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The North Carolina Supreme Court held that the State failed to carry its burden of presenting sufficient evidence to support the trial court's decision to revoke defendant's probation based upon a finding that defendant willfully absconded probation. Therefore, the court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals. However, the court disavowed the portion of the opinion analyzing the pertinence of the fact that defendant's probationary term expired prior to the date of the probation violation hearing and holding "that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to revoke defendant’s probation after his case expired." View "State v. Krider" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in reversing the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, holding that the suppression motion contained sufficient findings of fact to support the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his juvenile rights pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-2101 before making certain incriminating statements. The court of appeals determined that the totality of the circumstances set forth in the record did not fully support the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant knowingly, willingly, and understandingly waived his juvenile rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court’s findings of fact had adequate evidentiary support, and those findings supported the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his juvenile rights; and (2) in reaching a contrary conclusion, the court of appeals failed to focus upon the sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court’s findings of fact and to give proper deference to those findings. View "State v. Saldierna" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held in this criminal case that while the claim asserted in Defendant’s motion for appropriate relief was not subject to the procedural bar established by N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-1419(a)(3), the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion for the reasons stated by the court of appeals. The jury returned a verdict convicting Defendant of first-degree murder, and the trial court sentenced Defendant to a term of life imprisonment without parole. Defendant later filed a motion for appropriate relief asserting, among other things, that his constitutional right to effective, conflict-free trial counsel had been violated. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion after conducting an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court concluded that Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim was not procedurally barred and overturned the trial court’s order denying Defendant’s motion for appropriate relief. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Defendant was not subject to the procedural bar created by N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-1419(a)(3) with respect to his ineffective assistance of counsel claim; but (2) the trial court properly denied Defendant’s motion for appropriate relief. View "State v. Hyman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the habitual felon indictment returned against Defendant was not fatally defective, and therefore, the court of appeals erred in ordering that the judgment regarding the habitual conviction be vacated. Defendant was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill, attempted first-degree murder, having attained habitual felon status, and other charges. The jury found Defendant guilty as charged. On appeal, Defendant argued that the habitual felon indictment that had been returned against him was facially defective. The court of appeals agreed and ordered that the case be remanded for resentencing on the underlying felonies without the habitual felon enhancement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the habitual felon indictment returned against defendant was not fatally defective. View "State v. Langley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court held in this appeal regarding two cases that were consolidated before trial by one superior court judge and then tried by another superior court judge that (1) the first judge erred in consolidating the cases because he was not scheduled to preside over the consolidated trial, but (2) the judge who presided at trial effectively corrected the procedural error, which left no error for the appellate courts to address. The Court concluded that the first judge’s consolidation order had no binding effect on the second judge because the first judge was not scheduled to preside over the trial. By ultimately consolidating the cases, the presiding judge implicitly ratified the consolidation decision, leaving the trial and judgment untainted. Therefore, other the first judge’s order was procedurally in error, but the presiding judge’s implicit determination that the cases should be consolidated for trial replaced the first judge’s determination on consolidation and corrected the procedural error that the first judge had made. View "Boone Ford, Inc. v. IME Scheduler, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court held that the trial court correctly denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss as to the charge of keeping or maintaining a vehicle which is used for the keeping or selling of controlled substances, holding that it can be reasonably be inferred from the evidence that Defendant had kept the car that he was driving and that he was using that car to store crack cocaine when he was arrested. Defendant was pulled over by law enforcement officers during a drug investigation. The officers discovered two bags of crack cocaine hidden behind the gas-cap door of the car that Defendant was driving. Defendant was indicted for several offenses. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss as to the possession-of-cocaine charge but denied the motion as to all other remaining charges. The jury found Defendant guilty of all of these charges. The court of appeals reversed Defendant’s conviction for keeping or maintaining a vehicle which is used for the keeping or selling of a controlled substance, concluding that there was insufficient evidence to support the charge. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State and drawing all reasonable inferences from that evidence, a reasonable jury could find that Defendant committed the crime at issue. View "State v. Rogers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court held that the two-year statute of limitations in N.C. Gen. Stat. 15-1 did not bar the State from prosecuting Defendant for the misdemeanor offense of driving while impaired (DWI) when the State did not charge Defendant by indictment or presentment and did not commence prosecution with the two-year period because other valid criminal pleadings listed in N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-921 tolled the section 51-1 statute of limitations. The district court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss, determining that the statute of limitations in section 15-1 barred further prosecution of Defendant. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the State was barred from prosecuting this action due to expiration of the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) any criminal pleading that establishes jurisdiction in the district court should toll the two-year statute of limitations in section 15-1; and (2) the citation issued to Defendant for DWI tolled the statute of limitations in this case. View "State v. Curtis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals concluding that Rule 9(j) does not permit a plaintiff to amend a timely filed medical malpractice complaint to cure a defective Rule 9(j) certification after the statute of limitations has run when the expert review required by Rule 9(j) occurred before the filing of the original complaint, holding that the procedures Plaintiff followed in this case were consistent with the letter and spirit of the rule. Plaintiff filed this medical malpractice complaint, but Plaintiff’s Rule 9(j) certification inadvertently used the language of a prior version of Rule 9(j). Defendants then filed a motion to dismiss. In response, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint to cure her defective Rule 9(j) certification. The trial court denied Plaintiff’s motion and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that where Plaintiff did not file the complaint with the proper Rule 9(j) certification before the running of the statute of limitation, the complaint could not have been deemed to have commenced within the statute. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff should be permitted to amend her medical malpractice complaint to correct a purely technical pleading error under the circumstances of this case. View "Vaughan v. Mashburn" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether legislation amending portions of certain provisions of the North Carolina General Statutes, including Chapter 115C, violates N.C. Const. art. IX, 5. In 2016, the General Assembly enacted House Bill 17, which amended numerous provisions of Chapter 115C, eliminated certain aspects of the North Carolina State Board of Education’s (Board) oversight of a number of the powers and duties of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (Superintendent), and assigned several powers and duties that had formerly belonged to the Board to the Superintendent. The Governor subsequently signed into law House Bill 17, which became Session Law 2016-126. The Board filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that certain provisions of Session Law 2016-126 are unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the superior court concluded that statutory changes worked by Session Law 2016-126 did not contravene the relevant provisions of the North Carolina Constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the the enactment of Session Law 2016-126 does not, on its face, contravene N.C. Const. art. IX, 5. View "North Carolina State Board of Education v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for first-degree murder but vacated his sentence of death and remanded the case to the superior court for a new capital sentencing hearing. The Court held (1) there was no error in the trial court proceedings, including jury selection or the guilt phase, that led to Defendant’s conviction; (2) the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction; (3) the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to set aside the jury’s verdict in favor of the State with respect to the issue of Defendant’s alleged intellectual disability; (4) the trial court erred by failing to submit the statutory mitigating circumstance enumerated in N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000(f)(6), which addresses the extent to which Defendant’s capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the law was impaired, to the jury at Defendant’s capital hearing. View "State v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law