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Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

Just about anyone who was a student at Carolina in 1995 remembers where they were on January 26 of that year when they heard that a gunman carrying a World-War-II-era rifle had opened fire on passersby as he walked down Henderson Street shortly after lunchtime. The shooter was Wendell Williamson, a third-year student at UNC … Read more

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State v. Fizovic and Searching Cars for Alcohol

Author’s Note:  This post has been modified from its original version in response to a helpful comment by a reader. An officer sees a man drink from a can of beer while the man drives through a public parking deck. The officer stops the man’s car and sees the beer bottle can in plain view. He … Read more

News Roundup

There was a lot of action at the United States Supreme Court this week. The new Term opened with Heien v. North Carolina, the burned-out brake light case where the legal issue is whether a traffic stop may be based on an officer’s reasonable mistake of law. The oral argument transcript is here, and a … Read more

News Roundup

For the second week in a row, a death penalty story from the West is the headliner. Arizona executed convicted murderer Joseph Wood on Wednesday afternoon by lethal injection. His death took almost two hours. Some believe that Wood was gasping and snorting throughout and view it as a botched execution (see this Slate article), … Read more

Strip Searches by Law Enforcement Officers (Part II)

This blog post is divided in two parts. This is Part II. Part I was posted yesterday. That post offered a general introduction, defined a strip search, and discussed the legality of consent searches involving strip searches. This post discusses the legality of nonconsensual strip searches. As mentioned in Part I, strip searches at jails … Read more

Search Incident to the Arrest of an Occupant of a Vehicle: Review and Update (Part II)

This topic was divided in two parts. This is Part II. Part I was posted yesterday. In yesterday’s blog post, I discussed the United States Supreme Court in 2009 ruling in Arizona v. Gant that significantly restricted an officer’s authority, based on the theory of search incident to arrest, to conduct a search of the … Read more

News Roundup

Certainly the most shocking story of the week comes from Cleveland, where Ariel Castro has been charged with abducting three women, sexually abusing them, and holding them captive for ten years. CNN has the basics here. One important legal question is whether Castro could be eligible for the death penalty, based on allegations that he … Read more

News Roundup

The top of the news this week is SB 10, which appears to have passed the state Senate. (You can see the bill’s progress here.) Readers of this blog will be most interested in section 2.8 of the legislation, which, effective July 1, 2013, would abolish all 12 special superior court judgeships that are not … Read more

News Roundup

Three more inmates had their death sentences vacated this week under the Racial Justice Act. Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks, following the reasoning he used previously to void the death sentence for another inmate, ruled that racial discrimination by the State during jury selection required that the defendants be resentenced to life without … Read more