First Monday in October: Preview of the New Supreme Court Term

While most news outlets focus on whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, the Court has quietly kicked off a new Term. What criminal law cases does the Court have in store? Continue reading

blank

News Roundup

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Judge Brett Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was the major news of the week.  Both Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford testified before the committee, with Kavanaugh flatly denying the alleged assault and Blasey Ford declaring that she was certain that Kavanaugh attacked her.  Republican committee members ceded their time for questioning to Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell while Democrats questioned Blasey Ford directly.  That approach resulted in an unusual proceeding that sharply alternated in five minute segments between a trial-like examination of Blasey Ford and a more traditional Senate committee hearing.  Keep reading for more news. Continue reading

Category: Uncategorized
blank

A Short Brief on Representation by Counsel in the UK

Our trip to Middle Temple, one of the four Inns of Court in London, did not disappoint. It is physically stunning, a collection of beautiful courtyards and historic buildings. As important, it is a center of education, activity, chambers (law offices), and support for legal professionals. Plus, if you’re a member or a lucky guest, you get to eat in the Middle Temple “cafeteria”: Continue reading

What’s the Statute of Limitations for a Felony in NC?

An experienced attorney from another state recently remarked on her surprise at learning that there was no statute of limitations barring the prosecution of felony offenses in North Carolina after the passage of a specified period of time. This attorney’s comment reminded me that while the no-statute-of-limitations-state-of-affairs may be well-known among experienced practitioners of criminal law in NC, it isn’t necessarily known by others.  Continue reading

Absconding from Probation: Supreme Court Affirms Krider

In State v. Krider, __ N.C. App. __, 810 S.E.2d 828 (2018) (discussed here), a divided court of appeals vacated the defendant’s probation revocation based on absconding. Last week, the supreme court affirmed the court of appeals. Today’s post considers what Krider tells us about absconding—and what constitutes sufficient proof of any probation violation. Continue reading

blank

Eleventh Circuit Weighs in on the Constitutional Parameters for Bail Systems

Interest in bail reform is heating up in North Carolina. The Chief Justice’s North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice recommended implementing evidence-based pretrial justice reform, and reform already is happening in several counties. The North Carolina Courts Commission took up the issue at its September 2018 meeting and Attorney General Josh Stein recently announced a stakeholder Roundtable on the topic. Among the reasons for the interest is this: Litigation risk. Advocates of bail reform have racked up wins in other jurisdictions. In March, I wrote (here) about a recent Fifth Circuit decision holding that the bail system in Harris County Texas violated due process and equal protection. (That opinion was superseded after rehearing but the court’s holding remains essentially the same). In August, the Eleventh Circuit decided Walker v. City of Calhoun, GA, ___ F.3d ___, 2018 WL 4000252 (11th Cir. Aug. 22, 2018). Here’s what happened there: Continue reading

blank

News Roundup

As all North Carolinians know, Hurricane Florence brought torrential rain to the eastern part of the state, causing widespread flooding and other damage.  At the time of this writing, Wilmington remained largely inaccessible, with the Department of Transportation saying Thursday morning that there was “no safe, stable or reliable route” of public access into or out of the city.  Many other communities along the coast and in southeastern North Carolina are in similarly challenging situations.  The North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund is accepting contributions to help with immediate unmet needs of Hurricane Florence victims.  Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the storm.  Keep reading for more news.

Continue reading

Category: Uncategorized
blank

The Old Bailey: A Typical Trial Docket in an Atypical Setting

Earlier this week, the students and I spent the afternoon at Central Criminal Court in London, formerly called the Old Bailey and located at the intersection of Old Bailey and Newgate streets in the heart of London’s law district. I can guarantee that this post will not be as captivating as Rumpole of the Bailey, the British television series about fictional barrister Horace Rumpole. But, like most trips to court, it was certainly interesting. Continue reading

It’s a Bird, It’s a Scooter, It’s an Overnight Sensation . . . But Is It Legal?

(Author’s note: The last section of this post was added after its initial publication.)

Electric scooters have recently appeared overnight in cities across North Carolina. The scooters, most of which are owned by the Bird Rides company, have been deposited without advance announcement in downtown areas. Would-be riders download an app that allows them to scan a code on the scooter that unlocks it. The scooter can then be ridden for $1 start-up charge plus 15 cents per minute. The app instructs users to ride in bike lanes where available and to avoid pedestrians on the sidewalk. It also states that traffic regulations prohibit riding on sidewalks, in public parking structures, without a helmet, and without a valid driver’s license. Is all of that correct? And can these scooters lawfully be operated on North Carolina streets?

Continue reading

blank

Self-defense, Intent to Kill and the Duty to Retreat

Consider the following scenario: Driver Dan is traveling down a dark county two-lane road in his sedan. Traffic is light but slow due to the cold weather and mist. Another driver in a truck appears behind Dan and starts tailgating him, getting within a few feet of his bumper. After unsuccessfully trying to pass Dan, the other driver begins tailgating Dan even more, now staying within inches of his bumper. When the cars ahead turn off and the road is clear,  slows to let the other driver pass, but the other driver continues closely riding Dan’s bumper for several miles, flashing high beams at times. Eventually, the other driver pulls alongside Dan and begins “pacing” him, staying beside Dan’s car instead of passing. The other driver then begins to veer into Dan’s lane, forcing Dan’s passenger-side tires off the road. As Dan feels the steering wheel begin to shake, he fears losing control of his car and decides to defend himself with his (lawfully possessed) pistol. He aims through his open window at the other driver’s front tire and shoots, striking it and halting the other vehicle. The other driver stops without further incident, and Dan leaves. Dan is eventually charged with shooting into an occupied and operating vehicle, a class D felony and general intent crime.

Pop quiz: taking the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendant, is Dan entitled to a self-defense instruction?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Vote here, and then read on for the answer. Continue reading