Law

Blackwater helicopters in Iraq
Heath Powell / Flickr Creative Commons

A U.S. congressman from North Carolina has reintroduced a bill to clarify how American laws apply to overseas contractors. Democratic Congressman David Price of Chapel Hill originally submitted the legislation in 2007 after contractors with the company Blackwater were accused of shooting up a public square in Baghdad. The law met resistance from the White House at the time and was never passed.

UNC-Charlotte researchers say they have come up with an estimated cost of domestic violence in North Carolina.   The new study says eight key factors add up to approximately $307 million the state pays as a result of the crime. 

When a family member is sentenced to time in prison, they who family can feel like they are "doing time."
http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/D/bo5485741.html

Anyone familiar with the American criminal justice system has likely heard the expression, “When a person gets sentenced to prison, the whole family serves the time.” 

City of Fayetteville Police Department
bethebadge.com

The U.S. Department of Justice will spend the next several months reviewing the policies and practices of the Fayetteville Police Department. The review comes at the request of Fayetteville Police Department as part of the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services program. They'll be looking at the use of force and deadly force by the police, as well as community interaction.

NCCU Law
Leoneda Inge

A community center near downtown Raleigh was buzzing with activity over the weekend.  It wasn’t kids playing, but instead people getting help making out their wills.

Malinda Holloway, 64, came early for her appointment at Project Will Power at Top Green Community Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Holloway heard about the event at church and decided she wanted a will now, despite resistance from her daughter.

Two men marry on one of the first days that same-sex marriage was legal in N.C.
Alex Miller via Twitter

North Carolina's Republican legislative leaders plan to appeal a ruling that struck down the state's gay marriage ban. Legal experts, though, say any appeal would face an uphill battle.

Decades ago, an "oops" pregnancy might have meant a rush to the altar. But when Michelle Sheridan got pregnant three years ago, the topic of marriage never came up with her boyfriend, Phillip Underwood, whom she lives with in Frederick, Md.

If anything, it was the opposite.

"It changes the dynamic of the household," she says. "I had a friend who put off her marriage. Got pregnant, and she's like, 'Let's just wait, 'cause we don't know if we're going to be able to make it through this.' "

Cheyenne and Tish at the Durham County Register of Deeds. Monday 10/13/14
Reema Khrais

On Friday, a federal judge in Asheville struck down the state's gay marriage ban, opening the way for the first same-sex weddings in the state.  U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn, Jr. issued a ruling shortly after 5:00 p.m. declaring the ban approved by state voters in 2012 unconstitutional. A few weddings happened late on Friday, more on Monday and Tuesday.

Marcie (left) and Chantelle Fisher-Borne, adoption day. Monday 10/14/14
Reema Khrais

Marcie and Chantelle Fisher-Borne have been together for 18 years. They have two kids, 6-year-old Miley and 2-year-old Elijah. Marcie Fisher-Borne gave birth to Miley and Chantelle Fisher-Borne gave birth to Eli. So each parent has been considered a 'legal stranger' to one of their kids.

They were at the Durham County Courthouse Monday because same-sex marriage is now legal in North Carolina. And that means they can adopt as a family.

The Rev. John L. Saxon presided over the marriage of Lynn Gaskins, 31, left, and Christy Alston, 34, outside of the Wake County Justice Center
Jorge Valencia

Dozens of same-sex couples have been rushing to county courthouses throughout the state to get married.

While many say they're full of excitement, there are also some nerves: Questions about what it means to get married, and what their family will legally look like.

Some who oppose gay marriage are also making their voices heard.

Lynn Gaskins and Christy Alston got married in Raleigh on Monday. Even after the ceremony, Alston was edgy.

"I'm nervous. Still nervous. It's a big responsibility. I can't believe I'm married now. Wow."

Ronald Williams (left) and David Moore, partners of 36 years, received their wedding license Monday 10/13/2014
Jeff Tiberii

Many same-sex couples across the state received wedding licenses today after a federal judge ruled late Friday that North Carolina's ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional. Although it's a federal holiday, county officials were at work processing marriage applications this morning. Many couples held ceremonies immediately afterward, while others are waiting until later this week.

Many around the state were on pins and needles Friday, wondering if the state's gay marriage ban would be lifted. WUNC was tracking the information, and reporting all throughout the day.

Update Friday 6:05 p.m.:

A federal judge in Asheville has struck down the state's gay marriage ban, opening the way for the first same-sex weddings in the state to begin immediately.  U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn, Jr. issued a ruling shortly after 5:00 p.m. declaring the ban approved by state voters in 2012 unconstitutional.  

Gov. Pat McCrory says he's glad the court battle over gay marriage is finished.

U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn, Jr. from Asheville overturned the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage late Friday.

McCrory was in Chapel Hill yesterday at UNC's University Day Celebration. The Republican told Carolina Connection he'll uphold the right for gay North Carolinians to marry.

crime scene tape
Ian Britton / Flickr/Creative Commons

There have been 17 murders in Durham so far this year, a number that is pretty average for the past five years or so in the city.  But the Durham Police Department isn't just focusing on investigations that are current, they are also making an effort to investigate more than 150 murders that are still unsolved. 

Sergeant David Piatt, with the Homicide Investigation Unit is keenly aware that the families of those victims are still waiting for answers,.

"I don't think you can say one person is more important than the other.  They all deserve closure,"  he says.

Remains of the records, shred this week by the Durham County Clerk of Courts.
Durham County Sheriff's Office

Gun rights groups are cheering the destruction of an 80-year-old registry of gun owners in Durham County, N.C.

A law passed this summer abolished the county registry: the only one in the state of North Carolina. It contained thousands of registrations, dating back to 1935. After the registry was discontinued this year, it became unclear who actually controlled the archive.

