As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Robert Aaron Long pleaded guilty this week to four counts of murder arising from a series of shootings he committed earlier this year in the Atlanta area. The plea deal covered four killings in Woodstock, Georgia, which is north of Atlanta, and spared Long from the potential of being sentenced to death at a capital trial. Long is accused of killing eight people, many of them Asian women, and additional murder charges still are pending against him in Fulton County, where part of the shooting rampage took place. Keep reading for more news.
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The UNC School of Government Criminal Justice Innovation Lab and The Pew Charitable Trusts and invite North Carolina jurisdictions to apply to participate in the NC Court Appearance Project. Pew and the Lab will offer free technical assistance for up to three North Carolina jurisdictions interested in examining the scope and impact of missed court dates and exploring ways to improve court appearance rates and responses to missed court dates. Because Pew and the Lab adhere to a non-partisan, evidence-based approach to criminal justice policy, this project will be grounded in data, research, and stakeholder collaboration and priorities.
The Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act and its subsequent corresponding legislation raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18 for most offenses committed at ages 16 or 17 that would otherwise be crimes. S.L. 2017-57, §§ 16.D.4.(a)-16.D.4.(tt) and S.L. 2019-186. Last summer, the legislature enacted changes to the criminal law to ensure that minors who fall outside of raise the age and continue to be tried as adults are not housed in adult jails. S.L. 2020-83, §§ 8.(a)-8.(p). While it may feel like these changes must mean that the age of 18 is now consistently the legal demarcation for being treated as an adult, the law continues to use the age of 16 as a defining line in some instances. For example, Chapter 50B (Domestic Violence) and Chapter 50C (Civil No-Contact Orders) continue to provide that domestic violence protective orders (DVPOs) and Civil No-Contact Orders can be obtained against youth once they reach the age of 16. This blog addresses how enforcement of these orders against youth who are ages 16 and 17 is affected by raise the age and by the removal of minors from jails. Continue reading →
As NPR reports, a coalition of state attorneys general announced this week that they had reached a $26 billion settlement agreement with drug distributors and Johnson & Johnson for their role in the opioid epidemic. The agreement, which still requires approval from state and local governments, would resolve various lawsuits brought against Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson that allege that the companies turned a blind eye to orders for large quantities of opioid drugs in the interest of making money. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading →
Judgeships in North Carolina’s trial and appellate courts are elected offices. Thus, it often is said that the ballot box is the mechanism for holding the state’s judicial officials accountable. There is, however, another way in which judges may be held to account for misconduct: through disciplinary proceedings initiated by the Judicial Standards Commission. Those proceedings led to the North Carolina’s Supreme Court’s imposition of public discipline for three judges in 2020 and two more judges in 2021. The Judicial Standards Commission’s recently released annual report describes the nature of its work, its composition, and its increasing workload.
WRAL reports that the family of Andrew Brown Jr. has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten, Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie, and several deputies. Brown was killed in April as he attempted to flee in his car from deputies who were executing search warrants for his home and vehicle. In May, District Attorney Andrew Womble determined that officers were justified in using deadly force against Brown because he used his vehicle as a weapon while trying to escape. Brown’s family is seeking $31 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Continue reading →
The case is ready for trial and all parties are present. From the bench, the judge makes a final attempt to resolve the case by saying “if we need to do a trial that’s fine, and I can call for a jury right now — but I’m just letting you all know that if the defendant was willing to plead to count 1 and state was willing to dismiss count 2, I’d be inclined to give supervised probation and we could get this case wrapped up today.”
Of course every county and every judge is unique, but most criminal attorneys have at least occasionally experienced some type of participation from the bench in working out a plea. So we know that it happens, but is it actually authorized by our statutes? Should it be? If it is, what are the limits, and what’s fair game for negotiation? Are the judge’s terms binding?
WRAL reports that the owner of a venomous zebra cobra has been charged with dozens of misdemeanors after the snake, which is capable of spitting blinding venom with tremendous accuracy, was roaming loose in a north Raleigh neighborhood in recent weeks. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.