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News Roundup

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The Greensboro News & Record reports that a United States House of Representatives subcommittee will hold a hearing in the city on Monday to hear about how North Carolina has overhauled its efforts to combat human trafficking.  The House Subcommittee on Intelligence & Counterterrorism will hear from Randolph County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Aundrea Azelton; Christine Shaw Long, Executive Director of the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission; Charlotte field office special agent for homeland security investigations Ronnie A. Martinez; and Carl L. Wall II, special agent in charge of the SBI’s human trafficking unit.  The hearing, which is open to the public, will focus on information sharing efforts between local, state, and federal officials. Keep reading for more news.

Troopers Arrested.  WRAL reports that two former State Highway Patrol troopers were arrested this week following an investigation into traffic ticket irregularities.  Jason Benson and Christopher Carter were charged with obstruction of justice, failure to discharge duty, and making a false return of process in connection with allegations that they wrote an excessive number of citations to the same drivers and did not serve some of the citations, resulting in people not knowing they had been charged with an offense.  The WRAL report says that the former troopers’ motivation for writing the extra citations still is unknown.

Sniffs Snuffed.  Until they received an email last month from the principal of Carrboro High School informing them that no drugs were found during a recent K9 sweep of the school, many parents had no suspicion that “from time to time” drug dogs were called into Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools facilities to conduct suspicionless searches.  Upon learning of the practice, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights wrote a letter to the superintendent asking that the practice be stopped, citing concerns about student privacy and the reliability of drug sniffing dogs.  The school system said recently that it will no longer conduct such searches.

Greensboro Massacre Anniversary.  November 3 will mark the 40th anniversary of the Greensboro massacre, a deadly shooting that erupted during a protest of the Ku Klux Klan by the Communist Workers’ Party.  At a “Death to the Klan” march in 1979, members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party fired upon anti-Klan demonstrators, leaving five people dead and six people wounded.  An article from the Greensboro News & Record identifies events being held around the city to mark the anniversary.

Raise the Age.  Legal news outlet The Appeal recently published an article that provides a brief overview of North Carolina’s raise the age legislation for a national audience.  Among other things, the article notes that raise the age already has had an influence on some North Carolina proceedings despite the fact that it does not go into effect until December.  For example, the article says that a superior court judge in Mecklenburg County recently ruled that a current prosecution of a 16-year-old as an adult violated his rights, and that the Durham County District Attorney’s Office currently is treating 16- and 17-year-old defendants as if raise the age already was in effect.

Jarrell.  News outlets across the state reported late last week that results of an autopsy indicate that Guilford County Chief District Court Judge Tom Jarrell’s unexpected death in August of this year was caused by a fentanyl and heroin overdose.  Speaking to the Greensboro News & Record, Guilford County Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Joe Craig said that the news “shocked and saddened” Jarrell’s colleagues and showed the extent of the ongoing opioid crisis. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley expressed a similar sentiment in a press release and said that Jarrell’s “many gifts to our state and to [the legal] profession will stand the test of time.”  

Guilford.  As the News & Record reports, North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley led a ceremony last Friday afternoon in Greensboro recognizing District Court Judge Teresa Vincent’s appointment as Guilford’s new Chief District Court Judge.  Vincent is the first black woman to serve as the Chief District Court Judge in the county.

In another report, the News & Record notes that the Guilford County bar met this week to nominate potential replacements for the open District Court seat resulting from Jarrell’s passing.  The bar also nominated potential replacements for retiring public defender Fred Lind, who has served as a public defender since 1974 and as the county’s chief public defender since 2011.  Assistant Public Defender John Nieman received the most votes for the chief defender position and Marc Tyrey received the most votes for the district court seat. 

No More Dirty Looks.  Like many North Carolina attorneys, upon completing my twelfth hour of CLE last year I exclaimed “no more pencils, no more books . . . school’s out forever” as I triumphantly threw my blazer down next to my desk.  This exuberance was short-lived as I soon received correspondence from the State Bar indicating that another 12 hours would be required this year. Looks like it’s time for Back to School: CLE @ SOG.

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