Law

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez
http://durhamnc.gov/

In the last year, the Durham Police Department has faced public criticism surrounding search policies and three police-related deaths.  The NAACP of North Carolina questioned the police actions in the case of Jesus Huerta, a 17 year-old who died in police custody.

Advocacy organizations like the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Fostering Alternative Drug Enforcement (FADE) have raised accusations of racial profiling.

The department maintains that racial discrepancies in crime statistics do not indicate discrimination. They issued a report in response to the criticism.

In response to public outcry, the Human Relations Commission will make recommendations to the City Council for procedural reforms in police governance in May. 

Signs protesting Amendment 1, North Carolina's same-sex marriage ban.
Refidnas / Flickr

A dozen faith leaders announced Monday they have filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage. The faith leaders say they would like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but can't because of the law.

It's the same argument often made affirming bans on same-sex marriage, though approached from the opposite direction.

Execution chamber
Wikipedia

Stephen Lich Tyler drove to Texas last week to witness the execution of his father’s killer, Ramiro Hernandez Llanas. Before he left, he spoke on The State of Things about his struggles with the decision to attend and his expectations of the execution. He returned to the studio today to talk with host Frank Stasio about the experience and how it shaped his perspective on the death penalty.

Book cover with Duke "D" and image of Duke's campus
simonandschuster.biz/scribner

  

In March 2006, three white lacrosse players at Duke University were accused of raping an African-American exotic dancer. The case raised questions about race, gender and class in the justice system. Ultimately, the lacrosse players were found innocent. But Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong lost his law license for withholding evidence and other offenses.

The FBI says a North Carolina man who was rescued from kidnappers on Wednesday might have been targeted because of his daughter’s work as a prosecutor in Wake County.

Frank Janssen was missing from his home in Wake Forest for five days before an FBI team found and rescued him in Atlanta.

Investigators say Janssen’s captors were communicating via cell phone with a man whom Janssen’s daughter, a prosecutor who focuses on drug and gang cases, put in prison for life.

Lethal injection room
Wikipedia Creative Commons

On Wednesday night, the State of Texas executed Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas, a man convicted of the 1997 killing of professor Glen Lich.

Hernandez-Llanas was an immigrant hired to work on the Lich property when he lured Lich outside the home and beat him to death. He then returned to the house and attacked Lich's wife.

Lich was not Hernandez-Llanas's first murder victim. Hernandez-Llanas had escaped from Mexican prison where he was serving a 25-year sentence for murder.

Gold Seal For United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
ca4.uscourts.gov / United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

  

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is preparing to hear the appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that struck down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in February. The decision could have implications for North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage. 

Sue Etheridge

For nearly a quarter of a century, art therapist Sue Etheridge has worked with mentally ill and chronically ill patients. But it is not just in a hospital; her work takes place behind bars. Etheridge provided art therapy at the medical facility at the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina. And now she works with the incarcerated at Central Prison in Raleigh. Host Frank Stasio talks with Etheridge about her work and an award she received for her efforts from the Dalai Lama.

Alert Carolina sirens sounded on the UNC Chapel Hill campus following reports of an armed and dangerous person on or near the campus. Additional email and texts were sent to campus staff, students and faculty encouraging area residents to remain inside.  According to reports, a man displayed a knife or knives near the campus area known as "The Pit."

Coates
The Lavin Agency

Last month, Michael Dunn was convicted of attempted murder, after firing several rounds into an SUV of young black men. Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old, was killed in the incident. Dunn is 47, and he is white. Dunn invoked the "Stand Your Ground Law" to defend his actions, and the jury was deadlocked on whether to charge him for Davis's murder. He'll face a retrial this summer.

Army General Fined, Reprimanded In Sex Case

Mar 20, 2014
A 2008 photo of Jeffrey Sinclair giving remarks during the transfer of authority ceremony at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq.
James Wagner, Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq

  

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - An army general avoided jail time and was reprimanded and fined a total of $20,000 for inappropriate relationships with three subordinates in a closely watched court case.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair smiled and hugged his two lawyers in the courtroom Thursday morning after the judge's sentencing.

The final sentence could not exceed terms in a sealed agreement between defense lawyers and military attorneys. The agreement was unsealed Thursday and said Sinclair could have served no more than 18 months in jail.

NC's first female judge, Mamie Dowd Walker
Milo Pyne

Judge Mamie Dowd Walker was a widow with two children when she was appointed the first female judge in North Carolina in 1934.  It was a first for North Carolina not only because Judge Walker was female, but also because she had no legal training.  But her grandson Milo Pyne says his grandmother "needed the money." 

Wake County District Attorney Colon WIlloughby
http://web.co.wake.nc.us/ / Wake County District Attorney's Office

  

In his 27 years as Wake County’s District Attorney, Colon Willoughby has prosecuted everything from high-profile murder cases to corruption in state government. For Willoughby, integrity and impartiality are vital components of the role. 

Photo: The lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation / Public Doman

Prosecutors in Wake County are selecting a jury in a first-degree murder trial this week. It is the fifth case in North Carolina this year where a defendant could face capital punishment. But a series of lawsuits have blocked the death penalty for years in this state. And now, a little-known drug could become another obstacle.

M&P .45
Daniel Weber's photo stream / Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Daniel Weber’s photostream

Residents of Wake County can now apply online for a permit to own a hand gun or to carry one concealed. Instead of going into an office, they can fill out the permit application and pay the fee online.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said the online service makes the process more user-friendly, but just as safe as before.

