Last week the North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced the creation of a new Youthful Offender Program and the elimination of the use of solitary confinement for offenders under the age of 18 who are confined in adult facilities. An article from the News and Observer indicates that W. David Guice, Commissioner of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, has said that solitary confinement doesn’t result in positive behavioral change and that prison officials have been reducing its use even with adult inmates. The mission of the Youthful Offender Program, which will be operated at Foothills Correctional Institution, is to “identify criminogenic risks and needs, and address those areas in order to promote public safety and enhance youth outcomes through education, behavioral, health treatment, life skills, and family/community reunification services.” Keep reading for more news.
No legislative session would be complete without amendments to the state’s DWI laws. The 2016 short session upholds this tradition by amending the procedures that govern the admissibility of chemical analyses in impaired driving trials in district and superior court. Continue reading
Summer is here and everyone is feeling excited about fair cross-section claims. Or at least I am after hearing an enlightening presentation about them, described below. Continue reading
On TV and in the movies, arrestees are entitled to one phone call upon arrest. In real life, the situation is more complicated. Continue reading
Sadly, the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning is the major criminal law news story this week. Forty-nine victims were killed, fifty-three others were wounded, and the gunman died in a shootout with police. The shooting is being characterized as a terror attack and a hate crime. The shooter reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS and the group has taken credit for the attack. The attack is one of the deadliest criminal homicides in American history, but is not a unique example of hate-fueled violence in our country. Keep reading for more news.
When a person has so much jail credit that he has served his entire sentence of imprisonment, may he nonetheless be sentenced to probation? In other words, may a court sentence someone to probation when there is no sentence left to suspend? Continue reading
The North Carolina Supreme Court held in State v. McGrady, __ N.C.___ (June 10, 2016), that Rule 702(a) of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence incorporates the standard set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993). That’s what the court of appeals had already said, so it isn’t a big surprise. In McGrady, the application of Daubert led the state supreme court to conclude that the trial court did not err in excluding testimony from an expert in law enforcement training about the defendant’s conscious and unconscious responses to a perceived threat from the victim. McGrady’s analysis opens the door for reconsidering the admissibility of many types of expert testimony previously admitted as a matter of course, including expert testimony from law enforcement experts involving scientific and medical principles. Continue reading
Probably the most litigated issue involving Miranda v. Arizona is the meaning of custody under its ruling that requires law enforcement officers to give prescribed warnings when conducting custodial interrogation. My last post (May 24, 2016), available here, discussed the custody issue involving traffic stops. Since then there have been three published North Carolina appellate cases on the custody issue in other contexts, which will be the focus of this post. Continue reading