News Roundup

My favorite story this week concerns the alleged criminal mastermind who was charged with trying to steal copper . . . “from a construction site where the Garner Police Department is building a new station.” WRAL has the story here. We’ll see if he cops a plea to copping the cops’ copper. In other news: … Read more

Can a Vehicle Search Incident to Arrest Include the Trunk?

In Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 (2009), the Supreme Court ruled that a motor vehicle may be searched incident to the arrest of a recent occupant “only if [1] the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or [2] it is reasonable to believe the vehicle … Read more


Share the Road. But How?

Most avid bicyclists have more than one tale of a close encounter with a motorist who does not care to—or does not know how to—safely share the road with a bicycle. The News and Observer reported here that a group of Orange County cyclists accused a pick-up truck driver of intentionally slamming on brakes in … Read more

Justice Reinvestment on the Ground

Among the two dozen or so states that have participated in Justice Reinvestment, North Carolina has become something of a darling. The goal of the initiative (summarized in this infographic) is to reduce spending on corrections, and North Carolina has done that. Since the day the law came into effect, we have 2,000 fewer prison … Read more

Stealth Constitutional Amendment Could Bring Big Changes

This fall, North Carolina voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution. The proposed amendment would allow, for the first time, bench trials for felonies in superior court. Neither the media nor advocacy groups have paid much attention to the amendment, so almost no one seems to know that it is on the table. For … Read more

News Roundup

The week saw a bit of musical chairs at the state supreme court. Chief Justice Parker stepped down as a result of mandatory retirement and then-Senior Associate Justice Martin was named Chief Justice. Then-court of appeals judge Bob Hunter was named Associate Justice, replacing now-Chief Justice Martin. That should settle everything . . . until … Read more

General Assembly Closes Up Shop, Gives Us “Technical” Corrections

The General Assembly reached an agreement on coal ash and has adjourned for the session. Shortly before departing, it approved a technical corrections bill that has become law. The bill contains several criminal law provisions, some of which arguably are not “technical.” But let’s not get technical about what’s technical! Bob Farb sent a summary … Read more


Court of Appeals in State v. Townsend Beefs Up Prejudice Required for Relief under Knoll

[Author’s note:  State v. Townsend was withdrawn and replaced by a subsequent opinion, available here.  The portion of the opinion discussed below was unchanged by the subsequent opinion.] No one gets relief any more under State v. Knoll—at least not from the court of appeals.  State v. Townsend, decided today, is the latest in a series … Read more

Ferguson and Cameras

According to the New York Times, the governor of Missouri is now deploying the National Guard in an “effort[] to quell unrest” resulting from a white police officer’s shooting of a black teenager in the city of Ferguson. It seems to me that much of the “unrest” is a result of a lack of factual … Read more