The former UNC Charlotte student who attacked a classroom on the school’s campus earlier this year, killing two people and wounding four others, pleaded guilty to murder in Mecklenburg Superior Court yesterday. The Charlotte Observer reports that as part of a plea agreement Trystan Andrew Terrell received two consecutive life sentences for killing Reed Parlier and Riley Howell; he also was sentenced on other charges not detailed in the report. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.
Category Archives: Uncategorized
Under state law, pretrial conditions must be set after a defendant is arrested for a crime, and this typically occurs at the initial appearance before a magistrate. G.S. 15A-511. Although state statutes express a preference for non-financial conditions (written promise to appear, custody release, and unsecured bond), G.S. 15A-534(b), secured bonds are the most commonly imposed pretrial condition in North Carolina. See Jessica Smith, How Big a Role Does Money Play in North Carolina’s Bail System (July 2019). Much has been written about the problems of using money to detain pretrial, including the unfairness of incarcerating people not because they are risky but because they are poor. Thus, in discussions about procedural reform, there is interest in making sure that law enforcement and court officials only execute or order arrests in cases where arrest is in fact required. If, in low-level cases for example, the officer opts for a citation instead of a warrantless arrest or the magistrate opts for a summons instead of an arrest warrant, the defendant simply is directed to appear in court to answer the charges. Since the defendant is not taken into custody, there is no initial appearance or setting of conditions, which again, skew towards secured bonds and create the potential for wealth-based detentions and other negative consequences. This explains why stakeholders are looking at citation and summons in lieu of arrest policies, either as stand-alone reforms or as part of broader bail reform efforts. As stakeholders explore these matters, they are asking questions about the prevalence of citation and summons use in their communities. In a paper here, we present data regarding citation usage in North Carolina. In this paper, we focus on usage of the criminal summons. Continue reading →
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Professor Jessica Smith and graduate research assistant Ross Hatton.
Charged with identifying best practices and offering recommendations on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust, the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended that law enforcement agencies develop and adopt policies and strategies that reinforce the importance of community engagement in managing public safety. Specifically, it recommended that agencies adopt preferences for “least harm” resolutions, including the use of citation in lieu of arrest for low-level offenses. Increased use of citations offers other potential benefits, including increased law enforcement efficiency. A report by the International Association of Chiefs of Police found that citations offer a time savings of just over an hour per incident. Additionally, increased use of citations can help reduce unnecessary pretrial detentions of low-risk defendants and associated costs, unfairness, and negative public safety outcomes. An arrest triggers an initial appearance and imposition of conditions of pretrial release. Because secured bonds are the most common condition imposed in North Carolina, see Jessica Smith, How Big a Role Does Money Play in North Carolina’s Bail System (July 2019), the decision to make an arrest versus issue a citation often results in imposition of a secured bond and associated wealth-based detentions. For these and other reasons, justice system stakeholders are interested in citation in lieu of arrest policies, particularly for low-level crimes. One common question that stakeholders have been asking is: What do we know about how often officers use citations or make arrests in North Carolina? Read on for answers. Continue reading →
As the Charlotte Observer reports, former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr. died on Thursday after a period of deteriorating health. The Observer report notes that Lake’s intense interest in preventing or rectifying wrongful convictions led to the establishment of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission and made the state a national model for conviction review. Lake served on the court for 12 years and was Chief Justice from 2001 to 2006. He was 85 years old. Keep reading for more news.
The Supreme Court of North Carolina held in State v. Grady, ___ N.C. ___ (2019), that satellite-based monitoring (SBM) of sex offenders is unconstitutional as applied to any unsupervised person who was ordered to enroll in SBM solely because he or she is a recidivist. By unsupervised, the court meant a person not on probation, parole, or post-release supervision. Today’s post takes a closer look at the Grady decision and what it may mean for North Carolina’s SBM program going forward. Continue reading →
Shocking videos on sites like Faceboook Live may dominate the headlines (see examples here and here), but criminal attorneys know that the humble, old-fashioned audio recording still plays a large role in many cases. The state’s evidence at trial might include recordings of jail calls, witness interviews, 911 calls, suspect interrogations, wiretap intercepts, controlled buys, incriminating voicemails, and more. To aid in presenting that evidence to the jury (especially when the quality or volume of the recording is less than ideal), some prosecutors also prepare and introduce a written transcript of what was said on the tape.
That raises a tough question: Does the introduction of a transcript of an audio recording run afoul of the “best evidence” rule? There are cases that go both ways on this issue, and at first glance the rule seems to be something along the lines of “it is a violation, except when it isn’t, and sometimes maybe it doesn’t matter anyway.”
Let’s try to clean that up a little.
Suppose I told you that we could categorize defendants into six categories for risk of failure to appear (FTA) in court as required, with 1 being the lowest risk category and 6 being the highest. What is your guess as to the percentage of defendants who appear in court as required at risk level 1? At risk level 6? When I ask this question of North Carolina stakeholders, most guess that the percentage of defendants who appear in court at risk level 1 is about 50% and that the percentage who appear at risk level 6 is about 20%. They are wrong. Risk assessment validation done in North Carolina shows that 87.4% of risk level 1 defendants appear in court as required and that 61.2% of risk level 6 defendants do so. In fact, that validation shows that at all risk levels, a majority of defendants appear in court as required. Continue reading →
At the time of writing Hurricane Dorian was approaching the North Carolina coast and many communities were under evacuation orders. The Department of Public Safety’s storm information website, listing evacuation routes and shelter locations is here. County courthouse closings and delays are listed here. The slow-moving storm caused extensive damage to the Bahamas over the past days and caused a tornado at Emerald Isle on Thursday afternoon. Stay safe and our thanks to the local, state, and federal agencies that mobilize to assist during weather disasters. Keep reading for more news.