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News Roundup

As the Charlotte Observer reports, a hacker attacked Mecklenburg County’s computer systems this week, locking the county out of its electronic files and demanding a ransom of two bitcoins to provide an encryption key.  At the time of writing, two bitcoins were worth roughly $30,000.  On Wednesday, Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio said that the county will not pay the ransom and, instead, will fix the situation itself.  The sensational story has become national news.

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Some FAQ about Place of Confinement

The chart available here summarizes the rules for the proper place of confinement for felonies, misdemeanors, and impaired driving. But additional questions come up from time to time that don’t fit neatly in a chart. Today’s post attempts to answer some of them. Continue reading

What We Know (And What We Don’t) About Drug-Impaired Driving

Ask someone to identify an emerging area of interest related to motor vehicle law and chances are the person will mention drugged driving. Indeed, the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy in 2010 set a goal of reducing the prevalence of drug-impaired driving by 10 percent by 2015. People who work in the field frequently cite anecdotal evidence supporting the notion that driving while impaired by drugs is becoming more common. And they usually cite anecdotal evidence in support. Are they right? Are more people these days driving while impaired by drugs?

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New Resource for Juvenile Defenders

This fall is manual season, and I am excited to announce the release of the 2017 edition of the North Carolina Juvenile Defender Manual. Like our other indigent defense manuals, this online manual can be viewed at no charge. If you’re interested in purchasing a soft-bound version of the manual, available later this month, visit this page. Continue reading

Defense Counsel Can’t Present an Insanity Defense without the Defendant’s Consent

The court of appeals recently addressed an issue that has divided courts elsewhere: whether defense counsel may present an insanity defense without the defendant’s consent. The court ruled that defense counsel may not do so, stating that “because the decision of whether to plead not guilty by reason of insanity is part of the decision of what plea to enter, the right to make that decision is a substantial right belonging to the defendant.” Continue reading

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News Roundup

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, a United Nations tribunal established to prosecute war crimes committed during the Yugoslav Wars, was the scene of a dramatic act of defiance this week.  As the New York Times reports, after it was announced that his 20-year sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity had been upheld, Slobodan Praljak rose to his feet and declared “Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal, I reject your judgment with contempt.”  Praljak then swallowed the contents of a small container and announced that he had taken poison; he died shortly thereafter.  Keep reading for more news.
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Wishing LaToya Well as She Leaves the SOG

[Editor’s note: This post first appeared on the SOG’s civil law blog, On the Civil Side. It is cross-posted here because of the connection between juvenile delinquency and criminal law, and because many of our readers know LaToya Powell as our faculty expert on juvenile delinquency.]

This is a bittersweet post as it is a goodbye to my friend and colleague, LaToya Powell, who has decided to leave the School of Government (SOG). [Today] is her last day, and I hope you will join me in wishing her well. Continue reading

Turkey Pardons

Last week, President Trump pardoned Drumstick, a 36-pound turkey. What’s the legal basis for the annual ritual of a president pardoning a turkey? When did the tradition start? And what becomes of the birds post-pardon? This post gives you authoritative information about turkey pardons. Continue reading

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News Roundup

As the Los Angeles Times reports, notorious cult leader and convicted murderer Charles Manson died this week of natural causes at the age of 83.  Manson had spent the past five decades in prison in California for his involvement in a string of murders in the summer of 1969.  The Times story notes that several of Manson’s followers remain in prison; one, Leslie Van Houten, was granted parole in September of this year but California Governor Jerry Brown has yet to decide whether to release her.

With a long holiday weekend upon us, this is the last blog post of the week.  Enjoy the holiday and keep reading for more news.
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IDS Update with Tom Maher

For today’s post, I conducted a short interview with Tom Maher, the executive director of the Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS), the statewide agency in North Carolina that oversees the provision of legal representation for indigent defendants in criminal and other cases. We talk about the recent raise in the rates for private assigned counsel doing high-level felony work, the status of public defense funding in North Carolina, and the importance of a robust system of indigent defense generally. Readers may be aware that I served as a private assigned counsel for many years before coming to work at the School of Government, and it’s a topic near and dear to me. Indigent defense is equally important for court actors and citizens of the state, and I hope you find the interview informative. It runs around 13 minutes, with minor edits for the sake of time and clarity. Click here to watch. Continue reading