Law

Litigation, legal, gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal appellate court declared North Carolina's 1st and 12th Congressional Districts unconstitutional because they were gerrymandered on race. The court ordered legislators to redraw the districts within two weeks.

The ruling puts many issues surrounding the March 15 primary, including early voting and absentee ballots, in question.

A drawing of a sick tree.
Julienne Alexander / ThisIsCriminal.com

An iconic oak tree is the subject of this week's Criminal podcast, produced at WUNC. The program tells the stories of people who have done wrong, been wronged or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.

John Giedraitis was the city forester in Austin, Texas in 1989, when a beloved live oak tree there got sick.

"I proposed to my wife underneath the tree, because it's a big, strong, important tree that symbolizes timelessness, endurance, strength and that sort of stuff," Giedraitis says.

A picture of the US Supreme Court building.
Daderot / Wikipedia

Attorneys will argue Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit about the merits of prayer at government meetings. A lawsuit challenging prayer at County Commission meetings is before a panel of three judges.

Phil Roeder / Flickr Creative Commons

The federal trial over North Carolina’s new voting requirements began yesterday in Winston-Salem.

The key issue is the photo identification requirement passed by the North Carolina legislature that’s set to go into effect during the March primary. Republican leaders say the measure is designed to prevent voter fraud.

Opponents, including the state’s NAACP chapter, argue that the law effectively disenfranchises minority voters.

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

Elderly minority people who are unfamiliar with North Carolina’s new photo identification requirement for voting are likely to not participate in national or local elections because they may find it difficult to obtain proper documentation to show at the ballot, according to testimony in federal court on Monday.

A picture of a voting sign.
Tom Arthur / Wikipedia

A federal judge in Winston-Salem began hearing arguments Monday in a case challenging North Carolina’s new voting law. It is the second time U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder has presided over a trial involving the controversial legislation. This week’s arguments deal with whether it is constitutional to ask people to show photo identification in order to vote, along with how state officials are educating voters about the new law.

Two ads on NC's Controversial Voting Law
North Carolina Board of Elections, Democracy North Carolina

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP complained this week that state officials are misleading voters with their educational campaign about the state’s controversial election law. The measure will require voting officials to ask voters for photo identification.

The NAACP argues the ads should inform voters that they can cast ballots "with or without a photo ID. The board of election’s posters and flyers say, “Most voters will need to show acceptable photo ID.”

New Laws In North Carolina

Jan 7, 2016
North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

A new year means new laws on the books. The state now requires doctors performing abortions after the 16th week to send ultrasounds to state health officials. Supporters say it protects women’s health, but opponents say the law violates patient privacy and is meant to intimidate physicians.

Plus, when you head to the polls in March, you’ll now need a photo ID due to a law passed in 2013 that goes into effect this year. 

A picture of a Wake County Sheriff patch.
scoutnurse / flickr.com/photos/scoutnurse/5362436543

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison plans to hire three new investigators to halt the increase of heavy drugs circulating in the area.

Photo: Jim Rose, regional president of Yadkin Bank in Raleigh, speaks before a crowd at the launch of the Connect NC campaign
Jorge Valencia

Governor Pat McCrory made his first public speech for a bond referendum on Tuesday, urging North Carolina voters to approve $2 billion in borrowing for public service investments such as building new science education and research facilities on college campuses, new facilities for the National Guard, and sewage renovations in small towns.

There are mixed reviews over the North Carolina Department of Transportation's new recommendations for bicycle safety.
Daniel Oines / Flickr Creative Commons

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is getting mixed reviews on its new recommendations for bicycle safety rules.

Cyclists’ groups support a proposal that would require cars to give them more room when passing, but they oppose another that would restrict them to one side of the lane.

The Greensboro Police Department has been training and deploying its new Civil Emergency Unit.

Captain John Wolfe commands the 90-member team, which is most often mobilized to observe and respond to public demonstrations. The CEU trains several times a year. Wolfe says it has learned from the mistakes of departments who have sent untrained officers to deal with tense protesters.

