A federal appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments today on whether North Carolina can offer license plates with an anti-abortion message without making an alternative available to supporters of abortion rights.

The deliberations, set for the U.S. Court Of Appeals for the Fourth District in Richmond, Va., center around the question: Does a license plate represent the speech of the state or of the driver carrying it on a vehicle?

Wake County Shjeriff's Office

The man accused of tampering with a thrill ride at the North Carolina State Fair had his first court appearance Monday.

Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow is charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting bodily injury. 

A judge denied a defense request to reduce his $225,000 bond.  Prosecutors are concerned that because he has no ties to the area, he may be a flight risk. 

Raleigh attorney Roger Smith, Jr. is representing Tutterrow.
NC State Fair

Police say it was an apparent malfunction that led to five injuries on a ride at the North Carolina State Fair.

The incident happened Thursday night shortly after 9 p.m. on a ride called The Vortex.

"We have been told that the ride had stopped and they were unloading, and all of the sudden, the ride started up again," said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison in a press conference Friday morning.

Harrison said that report is preliminary and investigators are still looking into exactly what caused the accident.

Durham Police Department

Durham police officers are crediting an initiative started six years ago for reducing crime in one of the city's most violent neighborhoods. 

"Operation Bull's Eye" targeted a two-square-mile area with high rates of crime and "shots fired" calls.  Officers used enforcement and community-building programs to bring shooting incidents down by more than half and overall violent crime down by nearly 40 percent. 

Durham's deputy chief Larry Smith says the lower numbers can't be attributed to enforcement alone.  

Megathon Charlie via Flickr, Creative Commons

Beginning Tuesday, residents with concealed carry permits will be able to legally bring handguns into restaurants and bars across the state.  The new measure also allows concealed guns on state property such as public schools and college campuses, provided the weapons are locked in a vehicle. Restaurant and bar owners can opt out of the new law by posting a sign that prohibits concealed weapons in the establishments. /

Samuel Buell had an interest in justice from a young age. As a child, he sat in front of the TV with his parents and watched the Watergate hearings. He knew it was momentous, but he didn’t understand the exact significance until much later.

Duke Energy's Cliffside Steam Station
Duke Energy

State Attorney General Roy Cooper says he will appeal Duke Energy's latest rate hike. The North Carolina Utilities Commission  approved a plan this week allowing the nation's largest utility a to increase consumer rates by 4.5 percent for the first two years and by 5.1 percent in the third year. 

Associated Press

A Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officer charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting of an unarmed man over the weekend is due in court Tuesday afternoon.

Thomas Walker
U.S. Attorney's Office (Eastern District)

In the wake of a public reprimand by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the eastern district federal prosecutors office implemented new policies and procedures. The office was scolded by the court for discovery abuse including a pattern of withholding evidence from defendants. 

Sign at the U.S. Border
Makaristos via Creative Commons

Last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported more than 400,000 people. But what happens when those deportees are parents? Children may end up in foster care as parents abroad struggle to regain custody. 

License plates, tag.

Drivers in North Carolina now have to pay their vehicle property tax and registration at the same time if they want to get their tags. 

A Ruger Single Six. Sturm, Ruger & Co. is opening a gun manufacturing plant in Rockingham County.
szuppo via creative commons

A new state law puts more restrictions on when law enforcement can destroy confiscated guns. 

Senate Bill 443 says police must now resell firearms or use them for training purposes within their departments if they can not return them to their original owners.  Authorities can only destroy confiscated guns if they are damaged or don't have a legible serial number. 

Raleigh NC
Dave DeWitt

A city council committee in Raleigh has agreed to review a ban on allowing food distribution in a downtown city park.

The council's Law and Public Safety Committee held a three-hour public hearing Wednesday to listen to residents who were angry about the ban.

It was enforced last weekend, when charitable and religious groups that normally distribute food in Moore Square were stopped by the police. They were following a 1998 ordinance preventing food distribution that officials had previously ignored.

Thomas Walker
U.S. Attorney's Office (Eastern District)

The U.S. Attorney for North Carolina's Eastern District, Thomas Walker, is promising to follow disclosure policies  for defendants prosecuted by his office.  The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an opinion last week critical of three cases out of the Eastern district.

