on “red flag” laws designed to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of emotionally unstable people. CBS News

Trump and the House. The House Judiciary Committee Tuesday unanimously demanded records from the Justice Department about the obstruction-of-justice investigation into President Trump. Republicans endorsed the measure last week, before the Mueller report was done, and Democrats embraced it this week after Attorney General William Barr’s summary of that report. Politico Related: The House failed to override Trump’s veto of federal legislation striking down his “emergency” declaration for a border wall. The Washington Post

The end of an era for Sackler family donations. More museums and philanthropic organizations have begun to reject donations from the family behind Purdue Pharma, the company that manufactures OxyContin. The Washington Post And earlier this week the family announced it would suspend future donations amid growing public criticism of the family’s role in the opioid epidemic. The New York Times More: Meanwhile, Purdue Pharma announced Tuesday it will settle an Oklahoma opioid lawsuit for $270 million. The Washington Post

The church is cutting private deals with assault survivors. Catholic leaders in New York, and now other states, are quietly ramping up a program designed to settle out of court cases of sexual assault by priests. To obtain a cash settlement, victims must sign away their rights to ever sue the church. The private deals, which ensure that details of the crimes will not be made public, come at a time when state legislators around the country are pushing to expand statute-of-limitation periods to make it easier for survivors to sue. Vice News

“Don’t wait for law enforcement.” Lissa Yellowbird-Chase was part of a volunteer team of amateur detectives searching for clues about a young woman missing from the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. Last summer, using fishing sonar, she found at the bottom of a lake bed on the reservation a car and the body of Olivia Lone Bear. It’s no surprise that these volunteers solved the case before the police did, Yellowbird-Chase says, especially on tribal land where law enforcement is notoriously lax in missing persons cases. BBC/High Country News


Prosecutors in Chicago, Illinois, dropped all of their charges against Jussie Smollett, the actor accused earlier this year of filing a false police report about a hate crime. USA Today More: Police officials, and the mayor, aren’t happy about it. NPR

For eight months Charles Lemons was lost in the bureaucracy of the jail in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, until he was released earlier this month. Now we can hear audio recordings of the calls he made pleading to get help. Fox25

As the number of parole hearings rises in California, its governor has taken a hard-line stand on many more cases than his predecessor did. Los Angeles Times

John Hinckley, who tried to kill Ronald Reagan, says he’s never been happier now that he’s free and living in Virginia. But he’s having trouble making friends and dating, according to psychological reports filed with the federal judge overseeing his historic case. Los Angeles Times

At least 11 people have been freed from custody in Martin County, Florida, after a cop there was found to be falsifying drug arrests. Substances found to be drugs were in fact sand, laundry detergent and cold medicine. The Appeal

The troubled vice unit of the police department in Columbus, Ohio, is no more, shut down in the wake of an indictment of one of its detectives. The New York Times


A disgrace in Dilley perpetrated in our name. A recent visit to the federal immigration detention center in Texas brings heartbreak and frustration. By Martin Garbus. The Nation

Can we talk now about all the other Trump administration scandals? Evidence of political corruption in the Cabinet doesn’t begin or end with the Russia gambit. The Atlantic

What happens to terrorism defendants after they’ve served their sentences? It’s a question we’ll have to answer in and out of court now that 9/11-era prisoners are eligible for release. Just Security

Sorry, fellow conservatives, but the president hasn’t been “fully exonerated.” American Conservatives “The answer is not that Trump either did nothing wrong or committed massive crimes for which he can be removed from office. Mueller’s report—were we ever to inspect it—appears to have split the difference. …” Slate

A different kind of obstruction of justice. Never mind Trump. How about all the regular people who are arrested and charged by overzealous cops alleging “obstruction.” The Week

Knowing right from wrong. What the California death penalty moratorium means to a father whose three sons were murdered by their mother. Los Angeles Times


Future Forensic Scientists of the Day: Kids at a “spy camp” in Texas earlier this month learned about fingerprints and DNA testing and played with bullet cartridges. Longview News-Journal

Audio of the Day: Fewer undocumented crime victims are coming forward to seek U visas, given by police to help those who cooperate to help solve crimes. WNYC

History of the Day: Mass cremations. Stolen gold teeth. Burning body parts. It’s been four decades since Los Angeles was stunned by the discovery of a gruesome operation at a family mortuary. Topic Magazine

Revelation of the Day: Military prosecutors say they have tape recordings of phone calls between the 9/11 conspirators three months before the attacks. No one at the National Security Agency or FBI listened to the recordings until after the Twin Towers fell. The New York Times

Statistic of the Day: More children were shot and killed in 2017 than on-duty police officers and active duty military personnel. Newsweek

Resource of the Day: From the Justice Manual, here are the “principles of federal prosecution” cited by Attorney General William Barr on Sunday to justify his conclusion from the Mueller report that the president did not obstruct justice. Justice Department

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