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.
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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 →
The Dean of the School of Government, Mike Smith, shared a message last week recognizing the need for action to bring about real and enduring progress on issues of race and bias. He noted that while learning about racism, focusing on our shortcomings, and improving ourselves is important, “[n]one of those things will be enough if they are not accompanied by a commitment to addressing racial inequities in government and improving outcomes for African Americans.” The dean included a two question survey seeking input from the government officials with whom we work about how we can best support their efforts to address systemic racism.
I shared the dean’s message with the Judicial Branch officials with whom we work, asking them to complete the survey and encouraging them to reach out to me individually to discuss how the North Carolina Judicial College might assist in these efforts.
There was notable criminal law legislation in the General Assembly this week where lawmakers unanimously passed the North Carolina First Step Act and the Second Chance Act. As the News & Observer reports, some legislators have said that the fact that the bills had unanimous support is a signal that the legislature may take up additional criminal justice reform legislation. The bills now go to Governor Roy Cooper, who one of the bills’ cosponsors blamed for over-incarceration in the state, for approval. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.
This post summarizes published criminal cases issued by the North Carolina Court of Appeals on June 16, 2020.
As always, these summaries will be added to Smith’s Criminal Case Compendium, a free, searchable database of case annotations from 2008 to today.
Thanks to Chris Tyner for preparing the majority of these summaries.
On Thursday, June 4, 2020, the North Carolina General Assembly passed S.B. 315, referred to as the State Farm Bill, which was subsequently signed into law by the Governor. The bill was pending all last session and stalled, allegedly over a dispute about how to treat smokable hemp. As I understand it, the bill originally intended to clarify that hemp in all forms (including smokable hemp) was legal (here is an earlier version of the bill taking that approach). After hearing objections from law enforcement and prosecutors (as detailed in the SBI memo on the subject), the proposed bill was changed to ban smokable hemp and regulate the rest of the hemp industry in a variety of ways. When the bill was last being discussed in the news, the dispute at the General Assembly had apparently narrowed to when the smokable hemp ban was to kick in. But, the bill never passed last session, and we were without a Farm Bill until this month. So, what big changes does the bill have in store for hemp in North Carolina? Continue reading →
WRAL reports that in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the police departments in Raleigh, Durham, and Fayetteville generally are adopting policies consistent with the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign which advocates for reduced use of force policing practices. Among the eight policy suggestions is a ban on chokeholds and strangleholds. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.