Circuit Judge Henry Floyd said judges found three instances of evidence being withheld from defendants.  Walker says there was no intentional shielding of the facts in the case he oversaw, but he still takes the court's concerns seriously.

A Humane Society bus ad in Washington D.C., similar to one proposed for Raleigh buses.
Humane Society of the U.S.

The Humane Society of the United States is suing the Raleigh Transit Authority after the city rejected a bus advertisement showing pigs in cages. 

The ad proposal meant for the outside of buses has photos of pigs in gestation crates with the words, "How would you like to spend the rest of your life in a space as small as a bus seat?"

Fingers on a keyboard, computer,
Wikimedia Commons

The North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled that registered sex offenders can use social media websites. The ruling invalidates a portion of a North Carolina law passed in 2008 called the Protect Children From Sexual Predators Act.

Lester Packingham, Jr. brought the case. He's a registered sex offender who lives in Durham. In 2012, Packingham, Jr. was convicted of accessing a commercial social networking site. He had been using Facebook.

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

Jorge Cornell was sentenced to 28 years in Federal Prison on Wednesday. The former leader of the Latin Kings gang in Greensboro was convicted last November on federal racketeering charges. Cornell was convicted of engaging in a conspiracy to commit murder, arson and robbery. He and his group feuded with the Greensboro Police.

Julius Chambers
Citizenplastic /

In 1948, William Chambers, a black maintenance worker in Montgomery County, NC was denied payment for a job by a white customer. William Chambers spent many afternoons searching for an attorney to represent him, but all the white lawyers he asked refused. William told this story to his son, Julius Chambers, who then vowed to become a lawyer and fight for justice.

Julius Chambers
Ferguson, Chambers and Sumter

Charlotte commemorated a civil rights heavy-weight Thursday.  Julius Chambers fought for equality through the courts and argued some of the cases that helped integrate Charlotte’s schools and businesses.

He had a lot of hatred directed at him as an African-American challenging prejudice, but he never let that make him bitter. Instead, Chambers set up North Carolina’s first law firm to employ both black and white lawyers, partly to serve as an example of the integration he fought for.  He died last week.

Julius Chambers
Ferguson, Chambers and Sumter


Julius Chambers has been a fixture on North Carolina’s legal scene for decades, helping lead the battle for civil rights and playing an instrumental role in the desegregation of Charlotte/Mecklenburg schools.

He died last Friday at 76.

Julius Chambers
Ferguson, Chambers and Sumter

Friends and the state's legal community are honoring the life of Julius Chambers who died last week.  He was 76 years old. 

Chambers was active in the 1960s Civil Rights movement, founding the law firm that became North Carolina's first integrated practice.  A statement from the Ferguson, Chambers and Sumter firm said Chambers argued eight cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and won all of them. 

Photos from the Million Hoodies Union Square protest against Trayvon Martin's shooting death in Sanford, Florida.
David Shankbone

On Saturday, July 13, George Zimmerman was pronounced not guilty of second degree murder for the killing of Trayvon Martin. The jury acquitted him on the grounds of self-defense. What does self-defense mean in a case like this?

Before the trial began, Judge Deborah Nelson forbade use of the term “racial profiling” in the courtroom. How does race play into the criminal justice system? 

Host Frank Stasio speaks with a panel of experts to discuss these questions and what the Trayvon Martin case in Florida means for us in North Carolina. His guests are:

Central Prison
Dept. of Public Safety

State prison inmates will soon find it tougher to make home visits as their sentences wind down.  Governor Pat McCrory ordered a review of the program the Department of Public Safety has used for over four decades to reacclimate inmates to life outside prison walls.  He approved four recommendations he and DPS leaders believe may cut back on parolees returning to prison. 

The United States Supreme Court
Jeff Kubina

Two landmark decisions handed down by the United States Supreme Court last week could have serious implications for North Carolina. Justices struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, leaving southern states free to pursue changes to election law without prior federal approval. The court also struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, saying that same-sex couples are entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

City of Fayetteville Police Department

The FBI says Fayetteville has the fifth highest rate of property crime in America, according to analysis of crimes rates for large cities in 2012. The figures come in the same week the Fayetteville City Council voted to pass up a tax increase that would have raised money for 15 new police officers.