NC Courts

Delays in NC's sexual assault cases stretch into years

rapeculture.jpg

Adding insult to injury for the victims:

Once law enforcement arrests a rape suspect in North Carolina, the wait only begins for both the rape survivor and the accused. Resolution of the charges typically takes more than a year, Carolina Public Press found in June in a statewide analysis of court data, with some cases taking much longer.

The average sexual assault case that remained open and was included in the analysis had been open for 900 days, or about 2 ½ years. But some cases have been open for longer than 4 1/2 years after an arrest, which was the most the data available could show.

Can you imagine that? Being raped by some dude, and then going month after month knowing he's out there somewhere roaming around? If that happened to my daughter I'd probably end up in jail myself, especially after watching something like this happen more than once:

Eastern NC's bond reform is a model for the rest of the state

"Innocent until proven guilty" means nothing when you're behind bars:

Two major changes are in store. The first is magistrates, instead of relying on a set list of bond fees correlating with a certain class of crime, will instead decide bond or no-bond with a flow chart that narrows down whether someone should have a secured bond, or should be released on a promise to appear in court, to another person willing to ensure they show up in court or on an unsecured bond.

The second is Beaufort County's District Court will hold a bond hearing every week to ensure that those charged with minor crimes are not sitting in the county jail solely because they cannot afford bail.

Our criminal justice system has many flaws, but this one threatens the core of our democracy. Pre-trial incarceration, especially for those charged with non-violent crimes, is a direct violation of our Constitutional rights. I say "our" rights because Americans are quick to dismiss the rights of others, but become very interested when the situation gets personal. It is a shameful facet of our society, and one we may grow to regret dearly. I'll let the ACLU explain it more deeply:

CoA ruling deals a blow to Debtor's Prison effect

prisonwoman.jpg

A reduction of excessive court costs is long overdue:

The Court of Appeals published a unanimous opinion this week holding that when multiple criminal charges arise from the same underlying event or transaction and are adjudicated together in the same hearing or trial, they are part of a single “criminal case” for purposes of assessing court costs.

The case stems from a Buncombe County incident – Dave Robert Rieger was pulled over for following another vehicle too closely and was ultimately arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. He took his case to trial and was convicted of both charges. Because the state filed the charges against him in two separate charging documents, there were two separate judgments against him even though they were disposed of through the same trial. The judge imposed court costs in each of the two judgments, amounting to a total of nearly $800. The question to the three-judge appellate panel was whether Rieger experienced one criminal case or two.

At a recent local candidate event I was able to have a few words with a couple of judges and a District Attorney, and I mainly focused on court costs and high amounts of cash bail. Surprisingly enough, they were all concerned about this, and eager to talk about it (as opposed to ignoring it). We may be approaching a critical point in criminal justice reform, and it is much needed:

Primer on the NC GOP's war on the court system

gavelbanging.jpg

A systematic and sustained effort to subvert the judiciary:

Number of actions they've taken in recent years to change the makeup and independence of state, district and local courts: at least 12

Date on which the N.C. legislature sustained a bill eliminating judicial primary elections that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper had vetoed: 10/16/2017

Days later that they introduced a bill to wipe out the terms of all state judges, from the N.C. Supreme Court to the district courts, at the close of 2018 and require them to run again: 1

Hat-tip to the Institute for Southern Studies for compiling this list. Every single one of those Legislative Republicans who are licensed attorneys should be disbarred for these attacks, or at least formally (and loudly) censured by the NC Bar Association. Follow the link to see the true depth of the GOP's meddling, but here's another taste:

Justice denied: New judicial maps decimate District and Superior Court judges

As usual, NC Policy Watch is right on top of this mess:

The team at NC Policy Watch thought it important to remove the blinders so that legislators will have a chance to make an informed decision on HB 717, and their constituents will have a chance to analyze the maps before deciding whether or not to show up for public comment. Accordingly, we have prepared the maps that appear below.

All three maps reflect the most up-to-date proposed districts in HB 717 (released at 11:58 p.m. Monday) – prosecutorial, district court and superior court – and indicate the districts in which all current incumbents would have to run for office based on their addresses of residence.

As I've mentioned before, I am not the most adept at evaluating redistricting maps. But you don't have to be a political topographer to know that when you see 2-3 blue dots within the same borders only one of those dots is going to survive. There will be a handful of Republican judges removed by this idiotic proposal, but (unless I'm reading it wrong) a couple of dozen Democratic judges swept out of the system. Aside from being a partisan pogrom, it will also cripple NC's Court system, which is already hard-pressed to handle its current caseload.

Add judges to that list of GOP cuts to legal professionals

gavelbanging.jpg

Our entire system of justice is being put at risk:

According to the latest lists released by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), there are now only 10 active emergency superior court judges and 25 emergency district court judges. Prior to the July 1 effective date of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, there were 42 emergency superior court judges and 72 emergency district court judges. The new list reflects an overall reduction of 69.2%.

According to emails obtained by NC Policy Watch, the cuts were causing concerns in the court system even days after the budget was passed.

I'm sure they were. In any given month, NC's Superior and District Courts handle over 15,000 cases. And they've been doing so under an ever-shrinking budget since Republicans took over the General Assembly. Understand, these are both civil and criminal cases, and some of the latter deal with violent criminals. When you refuse to fund the system properly, the number of violent criminals who plea bargain their case down increases, and the number of victims who never get their day in court increases also. Making this a public safety issue, put in the irresponsible hands of unqualified politicians and their lackeys:

In NC, you're guilty until proven innocent

Ignoring evidence of faulty convictions:

As four men sat in prison for a murder they didn't commit, records show that state investigators sent proof of their innocence to a North Carolina prosecutor, but he never revealed it to the convicted men.

He didn't have to. Nothing in North Carolina's legal standards requires a prosecutor to turn over evidence of innocence after a conviction.

In this particular case, the District Attorney was provided solid evidence that five men he'd sent to prison were innocent, but he chose to ignore that evidence and let them remain incarcerated. Not only should there be a Bar Association rule in place to discourage that, there should also be a criminal charge for an officer of the court who does that. He might as well have kidnapped these people and chained them in his basement.

Subscribe to RSS - NC Courts