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Tag Archives: Constitutional

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Right to Counsel – Potential Conflict of Interest – Previous Representation of State’s Witness – No Prejudice (access required)

State v. Choudhry Where the trial court did not explain to defendant the limitations that defense counsel’s conflict of interest imposed on counsel’s ability to question a prosecution witness – counsel’s former client — regarding her 2003 criminal charges, we are unable to conclude that the trial court established that defendant understood the implications of counsel’s prior representation of the prosecution witness to ensure that defendant’s waiver of the potential conflict of interest was knowing, intelligent and voluntary.

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Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Right to Counsel – Waiver of Appointed Counsel – Pro Se – No Colloquy (access required)

State v. Seymore Even though defendant signed a waiver of appointed counsel, the form did not indicate that he intended to proceed pro se; moreover, the record does not indicate that the trial court conducted the thorough inquiry required by G.S. § 15A-1242 before allowing defendant to represent himself. Defendant is entitled to a new trial.

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Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Right to Counsel – Waiver – Knowing & Intelligent – Insufficient Showing (access required)

State v. Anderson Even though defendant executed a written waiver of counsel which was certified by the trial court, defendant has shown that the trial court failed to determine whether defendant knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived his right to counsel. Defendant is entitled to a new trial.

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Constitutional – Freedom of Religion – Civil Practice – Subject Matter Jurisdiction — Nonprofit Corporation – Tort/Negligence – Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (access required)

Johnson v. Antioch United Holy Church, Inc. Even though defendants are a church and three of its members, the trial court need not delve into eccliastical law to decide whether defendants’ actions were authorized by the church’s bylaws. We reverse the trial court’s order granting defendants’ motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for Rule 11 sanctions.

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Criminal Practice – Murder & Armed Robbery – Theft of Gun – Malice – Constitutional – Confrontation Clause – Search & Seizure – Consent (access required)

State v. McMillan Since defendant’s theft and use of the victim’s gun occurred in a continuous transaction, defendant could be convicted of armed robbery based on his use of the gun he stole. We find no error in defendant’s convictions of one count each of felony murder, second-degree murder, and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

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Schools & School Boards – Charter Schools – Funding — Capital Outlay — Constitutional (access required)

Sugar Creek Charter School, Inc. v. State Our statutes allow charter schools access to local school districts’ current expense funds but not to the local school districts’ capital outlay funds. This arrangement is constitutional; N.C. Const. art. IX, § 2(1) requires the state to establish a uniform system of public schools but does not prohibit the state from setting up additional schools outside the uniform system. We affirm the trial court’s order dismissing plaintiffs’ request for a declaratory judgment.

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Real Property – Constitutional – Eminent Domain – Inverse Condemnation Claim – Evidence – Affidavits – Hearsay (access required)

North Carolina Department of Transportation v. Cromartie Even though defendants substantially complied with the procedures necessary to raise their inverse condemnation counterclaim in this condemnation action, the trial court based its finding of inverse condemnation on hearsay which does not fall within an exception to the rule against hearsay. We affirm the trial court’s denial of plaintiff’s motion to dismiss defendants’ counterclaim. However, we reverse the trial court’s order determining that an inverse condemnation has occurred. We remand for further proceedings.

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Civil Rights – Constitutional – Establishment Clause – County Commissioners – Neutral Policy – Sectarian Prayers (access required)

Joyner v. Forsyth County, N.C. When a religious leader’s invocation at a county board of commissioners’ meeting referred to Jesus Christ and other tenets of the Christian faith, that prayer typified the board’s allowance of sectarian opening prayers at its meetings, and the 4th Circuit affirms a district court decision that the board’s legislative prayer policy violates the Establishment Clause.

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Civil Rights – Constitutional – Free Speech – High School Student — MySpace Page — Discipline (access required)

Kowalski v. Berkeley County Schools A high school could suspend a student for five days for using a MySpace page to target another student with ugly accusations about herpes, on the ground that the out-of-school speech caused an in-school disruption; the 4th Circuit upholds a district court decision that the discipline did not violate the student’s First Amendment free speech rights.

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Civil Practice – Subject Matter Jurisdiction – Constitutional – Full Faith & Credit – Florida Ruling – Trusts & Estates  (access required)

Melvin v. Wachovia Bank, N.A. Petitioner’s decedent lived in Florida, and respondent was the executor of her Florida estate. Even though the executor opened an ancillary estate in Macon County, N.C. in order to transfer real property to one of decedent’s trusts, since the fees for the executor’s services in the ancillary N.C. estate were included in an un-appealed order in the Florida estate proceedings, the Florida fee award is entitled to full faith and credit and may not be collaterally attacked in N.C. courts.

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