The Budget and Court-Appointed Experts

A Chicago Tribune article, available here, states that an Illinois public defender recently moved to prohibit the state from seeking the death penalty against her client because the state does not have enough money to pay for the expert witnesses that she believes she will need at the penalty phase of the trial.  Apparently, Illinois … Read more

Rivera v. Illinois and “Reverse Batson”

In Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), the Supreme Court held that prosecutors could not exercise peremptory challenges based on race. In Georgia v. McCollum, 505 U.S. 42 (1992), the Court extended the same rule to defendants. (Sex discrimination is likewise prohibited, under J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel T.B., 511 U.S. 127 (1994).) Yet … Read more

Lineups, Showups, Undercover Buys, and G.S. 15A-284.52

In 2007, the General Assembly enacted the Eyewitness Identification Reform Act, G.S. 15A-284.50 et seq.  The heart of the Act is G.S. 15A-284.52, which lays out rules for conducting lineups, whether live, i.e., involving the actual suspect and several other fillers, or by photo array, i.e., involving a picture of the suspect and several other … Read more

Garcell and Jury Instructions on Multiple Counts

Update: I knew it.  One reader emailed me to say that our appellate courts have approved truncated jury instructions for at least thirty years, and referred me to State v. Gainey, 355 N.C. 72 (2002), which collects some cases and states that the court “has discouraged needless repetition” during jury instructions. Original Post: One of … Read more

Madoff and Victims’ Rights

There’s lots of news these days about the Bernie Madoff case.  Apparently, he’s going to plead guilty today, without a plea agreement, exposing himself to a virtually certain life sentence.  I wonder why he’s doing that.  An interesting article, available here, tries to figure out the angle, but comes up empty.  Could he have suddenly … Read more

Speedy Trial

The News and Observer ran a story recently — available here — about the length of time it takes to resolve murder cases in North Carolina. The average time to disposition was 528 days last year. That figure includes cases resolved by plea or dismissal, suggesting that the average time to trial is probably longer. … Read more

Gun-Toting Felons

North Carolina law prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms.  See G.S. 14-415.1.  I’ve had several recurrent questions about this offense, so here’s an FAQ about FIP (felon in possession): 1. Doesn’t North Carolina allow felons to possess long guns? Not anymore.  North Carolina’s FIP law used to have lots of exceptions, including exceptions for long … Read more