Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The record should be further developed in this case before a reviewing court can adequately address Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Defendant was convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon. The court of appeals affirmed. Defendant later filed a motion for appropriate relief (MAR) arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise this claim on appeal. Without conducting an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied Defendant’s MAR. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Defendant received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel in his first appeal and that Defendant’s conviction would have been reversed had his counsel raised the sufficiency of the evidence issue in his first appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the record before the court was insufficient to determine whether Defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel. View "State v. Todd" on Justia Law

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In 2013, the General Assembly established the Eugenics Asexualization and Sterilization Compensation Program to provide compensation to any claimant who was asexualized or sterilized involuntarily under the authority of the now-dismantled Eugenics Board of North Carolina. The claimant in this case was sterilized involuntarily in 1956 and died in 2010. Claimant’s estate (Claimant) filed a claim pursuant to the Compensation Program to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The Commission denied the claim because Claimant was not alive on June 30, 2013, as required by N.C. Gen. Stat. 143B-426.50(1). Claimant appealed to the full Commission, raising a constitutional challenge to subsection 143B-426.50(1). The full Commission denied the claim but certified the constitutional question to the Court of Appeals. Claimant then appealed. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal because any challenge to the constitutionality of an act of the General Assembly must first be submitted to a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Wake County. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Claimant’s appeal based on a constitutional challenge was properly before the Court of Appeals, which had appellate jurisdiction over the appeal. Remanded. View "In re Redmond" on Justia Law

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In 2013, legislation was enacted requiring the City of Asheville to involuntarily transfer the assets it uses to operate a public water system to a newly-created metropolitan water and sewerage district. The City filed a complaint and motion seeking injunctive relief, alleging that the involuntary transfer provisions of the legislation were unconstitutional. The trial court concluded that the involuntary transfer violated various provisions of the North Carolina Constitution and permanently enjoined the State from enforcing the legislation. The court of appeals reversed, in part, the trial court’s order and remanded to the trial court for the entry of summary judgment in favor of the State. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the challenged legislation constitutes a prohibited local act relating to health and sanitation in violation of Article II, Section 24(1)(a) of the North Carolina Constitution. View "City of Asheville v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with six offenses pertaining to the manufacture, possession and sale or delivery of illegal drugs. Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence seized during the search of her home, asserting that the warrant obtained to conduct the search was not supported by probable cause. The trial court granted the motion to suppress. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances, the magistrate in this case had a substantial basis to find that probable cause existed to issue the challenged search warrant to search Defendant’s home. View "State v. Allman" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon and first-degree murder. The trial judge sentenced Defendant to a term of life imprisonment without parole for his murder conviction. The court of appeals affirmed. Defendant later filed a motion for appropriate relief requesting that his life without parole sentence must be vacated and a constitutionally permissible sentence be imposed upon him instead. In support of his motion, Defendant relied upon Miller v. Alabama. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion on the basis that Miller did not apply retroactively to Defendant’s case. The case was certified for review. The Supreme Court ordered supplemental briefing for the purpose of allowing the parties to address the effect of the decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana. As the State conceded in its supplemental brief, the State’s non-retroactivity argument does not survive Montgomery. Therefore, Defendant was entitled to be resentenced, and the trial court’s order denying Defendant’s motion for appropriate relief is reversed. Remanded. View "State v. Perry" on Justia Law

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The Judicial Standards Commission (JSC) imposed a public reprimand on Judge Jerry R. Tillett (Defendant), a judge in Judicial District One of the General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, for misconduct while in public office. Defendant accepted the reprimand, and the JSC’s official filing constituted the Commission’s final action on the matter. Two years after Defendant accepted the reprimand, the State Bar commenced a disciplinary action against Defendant by filing a complaint with the North Carolina State Bar Disciplinary Hearing Commission (DHC). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. The DHC denied the motion to dismiss, arguing that the DHC infringes upon the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction by initiating attorney disciplinary proceedings against a sitting member of the General Court of Justice for conduct while in office. The Supreme Court reversed the DHC’s denial of Defendant’s motion to dismiss, holding that the DHC lacks the authority to investigate and discipline Defendant for his conduct while in office. View "North Carolina State Bar v. Tillett" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged legislation that authorizes the General Assembly to appoint a majority of the voting members of three administrative commissions, alleging that, by giving itself the power to appoint commission members, the General Assembly had usurped the Governor’s constitutional appointment power and prevented him from performing his constitutional duty to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. The superior court determined that the challenged appointment provisions did not violate the appointments clause but did violate the separation of powers clause. The Supreme Court modified and affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) the appointments clause places no restrictions on the General Assembly’s ability to appoint statutory officers; but (2) the challenged provisions violate the separation of powers clause because the legislative branch has exerted too much control over commissions that have final executive authority and thus interfered with the Governor’s ability to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. View "State ex rel. McCrory v. Berger" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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Plaintiff’s employment as a deputy sheriff was terminated following the reelection of Defendant to the office of Sheriff of Mecklenburg County. Plaintiff filed suit alleging wrongful termination in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. 153A-99 and N.C. Const. art. I, 14 and 36. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that Plaintiff could not establish a claim for wrongful termination in violation of section 153A-99 and that Plaintiff’s state constitutional claims lacked merit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff was not a county employee as defined in section 153A-99, and therefore, Plaintiff was not entitled to the protections provided in that statute; and (2) Defendant’s actions did not violate Plaintiff’s right to freedom of speech. View "Young v. Bailey" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a registered sex offender, was found guilty of failure to provide timely written notice of his change of address. Defendant appealed, arguing that the indictment was fatally defective because it identified the date of offense as a five month span, and therefore, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear his case. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. Defendant appealed, arguing that his constitutional right to notice was violated because the indictment failed properly to allege the time period within which he was required to file his report to the appropriate sheriff when he changed his address. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant’s indictment was valid because it adequately apprised Defendant of the conduct that was the basis of the charge against him, and therefore, the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss. View "State v. Williams" on Justia Law

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Following the 2010 decennial census, the General Assembly enacted redistricting plans for the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives and for the North Carolina districts for the United States House of Representatives. Plaintiffs, registered voters, filed a complaint seeking to have the redistricting plans declared invalid on both constitutional and statutory grounds. The three-judge panel reviewing the redistricting plans upheld the plans. The Supreme Court affirmed. The United States Supreme Court vacated this Court’s opinion and remanded for further consideration in light of its recent decision in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama. The Supreme Court reconsidered this case in light of Alabama and affirmed the three-judge panel’s judgment, holding that the General Assembly’s enacted plans do not violate Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights and satisfy state and federal constitutional and statutory requirements. Moreover, the three-judge panel’s decision fully complies with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Alabama. View "Dickson v. Rucho" on Justia Law