Shana Carignan (left) and Megan Parker with Jax
North Carolina ACLU

Every night before bedtime, Shana Carignan goes through a special ritual with her six-year-old son, Jax. "Arright buddy, you know the drill! We’re going to have to giggle, get the bubbles out, right?," she says.

In October 2012, the North Carolina Department of Transportation condemned a Concord property and demolished a vacant building to make way for a new parkway extension. Eleven months later, the DOT requested the court's permission. A federal judge has imposed punitive sanctions for the “blatant disregard” for the law shown by DOT attorneys.  Host Frank Stasio discusses the controversy with Bruce Siceloff, transportation reporter for the News and Observer.

James Boyle comes on The State of Things to discuss the shrinking public domain.
Duke University's Center for the Study of the Public Domain

In the public domain, work can be freely shared online, translated into other languages, or republished and cheaply distributed.  

Pi, a Carolina Dog belonging to I. Lehr Brisbin.
D. B. Brisbin

Raleigh's Public Works Committee will hear a proposed ordinance that would govern where dogs are allowed in parks.

City rules require that dogs be on a leash in all public places, and that their owners pick up their pets' waste. But Raleigh's parks department is still getting complaints about dogs running loose and threatening children.

Parks Superintendent Wayne Schindler says visitors also say they're finding dog droppings on ball fields.

Book Cover for Legal Fictions: Constituting Race, Composing, Literature by Karla Hollway
dukeupress.edu / Duke University Press

From enslavement to the one-drop rule to the three-fifths compromise, United States law has defined African-American identity. Duke University professor Karla Holloway is exploring how black fiction connect racial identity and the creation of law for African Americans. 

Photo: Central Prison in Raleigh
Ted Buckner via Flickr

Members of the North Carolina Court of Appeals appeared to show Tuesday that they wanted to return to a lower court a seven-year-old case over the lethal injection chemicals the state uses in executions.

A three-judge panel heard arguments on whether the state Department of Public Safety should have followed a public rule-making process when it switched its execution procedures from a three-drug chemical mixture to a single-drug injection.

Photo: Death row inmates are housed at Central Prison in Raleigh. No executions have been carried out in North Carolina since 2006.
North Carolina Department of Public Safety

The North Carolina Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday morning on whether the state must follow a public rule-making process when changing its procedures for executing death row prisoners.

Arguments center on the Department of Public Safety switching its protocol for executions from a lethal injection of a three-drug mixture to a single-drug solution. (The change happened last fall.)

Friends and relatives posted pictures like these of Jesus Huerta around Durham, NC
Leoneda Inge

  

Jesus Huerta died from a gunshot wound while in police custody last November. Did officers know he was at risk of killing himself? The teen's family says yes.

Durham authorities have said the officer on the scene, Samuel Duncan, had not been told the 17-year-old threatened to kill himself and used drugs before the officer picked him up the morning of Nov. 19.

But the attorney representing Huerta’s family questions that and points to this radio communication in which officers talk about Huerta having a history of drug abuse:

Friends and relatives posted pictures like these of Jesus Huerta around Durham, NC
Leoneda Inge

A teenager who Durham police say fatally shot himself while in custody last year used a .45 caliber pistol that he had concealed and an officer did not discover while frisking and arresting him, police said Friday.

Officers had picked up 17-year-old Jesus Huerta the morning of Nov. 19 because his family reported him as a runaway, police said, but emergency dispatchers did not relay warnings from the family that Huerta had threatened to kill himself.

Haben Girma was the first deaf-blind student to graduate from Harvard Law.
Harvard Law

At the age of 15, Haben Girma had danced, skied, kayaked and traveled to Mali. And although that’s a lot for any young person to experience, Haben was doing so while deaf and blind.

Durham Police
Durham Police Department

The mayor of Durham is putting the pressure on law enforcement officials to release the findings of an internal investigation into the death of a teenager while in police custody.

It’s been six weeks since 17-year-old Jesus Huerta died in the backseat of a police car, while handcuffed. Police say he shot himself in the head.

“It’s been out there too long and that is unacceptable for me," said Bell from his office Monday.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell says it’s time to know the details leading to the mysterious shooting of Huerta.

Durham Police Department badge.
City of Durham

The state Court of Appeals will reexamine a lawsuit filed by a man who was severely injured after a Taser was used on him by a Durham Police Officer.

Bryan DeBaun suffered facial injuries and broken bones from the 2009 incident, claiming that officer Daniel J. Kuszaj's "use of excessive force" and "malicious prosecution" violated his rights under the North Carolina constitution. He is suing both the police officer and city of Durham.

Laura Lee

Updated Saturday, 10/21/13 11:00 a.m.:

A vigil for a Durham 17-year-old who died in police custody turned violent on Thursday night when ranks of police officers dressed in riot gear clashed with a group of protesters.

Differing accounts of the encounter circled almost immediately after the crowd of more than 100 was dispersed from the edge of the Durham Police Department’s headquarters parking lot on South Duke Street.

A judge in Durham dropped criminal charges Wednesday against 14 people who were cited for panhandling. Charges were filed under a new ordinance that makes it illegal to beg for money in parts of the city.

Chief District Court Judge Marcia Morey dropped the charges as part of the court’s effort to keep offenders out of jail under the condition they not violate the ordinance again and seek help with health, addiction, housing or employment issues.

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

A federal judge has ruled that challenges to the North Carolina law that requires voters to show identification at polling stations will not be heard until after the mid-term elections of 2014.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake said in a a hearing Thursday that the law was too complex to be thoroughly reviewed prior to the November elections. Peake scheduled a trial for July 2015.

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