Stipulating to Prior Convictions for Second-Degree Murder

In a previous post I wrote about State v. McNeil, a case that resolved the question of how to count prior convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia, in light of that crime’s 2014 division into Class 1 (non-marijuana) and Class 3 (marijuana) offenses. Today’s post is about prior convictions for second-degree murder—split into Class B1 and Class B2 varieties in 2012—in light of State v. Arrington, a case recently decided by the supreme court.

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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.

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If You Gave Me a Magic Wand (Some Unsolicited Thoughts on Reforming the Sentencing Laws)

The School of Government is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy institution. That’s a tradition I take seriously. If you can find something in the nearly 400 blog posts I’ve written here since 2009 that makes you think otherwise, I hope you’ll let me know.

That said, I am occasionally asked what I would do if someone gave me a magic wand and told me to make our sentencing law better. “Better” can be a tough concept to navigate while staying true to the School’s policy-neutral underpinnings. But I don’t mind sharing a few ideas focused on the mechanics of the sentencing law—largely as a thought experiment designed to call attention to some of the more confusing aspects of existing law.

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Sentencing Whiteboard: Active Sentences for Aggravated Level One DWI

Today’s post is a return to the Sentencing Whiteboard, this time to explain active sentences for aggravated level one DWI. As Shea and I have discussed in earlier posts (here, here, and here, among others), they are different from other DWI sentences. No parole. No good time. Not cut in half. The video explains why, and describes how typical aggravated level one sentences are administered by the county jails through the Statewide Misdemeanant Confinement Program. As you’ll see, sentences for this most serious level of misdemeanor impaired driving are in many cases longer than a felony habitual DWI. I hope you’ll take a look. 

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A Trip to DART Cherry

Last week, through a North Carolina Judicial College program, a group of judges, lawyers, and clerks visited DART Cherry, the state’s lone residential chemical dependency treatment facility for male probationers and parolees. It was an informative visit that, frankly, busted some myths about DART Cherry. Today’s post passes along some of what we learned.

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