As the Winston-Salem Journal reports, Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neil announced this week that five former detention officers and a nurse have been charged with involuntary manslaughter following the death of John Neville at the Forsyth County Detention Center in December. The announcement of the charges came the day before an autopsy report was released that said that Neville’s death was caused in part by a restraint technique used by detention officers while Neville was in the midst of a medical emergency. Five people were arrested for impeding traffic at a protest outside the detention center on Wednesday where they were calling for the release of video footage of the events surrounding Neville’s death. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.
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This post summarizes published criminal opinions of the Court of Appeals decided on July 7, 2020. Continue reading →
North Carolina continues to make gradual strides in helping people clear their criminal records and enhance their opportunities going forward. On June 25, 2020, the Governor signed the Second Chance Act, S.L. 2020-35 (S 562), which passed the General Assembly unanimously. The Second Chance Act expands expunction opportunities and streamlines the process for people trying to clear their records. The product of negotiation and compromise, it reflects the interests of prosecutors, law enforcement, and court administrators as well. The act illustrates many of the record clearance issues being considered around the country, including automatic expunction of nonconviction records (to begin in North Carolina at the end of 2021), removal of barriers to expunctions of nonconviction records (most notably, no longer will prior convictions, whether for a felony or misdemeanor, be a bar), somewhat greater opportunities to expunge older convictions if “nonviolent,” and greater access by prosecutors and law enforcement to expunged case information. This summary does not try to explore the many nooks and crannies in the legislation. It is a first pass at describing the changes. Continue reading →
The Chief Justice entered her first emergency order to address catastrophic conditions resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak on March 13, 2020. More than three months (and many orders) later, those catastrophic conditions remain. So, as we prepare to enter a new month in COVID-season, the Chief Justice yesterday issued two new orders extending and modifying earlier directives.
The first June 29, 2020 order, which will not be discussed further here, modifies and extends Emergency Directive 18, which imposes procedural requirements in eviction proceedings. The second June 29, 2020 order modifies and extends Emergency Directives 2 through 8. Two of these extended directives directly impact criminal cases: Emergency Directive 3, which authorizes judicial officials to conduct proceedings that include remote audio and video transmissions, notwithstanding any other provision of law; and Emergency Directive 7, which delays the reporting of a failure to comply based upon nonpayment of monies owed in a criminal or infraction case.
My colleagues Meredith Smith and Aimee Wall are hosting a webinar on Thursday, July 16, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. that will provide an overview of North Carolina’s framework for protecting older adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The program, which is offered at no charge, will focus on connectivity and collaboration across systems and on groups that work to empower older adults to remain free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. You can register for the webinar here.
Three Wilmington police officers were fired on Wednesday after dash-cam footage from an officer’s patrol vehicle showed the officers engaging in racist conversations with each other, including one conversation that was explicitly violent. The conversations occurred in early June, soon after protests started in Wilmington related to the killing of George Floyd. The officers, Michael ‘Kevin’ Piner, Jesse E. Moore II, and James ‘Brian’ Gilmore each had been with the Wilmington Police Department since the late 90’s. The content of the conversations is horrifying and the story has become national news. Keep reading for more on this and other news.
Almost ten years after the Justice Reinvestment Act established a new statutory definition of absconding from probation, we’re starting to get a better sense of what behavior does and does not rise to the level of absconding. Continue reading →
Much of the conversation at one of the first Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee meetings I attended centered on “doughnut hole” youth. The meeting participants were discussing the long pause between when raise the age legislation passed in June of 2017 until the time it would take effect in December of 2019. Many 16- and 17-year-old youth would continue to be convicted in criminal court for things that the legislature had already determined should be juvenile offenses for youth their age. Caught in between passage and implementation, these kids were in the “doughnut hole.” The legislature included a remedy for these youth, and many others, in the Second Chance Act (S562) that was ratified on June 17, 2020. Certain misdemeanor and Class H and I felony convictions for offenses committed before raise the age took effect and when the person was 16 or 17, can now be expunged. This new expunction opportunity is available to any person with an existing conviction from the age of 16 or 17 that would now fall under juvenile jurisdiction and not just the young people who were caught in the doughnut hole. Continue reading →