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Criminal Law

  • New Bill Proposes GPS Tracking of Domestic Violence Offenders
    A bill has been introduced in the legislature that would allow for GPS tracking of domestic violence offenders. Has that been tried elsewhere? Would it be constitutional? Would it open the door to tracking other types of people? This post tackles those questions. The bill. House Bill 41 provides in… Read more »
  • News Roundup
    As the News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer report, dozens of people across North Carolina have been arrested this week by federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers.  In Sanford, 27 people were arrested in a raid of Bear Creek Arsenal, a firearms manufacturer.  Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter said… Read more »
  • 2019 Cost Waiver Report Available
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    The Administrative Office of the Courts has issued its most recent report on cost waivers to the General Assembly. This report covers the first full year of cost waiver data since the General Assembly’s amendment of G.S. 7A-304(a), requiring written notice and an opportunity to be heard for any government… Read more »
  • State v. Shelton Refines Sufficiency Analysis in Drugged Driving Case
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    The court of appeals decided State v. Shelton, ___ N.C. App. ___ (2019) yesterday, determining that the evidence of the defendant’s impairment was sufficient when he took impairing drugs hours before crashing his vehicle into a pedestrian after his brakes failed. Two aspects of the case are of particular interest:… Read more »
  • Evidence about the “Victim” in Self-Defense Cases
    In self-defense cases, the defendant typically claims that the “victim” was actually the assailant and that the defendant needed to use force to defend himself, family, home, or other interests. Because of this role reversal, the rules of evidence allow the defendant to offer evidence to show that the victim… Read more »
  • North Carolina’s First Criminal Justice Summit
    In recent years my work at the School has shifted to focus on criminal justice policy. As I work in this area, several issues keep percolating up and capturing interest from a wide swath of judicial system stakeholders. Two such issues pertain to the “front end” of the justice system:… Read more »
  • News Roundup
    The Greensboro News & Record reports that four jurors in a Guilford County murder trial were followed from a parking area to the courthouse by a man wearing all red clothing, a color associated with a gang.  In response to the incidents, Judge David Hall restricted the number of people… Read more »
  • Frequency of Parole Reviews
    North Carolina did away with parole for most crimes with the adoption of Structured Sentencing in 1994. Parole is still permitted in certain impaired driving cases, but infrequently granted in practice. Still, there are over 1,300 persons on parole in North Carolina. They are mostly former inmates who served time… Read more »
  • U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review on Issue of Implied Consent
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    The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari a few weeks ago to consider whether a state statute authorizing the withdrawal of blood from an unconscious driver suspected of impaired driving provides an exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. The case, State v. Mitchell, arose in Wisconsin, but the issue… Read more »
  • Chief Justice Martin to Resign
    Many readers will by now have heard the news: Chief Justice Martin is stepping down to become the Dean of the Regent School of Law, a Christian law school in Virginia. This post looks back at his criminal justice legacy, and forward at the future of the court. Chief Justice… Read more »
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Civil Law

  • Small Claims Magistrates: Don’t Make These Mistakes in Summary Ejectment Cases!
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    After teaching and advising magistrates about landlord-tenant law for a little more than a decade, I’ve become familiar with their most common errors – which have, somewhat discouragingly, remained pretty much the same throughout that time. All of these errors arise from neglecting to independently analyze the requirements and defenses… Read more »
  • You May Not Need that Guardian of the Estate After All: Other Methods of Distributing Property to Minors
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    A guardian of the estate for any unemancipated minor may be appointed under G.S. Chapter 35A to receive and administer property on the minor’s behalf.  G.S. 35A-1221; G.S. 35A-1251; G.S. 35A-1202(12) (requiring also that the minor must not be married).  This is because such minors are legally incompetent to transact… Read more »
  • Mental Health Evaluations Required Prior to Delinquency Dispositions
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    Last week the Court of Appeals breathed new life into a decades-old law that requires district courts to refer juveniles who have been adjudicated delinquent, prior to disposition, to the area mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services director for an interdisciplinary evaluation if any evidence that the juvenile… Read more »
  • An Appreciation of the Many Roles and Responsibilities of a District Court Judge
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    In December, the School of Government held the first week of orientation for new district court judges. The class included thirty-one new judges. Most of the judges took the bench January 1, though a handful were sworn in last year to fill vacancies by gubernatorial appointment. One of the challenges… Read more »
  • New Child Support Guidelines for 2019
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    Pursuant to GS 50-13.4(c1), the North Carolina Conference of Chief District Court Judges recently reviewed the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. The Chief Judges considered comments and information from judges, attorneys, the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts in the form of a report from the national Center for… Read more »
  • No Contempt for the Nonpayment of Money Without Actual Evidence of Ability to Pay
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    In 2015, I wrote two blog posts summarizing the law relating to the use of contempt to enforce orders to pay support. No Default Judgment in Contempt (May 1, 2015) and Contempt: Establishing Ability to Pay (May 8, 2015). Recent appellate opinions justify revisiting this topic. No Default Judgment for… Read more »
  • Getting Beyond the Checkboxes: Delinquency Dispositional Orders
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    Dispositional decision making in delinquency cases can be complex. A list of 24 dispositional alternatives are available pursuant to G.S. 7B-2506. The choice among them must be driven by the disposition level allowed by G.S. 7B-2508 and the five factors outlined in G.S. 7B-2501(c). How much information must a court… Read more »
  • When the Nanny Won’t Leave: NC Law on When Employees are Tenants
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    In 2014 the story of a California family and a live-in nanny who refused to leave after her employment ended made international news –- including Dr. Phil! According to media accounts, the parties agreed that the nanny would provide childcare and light housekeeping in exchange for room and board. An argument ensued as to whether the nanny was performing her duties as originally agreed, and her… Read more »
  • Only “Proper” Rule 59 Motions Will Toll the Appeal Deadline: New Cases
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    To end the week, I’ll point out three recent Court of Appeals opinions that remind us that a Rule 59 (“new trial”) motion will not toll an appeal period if the motion does not actually seek proper Rule 59 relief.  If, for example, the motion does not provide proper notice… Read more »
  • Enforcing custody orders: civil contempt is not always the appropriate remedy
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    GS 50-13.3 provides that an order for custody is enforced by civil contempt and its disobedience is punished by criminal contempt. This statute mirrors case law regarding contempt; civil contempt is to force present compliance with an order and criminal contempt is to punish a past failure to comply and… Read more »
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