News Roundup

On Sunday evening, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history occurred at a country music concert in Las Vegas.  Armed with more than 20 guns, some modified for increased rates of fire, Stephen C. Paddock killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 others by firing upon concert-goers from an elevated position inside the Mandalay Bay hotel.  The Las Vegas Review-Journal has comprehensive coverage of the shooting. Keep reading for more news. Continue reading

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Better Than Ever: A New Criminal Case Compendium

As many blog readers know, I’ve been offering my free Criminal Case Compendium since 2008. The Compendium is a collection of U.S. Supreme Court, Fourth Circuit & published N.C. criminal law, procedure and evidence case summaries, arranged by subject. Until now, folks have accessed the Compendium online as a massive 900-page PDF, containing over 3,000 case summaries. That worked okay, but we knew we could do better. And we have. My Criminal Case Compendium has just been re-released in a new format: A dynamic web-based version, designed to help you find the law you need even faster. The robust search feature puts real power behind your keyword search, sorting cases by relevancy. And if you like navigating through a table of contents, that’s still there, only amped up a few notches on the “usability scale.” Continue reading

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The Prior Probation Violation Aggravating Factor

One of the statutory aggravating factors for felony sentencing is that the defendant has, during the 10-year period prior to the commission of the offense now being sentenced, been found to be in willful violation of probation, post-release supervision, or parole. G.S. 15A-1340.16(d)(12a). It sounds straightforward enough, but it turns out to be a little tricky to apply in practice. Continue reading

State v. Huey: Repeatedly Insinuating that the Defendant Was a Liar Was Improper but Not Prejudicial

The North Carolina Supreme Court decided State v. Huey on Friday, reversing the court of appeals’ determination that the State’s closing argument unfairly prejudiced the defendant in his trial for murder. Continue reading

“Office Hours” This Week

This Thursday at lunchtime (12:30 to 1:30) we will host our monthly “office hours” conference call. Shea Denning, Phil Dixon, and I will discuss recent developments in criminal law and will do our best to answer listeners’ questions. The event seems to be building an audience, and this month, we’d like to invite folks to submit questions or topic suggestions in advance, by posting a comment to this blog post or by email as described below. We will continue taking live questions on the call as well.

I suspect we’ll find time to talk about electronic surveillance. There’s a new out-of-state opinion about Stingrays and the Fourth Amendment, and the Supreme Court is getting ready to hear a major case about cell phone tracking. We’ll bring some other topics to the table, too, but as usual, we’ll let listeners drive the direction of the call. Read on for more details. Continue reading

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News Roundup

Sports fans across the country were shocked this week to learn that for several years the FBI and federal prosecutors have been investigating what one prosecutor has described as “the dark underbelly of college basketball.”  As part of an investigation that may reveal widespread corruption, federal criminal complaints against several people associated with various college basketball teams were made public on Tuesday.  The story is complex and still developing, but a New York Times article says that “two broad schemes” have been alleged.  One involves assistant coaches who allegedly were bribed to persuade players to use certain financial advisors after turning pro.  The other involves Adidas secretly giving money to certain players and their families in exchange for the players’ commitments to play at Adidas-sponsored schools.  Keep reading for more news.

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Costs “Not Assessed”

Under G.S. 7A-304(a), when a defendant is convicted, court costs “shall be assessed,” unless the court waives them pursuant to a written order determining that there is just cause to do so. Assess or waive—those are, in general, the statutory options. They are not, however, the only things that happen in real life. We can see in the AOC’s annual report on court cost waivers (discussed and linked here) that there are other possible outcomes, including costs being flagged as “not assessed.” That is the subject of today’s post. Continue reading

Want to Know about Judicial Selection? Learn from the Best.

A group of district court judges gathered at the School last week for a class focused on the establishment of school justice partnerships, a central component of the Raise the Age legislation. The class was productive, but there was an elephant in the room that kept distracting everyone. If you’ve been keeping up with the General Assembly’s work over the past month, you likely can call the elephant by name.

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U.S. Supreme Court Preview: Carpenter v. United States

In June, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Carpenter v. United States (No. 16-402) (docket here), a case involving the intersection of technology and the Fourth Amendment and application of the third-party doctrine to digital data. In this post I’ll preview that case. Continue reading

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News Roundup

Over the weekend a Georgia Tech student was shot and killed by a campus police officer in a tragic incident that set off protests on the school’s campus this week.  21-year-old student Scout Schultz was shot by 23-year-old campus police officer Tyler Beck on Saturday night.  Reports suggest that Schultz, who had some history of mental illness, may have orchestrated the shooting, reportedly calling 911 to falsely report an armed suspicious person and then advancing on responding officers while carrying a multi-tool and disregarding their orders to stop.  A few days after the shooting, a campus vigil held in remembrance of Shultz was followed by what has been described as a violent protest where a police car was set on fire and two officers were injured.   Keep reading for more news.

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