News Roundup

The New Hampshire presidential primary happened Tuesday.  Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won the contest for their respective parties.  Politico reports that the New Hampshire results forecast an intense battle in the coming months for the presidential nomination in each political party.  There was not any sports news whatsoever this week, so let’s take a look at the legal news:

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Talking about Sentencing at Trial

It’s like Fight Club: the first rule of talking about sentencing at trial is don’t talk about sentencing at trial. Continue reading

Selfies, Distracted Driving, and the Virginia Plan

Everyone knows that it is unlawful to text while driving in North Carolina.  But what’s the legal status of all of the other distracting things people do with their phones?  Is it unlawful to take a selfie while driving? To post the selfie to Instagram? To look at a friend’s driving selfie on Instagram? To read another friend’s Facebook status update? To search the web for the latest weather forecast?  Continue reading

Understanding Whether a Seizure Occurs When an Officer’s Vehicle Blocks Another Vehicle

In California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621 (1991), the United States Supreme Court reformulated the definition of a seizure of a person under the Fourth Amendment. This post discusses this case and its application to a particular issue: whether an officer’s blocking another vehicle with the officer’s vehicle is a seizure of the vehicle occupants. Continue reading

Changes to the Gun Permit Laws

North Carolina has two kinds of gun permits: pistol purchase permits and concealed carry permits. Both types of permits are issued by sheriffs. The statutes concerning both kinds of permits were amended during the 2015 legislative session by S.L. 2015-195. This post summarizes the most important changes. Continue reading

News Roundup

The AOC announced here that 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of North Carolina’s unified court system, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the district courts.  Next year, the Court of Appeals celebrates its 50th anniversary while the superior court marks 240 years of existence.  The Supreme Court will have been around for two centuries in 2019.  For the few who forgot these important milestones, shame on you but there’s still time to do something nice for the court or administrative office that holds a special place in your heart – maintain proper decorum in the courtroom, strive to preserve the record for appellate review, clarify and reorganize those statutes that the court has been grumbling about.  Here’s to all the folks who work hard to keep our court system running smoothly.  Let’s roundup the other news of the week:

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All the Possible Sentences

Let’s brainstorm all the possible sentences for a Prior Record Level I defendant convicted of two Class H felonies. I’ll go first, listing my thoughts roughly from most to least severe (from the defendant’s point of view). Continue reading

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Put Down that Mobile Phone

There is a ban on hand-held mobile phone use by drivers in North Carolina. And there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of it.

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Interpreting Sex Offender Consequence Laws: Contact with Minors

A few years ago I began tracking and compiling the consequences that attach to an offense subject to sex offender registration (a registrable offense). In preparation for an upcoming course, I just updated my Consequences Paper.

The list of consequences continues to grow. So, too, has litigation over them. A recent court of appeals decision, State v. Barnett (Jan. 19, 2016), considered the limits on the court’s authority to enter a no-contact order against a person convicted of a registrable offense. (Jamie Markham wrote a blog post about another aspect of the decision—whether attempted rape is an aggravated offense and subject to stricter registration and monitoring requirements. It isn’t.) Continue reading

Body Cameras and the Mosaic Theory of the Fourth Amendment

Many law enforcement officers, including those in five of North Carolina’s six largest cities, are or soon will be wearing body cameras. The prevailing view is that the use of such cameras doesn’t constitute a Fourth Amendment search because the cameras record only what an officer is already able to see. This post considers whether the increasing adoption of body cameras and other data-collection technologies could eventually result in body camera recordings being considered searches under the so-called mosaic theory of the Fourth Amendment. Continue reading