Federal Judge Enjoins 300-Foot Rule for Sex Offenders

The North Carolina law making it a felony for some sex offenders to go within 300 feet of certain locations intended for children is unconstitutionally overbroad under the First Amendment. Last week, a federal judge permanently enjoined all North Carolina district attorneys from enforcing the law.

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Mail Regulation in the Jail

Handling mail to and from inmates is a challenge for jail administrators. Of course they want to enable inmates to handle their legitimate business (including pending legal matters) and maintain family and community ties. On the other hand, they must be on guard against contraband or inappropriate materials coming into the jail, or inmates participating in crimes or planning an escape from within. Inmates have a constitutional right to communicate with others and to access the courts, but those rights are limited by the jail’s obligation to preserve security, good order, and discipline. This post collects some of the basic legal principles that should be incorporated into the jail’s policy on mail regulation. By state administrative regulation, every jail must have a written policy on handling inmate mail.

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Whose Call on Confederate Flag License Plates?

Following the shooting deaths of nine black worshippers in June at a historically significant Charleston church and South Carolina’s subsequent removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State House, some have called upon North Carolina officials to stop issuing specialty license plates featuring the Confederate flag. N.C. Governor Pat McCrory has said that the General Assembly must pass legislation to halt issuance of the plates. One veteran legislator was quoted in this News and Observer story as saying that he never would have voted to authorize such a special plate and never recalls seeing such legislation. A spokesperson for another legislator was quoted as saying that the Governor was empowered to end issuance of the plates. Who’s right?

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Cyberbullying Law Upheld Over First Amendment Challenge

The court of appeals just upheld North Carolina’s cyberbullying statute over a First Amendment challenge. The result is especially noteworthy because it contrasts with a ruling last year in a similar case in New York. But the opinion does leave at least one important issue open.

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Social Networking Prohibition for Sex Offenders Facially Unconstitutional

North Carolina’s ban on accessing commercial social networking sites by sex offenders is unconstitutional on its face, the court of appeals held this morning in State v. Packingham. Under G.S. 14-202.5, it is (was?) a Class I felony for any registered sex offender to access a commercial social networking web site where the offender knows … Read more

Social Networking Restrictions on Sex Offenders

In last week’s news roundup, Shea mentioned Doe v. Prosecutor, Marion County, Indiana, a recent case in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck Indiana’s law prohibiting sex offenders from using social networking websites on First Amendment grounds. North Carolina has a similar crime, a Class I felony under G.S. … Read more

Supreme Court Upholds Internet Sweepstakes Ban

The writing may be on the wall for internet sweepstakes businesses. On Friday, the state supreme court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of G.S. 14-306.4, the statute enacted to target such operations. The principal decision is Hest Technologies, Inc. v. State, __ N.C. __ (2012), written by Justice Hudson. Background. The legislature has been concerned for … Read more

Does Mandatory AA/NA Violate the First Amendment?

The First Amendment says, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .” There are two religion clauses in the amendment, the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Free Exercise … Read more