Parts I – IV of Session Law 2021-123 make changes to the statutory structure that raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction to include most offenses committed at ages 16 and 17. The most significant changes relate to new prosecutorial discretion to decline to transfer cases in which the most serious charge is a Class D – Class G felony and the ability to extend the length of jurisdiction when a juvenile is committed to a Youth Development Center (YDC) for a Class A – Class E felony committed at age 16 or 17. The raise the age changes in S.L. 2021-123 are detailed below. Continue reading
The North Carolina General Statutes require the senior resident superior court judge to, in consultation with the chief district court judge or judges, issue a local bail policy. G.S. 15A-535(a). But doing so is no easy matter given the many statutory rules and exceptions and areas for discretionary policy choices. Christopher Tyner and I have tried to facilitate that task, with a North Carolina Model Local Bail Policy. We first issued the Model Policy in the Spring and we just posted an updated version, incorporating the latest legislative changes to the state’s bail statutes. The Model Policy can be found here; it’s the first item under “Implement.” Read on for details.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, jury selection began this week in the joint trial of three men charged with murdering Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia in February of last year. The report says that jury selection is proceeding slowly because many jurors have said that they believe the defendants are guilty after seeing cellphone video of the incident that was widely publicized after the killing. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.
Last November, I blogged about recommendations from the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association for legislation that would enable hiring authorities, certifying commissions, and state prosecutors to learn of misconduct by officers, including untruthfulness, that would impair an officer’s credibility as a witness in a criminal prosecution and which must be disclosed to the defense. This type of information often is referred to as Giglio material, adopting the name of the first U.S. Supreme court case to apply a disclosure requirement to evidence relevant to impeaching a government witness, Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972).
This session, the General Assembly enacted legislation implementing some of the Association’s recommendations. Among the changes enacted by S.L. 2021-137 (S 536) and S.L. 2021-138 (S 300) are requirements that the certifying commission for an officer be notified when the officer is informed that he or she may not be called to testify at trial based on bias, interest, or lack of credibility. If the officer transfers to a new agency, the Criminal Justice Standards Division (in the case of State, municipal, company, and campus officers) or the Justice Officers’ Standards Division (in the case of deputy sheriffs, detention officers, and telecommunicators) must notify the head of the new agency and the elected district attorney in the prosecutorial district where the agency is located that the person has been previously notified that the person may not be called to testify at trial.
ABC 11 recently took a trip to observe law enforcement training at Robeson County Community College where officers from various local agencies used high tech simulation equipment to practice de-escalation techniques and experience the high stress situations, such as those involving an active shooter, where use of force decisions must be made. The report notes that the North Carolina Justice Academy launched a new de-escalation training model earlier this year and that there is widespread interest in enhancing law enforcement training across the state. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading
Last month, the Court of Appeals decided State v. Austin, ___ N.C. App. ___, 2021-NCCOA-494 (Sept. 21, 2021), and a summary of the opinion is available here. Austin addressed several noteworthy self-defense issues, including the sufficiency of the state’s evidence to rebut the presumption of reasonable fear under the “castle doctrine” statutes added in 2011 and whether the trial court’s jury instructions on that issue were proper.
But first, the court had to decide whether the statutory language conferring “immunity from liability” meant that the defendant was entitled to have this issue resolved by the judge at a pretrial hearing. That’s a question I’ve been asked fairly often over the past few years, and my sense is that prior to Austin there were divergent practices on this point around the state.
This post takes a closer look at that portion of the court’s opinion, and explores what we now know and what we still don’t.
I recently posted, on the UNC School of Government Criminal Justice Innovation Lab website, a model implementation plan designed to help stakeholders comply with S.L. 2021-138. That law requires first appearances for all in-custody defendants within 72 hours after the defendant is taken into custody or at the first regular session of district court in the county, whichever occurs first. The new law becomes effective December 1, 2021 and applies to criminal processes served on or after that date. Continue reading
After years of litigation concerning the constitutionality of satellite-based monitoring (SBM) of sex offenders, the General Assembly has amended the law pretty dramatically. Today’s post describes those changes. Continue reading