News Roundup

The Baltimore Sun reports that prosecutors have dropped all remaining charges against police officers in cases related to the 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray.  The decision to end the prosecutions was motivated by the fact that no officer who had already faced trial had been convicted.  Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby reportedly decided that it was unlikely that convictions could be secured in the remaining cases, but defended the decision to bring charges given that the medical examiner’s office classified Gray’s death as a homicide.  Though the state criminal cases are resolved, administrative investigations of the officers are ongoing and the Justice Department is expected to release the results of a civil-rights investigation of the Police Department soon.  Keep reading for more news.

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Sex Offender Premises Restrictions Revised in Response to Doe v. Cooper

The General Assembly amended G.S. 14-208.18, the law that makes it a Class H felony for certain registered sex offenders to go certain places. The changes are a response to Doe v. Cooper, a federal case in which the trial judge enjoined every district attorney in the state from enforcing the parts of the law he found to be unconstitutional. Today’s post takes a look at the revised law. Continue reading

What’s the Latest on Mopeds?

Laws governing the operation of mopeds have changed significantly in recent years. Mopeds now must be registered before they may be driven on state roadways, and the owner of the moped must have insurance.  An overview of the current legal requirements for moped operation is set forth below.  Continue reading

Court of Appeals Rules That Probationer Was Not in Custody When Handcuffed for Safety Reasons

Generally, custody occurs under Miranda when a suspect is handcuffed even if the suspect is not informed that he or she is under arrest for a crime. However, there are exceptions, as evidenced by the recent North Carolina Court of Appeals ruling in State v. Barnes (July 19, 2016), which is the subject of this post. Continue reading

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