Bankman-Fried sentencing. Regular readers know that I’m interested in the criminal case against Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the fallen cryptocurrency exchange FTX. I even read a book about Bankman-Fried, which I reviewed here. He has been convicted in federal court and his sentencing hearing is set for March 28. The United States Probation Office has calculated his Guideline sentence as 110 years in prison, and has recommended a downward variance to 100 years. (They temper justice with mercy at the United States Probation Office.) Bankman-Fried’s attorneys have responded with a 90-page sentencing memorandum, arguing that Bankman-Fried is a selfless philanthropist at heart; that there are no victims of his crimes because it now appears that there were sufficient assets in FTX to pay all customers and creditors; and that a proper application of the Guidelines calls for a sentence of approximately 6 years but that given various mitigating circumstances, “a sentence that returns [Bankman-Fried] promptly to a productive role in society would . . . comply with the purposes of sentencing.” Stay tuned for further developments! And keep reading for more news.
In partnership with the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police and local stakeholders, the UNC School of Government Criminal Justice Innovation Lab (the Lab) is conducting two evaluations of North Carolina alternative responder programs over the next two years. These programs reduce or remove law enforcement’s role in responding to certain crisis calls—such as those involving behavioral health issues or homelessness—and connect people to services to address root causes of behavior. The first project is an evaluation of an existing program in the City of Burlington. The second is an evaluation of a pilot program in Orange County.
The Juvenile Code authorizes 14 different dispositional alternatives for delinquency cases that result in Level 1 dispositions and 23 different dispositional alternatives for delinquency cases that result in Level 2 dispositions. G.S. 7B-2508(c), (d); G.S. 7B-2506(1)-(23). For both Level I and Level 2 dispositions, cooperating with substance abuse treatment is a dispositional option. It can be challenging to sort through the many available dispositional alternatives to order an effective and individually tailored disposition that addresses the risks and needs of the juvenile. This blog addresses why it might be important to focus on substance use disorders as part of disposition, how to know when a juvenile needs substance use disorder treatment, and how substance use disorder treatment may be included as a dispositional alternative.
It is no secret that probable cause hearings are rare throughout North Carolina, despite clear provisions for conducting them in the general statutes. See G.S. 15A-606, 611-614. The reasons for their rarity have been set forth on this blog as far back as 2009. Prosecutors often point to the volume of felony cases moving through district court and the impracticality of conducting a mini-trial with “all the trappings of a full adversary hearing” in explaining why they routinely bypass the procedure. See State v. Lester, 294 N.C. 220, 224 (1978). However, skipping the PC hearing can create a gap, or bump, in the “regular” course of a criminal case, leading to various issues.
At the probable cause stage in district court, the defendant may waive the hearing, assert the right to a hearing and get one, or assert the right to a hearing and not get one. In this last scenario, the State, rather than engaging in the hearing, may choose to dismiss the case in district court and then recharge the matter in superior court by seeking an indictment. This practice is referred to as “voluntary dismissal to the grand jury” (VDGJ) or “dismissal for possible indictment.” The State’s bypassing of the probable cause hearing has never been deemed reversible error in North Carolina, as the defendant must demonstrate prejudice, which is rarely possible. See State v. Wiggins, 344 N.C. 18 (1993).
After voluntary dismissal to the grand jury, a crucial question arises as to whether an order for arrest (OFA) should issue upon indictment. The question is the subject of this blog post.
Raleigh police are offering rewards for information leading to suspects in two unsolved hit and run cases from late last year, according to this piece. One of the incidents occurred near New Bern Avenue and South Raleigh Boulevard in the early morning hours of Nov. 10, 2023. The suspect in that case was driving a gray Dodge Charger. The other involved a pickup truck of an unknown make and model and occurred on Poole Road on the evening of December 16, 2023. The pickup sustained damage to its right headline (or ceiling cover). Both cases resulted in pedestrian fatalities. Raleigh police also intend to pass out flyers to local drivers soliciting information on the crimes. The reward amounts are not mentioned, but anyone with information can contact the Raleigh Police Department or Raleigh Crimestoppers. Read on for more criminal law news.
In a new project launched in January 2024, the UNC School of Government Criminal Justice Innovation Lab (the Lab) is partnering with the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS) to support stakeholder interest in using social workers as part of a holistic public defense team. The project has two components: a workshop for Chief Public Defenders and an implementation study.
If I had to answer the question in the title of this post in the briefest possible way, I would say: not usually. But there’s a lot of uncertainty and nuance packed into that short answer. This post gets into the details.
A man convicted for a 2015 killing in New York has been released and his indictment has been dismissed solely because he was held at the wrong prison.
Terrence Lewis was serving a sentence of 22 years to life for second-degree murder in a maximum-security prison. In a February 5 decision, Judge Stephen Miller wrote that Monroe County, NY officials violated the federal “Interstate Agreement on Detainer’s Law” when they sent Lewis back to a federal prison in Pennsylvania—where he was serving a sentence for a drug conviction—as he awaited trial in the New York murder case after his indictment. The agreement says a prisoner charged with an unrelated crime in another jurisdiction must be held and tried in that jurisdiction before being returned to the place of their original imprisonment, or else the case in the other jurisdiction must be dismissed.
It may have something to do with my day-job, but in my free time I generally prefer to read fiction. I made an exception recently for Dr. Benjamin Gilmer’s 2022 nonfiction work, The Other Dr. Gilmer: Two Men, A Murder, and an Unlikely Fight for Justice. I’m glad I did.
The book is a page-turning memoir and legal thriller chock full of North Carolina people and places (Governor Cooper even has a cameo). It also is an indictment of how American society treats (or leaves untreated) the mentally ill, particularly those who are imprisoned.
Have you ever thought that it would be interesting to be a member of the School’s faculty? To write, teach, and consult about criminal law and procedure? And to do so with a focus on applied scholarship that makes a real difference? Then you might be interested in the job described later in this post. Or maybe you know someone for whom the position might be perfect. Read on to learn more, and as a bonus, I’ll mention a second job opening at the end of the post – one that has nothing to do with criminal law at all.