When a person suspected of driving while impaired is involved in a crash and receives medical treatment, the State may wish to obtain the person’s medical records for use in criminal prosecution. What standards and procedures govern the disclosure of such records? Continue reading
Category Archives: Uncategorized
On Tuesday, officials in Winston-Salem held a press conference announcing coordinated efforts to deter gun violence in the city. As the Winston-Salem Journal reports, there were more homicides in Winston in 2019 than in any other year in the past quarter century. Chief of Police Catrina Thompson, Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, District Attorney Jim O’Neal, U.S. Attorney Matt Martin, Mayor Allen Joines, and Councilman James Taylor all spoke at the press conference, with Thompson saying that they would “use every one of the resources [they] have” to pursue individuals involved in violent crime. Keep reading for more information about the efforts in Winston and other criminal law news.
As the New York Times reports, Attorney General William Barr said this week that a shooting at a naval air station in Pensacola, Florida, last month was an act of terrorism and asked Apple to unlock two iPhones used by the shooter. In early December, a Saudi Air Force cadet training in Florida, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, killed three sailors and wounded eight others after opening fire in a classroom where he was training with the U.S. military to become a pilot. Attorney General Barr said that Apple had not provided substantive assistance in accessing Alshamrani’s iPhones but Apple disputed that claim, saying that it had been working with the FBI since the shooting occurred and had given investigators access to his iCloud account and other data. As the Times report notes, the standoff is reminiscent of a 2016 case where Apple refused to break the encryption of a phone used by a shooter in a California terror attack. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading →
In United States v. Smith, 939 F.3d 612 (4th Cir. 2019), the Fourth Circuit held that a defendant who received a conditional discharge for a prior felony was not “convicted” of that crime within the meaning of the federal felon-in-possession statute. He was therefore not a felon under that law, and thus not barred from possessing a firearm under it. The appellate court reversed his conviction. The case gives us an opportunity to review what we know (and don’t know) about the subsequent effect of conditional discharges and PJCs. Continue reading →
In this blog post from 2012, Professor Jessica Smith summarized Rules of Evidence 101 and 1101, which together dictate that the rules of evidence apply to “all actions and proceedings in the courts of this State,” except for proceedings that are specifically excluded by the rules or another statute. Pursuant to these two rules and the case law interpreting them, proceedings at which the rules of evidence (except for rules of privilege) do not apply include: applications for warrants; grand jury proceedings; first appearances; pretrial release hearings; probable cause hearings; hearings on motions to suppress; witness voir dire; sentencing hearings; probation revocation hearings; and more.
That’s quite a list. If the rules of evidence do not apply to any of these proceedings, are there any limits at all on the evidence that may be offered? Could an unsworn and mentally incompetent witness with no personal knowledge offer irrelevant and prejudicial triple-hearsay testimony about a prior conviction more than 10 years old, offered solely for the purpose of showing the defendant’s bad character and the likelihood that he acted in conformity therewith?
Surely not. But if there are no rules of evidence, why not? The short answer to nearly any question about the admissibility of evidence under Rule 1101(b) is “it’s in the judge’s discretion,” but what guides that discretion, and what are its limits?
This post summarizes criminal and related decisions published by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in December, 2019. Decisions of interest to state practitioners will be posted on a monthly basis. Previous Fourth Circuit case summaries are available here. Continue reading →
Among the most significant North Carolina criminal news stories last year was the tragic shooting on the campus of UNC Charlotte that killed two students, Reed Parlier and Riley Howell, and injured four others. This week, the Charlotte Observer reports the proposal of a $1 million permanent memorial and reflection space to commemorate and remember the victims of the attack. Keep reading for more information about the memorial and other news.
I want to kick off 2020 by welcoming Tim Heinle to the School of Government. It is his first week on the job as our new Civil Defender Educator. Here he is in his new office at the School. You can reach him at 919.962.9594 or email@example.com. Tim will assist defenders in the diverse and challenging practice areas that make up civil indigent defense in North Carolina, including abuse, neglect, and dependency cases, guardianship, and child support contempt proceedings. Continue reading →