The Court of Appeals held earlier this month in In re Public Records Request to DHHS, 2022-COA-284, ___ N.C. App. ___ (May 3, 2022), that the State had no authority to initiate an action in superior court seeking to prevent the disclosure of documents related to its investigation of the death of John Neville, who died while imprisoned in the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Detention Center. This post will review that decision as well as the rules that govern the disclosure of records related to a criminal investigation. Continue reading
This post summarizes published criminal law decisions from the North Carolina Supreme Court released on May 6, 2022. These summaries will be added to the School’s Criminal Case Compendium, a free and searchable database of case summaries from 2008 to present.
This post summarizes published criminal law decisions from the Court of Appeals of North Carolina released on May 3, 2022. These summaries will be added to the School’s Criminal Case Compendium, a free and searchable database of case summaries from 2008 to present. Continue reading →
It is the time of the year when the School of Government criminal law faculty begin to gear up for case updates. To prepare — and to pitch in on our particular areas of expertise — several of us made short(ish) videos delving into the details of significant appellate decisions from the last six months, including State v. McLymore, 380 N.C. 185 (2022), State v. Strudwick, 379 N.C. 94 (2021), and State v. Taylor, 379 N.C. 589 (2021). The videos are available here if you’d like to check them out.
The North Carolina Judicial College has created a video for jurors explaining the effects of bias on decision-making and suggesting how jurors may minimize the role of bias in their consideration of evidence presented at trial. The video was inspired by a juror orientation video on this topic produced by the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, which has been shown to jurors as part of juror orientation in several criminal superior court cases in North Carolina.
The Judicial College video is shorter than the Washington video and features voices from some North Carolinians you may recognize. A party who wishes to have the video displayed during juror orientation may file a motion with the court requesting that be done. Senior resident superior court judges might also adopt an administrative order directing that the video be shown. Both approaches have previously been used by North Carolina judges to order the display of the Washington video.
If you have feedback about the video or questions about how to access its content, please feel free to email me directly at email@example.com.
One of the first examples in the video of bias is that a basketball fan might not be the right juror for a case involve the coach of his or her favorite basketball team or one of the players on the team. That example resonates particularly well for me today, the day of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.
So I’ll sign off by acknowledging my basketball bias: Go Heels!
Today is GiveUNC, the University’s annual day of giving. As Dean Mike Smith is set to step down as Dean at the end of this year, today we are celebrating his 30 years of leadership at the School. The message below invites you to honor his service and legacy with a gift supporting the Mike R. Smith Dean’s Greatest Needs Fund which will provide unrestricted funds that will allow the School to support and address current needs and issues facing North Carolina. The importance of today is less about the amount raised and more about the number of donors – a testament to the value of the School and what we do.
When Dean Mike Smith asked me to join the UNC School of Government Foundation Board in 2014, I was honored to have the opportunity to work in support of an institution that has done so much for my home state of North Carolina. I also feel fortunate, however, to have had the opportunity to do this work alongside Mike.
The School is an incredibly unique institution. Its value to our communities, our state, and the University of North Carolina is immutable. Mike has always understood this and has been a tireless champion of the School and its faculty and staff during his 30-year career as dean. He passionately believes in the values of the School that so many of us have benefitted from—its responsiveness to the needs of our communities, its firm commitment to non-partisanship, and its staunch support of public service.
As Mike prepares to step down from his position as dean at the end of 2022, I know many of us want to honor his contributions to the School and to the state. Today on GiveUNC, I invite you to join me in honoring Mike’s leadership and service with a gift to the Mike R. Smith Dean’s Greatest Needs Fund. This fund has been created to give future deans of the School of Government the flexibility to direct resources to innovative and timely projects.
In honor of Mike’s service, I am joining with other School of Government Foundation Board members to issue a special GiveUNC challenge: 30 gifts to the Mike R. Smith Dean’s Greatest Need Fund today will unlock a $25,000 gift to the School from members of the Board.
I hope you will join me today by supporting the School of Government. No matter where you direct your gift, you are making a difference for local leaders across the state of North Carolina—and honoring our friend Mike Smith, a champion of the School.
