January recognizes the importance of knowing about human trafficking. The President has declared January Human Trafficking Prevention Month (see the proclamation here). The North Carolina Governor and the Chief Justice have both declared January Human Trafficking Awareness Month (see the Governor’s proclamation here and the Chief Justice’s proclamation here). The purpose of these declarations is both a recognition that human trafficking in the United States and North Carolina exists and to educate our citizens about this issue. Partnerships are required for a successful response to combat the crime of human trafficking, which involves both sex and labor trafficking. The national, state, and local responses involve the prevention of human trafficking, protection for victims and survivors, and the prosecution of traffickers.
The North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice recommended in a 2020 report that state and local law enforcement agencies enact policies requiring officers to intervene in and report about circumstances in which a law enforcement officer witnesses excessive use of force or abuse of a suspect or arrestee. The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association similarly recommended in a 2020 report that all law enforcement agencies and the North Carolina Law Enforcement Accreditation Program adopt a policy requiring an officer to intervene when necessary to prevent another officer from using excessive force and to report any such intervention. This session, the General Assembly imposed such duties as a matter of state law rather than agency policy. This post will discuss current statutory law governing officer’s use of force and recent amendments enacted by S.L. 2021-137 (H 536) and S.L. 2021-138 (S 300).
Last week, I blogged about the application of the private search doctrine in child pornography cases. I noted that one recent case began when a computer repair technician contacted police to report child pornography on a computer he was repairing. A story about the case stated that “North Carolina law requires computer technicians to report any such images found during the course of their work to local law enforcement or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.” I didn’t know that, so I did some research.
In early October the Supreme Court granted certiorari in an Ohio case, State v. Clark, 999 N.E.2d 592 (Ohio 2013), cert. granted __ U.S. __, 135 S. Ct. 43 (2014), that will require it to decide two questions. First, whether a person’s obligation to report suspected child abuse makes the person an agent of law enforcement for purposes of the confrontation clause. And second, whether a child’s out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher’s concerns about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements. The case is important for a number of reasons. One is that like Ohio, North Carolina has a mandatory child abuse reporting statute. G.S. 7B-301. North Carolina’s statute is incredibly broad—it applies to everyone, not just teachers and doctors but also to family members, neighbors, and friends. Id. (“[a]ny person or institution”). Thus, an answer to the first question could have significant impact in North Carolina. The case also is important because Crawford has raised difficult questions in child abuse prosecutions about the testimonial nature of children’s statements to a host of people, including teachers, nurses, doctors, and social workers. Clark is the Court’s first Crawford case involving child abuse and many hope that its decision will provide answers to those questions.
Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been charged with sexually assaulting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009. The principal New York Times story is here. ESPN’s coverage is here. The grand jury report on the matter is here. Sandusky allegedly met each of the boys through Second Mile, a charity that he … Read more
Jill Moore, one of my colleagues who works in the area of public health law, recently posted on the School of Government’s local government law blog about health care providers’ obligation to report certain injuries to law enforcement. It’s an issue that comes up from time to time, and I thought that our readers would … Read more