Law

Gun
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.

duke.edu
duke.edu / duke.edu

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.
NC DOT

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 / commons.wikimedia.org

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
bethebadge.com

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.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is the keynote speaker at this year's meeting of the NC Bar Association.
Stephen Masker / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is in North Carolina this week for the state Bar Association's annual meeting. 

Exoneree Orlando Boquete
David Persoff

In 1982, a woman notified the police that two men had broken into her home, and one of them had sexually assaulted her. She described the sexual offender as a Latino man wearing no shirt and with no hair.  After the police responded to the call, they found a group of Cuban-Americans in the parking lot of a convenience store. A man named Orlando Boquete was among them, the only one who wore no shirt and had little hair, although he did have a large, black mustache. 

The police arrested Boquete right there and took him to the victim’s home, where she identified him, from 20 feet away in a police cruiser at night, as the perpetrator. After she identified him that night, she added to her testimony that the perpetrator had a mustache.

Boquete testified at the trial that he was with his family watching TV at the time of the crime. Afterwards, he went to the convenience store with his cousins, where the police picked him up.  The jury didn’t buy it. Another piece of evidence ignored at the trial was blood type. The fluids found on the victim’s clothing revealed that the perpetrator had Type A blood. Boquete and the victim are both Type O, but the forensic analyst who testified at the trial did not mention this crucial fact.

Boquete was charged and convicted of sexual battery and burglary in 1983 and sent to prison.

Eric Rudolph
FBI

At one time, Eric Rudolph was one of the most wanted men in the country. He was responsible for a series of bombings in Georgia and Alabama, including at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.


Exoneree James Waller
David Persoff

“The worst thing you can be is a sex offender because it’s dirt that you can’t wash off.”

Those words were spoken by James Waller in an interview with WUNC at the Innocence Network Conference in Charlotte in April. Waller spent decades in prison and on parole after being wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy. When he went to jail, he was 23. When he was exonerated in 2007, he was 50.

Exoneree Christopher Scott
David Persoff

Update 12/31/13: This story was mentioned in a Huffington Post list of notable prison stories from 2013. All the stories from this series are available for you to read and hear.

When Christopher Scott walked out of the Dallas courthouse a free man after 12 years of wrongful imprisonment, Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins declared that it might be the biggest case yet for his office.  Not only had they exonerated two people (the other was Claude Simmons Jr.) involved in the same murder case, but they did it without DNA evidence. Watkins said that the case would likely cause DA offices across the country to take non-DNA exoneration requests a little more seriously.

Sameer Abdel-Khalek

Across the country, 306 wrongfully convicted inmates have been exonerated because of DNA evidence. The number of people exonerated through other means is hard to calculate, since not all states keep records of exonerees.  It might be close to 1,000. But that could be a gross undercount. Over 100 exonerees and many others gathered in Charlotte this past weekend for the 2013 Innocence Network Conference.  There, The State of Things host Frank Stasio sat down with two exonerees and two legal professionals to learn more about their stories.

Exoneree Marvin Anderson
David Persoff

Marvin Anderson was exonerated in 2001 after spending 15 years in a Virginia prison and four years on parole for crimes he did not commit. His exoneration was granted after DNA evidence excluded him from the crimes, and he was the 99th person in the country to be exonerated due to DNA evidence gathered post-conviction. But had some evidence been taken more seriously at his original trial, Anderson never would have had to serve prison time for someone else’s crimes in the first place.

Exoneree Jeffrey Deskovic
David Persoff

Jeffrey Deskovic was 16 when one of his female classmates, Angela Correa, was found murdered in the woods in their hometown in upstate New York.  He says didn’t know her well, but she was always friendly to him in the school hallways.  At the girl’s funeral, Jeffrey broke down in heavy sobs and visited her wake multiple times.  It was there that some people started to suspect that he might have had something to do with the murder.

Johnnie Lindsey was exonerated after 26 years in prison.
David Persoff

In 1981, a 27-year-old white woman was riding her bike when she was attacked and raped by a shirtless African American man. A rape kit was collected, and a line-up of potential perpetrators was assembled for the victim to review, but she did not identify anyone. A year later, the police mailed her six photos from a new line-up. There were two men without shirts. The victim picked out Johnnie Lindsey, one of the shirtless men, as the perpetrator, and in 1983 he was charged with the crime.

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