News Roundup

A suspected suicide bombing that killed twenty-two people at a concert in Manchester, England, is the major news story of the week.  BBC News has an overview of the situation here.  A 22-year-old Manchester man, Salman Abedi, has been named as the suspected bomber, and seven other men, some of whom are related to Abedi, had been arrested in connection with the attack at the time of writing.  The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombing, and the U.K. has raised its terror threat level from “severe” to “critical,” meaning that another attack may be imminent.  Keep reading for more news.

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Not All Warrantless Searches of Probationers Are “Directly Related” to Probation Supervision

Since 2009, all North Carolina probationers are subject to a regular condition of probation allowing warrantless searches of their person, vehicle, and premises by a probation officer. Under legislation passed that year, those searches must be for purposes “directly related to the probation supervision.” G.S. 15A-1343(b)(13). How related to probation must a search be to be “directly related”? A recent case sheds some light. Continue reading

Marsy’s Law for North Carolina?

Earlier this month, the North Carolina House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 551, An Act to Amend the Law and Constitution of North Carolina to Provide Better Protections and Safeguards to Victims. The bill now awaits consideration by the Senate, where it has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations. The legislation is championed by the advocacy group, Marsy’s Law for All, which is seeking to amend state constitutions and, ultimately, the U.S. Constitution to enshrine victims’ rights. What is the impetus for Marsy’s Law and how would enactment of the constitutional amendment proposed in House Bill 551 change North Carolina’s existing constitutional and statutory protections for victims? Continue reading

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The Independent Source Exception to the Exclusionary Rule under the United States Constitution

I discussed the inevitable discovery exception in my last post. This post will discuss the independent source exception, particularly the United States Supreme Court cases of Segura v. United States, 468 U.S. 796 (1984), and Murray v. United States, 487 U.S. 533 (1988), and related North Carolina cases. It should be noted that the independent source exception was initially adopted in Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385 (1920), and can apply to investigations involving Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendment violations. Continue reading

Can the Fact that Daryl Had a Glock Yesterday Be Used to Prove that He Had an AK-47 Today?

When a defendant is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, may the prosecution introduce, under Rule 404(b), evidence that the defendant previously possessed a different firearm? Courts nationally are divided. The Court of Appeals of North Carolina just ruled in State v. Williams that the answer is no. Continue reading

News Roundup

The investigation into Russian involvement in the presidential election continues to dominate the news this week.  On Wednesday, the Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller as special counsel responsible for leading the investigation.  The appointment comes after it was reported that former FBI director James Comey kept memos contemporaneously documenting his conversations about the investigation with President Donald Trump.  Mueller previously served as FBI director under George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  Keep reading for more news.
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How to Measure 1,000 Feet for the Sex Offender Residential Restriction

Under G.S. 14-208.16, a registered sex offender may not reside “within 1,000 feet of the property on which any public or nonpublic school or child care center is located.” What’s the right way to measure those 1,000 feet? As the crow flies? Property line to property line? Building to building? Continue reading

What’s Hot in the Realm of DWI Litigation?

I was recently asked to talk to a group of attorneys about “hot topics” related to the criminal prosecution of impaired driving. Those of you who practice in the field are doubtless better equipped than I am to identify those topics. If pressed, I’d put these items on the list: (1) how the two-year statute of limitations applies to misdemeanors charged by magistrate’s order; (2) the admissibility of expert testimony by law enforcement officers, particularly regarding horizontal gaze nystagmus; (3) the admissibility of the results of warrantless blood tests; and (4) the appropriate remedy for statutory violations related to a defendant’s arrest and pre-trial detention. While the state supreme court has yet to issue its opinion regarding the statute of limitations issue in State v. Turner (discussed here) and neither the court of appeals nor the supreme court has opined about the admissibility of horizontal gaze nystagmus testimony following the 2011 amendment of Rule 702, recent court of appeals cases address both of the remaining issues.

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State v. Glisson and Multiple Conspiracies

When a group of confederates undertake to commit a series of criminal acts, is there one conspiracy or multiple conspiracies? The case of State v. Glisson, ___ N.C. App. ___, 796 S.E.2d 124, (Feb. 7, 2017), dealt with that issue. The answer, it turns out, is fact-specific and less than crystal clear. Continue reading

Charging R/D/O: Alleging the Duty the Officer Was Discharging

I was teaching a class about charging documents recently when the conversation turned to the rule that a charge of resisting, delaying, or obstructing a public officer in violation of G.S. 14-223 must describe the particular duty that the officer was discharging at the time of the resistance. A member of the class asked whether it would suffice to describe the duty as “protecting and serving.” I gave my best guess about the answer but I thought I would see how others react to the question. So take the poll below, then read the rest of the post for a little history about the rule, a summary of a recent case, and a discussion of authority about the sufficiency of a general description like “protecting and serving.”

When charging R/D/O is "protecting and serving" a sufficient description of the duty the officer was discharging?

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