Laws

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The percentage of law students passing the North Carolina bar exam has dropped over the past five years. The state Board of Law Examiners reports 62 percent passed in July 2014.

Catharine Arrowood of the North Carolina Bar Association says the problem starts before law school.

"It appears that the first year law students that are going into the law schools are not as well prepared for either analytical thinking or excellent writing as people were 10 years ago."

Arrowood says economic downturn might play a role.

Photo: Venus Flytrap
Flickr user Mark Freeth

Nine North Carolina state laws are set to go into effect today, including criminal defendants' ability to waive their right to a jury trial and a law that makes it a felony to poach the carnivorous Venus Flytrap plant.

Criminal Jury Trials

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In the future, neuroscientific evidence may be as prevalent as DNA evidence in the criminal justice system. Today on The State of Things, experts discussed the future of neuroscience and the law. Here are some highlights. 

MRI brain scan
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In the not so distant future, brain scans may be as prevalent as DNA evidence in the criminal justice system. This neuroscientific evidence has the potential to correct biases and predict criminal recidivism. But critics argue it could be misleading and difficult to refute. Exploring the brain as a means of assessing intent also raises privacy concerns. 

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. 

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SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

  

More than 40 new laws go into effect on December 1st in North Carolina.

They include harsher penalties for those who abuse or endanger children, and a lessening of punishments for certain misdemeanors. Host Frank Stasio gets an overview from Associated Press politics reporter Gary Robertson.