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Oct 25, 2018

Editorial: Changes to judicial election laws do state a disservice

This year’s judicial elections have reminded me of a story that former Wake County District Court Judge James Fullwood likes to tell about his re-election campaign in 1994, a year where Republicans won basically everything there was to win. Judicial elections were partisan races back then, and Fullwood, a Democrat, was exceptionally fortunate that he […]

Oct 23, 2018

Workers’ Compensation – Constitutional – Privacy Interests – Public Records Act

The General Assembly has exempted workers’ compensation claimants’ medical records from disclosure under the Public Records Act. Plaintiff has not identified any statutory or constitutional right to the privacy of any award that the Industrial Commission might make in this case. We affirm the Commission’s order denying plaintiff’s motion to seal. Remanded for further proceedings. […[...]

Oct 11, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Confrontation Right – Harmless Error – Perpetrator’s Identity – Victim’s Volunteer Work

The trial court should not have allowed a law enforcement officer to testify that an unavailable witness had said defendant was the driver of the car that caused a fatal traffic accident; nevertheless, since there was other, overwhelming evidence that defendant was the driver – including defendant’s DNA on the car’s driver-side airbag – the […]

Sep 11, 2018

Criminal Practice – SBM – Constitutional – Search & Seizure – Program Effectiveness

Even though the state presented (1) testimony from (a) the prosecutor in defendant’s felony indecent exposure case, (b) defendant’s post-release supervision officer, and (c) a police officer; (2) evidence that defendant posed a “well above average risk” of recidivism; and (3) a “Memorandum in Support of the Reasonableness of Satellite Based Monitoring,” the state nevertheless […[...]

Sep 5, 2018

Criminal Practice – SBM – Constitutional – Fourth Amendment – Unreasonable Future Search

The trial court ruled that, at the end of his prison sentence, defendant would be subjected to satellite-based monitoring (SBM) for the rest of his life. However, the state has not established the circumstances necessary for the court to determine the reasonableness of a search (i.e., SBM) 15 to 20 years before its execution. The […]

Aug 22, 2018

N Carolina court: Constitutional changes misleading, blocked

By EMERY P. DALESIO and GARY D. ROBERTSON, Associated Press RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Referendums on two proposed North Carolina constitutional amendments that would diminish the powers of the state’s governor if approved are misleading and shouldn’t appear on ballots in November, a divided judicial panel determined Tuesday. The panel ruled 2-1 that the questions adopted […]

Aug 8, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Confrontation Right – Leniency for Witness

Where (1) Lakenda Malachi was the state’s principal eyewitness and the only eyewitness to the shooting of the victim, (2) the only other evidence presented by the state was tenuous, and (3) the trial court restricted defendant’s cross-examination of Malachi as to any leniency she expected (with respect to drug charges against her) in exchange […]

Jul 10, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Confrontation Clause – Evidence Stipulation

When defendant and his counsel stipulated that a seized substance was cocaine, defendant gave up his right to cross-examine the scientist who tested the substance. Nevertheless, it was the duty of defense counsel – not the trial court – to explain to defendant this waiver of a constitutional right. We find no error in defendant’s […]

Jun 21, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Ineffective Assistance Claim – Bench Trial – Self-Defense

Defendant’s trial counsel did not give pre-trial notice of his intention to present a defense of self-defense; nevertheless, evidence of self-defense was admitted, and defendant does not argue that there is additional evidence of self-defense that he would have presented. We deny defendant’s motion for appropriate relief, and we find no error in his conviction […]

Jun 13, 2018

Taxation – Trusts & Estates – Constitutional – Due Process – Minimum Contacts – Trust Beneficiaries

Where (1) the plaintiff-trust was created in and has its governing documents kept in New York, (2) the trust is governed by New York law, (3) its trustee lives in Connecticut and works in New York, and (4) the trust paid no benefits to its North Carolina-resident beneficiaries during the tax years in question, the […]

Jun 13, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Confrontation Clause – Witness’ Deposition – Military Deployment – State’s Efforts

We affirm the Court of Appeals’ decision (Because (1) the trial court failed to make the required findings of fact to demonstrate witness Whisman’s unavailability for the purposes of N.C. R. Evid. 804 or the Confrontation Clause, (2) the state failed to show that Whisman could not be made present at trial “by process or […]

Jun 12, 2018

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Right to Counsel – Jury Instructions

When defense counsel was (two minutes) late returning from a brief recess, the trial court took the opportunity to instruct the jury venire not to do any research about the case. Even if this constituted structural error, it was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, especially since the court subsequently gave the same instructions to the […]

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