News Roundup

There were so many important stories in North Carolina this week that I couldn’t pick just one as the headliner. Without further ado:

Racial Justice Act Nears Repeal. A House committee approved S 306 this week. The bill would, among other things, repeal the Racial Justice Act. A vote in the full House is expected soon, and the bill has already passed the Senate.

Death Sentence in Fayetteville. A Fayetteville jury sentenced Mario McNeill to death this week for killing five-year-old Shaniya Davis. It’s the first death sentence handed down in North Carolina since 2011. The Fayetteville Observer has the story here.

House Budget Expected to Differ from Senate Plan. As discussed previously on this blog and elsewhere, the Senate’s budget would make a number of changes to the criminal justice system, including de-funding Prisoner Legal Services, eliminating special superior court judges, and moving the SBI from the Attorney General’s office to the Department of Public Safety. The House is now working on its budget, and while the final document has not been released, House leaders have stated that they expect to include few non-budgetary items. That may be welcome news to the SBI, which has announced that it wants to stay where it is, as the News and Observer reports here.

First Electronic Sweepstakes Conviction. Last Friday, in Waynesville, defendant James Locker was convicted of violating the electronic sweepstakes statute, G.S. 14-306.4. I believe it’s the first conviction in the state, after a couple of acquittals or dismissals that I noted in previous roundups. In a sense, the conviction was short-lived, since Mr. Locker appealed to superior court for trial de novo. The Asheville Citizen-Times has the story here.

Musical Chairs in the Appellate Courts. The News and Observer notes here that court of appeals “Judge Robert N. Hunter Jr. said he will run next year for the state Supreme Court seat held by Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin. Martin announced last week that he is running to replace Chief Justice Sarah Parker, who reaches mandatory retirement age next year and is not eligible to run.”

Summer Webinar. My colleagues John Rubin and Alyson Grine are again offering a summer criminal law webinar. It will cover recent court decisions and legislative actions. Details are here, but basically, it’s June 7 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., it offers 1.5 hours of CLE credit, and it’s $65 – unless you work for IDS, in which case, it’s free.

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