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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals dismissing the State's appeal from the trial court's order granting J.C.'s expunction with respect to his conviction for the offense of indecent liberties with a child, holding that the State has no right of appeal in orders granting expunctions under N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-145.5. J.C. was granted an expunction of arrest, trial, and conviction record from a prior conviction and from previously dismissed charges. The trial court granted the expunction under section 15A-145.5. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the legislature did not give the State the right to appeal an expunction under section 15A-145.5 and did not amend section 15A-1445 to include this right. View "State v. J.C." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals vacating Defendant's conviction for manufacturing marijuana, holding that the indictment returned for the purpose of charging Defendant with manufacturing marijuana was not fatally defective. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss the manufacturing marijuana charge for insufficiency of the evidence. The court of appeals vacated Defendant's conviction, concluding that the indictment was fatally defective because it failed to allege that Defendant acted with an "intent to distribute." The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the indictment at issue sufficed to give the trial court jurisdiction to enter judgment against Defendant based upon his conviction for manufacturing marijuana given that it also alleged that Defendant manufactured marijuana by "producing," "propagating," and "processing" it. View "State v. Lofton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals to uphold the judgment of the trial court refusing to grant a new trial to Defendant, who was held liable pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 78A-56(a)(2), which prohibits a person from selling securities by means of false and misleading statements of material fact, holding that the court of appeals did not err by affirming the challenged judgment and orders. Defendant argued, among other things, that the trial court had erred in determining that Plaintiffs had sufficiently established that Defendant was liable pursuant to section 78A-56(a)(2). The court of appeals concluded that "any person who is a seller or offeror" of securities is liable pursuant to section 78A-56(a) and that Plaintiffs were not required to prove that Defendant acted with scienter. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant's motion for a new trial; (2) Defendant did not preserve his challenge to the trial court's refusal to give an explicit "safe harbor" instruction to the jury for purposes of appellate review; and (3) Defendant was not entitled to relief from the trial court's judgment and orders on the basis of his primary liability and scienter claims. View "Piazza v. Kirkbride" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals determining that the trial court did not commit prejudicial error by allowing the jury, without consent of the parties, to review certain photographs that had been admitted into evidence in the jury room and by instructing the jury concerning the effect of a determination that Defendant was the "aggressor" upon Defendant's right to act in self-defense, holding that there was no prejudicial error in the proceedings below. A jury returned a verdict convicting Defendant of second-degree murder. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) the trial court erred by allowing the jury to review photographs that had already been admitted into evidence in the jury room without Defendant's consent, but the error was not prejudicial; and (2) the trial court did not commit plain error by including a discussion of the "aggressor" doctrine in its instructions to the jury concerning Defendant's claim to have killed the victim in the exercise of his right of self-defense. View "State v. Mumma" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court held that the superseding indictment upon which Defendant was tried and convicted was facially defective, and thus failed to establish jurisdiction in the trial court, because it failed to name the victim. The indictment identified the alleged victim in this case as "Victim #1." Defendant was found guilty of sexual offense with a child by an adult offender. Before the court of appeals, Defendant argued that the indictment was invalid because it identified the victim as "Victim #1" rather than naming the victim as directed by the short-form indictment statute for the offense. The court of appeals concluded that the indictment was valid because the identity of the victim could be ascertained by reference to other documents in the record. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) use of the phrase "Victim #1" does not constitute "naming the victim"; and (2) facially validity is determined by evaluating only the allegations in the criminal pleading. View "State v. White" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court ordered that Respondent, April M. Smith, a Judge of the General Court of Justice, District Court Division, Judicial District Twelve, be publicly reprimanded for conduct in violation of Canons 1, 2A, 3A(3), and 3B(1) of the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct and for conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute, in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. 7A-376. The Judicial Standards Commission filed a statement of charges against Respondent alleging that she had engaged in conduct inappropriate to her office by demonstrating a lack of respect for the judicial office of the Chief Judge and court staff and other offenses. The Commission Counsel and Respondent entered into a stipulation and agreement for stated disposition that tended to support a decision to publicly reprimand Respondent. The Supreme Court concluded that the Commission's recommended public reprimand was appropriate and ordered that Respondent be publicly reprimanded. View "In re Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the trial court imposing lifetime satellite-based monitoring (SBM) upon Defendant without prejudice to the State's ability to file another application for SBM, holding that the trial court committed error relating to a substantial right. The trial court ordered him to enroll in SBM for life upon his release from prison. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in imposing lifetime SBM because it failed to determine whether the monitoring effectuated a reasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. In response, the State asserted that Defendant waived the ability to challenge this constitutional issue on appeal by failing to preserve it below. The court of appeals concluded that Defendant had properly preserved the Fourth Amendment issue and, alternatively, that Appellate Rule 2 allowed it to review the issue. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) Defendant waived his ability to raise the issue of the imposition of SBM on constitutional grounds; (2) the court of appeals properly invoked Rule 2 to review the unpreserved issue; and (3) where the State conceded that the trial court committed error relating to a substantial right, the court of appeals did not abuse its discretion by invoking Rule 2. View "State v. Bursell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals concluding that N.C. Gen. Stat. 122C-266(a) imposes a statutory mandate that automatically preserves violation of that subsection for appellate review regardless of a failure to object in the trial court and that Respondent was automatically entitled to relief without having to demonstrate that she was prejudiced by the violation of section 122C-266(a), holding that Respondent's issue was not preserved for appellate review. Here, Respondent, who was involuntarily committed to a state health facility, did not receive an examination by a second physician, as mandated by section 122C-266(a). The court of appeals held that Respondent was not required to make a showing of prejudice resulting from the violation of the statue in order to have vacated the trial court's order authorizing her continued commitment. The Supreme Court reversed without deciding whether prejudice must be shown to obtain relief on appeal, holding (1) the alleged violation of section 122C-266(a) was not automatically preserved; and (2) Respondent failed to preserve the issue when she did not raise it during the district court hearing on her involuntary commitment. View "In re E.D." on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals holding that the State's remarks during its closing argument in this criminal case did not entitle Defendant to a new trial but reversed the court of appeals' determination that a short-form indictment insufficiently charged attempted first-degree murder, holding that the indictment was sufficient to vest the trial court with subject-matter jurisdiction to try Defendant for attempted first-degree murder. At issue were whether the indictment was sufficient to vest the trial court with jurisdiction to try Defendant for attempted first-degree murder when the wording of the indictment did not precisely duplicate the language of the relevant statute and whether the State's characterizations during its closing argument were so grossly improper that the trial court should have intervened ex mero motu. The Supreme Court reinstated Defendant's conviction for attempted first-degree murder, holding (1) the use of the term "slay" instead of "murder" in an indictment that also includes an allegation of "malice aforethought" complies with constitutional and statutory requirements for valid murder offense indictments and serves its functional purposes with regard to both the defendant and the court; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to intervene ex mero motu during the State's closing argument. View "State v. Tart" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Court of Appeals ruling that the superior court lacked jurisdiction to decide whether its previous order was being violated by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on the grounds that Petitioner failed to exhaust administrative remedies before moving to enforce the court’s order, holding that the superior court had jurisdiction to enforce its previous order. On March 17, 2016, the superior court reversed a final decision of the DHHS regarding Petitioner’s eligibility for Medicaid benefits. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking entry of an order enforcing the March 17, 2016 order and directing the DHHS to immediately reinstate his Medicaid benefits. The superior court dismissed the petition, concluding that the DHHS had not violated the previous order. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ decision, holding that the trial court had jurisdiction over Petitioner’s petition. View "Pachas v. N.C. Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law