Racial bias, cronyism tearing apart N.J. National Guard, senior officers allege | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The New Jersey National Guard prides itself on rigor and readiness, and, from its sprawling base southeast of Trenton, its members became a beacon of help after Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy ravaged portions of the state. But internal records obtained by NJ Advance Media show the Guard now faces a storm of its own, with at least four senior officers, including two top minorities, alleging a “toxic command climate,” fueled by racial discrimination and retaliatory actions.

Iowa forfeiture: A ‘system of legal thievery’? | The Des Moines Register

A Des Moines Register investigation into the use of state and federal civil forfeiture laws in Iowa reveals that thousands of people have surrendered their cash or property since 2009. The system is stacked against property owners while raising millions of dollars annually for law enforcement agencies across the state, something critics contend encourages policing for profit over promoting public safety.

Travelers stopped in Utah for gas, were scared into buying tires, state found | The Salt Lake Tribune

The Division of Consumer Protection last month fined a company owning rural Utah gas stations and repair shops $10,000 for what documents describe as pressuring motorists into buying tires they didn’t need The gas stations — one in Scipio and one in Beaver, both Flying J franchises — are public rest stops on Interstate 15 in a partnership with the Utah Department of Transportation. At each location, repair shops are adjacent to the Flying J fuel pumps.

Officers blow whistle on dangerous DOC ‘crisis’ | WTSP-TV (Tampa Bay)

For all the attention paid to ongoing budget and management problems at Florida’s state prisons, 10 Investigates has learned penny-pinching has created an even more dangerous situation in the Department of Corrections’ probation and parole division. A months-long investigation into the DOC’s community corrections program suggests probation and parole officers are not adequately outfitted to properly monitor former felons on court-ordered supervision.

Death haunts mother who can’t get answers | Augusta Chronicle

Cornelius James Evans was one of 500 people who died in 2013 while in community care under the auspices of the department. A rash of deaths and failure to meet other standards prompted the department in 2013 to suspend the wholesale community placements it agreed to under a 2010 settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Despite that, another 498 of its patients in community care died last year.

A web of lawyers play different roles in different courts | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The lawyers who both help run and profit from the region’s 81 municipal courts are an elite club. In courts where they have no official status, they often work as traffic attorneys whose success lies in their ability to get a charge amended to a nonmoving violation — a leniency that many courts will afford only to lawyers, as long as the offender is willing to pay a higher fine. They also work as city attorneys, paid to represent municipalities in lawsuits and to craft ordinances that feed the municipal revenue stream. Sometimes they do both.

These dual, or in some cases triple and quadruple roles — judge in one place; prosecutor or city attorney in another; and private lawyer representing defendants in still another — mean the lawyers regularly appear before each other, switching places in court. On a recent court date in Berkeley, for instance, 20 of the defense attorneys who were scheduled to appear before Judge Jennifer Fisher were fellow municipal prosecutors and judges.