Chantelle and Marcie Fisher-Borne and family
Jorge Valencia

Craig Johnson and Shawn Long are being cautious. The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal on Monday to hear five pending same-sex marriage cases could possibly lead to gay marriage in North Carolina -- if a federal judge in Greensboro issues an order for it.

Still, Johnson and Long are making plans. If they are allowed to marry, they plan to do it quickly, and not waste time making elaborate plans.

Debra Blackmon, 56, is requesting compensation for a sterilization performed on her in 1972.
Eric Mennel / WUNC

In 2013, North Carolina lawmakers set up a $10 million compensation fund for victims of state-sponsored eugenics. More than 780 people applied, claiming they had been forcibly or coercively sterilized by the state. Now, after an initial review, the state has decided only about 200 of those claims are valid, while more than 500 have come up short. The applicants are either denied outright or are asked for more information.

A picture of a handgun being pulled from a purse.
Flickr

The North Carolina General Assembly expanded the rights of concealed-carry permit holders last year. But now, Agriculture officials and gun rights activists disagree about what that means for the State Fair.

Grass Roots North Carolina activists have threatened to sue the Fair, saying that includes the fairgrounds in Raleigh.

The fair has a long standing gun ban. But new language in state law now allows concealed-carry permit holders to have firearms at any assembly where a fee has been charged for admission.

September 2, 2014, Leon Brown on exoneration day.
Jenny Warburg / Death Penalty Information Center

In 1984 Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were both charged with the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, Sabrina Buoy. 

McCollum was 19 years old at the time. Brown was 15. Prosecutors said that the two took Buoy into a soy bean field to rape her.

The half-brothers have intellectual disabilities. Both signed written confessions that they later recanted. Both were convicted.

Early Voting
Leoneda Inge

A  federal appeals Court in Charlotte heard arguments Thursday on whether or not changes to North Carolina's voting law can go into effect before the November election. The changes were passed by the Republican-led General Assembly last year. Critics argue the laws restrict access to voting, particularly among minority groups.

The North Carolina NAACP has argued the changes are a violation of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause, and of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Picture of gavel
Flickr.com

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied child immigrants have turned themselves in at the U.S. Border this year.

Once they’ve been arrested, the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement looks for places to put these kids until their day in immigration court.

The O.R.R. reports 1,648 children were placed in North Carolina between January and August.

Lili Morales is a senior at Northern High School in Durham, N.C. As a part of WUNC's Youth Radio Project, she reports on the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.  Young people who entered the country illegally with their parents are eligible for the program if they are in school -- but they have to renew every two years.  It's a stressful process for some.

The Supreme Court elections are coming and things are getting interesting (gavel on tabletop).
flickr.com/photos/leviphotos

  

The North Carolina Supreme Court is supposed to be above hyper-partisan politics, but what happens when groups from outside the state become the biggest donors? 

A state police car stopping a motorist
Cindy Cornett Seigle / Flickr/Creative Commons

On Thursday, the Durham City Manager will present the City Council with a recommendation that police officers be required to get consent in writing before searching a vehicle. This is part of a response to months of debate over reports of racial bias in the Durham police department.

Durham Deputy Police Chief Larry Smith would have to implement such a process. Smith recently presented to the city council two examples of how a consent form works now and how a search would work if an officer were required to get consent in writing. 

Geraldine Brown laughs and her brother Henry McCollum, left, wipes away tears as he and his brother Leon Brown, right, stand in her front yard in Fayetteville on Wednesday.
CHUCK LIDDY — cliddy@newsobserver.com |

  

In 1983, Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were convicted of the murder and rape of an 11-year-old girl in Robeson County. 

Photo: Durham Police headquarters
Durham Police

Members of the Durham City Council are trying to address concerns that police officers disproportionately stop and search black men. Four of the seven members gave their support on Thursday afternoon for requiring officers to get a driver's written consent before searching his vehicle.
 

City manager Tom Bonfield has suggested officers should be required to get consent in some recorded form - either video, audio or writing - but Mayor Bill Bell says that overcomplicates things.

Recently Durham City Council heard recommendations from the City Manager on how to improve police and community relations.
Jorge Valencia

In Durham, the City Council could vote Tuesday night to change some policies for the police department.

At least two council members suggest the city manager's recent recommendations do not go far enough to improve the relationship between police officers and the community.

Durham Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden spoke on WUNC’s The State of Things Tuesday. She took issue with a recommendation which would allow officers to decide whether they need to get written consent before searching an individual.

Patricia Timmons-Goodson
Duke University Law School

This summer President Obama appointed former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  The Commission, an eight member panel, is charged with developing federal civil rights policy.  

Timmons-Goodson was the first African American female appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court.  She spoke with  Phoebe Judge about the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and changes in North Carolina's voting rights laws, among other topics.

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

Police in Fayetteville say they will work with other local authorities to crack down on human trafficking in North Carolina. 

The Cumberland County District Attorney joined Fayetteville's mayor and police chief this week to renew their efforts to fight traffickers. 

The state's largest cities have reported several cases in recent months that involved kidnappings and forcing victims into prostitution. 

Fayetteville police chief Harold Medlock says the crime is not new in North Carolina, but authorities need to collaborate more to catch offenders.

Prison cell
DOliphant via Flickr

This November voters in North Carolina will decide whether people accused of felonies should have the opportunity to decide whether they want a judge or jury to decide their case. Jeff Welty, an associate professor in the School of Government at the University of North Carolina, has been studying the potential implications this constitutional amendment may have on the state.  He talked with Phoebe Judge.

Conversation highlights:

Why has it taken North Carolina so long to address the issue?

Pages