Podcast Update: Episode 2 Now Available

In a previous post, I announced the release of our new podcast, Beyond the Bench. The reaction to the first episode was positive, and I’m happy to say that the second episode is now available. It’s on our podcast website, in Apple’s podcast store, and in the leading Android stores.

In the new episode, I talk with Prof. Chris McLaughlin about lawyers’ and judges’ use of social media, and with Prof. Frayda Bluestein about S.L. 2016-88, the new law governing public access to body worn camera recordings. Have a listen, and let us know what you think.

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News Roundup

Six police officers were shot on Sunday in Baton Rouge in yet another targeted attack on law enforcement officers.  Three of the officers died and the gunman later was killed in a shootout.  Early reports suggest that the shooter, like the perpetrator of the attack in Dallas earlier this month, may have been motivated by recent officer-involved shootings of black men.  President Obama wrote an open letter to law enforcement expressing his support, thanking officers for their service, and urging the nation to come together in a trying time.  Keep reading for more news.

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Traffic Laws Amended to Address Cyclist Safety and Shared Use of the Roads

I wrote a post last January about proposed changes to the state’s traffic laws to address bicyclist safety and shared use of the roads by motorists and bicyclists.  I am still smarting from the on-line comments and emails I received as a result. (Before you click on the link and join the chorus, I should clarify that I foolishly used a bit of literary license in that earlier post. I’m not actually hostile to cyclists who pass motor vehicles at a stop light.) Now that the legislature has amended the traffic laws to address these issues, I am reticently returning to the topic to describe those changes. But I’ve learned my lesson. The rest of this post will be strictly the facts. Continue reading

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Other 2016 Legislation Related to Probation, Post-Release Supervision, and Parole

Prior posts looked at the new probation condition requiring a waiver of extradition and the new, new rules for jail credit for CRV. Today’s post covers the rest of this year’s most significant legislation related to probation, post-release supervision, and parole. Continue reading

Post-Rodriguez North Carolina Appellate Cases at a Glance

By now, most court actors are familiar with the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Rodriguez v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 1609 (April 21, 2015) (discussed in a prior post) that a law enforcement officer may not extend a traffic stop to investigate matters unrelated to the mission for the stop–that is, to address the traffic violation that warranted the stop and attend to related safety concerns–unless the extension is supported by reasonable suspicion. Defense attorneys and other court actors were curious to see how North Carolina appellate courts would analyze this significant new limitation on the scope of traffic stops. Continue reading

Vinson, Voisine, and Misdemeanor Crimes of Domestic Violence

The United States Supreme Court recently decided a case about what counts as a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” for purposes of the federal statute prohibiting individuals who have been convicted of such crimes from possessing firearms. I’ve had several questions about whether the ruling affects last year’s Fourth Circuit decision holding that North Carolina assaults generally don’t qualify as “misdemeanor crime[s] of domestic violence.” For the reasons set out below, I don’t think the Supreme Court case clearly overrules the Fourth Circuit’s decision. Continue reading

News Roundup

Late last week five Dallas police officers were shot and killed in an ambush attack while working at a protest against the officer-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota that the News Roundup reported last week.  In addition to the officers who were killed, nine other officers and two civilians were injured.  The Dallas Morning News has comprehensive coverage of the attack here.  It has been reported that the gunman, Micah Xavier Johnson, “was upset about the recent police shootings” and said that “he wanted to kill white people.”  Johnson had served in the military and carried out the ambush from an elevated position using an assault rifle; he was killed by police using a bomb robot after a standoff.  The incident reportedly is the deadliest attack on U.S. law enforcement since September 11 and is a reminder of the danger officers across the country face while they work to keep communities safe.  Keep reading for more news.

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Another New Rule for CRV Jail Credit

A legislative session wouldn’t be complete without a new jail credit rule for confinement in response to violation (CRV). Continue reading

Sheyenne’s Law Stiffens Penalty for Impaired Boating Causing Serious Injury or Death

The man who authorities say was operating the boat that crashed into 17-year-old Sheyenne Marshall while she was knee-boarding on Lake Norman on July 4, 2015, killing her, faces charges for boating while impaired, a Class 2 misdemeanor, operating a vessel in a reckless manner, a Class 2 misdemeanor, and involuntary manslaughter, a Class F felony. After the accident, Marshall’s family lobbied the legislature for stiffer penalties for impaired boating. Less than a year after Marshall was killed, the General Assembly enacted Sheyenne’s law, which increases the penalties for impaired boating that causes death or serious injury to another.  Continue reading

Pole Camera Surveillance Under the Fourth Amendment

Placing a video camera on a utility pole and conducting surveillance can be a useful law enforcement tool to gather information without requiring an in-person presence by officers at all times. But this tool may be subject to the Fourth Amendment restrictions. This post reviews the evolving case law, particularly since the United States Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Jones, 132 S. Ct. 945 (2012).

Jeff Welty in a 2013 post reviewed video surveillance generally, not just pole cameras, and discussed Jones and the few cases decided in light of its ruling. This post, after reviewing Jones, will discuss a few pole camera cases decided in federal courts since his post and whether officers should seek approval from a court before conducting pole camera surveillance. Continue reading