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At issue was the validity of the procedures prescribed in N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-1340.19A - 15A-1340.19(D) (the Act) for the sentencing of juveniles convicted of first-degree murder in light of Miller v. Alabama, 467 U.S. 460 (2012) and its progeny. Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and other crimes he committed when he was sixteen years old. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the murder conviction, a sentence that was then mandatory. After Miller was decided, the trial court resentenced Defendant to life imprisonment without parole. On appeal, Defendant challenged the constitutionality of the Act. The Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the Act but reversed the resentencing judgment, concluding that the trial court failed to make adequate findings of fact to support its decision to impose the sentence. The Supreme Court modified and affirmed, holding (1) the Act does not incorporate a presumption in favor of a sentence of life without parole upon juveniles convicted of first-degree murder on the basis of a theory other than the felony murder rule; (2) the Act is not impermissibly vague, conducive to the imposition of arbitrary punishments, or an unconstitutional ex post facto law; and (3) further sentencing proceedings are required in this case. View "State v. James" on Justia Law

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At issue was when the claims that Plaintiffs asserted against Defendant, the Town of Carthage, accrued and whether Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by a one-year, two-year, three-year, or ten-year statute of limitations and the doctrine of estoppel by the acceptance of benefits. The Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiffs’ cause of action accrued upon the Town’s exaction of the unlawful impact fees against Plaintiffs; (2) Plaintiffs’ claims against the Town arose from a liability created by statute that was subject to the three-year statute of limitations set out in N.C. Gen. Stat. 1-52(2); and (3) Plaintiffs’ claims against the Town were not barred by the doctrine of estoppel by the acceptance of benefits. View "Quality Built Homes Inc. v. Town of Carthage" on Justia Law

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Based upon the findings and conclusions and the recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission, the Supreme Court concluded that Respondent Gary L. Henderson, a Judge of the General Court of Justice, District Court Division 26, be publicly reprimanded for violations of Canons 1, 2A, 3A, and 3B of the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct amounting to conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute, in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. 7A-376. The Supreme Court then ordered that Henderson be publicly reprimanded, holding that the Commission’s findings of fact were supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence in the record and that the Commission’s findings of fact supported its conclusions of law. View "In re Henderson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners lawfully took disciplinary action against a certified professional and her corporation (collectively, Petitioners) for failure to follow a rule requiring compliance with the terms of a peer review contract, and the Board’s decision was based on substantial evidence. The Board found that Petitioners, a certified public accountant (CPA) and her firm, failed to comply with required auditing standards and failed to fulfill the terms of a peer review contract. The Board determined that this conduct violated rules and standards promulgated by the Board. The Board suspended the firm’s registration, imposed monetary penalties on the CPA, and revoked the CPA’s certificate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board’s action was not an unconstitutional exercise of judicial power; and (2) the Board’s decision was supported by substantial evidence, notwithstanding a procedural error alleged by Petitioners. View "In re Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Juvenile Code does not mandate that a petition alleging a juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent must be filed only by the director or authorized agent of the department of social services of the county “in which the juvenile resides or is found.” See N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-101. The Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Youth and Family Division (YFS) filed a juvenile petition with the District Court in Mecklenburg County alleging that A.P. was a neglected and dependent juvenile. The trial court concluded that A.P. was a neglected and dependent juvenile. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that YFS did not have standing to file the juvenile petition because Mecklenburg County was not the juvenile’s county of residence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statutory sections in the Juvenile Code governing parties and venue did not mandate dismissal of the juvenile petition under the circumstances of this case. View "In re A.P." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that summary judgment was improper in this case alleging fraudulent concealment and professional negligence. In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants failed properly to prepare and file her delinquent tax returns for tax years 2006 through 2009 and intentionally deceived her about the status of the returns. The trial court allowed Defendants’ motion for partial summary judgment regarding Plaintiff’s fraudulent concealment claim, the corresponding claim for punitive damages, and Defendants’ statute of repose defense for professional negligence for tax years 2006 and 2007. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s decision regarding the statute of repose and affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s fraudulent concealment claim and Plaintiff’s related claim for punitive damages. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed regarding the fraudulent concealment claim and the accompanying punitive damages claim, as well as the triggering event for the running of the statute of repose. View "Head v. Gould Killian CPA Group, P.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals that affirmed the order of the trial court requiring Father’s consent before proceeding with the adoption of a minor child (Child), holding that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the trial court’s order. Specifically, the Court held (1) as a matter of law, Father’s evidence did not establish that he made reasonable and consistent payments for the support of Mother or Child before the filing of the adoption petition; and (2) therefore, the evidence was legally insufficient to support the trial court’s order requiring Father’s consent. View "In re Adoption of C.H.M." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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There was sufficient evidence of restraint that was separate and apart from that inherent in the commission of Defendant’s first-degree sexual offense to support Defendant's second-degree kidnapping conviction. Defendant was convicted of several offenses, including felonious breaking or entering, first-degree sexual offense, second-degree kidnapping, misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury, and intimidating a witness. The court of appeals vacated Defendant’s conviction for second-degree kidnapping, concluding that the evidence was insufficient to prove that any restraint was separate and apart from the force necessary to facilitate the sex offense. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the State presented sufficient evidence of the element of restraint that was separate and apart from that inherent in the commission of the sex offense. View "State v. China" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals determining that the trial court did not err in excluding evidence of the complainant’s history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) pursuant to N.C. R. Evid. 412(b)(2) where other evidence showed that Defendant was not infected with those STDs. Defendant was found guilty of first-degree sex offense with a child. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred by excluding evidence of the complainant’s history of STDs because its inclusion would have made sexual contact between the complainant and Defendant less likely, thereby qualifying for the Rule 412(b)(2) exception. The court of appeals disagreed, concluding that the exception was not applicable in this case. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant’s offer of proof indicated that the STD evidence fell within the Rule 412(b)(2) exception, and therefore, the court of appeals erred in ruling that there was no error in the trial court’s exclusion of the evidence. View "State v. Jacobs" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The General Assembly intended for N.C. Gen. Stat. 9-95(e)(3) of the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act, which provides that a Class 1 misdemeanor “shall be punished as a Class I felon[y]” when the misdemeanant has committed a previous offense punishable under the Act, to establish a separate felony offense rather than merely to serve as a sentence enhancement of the underlying misdemeanor. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pleaded guilty to a marijuana possession charge, acknowledged his prior convictions in violation of the Act, and admitted his habitual felon status. Although the marijuana possession charge was a Class 1 misdemeanor, the judge treated it as a Class I felony because of the prior conviction. Because of Defendant’s habitual felon status, the court punished the Class I felony as a Class E felony. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the substantive offense remained a class 1 misdemeanor, and consequently, Defendant’s habitual felon status could not be used to further enhance a sentence that was not itself a substantive offense. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court properly elevated Defendant’s possession of marijuana offense and then correctly punished that substantive Class I felony as a Class E felony on the basis of his habitual felon status. View "State v. Howell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law