Law

James Williams
Leoneda Inge

Community organizations and faith-based groups in Durham are calling for a series of measures to help end what they call "racial profiling" by the Durham Police Department.

Representatives of the NAACP, Durham Congregations in Action, Fostering Alternatives in Drug Enforcement -- or FADE -- and several other groups are pushing for five main changes.

A picture of the Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet.
Vbofficial / Wikipedia

A new bill introduced in the North Carolina Senate would allow the state to offer to buy or trade the federal government for the Oregon Inlet.

The Department of Interior took over ownership of the waterway in 1958. It charges the Army Corps of Engineers with dredging there -- being that it's an important access point for commercial fishermen and boat builders.

But state Representative Bill Cook said the feds rarely put up enough money to manage shoaling in the Oregon Inlet.

Durham County Jail
Laura Candler

  *Updated 10:11am to reflect Sheriffs Association comments.

A new report from the ACLU of North Carolina suggests many of the state's county jails are not compliant with sexual assault prevention measures. The group says of the state's 100 counties, 58 responded to requests regarding the measures jails take to prevent the assault of prisoners. None of those 58 were in full compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, a 2003 federal law.

Mark Chilton
Chilton for Register of Deeds / Facebook

Orange County Register of Deeds is not typically a politically volatile position. But Mark Chilton made national headlines when he won the race to become the next register on Tuesday. That's because a primary focus of Chilton's campaign was that he would effectively break state laws banning gay marriage by signing marriage licenses presented by same-sex couples.

Southern Coalition for Social Justice logo
southerncoalition.org

 

  

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Host Frank Stasio talks with Ian Mance, a civil rights attorney for the Southern Coalition of Social Justice, and Frank Baumgartner, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Baumgartner published a statewide study tracking racial disparities in police stop-and-search practices. He later worked with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to analyze Durham-specific data.

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

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Supreme Court will consider whether or not to allow parole for criminals charged with life sentences as juveniles before 2012.

The case is a response to the 2012 Miller v. Alabama decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It held that mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles were unconstitutional. The hearing in North Carolina is to determine whether or not to apply that decision retroactively.

Oscar Martinez
NPR.org

Thousands of migrants from Central America make the perilous journey through Mexico atop cargo trains for more than 2,000 miles in hopes of crossing the U.S. border. 

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:

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