This post summarizes the published criminal opinions from the North Carolina Court of Appeals released on June 6, 2023. These summaries will be added to Smith’s Criminal Case Compendium, a free and searchable database of case summaries from 2008 to the present.
Last month, the North Carolina General Assembly passed S.L. 2023-14 (S 20) which largely covers changes to abortion laws. Within this bill is also a newly defined “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” which takes effect for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2023. This post discusses the utility of the new offense and the implications that it may have on a defendant’s gun rights. Continue reading
In my most recent post, I noted that a law enforcement officer who is fired will sometimes have a right to a “name clearing hearing” at which the officer may supply evidence contradicting negative information about the officer’s honesty or integrity that the agency released in connection with the officer’s termination. I ended that post by asking whether an officer who is fired in connection with a Giglio letter is entitled to such a hearing. Under most circumstances, the answer to that question is no. Keep reading for more details. Continue reading
The General Assembly is working hard to fashion a budget for the upcoming biennium, but in the meantime, legislators are conducting other business. Of interest to this audience, H347, a bill that would legalize gambling on sports, appears to be very close to becoming law. Both chambers have passed the bill, but in slightly different versions that will need to be reconciled before final passage. Meanwhile, S3, a bill that would legalize medical marijuana, has passed the Senate and is working its way through House committees. Its fate in the House is uncertain but that is more than could be said in prior years, when similar measures have passed the Senate but have not received meaningful consideration in the House. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading
Last April, the North Carolina Supreme Court decided two significant cases involving claims that prosecutors impermissibly exercised peremptory challenges against prospective black jurors based on their race: State v. Hobbs, ___ N.C. ___, 884 S.E.2d 639 (2023) (Hobbs II), and State v. Campbell, ___ N.C. ___884 S.E.2d 674 (2023). This post reviews the framework for the review undertaken by the trial courts in those cases and the state supreme court’s opinions.
There have been some bumps in the road in the rollout of eCourts, the new electronic platform the court system is using in a handful of pilot counties for filing and case management. Now WRAL reports that a class action lawsuit has been filed alleging that the system “is keeping people in jail longer than they should be, and led to hundreds of people being arrested for things they did not do.” For example, the plaintiffs contend that “a Wake County woman was arrested multiple times on the same warrant for charges that were dismissed by a judge.” The Administrative Office of the Courts is not a named defendant but stated in the article that it has “not substantiated that any allegations of wrongful arrest or incarceration was caused” by the new system. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading
Twenty five years ago, North Carolina adopted graduated licensing for young drivers, a system founded on the principle that “[s]afe driving requires instruction in driving and experience.” G.S. 20-11(a). The statutory scheme implementing this program grants driving privileges on a limited basis and expands those privileges over time and upon the satisfaction of additional requirements. Id. Accordingly, to receive the first level of a driver’s license – termed a limited provisional license – a driver must have held a limited learner’s permit for at least 12 months. The holder of a limited provisional license generally may not drive unsupervised after 9 p.m. and may not have more than one passenger under the age of 21 in the vehicle. Last month, the General Assembly ratified legislation that loosens these requirements.
Many, perhaps most, law enforcement officers in North Carolina are at will employees. As the saying goes, they may be fired for any reason or for no reason. But when such an officer is fired for malfeasance, and that reason is made public such that potential future employers may be aware of it, the officer may be entitled to a “name clearing hearing” at which he or she can dispute the basis for the termination. Continue reading
The current news seems to be full of reports of threats against schools. A search of the WRAL website for stories on school threats reveals at least five discrete stories on threats against North Carolina schools in May alone. How can schools and law enforcement be prepared to respond to, and perhaps even prevent, threats against student safety? The National Threat Assessment Center of the United States Secret Service (NTAC) has been researching that topic for over 20 years. The results are consistent. Schools that have an effective threat assessment structure in place, casting a wide net to effectively identify youth along a continuum of need and offering a range of responses, are best positioned to address threats and prevent school violence. Continue reading
A Wake County couple was arrested last week on animal cruelty charges for poisoning three dogs belonging to a neighbor. Ironically, the husband was a donor and board member of a local dog rescue. The rescue group has since announced on Facebook that he has voluntarily resigned. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading