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News Roundup

As NPR reports, a coalition of state attorneys general announced this week that they had reached a $26 billion settlement agreement with drug distributors and Johnson & Johnson for their role in the opioid epidemic.  The agreement, which still requires approval from state and local governments, would resolve various lawsuits brought against Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson that allege that the companies turned a blind eye to orders for large quantities of opioid drugs in the interest of making money.  Keep reading for more news. Continue reading

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Case Summaries: N.C. Court of Appeals (July 20, 2021)

This post summarizes published criminal decisions from the North Carolina Court of Appeals released on July 20, 2021. As always, these summaries will be added to Smith’s Criminal Case Compendium, a free and searchable database of case summaries from 2008 to present.

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Category: Case Summaries | Tags:
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Case Summaries – Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (June 2021)

This post summarizes published criminal and related decisions issued by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in June 2021 that may be of interest to state practitioners. Continue reading

The Judicial Standards Commission and Judicial Discipline

Judgeships in North Carolina’s trial and appellate courts are elected offices. Thus, it often is said that the ballot box is the mechanism for holding the state’s judicial officials accountable. There is, however, another way in which judges may be held to account for misconduct: through disciplinary proceedings initiated by the Judicial Standards Commission. Those proceedings led to the North Carolina’s Supreme Court’s imposition of public discipline for three judges in 2020 and two more judges in 2021. The Judicial Standards Commission’s recently released annual report describes the nature of its work, its composition, and its increasing workload.

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News Roundup

WRAL reports that the family of Andrew Brown Jr. has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten, Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie, and several deputies.  Brown was killed in April as he attempted to flee in his car from deputies who were executing search warrants for his home and vehicle.  In May, District Attorney Andrew Womble determined that officers were justified in using deadly force against Brown because he used his vehicle as a weapon while trying to escape.  Brown’s family is seeking $31 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Continue reading

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Plea Bargaining with the Judge

The case is ready for trial and all parties are present. From the bench, the judge makes a final attempt to resolve the case by saying “if we need to do a trial that’s fine, and I can call for a jury right now — but I’m just letting you all know that if the defendant was willing to plead to count 1 and state was willing to dismiss count 2, I’d be inclined to give supervised probation and we could get this case wrapped up today.”

Of course every county and every judge is unique, but most criminal attorneys have at least occasionally experienced some type of participation from the bench in working out a plea. So we know that it happens, but is it actually authorized by our statutes? Should it be? If it is, what are the limits, and what’s fair game for negotiation? Are the judge’s terms binding?

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Warrantless Home Entry After Lange v. California

A few weeks ago the United States Supreme Court decided Lange v. California, 594 U.S. ___, ___ S. Ct. ___ (June 23, 2021), holding that the flight of a person suspected of a misdemeanor offense does not categorically justify an officer’s warrantless entry into a home. Today’s post reviews how Lange fits into the landscape of Fourth Amendment cases establishing when an officer may forcibly enter a suspect’s home without a warrant.

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News Roundup

WRAL reports that the owner of a venomous zebra cobra has been charged with dozens of misdemeanors after the snake, which is capable of spitting blinding venom with tremendous accuracy, was roaming loose in a north Raleigh neighborhood in recent weeks.  Keep reading for more on this story and other news.

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Case Summaries — North Carolina Court of Appeals (July 6, 2021)

This post summarizes published criminal and related decisions released by the North Carolina Court of Appeals on July 6, 2021. Summaries are also posted to Smith’s Case Compendium, here. Continue reading

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New Criminal Provision Prohibiting the Possession of Skimming Devices

The North Carolina legislature recently passed S.L. 2021-68 which amends the existing financial transaction card theft statute to include knowingly possessing, selling, or delivering a skimming device. Continue reading