Archive for March 2013

In Dog We Trust: The Flip Side of Florida v. Jardines

In a narrow 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court decided that when police bring a drug sniffing dog to your door, uninvited and without your consent, they are conducting a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The case – Florida v. Jardines – reinforces the long-held principle that the home deserves the highest protections…

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The Details Matter: Writing about Criminal Justice

During my twitter exchange yesterday with Mike Riggs, a writer who focuses on civil liberties and criminal justices issues at Reason magazine, I was struck by how the details matter when you write about criminal justice issues. Mike is obviously a smart guy, and earnest about his work. See the correction he put up on…

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Electing Judges to Wake County District Court

In what is a truly idiotic move two legislators in the General Assembly have proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would allow non-lawyer District Court judges. Currently, judges in District Court and Superior Court must be lawyers. Magistrates can be non-lawyers. But magistrates have limited power – to set bond, to authorize search…

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Mandatory Minimums and the Drug War

Mike Riggs has a post over on reason.com about Rand Paul and Patrick Leahy’s efforts to create additional safety valves in federal sentencing to mitigate the effects of mandatory minimum drug laws. Riggs’ post is a good starting point. But there’s a lot more to say. Not All Safety Valves Are Created Equal Right now…

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Protecting your Reputation

A criminal or traffic charge – whether by arrest/arrest warrant, criminal summons, or citation – creates a public record that is viewable by anyone, including friends, family, neighbors, employers, and potential employers. That record remains public until and unless it is ever expunged. Anyone can pay for a background search through either the court system,…

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USNWR Rankings Out: Law School Debt Figures Climb

Legal academics, law students, and prospective law students are pouring over the latest US News law school even if they say they aren’t. For me – who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Law School but started law school at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law – the…

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50 Years of Gideon: Promises Unfulfilled

It took 150 years before the Supreme Court recognized that the Sixth Amendment meant what it said: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right… to have the assistance of counsel for his defense. Until 1963, most state courts in nearly all cases interpreted the right to counsel as a right to counsel…

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The Futurists and the Law

A few years ago I was featured in MSNBC in a story about solo’s practicing law. (I won’t link to it. It’s something of an embarrassment to me now. You can google it.) My basic point to the reporter was about the basic economic problems associated with law school. Even in 2011, I recognized that…

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Proposed Amendment to North Carolina’s Blood Draw DWI Statute

NCGS 20-139.1 establishes the methods and admissibility for chemical analyses, including blood draws, consisted with North Carolina’s implied consent law. Note that NCGS 15A also permits the state to admit the results of blood tests taken by search warrant. But if a blood draw is admitted into evidence in court pursuant to the implied consent…

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Limiting Appeals to Superior Court

Very few people are happy with the way misdemeanor appeals works in much of North Carolina. District Criminal Court in North Carolina does not have juries. Trials are heard by judges who both decide the factual issues, guilt and innocence, and impose punishment. Only a small percentage of cases are actually appealed to Superior Court.…

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