News Roundup

The big news at the General Assembly this week was the introduction of the House budget bill. Recent projections of a budget surplus contributed to a proposal to spend about 6% more than last year, including millions more for the courts and a 2% raise for most state employees. The News and Observer reports here that the AOC is “very pleased” with the House budget. Of course, there’s a long way to go before the budget is final. Continue reading

Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

When the Trial Court Has the Last Word

Litigants sometimes are surprised by circumstances in which a trial court’s ruling in a case is not capable of review on appeal. The court of appeals recognized one such situation earlier this week in State v. Kiselev, ___ N.C. App. ___ (May 19, 2015). Continue reading

Disposing of a Defendant’s Guns after a Felony Conviction

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court unanimously decided a case about the disposition of a defendant’s guns after the defendant has been convicted of a felony. The case is Henderson v. United States. This post discusses the case and its implications for North Carolina. Continue reading

Sitosky Update: The Latest on Probation Tolling

The continued supervision or imprisonment of hundreds of probationers and inmates is in question in light of State v. Sitosky, __ N.C. App. __, 767 S.E.2d 623 (2014), petition for discretionary review denied, __ N.C. __, 768 S.E.2d 847 (2015), and its interpretation of the probation tolling law. This post summarizes some of the latest developments related to the case. Continue reading

State Supreme Court on State’s Ability to Obtain Review of MAR Rulings

Last month, the Supreme Court of North Carolina decided State v. Stubbs, an important case regarding appellate review of orders granting motions for appropriate relief. Continue reading

News Roundup

In an odd turn of events for the person known as the “champion of the falsely accused,” WRAL reports that Christine Mumma was accused herself this week by the North Carolina State Bar of violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. Mumma serves as executive director and legal counsel for the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence. The allegations arise from Mumma’s work to free Joseph Sledge, who spent thirty-six years behind bars for the killing of a mother and her daughter in Bladen County in 1976 before he was exonerated last January. Continue reading

Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

Can a Misdemeanor Conviction for Driving While Impaired Be Expunged?

I have been working on a theory of everything . . . for expunctions. It’s a small corner of the criminal justice universe, but a critical one for people with past convictions. The subject can be maddeningly complex, at times a seemingly impenetrable black hole. I have been trying to master the mysteries of our expunction statutes in updating my 2012 Guide to Relief from a Criminal Conviction (which you can find here, but beware of subsequent changes in the law).

Without further physics puns, here’s one of the questions I’ve looked at: Can a person expunge a misdemeanor conviction under G.S. 15A-145.5 for driving while impaired (DWI)? As the statute is currently worded, the answer is yes. Continue reading

New Criminal Offenses as a Probation Violation: Different Results at Violation Hearing and Trial

Committing a new criminal offense while on probation is a violation of probation. Nowadays it’s one of the only things for which a person may be revoked. Sometimes the parties wait to see whether a new criminal charge will result in a conviction before proceeding on it as a violation of probation. Sometimes they don’t. Either way, when you have two different courts (the probation court and the trial court) considering roughly the same issue (did this person commit a crime?), you run into issues like double jeopardy, collateral estoppel, and inconsistent results. Today’s post considers some of the possibilities. Continue reading

Non-Unanimous Verdicts in Criminal Cases?

A Wake County jury determined yesterday that Starbucks is not liable for injuries suffered by Raleigh Police Department Lieutenant Matthew Kohr when a cup of hot coffee spilled on his lap. WRAL has the story here. The verdict was 10-2. The parties agreed to a non-unanimous verdict. Can they do that? Could the parties in a criminal case do that? Continue reading

Speeding: Local Ordinance Violation or State Law Infraction?

Suppose a North Carolina city adopts an ordinance establishing a local speed limit of 25 miles per hour for all city streets that are not otherwise marked. Signs are posted on city streets reflecting the 25 mile per hour limit. Absent this ordinance, state law would provide for a speed limit of thirty-five miles per hour inside the municipal corporate limits. The city’s municipal code provides that violations of its provisions are not governed by G.S. 14-4, which otherwise would render the violation of a local ordinance regulating traffic an infraction. The municipal code also states that speeding on a city street is punishable by a civil penalty of $75 and requires that payment be made to the town hall. A local law enforcement officer stops a car that is traveling 40 miles per hour on a city street. May the officer issue a civil citation to the driver, requiring payment of the $75 penalty?  May the officer cite the driver for speeding in violation of state law, an infraction?  May the officer choose between these two methods of enforcement?

Continue reading