Dana Simpson, ’96 BA, ’00 JD
President, School of Government Foundation Board
Partner, Smith Anderson
Two men cited in separate instances for failing to stop at red light camera locations in Greenville, NC filed declaratory judgment actions arguing that the city’s red light camera enforcement program violated the state constitution. Among other claims, the men argued that the program violated the Fines and Forfeitures Clause contained in Article IX, Section 7 of the North Carolina Constitution because the local school board received less than the clear proceeds of the civil penalties the city collected for violations. The Court of Appeals in Fearrington v. City of Greenville, 2022 NCCOA 158, __ N.C. App. __ (2022), agreed, holding that the funding framework violated the state constitution.
This post summarizes criminal decisions from the North Carolina Court of Appeals published on February 15, 2022. As always, these summaries will be added to the School’s Criminal Case Compendium, a free and searchable database of case summaries from 2008 to present. Continue reading →
Begin reading this post by standing up.
Remain standing if you have worked in a position that has required you to interact directly and regularly with members of the public during the pandemic. Otherwise, sit down.
Remain standing if this job has required you and your colleagues to (1) apply changing guidance from the state and federal governments regarding residential evictions, (2) perform marriages, (3) stay abreast of changes in criminal law and procedure, and (4) regularly work nights and weekends. Otherwise, sit down.
Remain standing if, while performing all these functions during a pandemic, you also completed a professional certification program. Otherwise, sit down.
Still standing? We know who you are, and hats off to you!
Last year, seven North Carolina magistrates completed the Judicial College’s Magistrate Certification Program. The program launched in the spring of 2020, so these are the inaugural group of magistrates to earn this recognition. To be certified, each magistrate had to satisfactorily complete five course components specifically designed by Judicial College faculty as advanced training in the duties and responsibilities of the office of magistrate.
Without further ado (and with a drum-roll), here are the certified magistrates:
Certification in Small Claims Law
- Clare Brock – Jones County
- Steven Crall – Pender County
- Doris Harris – Jones County
- Kimberly McCauley – Pitt County
- Cynthia Pitchford – Halifax County
- Wanda Moore – Mecklenburg County
Certification in Criminal Law
- Clare Brock – Jones County
- Millicent Duprey – Dare County
- Wanda Moore – Mecklenburg County
If you know one of these dedicated public servants, please share your congratulations.
The negative impacts of the pandemic are far-reaching and well-documented. They include death, illness, disruptions in school and work, strains on the health care system, and backlogs in the courts. But if I had been asked back in March 2020 to predict the impact the pandemic would have on traffic safety, I would have guessed incorrectly. I might have thought that since fewer people would be regularly driving to offices during predictable times of the day, traffic fatalities would decline. I would have been wrong. NC DOT analysis of traffic crashes during the pandemic revealed that while vehicle crashes decreased dramatically following the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in March 2020 and continued to remain below 2019 and prior year averages for the rest of the year, fatal crashes (which fortunately are a small subset – less than 1 percent — of total crashes) did not precipitously decline. Instead, they surpassed 2019 numbers and the five-year average during several weeks in the spring, summer and fall of 2020.
As it turns out, this upward trend in fatal crashes was not limited to 2020 or to North Carolina. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published in October 2021 a statistical projection of traffic fatalities nationwide for the first half of that year. See NHTSA, National Center for Statistics and Analysis, Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Half (January – June) of 2021, Traffic Safety Facts: Crash – Stats (October 2021) [hereinafter Early Estimate]. That projection showed a nearly 20 percent increase in fatalities in motor vehicle crashes from the first half of 2020. The calculation – that 20,160 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes from January to June 2021 – represents the highest number of fatalities during the first half of a year since 2006 and the highest half-year percentage increase since 1979, when the Fatality Analysis Reporting System began recording data. NHTSA estimates that fatalities increased in all ten of its regions. The 10 percent increase in North Carolina’s region, Region 3, was second-to-lowest, with the highest increase (26 percent) in Region 10, which includes Alaska, Washington, and other Northwestern states.