There are more than 70,000 missing black men in North Carolina.
Nicolas Alejandro / Flickr Creative Commons

Note: This is a rebroadcast from earlier this year.

Young African-American men are dying and being incarcerated at higher rates than African-American women and white men and women.

Photo: North Carolina license plates
Flickr User Eugena Ossi

Almost two dozen laws will go into effect on Jan. 1, impacting issues including health, transportation and firearm ownership in North Carolina.

Chapel Hill mayor Pam Hemminger
Town of Chapel Hill

After the fatal shooting of a Chapel Hill toddler, Mayor Pam Hemminger says she wants local governments to be able to pass their own gun ordinances. 

Hemminger says state legislators should reverse a law that took away local authority to pass gun regulations, such as bans on concealed firearms in public parks.

"It takes away our feeling of safety," Hemminger says.

A picture of a traffic stop
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikipedia

Greensboro's police chief is reporting a steep drop in racially disparate traffic stops.

Gavel
www.stockmonkeys.com / Flickr Creative Commons

A new lawsuit challenges the law that allows magistrates to opt out of presiding over same-sex marriages if they oppose it for religious reasons.

Plaintiffs claim the measure is discriminatory and elevates a specific religious belief. But proponents of the law say it balances freedom of religion with the rights of same-sex couples.

Voter Sticker
Vox Efx on Flickr

The NAACP is seeking an injunction to halt the state's new voter identification law in the March primary elections.

Litigation over the law was put on hold until January, after legislators amended it this summer. Under the revised law, voters who don't have state-issued IDs must fill out a form explaining why they couldn't get one.

North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber says an amendment to the law now requires voters without IDs to fill out a form explaining why they couldn't get one. Barber says that's confusing and intimidating.

A picture of the Shaw University sign.
Daderot / Wikipedia

A group of Shaw University alumni is suing two trustees, alleging mismanagement and conflict of interest.

Shaw alumnus  and attorney Christopher Young filed the lawsuit in North Carolina's Eastern District Court against Board Chairman Joseph Bell, Jr. and immediate past chairman Willie Gary.

Judge Arnold Jones
NC Innocence Inquiry Commission

North Carolina Superior Court Judge Arnold Ogden Jones II has been charged with trying to bribe an FBI agent to collect text messages between two phone numbers in what the judge said was a family matter.

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku / Flickr Creative Commons

The Greensboro Police Department is reviewing its records of traffic stops, after a New York Times article revealed deep racial discrepancies.

The newspaper's analysis found that Greensboro police searched black drivers more than twice as often as white drivers, even though they found contraband more often when the driver was white.

An image of people holding up alcholic beverages
Pixabay Public Domain

The State Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has rejected a proposed penalty for a Chapel Hill bar. La Residence, commonly known as La Rez, is accused of serving 20-year-old Chandler Kania prior to a fatal highway crash this summer. Kania is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is accused of driving the wrong way on I-85, hitting a Jeep and killing three people. Police say his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

sex trafficking, human trafficking
Ira Gelb / Flickr Creative Commons

A group of attorneys is urging the Durham city council to create a task force to fight child sex trafficking.

Durham-Orange Women Attorneys—or DOWA—says county and community agencies need to coordinate their efforts to address child sex trafficking.

Jose Lopez, Durham Police Department
Durham Police Department

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez will retire at the end of 2015, the city announced Tuesday. The department has come under fire in recent years, especially after 17-year-old Latino Jesus Huerta died from a gunshot wound while in police custody in 2013.

"The last two years have been difficult for law enforcement, but together we have weathered it in a manner in which we can all be proud," Lopez wrote in a letter to his department.

A man in handcuffs.
Lionel Allorge / Wikipedia

Durham is expanding a program that allows young first-time offenders to remove a misdemeanor conviction from their record.

Previously available to 16 and 17 year olds, those 21 and under can complete the misdemeanor diversion program beginning in October. Instead of facing jail time or a fine, participants go to court, attend workshops and do community service work.

Durham Chief District Court Judge Marcia Morey says during a typical misdemeanor court appearance, an offender is able to have just a few seconds before a judge, plead guilty, and pay a fine.

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