The North Carolina Supreme Court held last week in State v. Diaz-Tomas, ___ N.C. ___, 2022-NCSC-115 (November 4, 2022), that neither a criminal defendant nor the court has the right to compel a district attorney to reinstate criminal charges that were dismissed with leave pursuant to G.S. 15A-932 due to the defendant’s failure to appear. The case arose in Wake County, where the district attorney’s office reportedly would reinstate misdemeanor charges dismissed with leave under G.S. 15A-932 only if the defendant agreed to plead guilty and to waive his or her right to appeal to superior court for trial de novo. As a result, Diaz-Tomas’s only option for ending the indefinite license revocation that was imposed for his failure to appear is to plead guilty to the driving while impaired charges that were dismissed with leave. This post discusses the state supreme court’s analysis and considers how it might apply in other circumstances.
Category Archives: Procedure
It has not been long since my last cannabis update, but there are some interesting new developments to report, most notably on drug identification and marijuana. Read on for the details. Continue reading →
The role of artificial intelligence (AI) in American life was a hot topic of discussion at a conference for judicial educators that I attended earlier this week. The conference launched with a screening of the documentary Coded Bias, which explores disparities in the data that inform algorithms for a range of computerized functions from facial recognition to loan eligibility to insurance risk. The documentary highlights the vast amount of data collected and controlled by a small number of large U.S. companies and the lack of regulation governing its use. A panel of experts spoke after the screening about what judges should know about AI. Several of those topics related to its use in preventing, investigating and punishing crime. Continue reading →
How does a case proceed when a juvenile is charged with a homicide offense? In classic lawyer fashion, the answer is that it depends. In almost all instances, the case will begin as a juvenile matter. However, the path the case follows once the juvenile case begins, and whether the case is ultimately adjudicated as a juvenile matter or prosecuted as a criminal matter, depends on the age of the juvenile at the time of the offense and the specific offense charged. Continue reading →
A few years ago, I wrote this post analyzing criminal jurisdiction on the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina. I explained the jurisdictional rules for prosecuting crimes committed on the Qualla Boundary, or Eastern Cherokee Indian Reservation, as follows:
North Carolina has exclusive jurisdiction over a non-Indian who commits a crime defined by state law against another non-Indian on the Qualla Boundary.
North Carolina has exclusive jurisdiction over a non-Indian who commits a victimless crime defined by state law on the Qualla Boundary.
The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over “major crimes” committed by Indians on the Qualla Boundary.
The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians on the Qualla Boundary.
The federal government has jurisdiction over other crimes committed by Indians against non-Indians on the Qualla Boundary unless the defendant already has been punished by the tribal court.
The federal government has jurisdiction over victimless crimes committed by Indians on the Qualla Boundary unless the defendant already has been punished by the tribal court.
The tribe has jurisdiction over an Indian who commits a crime that is not defined as a “major crime.”
Update. A decision from the United States Supreme Court last term likely changed one of those rules. The Court in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, 597 U.S. ___, 142 S.Ct. 2486 (2022), held in a 5-4 decision that the state and federal governments have concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by non-Indians against Indians in Indian country unless state jurisdiction is preempted.
Last July, the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) launched a new application for generating criminal process and pleadings: eWarrants. This application replaced NCAWARE and is part of the court system’s migration to eCourts, a digital system that will replace the current paper-based system for maintaining court records. Given the scope of eWarrants, it may not be surprising to hear that the rollout was not seamless. Indeed, the thousands of magistrates, clerks, deputy clerks, and assistant clerks who became immediate users of the application soon identified defects and issues, many of which have subsequently been resolved. One such issue was the application’s failure, in certain circumstances, to print out charging language on criminal process and pleadings such as magistrate’s orders and warrants for arrest. When the issuing official does not immediately detect and remedy such an error, a judge who later holds a first appearance on such a charge may wonder how to proceed. This post will review the judge’s options in such a circumstance. Continue reading →
I’m happy to announce the publication of my new bulletin, Units of Prosecution: Charging Multiple Counts for the Same Conduct. The bulletin explores a common issue that arises in various contexts: when does conduct constitute one continuing offense and when does conduct constitute more than one offense? Continue reading →
Earlier this year, the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Edwards v. Jessup, 282 N.C. App. 213 (2022), considered whether a license revocation hearing in which a hearing officer employed by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) both elicited and evaluated evidence, ultimately ordering revocation, violated the petitioning driver’s right to due process. Spoiler alert: The Court held that the DMV hearing process did not violate the driver’s constitutional rights. Continue reading to learn why.
Public Access to the Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant (and Other Federal Search Warrants and Related Documents)
Last week, the FBI searched former President Trump’s home at the Mar-a-Lago Club pursuant to a search warrant. At first none of the relevant documents were publicly available. The application, the warrant itself, and the inventory were all sealed. The Government, with the consent of former President Trump, later moved to unseal the warrant and the inventory. That motion was granted and anyone can access the now-public documents here. The application remains under seal, though members of the news media have moved to unseal it. Because several people asked me about public access to federal search warrants and related documents, and because the process isn’t exactly the same as it is under state law, I thought I’d do a post comparing state and federal law on this issue. Continue reading →
Lately I have received a number of questions relating to whether it is appropriate to return guns following a temporary firearms disqualification. The issue seems to arise most commonly when a domestic violence restraining order (“DVPO”) is issued under Chapter 50B of the North Carolina General Statutes, which requires the surrender of guns by a defendant in certain circumstances and allows the defendant to seek return of the guns following the expiration of the order and final disposition of any related criminal charges. See G.S. 50B-3.1.
The issue of returning guns could pop up in other circumstances involving the seizure or surrender of guns. An interplay of state and federal law determines whether a person is disqualified from possessing firearms, temporarily or permanently, and some of the wrinkles are counterintuitive. This post examines some of the most common grounds for disqualification and discusses some limits of state authority in this area. It’s long, but I hope readers find it useful. Continue reading →