Sufficient Evidence of a Probation Violation

Probation violations need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. All that’s required is sufficient evidence to “reasonably satisfy” the judge that a violation occurred. What constitutes competent evidence of a probation violation? And how much proof is enough? Continue reading

North Carolina Court of Appeals Finds Exigent Circumstances to Enter Home Without a Warrant to Conduct Protective Sweep for Officer Safety and to Prevent Destruction of Evidence

The United States Supreme Court has stated that the “physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed” and that “searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable.” Payton v. United States, 445 U.S. 573, 585-86 (1980). So in an ordinary case officers will need an arrest warrant to enter a person’s house to make an arrest of the resident or a search warrant to search for and seize property there. There are a few exceptions to the warrant requirement: (1) obtaining consent to enter from an appropriate person, (2) probable cause and exigent circumstances, (3) making a protective sweep of a home for dangerous people when an officer is there to make an arrest, (4) entering a home to seize weapons for self-protection, and (5) entering a home to render emergency assistance to an injured occupant or to protect an occupant from imminent injury. See generally Arrest, Search, and Investigation in North Carolina (4th ed. 2011) at pages 66-73 (entering premises to arrest), 217-18 (probable cause and exigent circumstances), 232-33 (entry or search of home to render emergency assistance or for self-protection). A new edition of this book will be available this coming winter, possibly as soon as December 2016. Continue reading

Podcast Update: Episode 4 Now Available

The penultimate episode of the inaugural season of Beyond the Bench is now available! The first half of the episode was produced by Shea, and explores the penalties associated with impaired driving and their effectiveness at addressing the problem. The second half involves me interviewing Jamie about the concept of absconding from probation. We talk about the history of the term and discuss several recent appellate cases about what constitutes absconding. You can listen on the web here, or download the episode from the leading podcast store of your choice. Let us know what you think.

News Roundup

On Thursday, the United States Olympic Committee issued an apology to Brazil for a “distracting ordeal” involving U.S. Olympic swimmers, bathroom vandalism, and a false report of armed robbery.  Earlier in the week, swimmer Ryan Lochte claimed that he and a few other U.S. teammates were robbed at gunpoint in Rio.  The purported robbery was a high profile example of security concerns at the Brazil games.  As it turns out, the swimmers had drunkenly vandalized a gas station bathroom and concocted the robbery story to avoid getting in trouble.  As their story started to unravel, a Brazilian judge ordered the swimmers’ passports seized.  Lochte escaped Brazil before his passport was taken, but has not escaped merciless criticism from media outlets at home and abroad.

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Category: Uncategorized

Revised Law Green-Lights Restitution to Insurers

For many years North Carolina law has prohibited insurers from receiving restitution directly from criminal defendants. That prohibition will end on December 1, 2016. Continue reading

Pop Quiz on Dangerous Driving

It is almost time for a new school year to begin, so I’m feeling in the mood for a pop quiz.

What driver behavior is associated with the most vehicle crashes in North Carolina?

  1. Speeding
  2. Driver Distraction
  3. Alcohol Consumption

 

What driver behavior is associated with the most injuries resulting from vehicle crashes in North Carolina?

  1. Speeding
  2. Driver Distraction
  3. Alcohol Consumption

 

What driver behavior is associated with the most vehicle crash fatalities in North Carolina?

  1. Speeding
  2. Driver Distraction
  3. Alcohol Consumption

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Fare well, Alyson

This blog post has good news, bad news, and good news about Alyson Grine, who has served as the School’s defender educator for ten years. During that time, Alyson and I worked closely together on indigent defense education, and I wanted to write this farewell on the School’s behalf. The good news is that she is excited to start her new position this fall as an assistant professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law, and we are excited for her. The bad news is that she will be leaving the School, and to put it mildly we are sorry to see her go. Then again, the good news is that she leaves a remarkable record of accomplishments in indigent defense education, on which we can continue to build. What has she done in the past ten years? The more apt question is what hasn’t she done. Continue reading

A Juvenile Justice Reform Proposal for North Carolina

As many of you know (mainly because you’ve tried to contact me and I haven’t been available!) Chief Justice Mark Martin appointed me to serve as Reporter for the Criminal Committee of the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice (NCCALJ). This month the NCCALJ is holding public hearings on its reform proposals. One draft proposal, from the Criminal Committee, calls for North Carolina to join the majority of states in the nation and raise the juvenile age to 18. This post provides an update on the Committee’s work on that issue and hopefully will facilitate your comments on the draft proposal. Continue reading

Category: Uncategorized

News Roundup

A shooting that occurred early Sunday morning in Raleigh has made its way into the national news this week.  As CNN reports, Chad Copley has been charged with fatally shooting Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas after calling 911 to report that “a bunch of hoodlums” were in front of his house.  Copley then told the dispatcher that he was on neighborhood watch, was “locked and loaded,” and was “going to secure [his] neighborhood.”  Shortly thereafter, a different person called 911 to report a shooting.  The News & Observer reports that investigators allege that Copley fired a shotgun from inside his garage and hit Bernard who was outside.  The case is drawing comparisons to the incident where Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman.  Keep reading for more news.

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Category: Uncategorized

Consecutive Sentences for Criminal Contempt

One of the first posts I wrote on this blog was about the punishment for criminal contempt. The post included a discussion about whether sentences for contempt could be run consecutively—something our appellate courts hadn’t yet ruled on at the time. In State v. Burrow, decided last week, the court of appeals approved a trial court’s orders sentencing a defendant to six consecutive 30-day terms of imprisonment for contempt. Continue reading

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