Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Death Penalty Trials, 2014

Eight cases were tried capitally before a jury in North Carolina last year.

Three cases ended in death:

Juan Rodriguez, Forsyth County.
Jonathan Richardson, Johnston County.
Bernard Lamp, Iredell County

Four cases ended in life without the possibility of parole.
Justin Hurd, Mecklenburg County.
Brian McQueen, Lee County.
Armand DeVega, Wake County.
Cedric Hobbs, Cumberland County.

One Case ended with a hung jury on the issue of guilt.
Demarcus Ivey, Mecklenburg County.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cedric Hobbs Gets Life in Cumberland County

After the State spent three months trying to get death against Cedric Hobbs, a jury hung on the issue of punishment, resulting in a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The press is reporting the jury was hung 11-1 for death.

At sentencing, Hobbs told the victim's family: "I apologize most to Mrs. Harris' family," he said. "I know they don't want to hear me talking. I know they probably think I'm just a monster without a heart who don't care. I can see they are good people. I can also put myself in that position because I would want restitution. Even though I know I don't deserve any type of sympathy, I ask for forgiveness from the family and everybody here that hates me right now."

Studies show that the State's decision to proceed capitally costs more than $500,000 more than proceeding non-capitally, rarely results in a death sentence, and even more rarely results in an execution.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Innocent Man on NC Death Row for 30 Years.

From the New York Times (story and picture):

LUMBERTON, N.C. — Thirty years after their convictions in the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in rural North Carolina, based on confessions that they quickly repudiated and said were coerced, two mentally disabled half brothers were declared innocent and ordered re
leased Tuesday by a judge here.

The case against the men, always weak, fell apart after DNA evidence implicated another man whose possible involvement had been somehow overlooked by the authorities even though he lived only a block from where the victim’s body was found, and he had admitted to committing a similar rape and murder around the same time.

The startling shift in fortunes for the men, Henry Lee McCollum, 50, who has spent three decades on death row, and Leon Brown, 46, who was serving a life sentence, provided one of the most dramatic examples yet of the potential harm from false, coerced confessions and of the power of DNA tests to exonerate the innocent.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Unanimous Life Verdict in Lee County

Today, a jury returned a unanimous life verdict in the case of Brian McQueen in Lee County. McQueen had been convicted in a robbery-murder of a convenience store clerk. McQueen had a very low IQ and other mental health issues.

Some press about the case from the Sanford Herald, here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Wake County Jury -- Returns Life Again!

A wake jury returns verdict of Life in case of Armond Devega in late-May.

This is the fifth time in seven years that Wake County Juries have rejected the death sentence, at an enormous expense to the taxpayers of Wake County. No one was sentenced to death from Wake in that time.

The case was extensively reported on. Read the story here

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Conservatives Spend Big to Spread Lies About Justice Hudson

From The News and Observer, Editorial, April 30, 2014.

Big-money PAC presents a scurrilous attack on Justice Robin Hudson

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/04/30/3824124/a-big-money-pac-presents-a-scurrilous.html#storylink=cpy
Justice for All North Carolina is an independent political group out to defeat Democrats in judicial elections in North Carolina. The group might have the distinction now of being responsible for the most repugnant ad in this election cycle.

Justice for All is favored by a right-wing group called the Republican State Leadership Committee. The committee recently provided $650,000 to Justice for All, which has launched a vicious attack ad on incumbent Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson. The group has a nationwide effort going to defeat judges it deems to be too liberal and to replace them with ideological conservatives.

The RSLC has in the past gotten money from, among others, the Koch brothers, Charles and David, billionaires from a Kansas-based family business involved in oil and a host of endeavors. The Kochs have funded far-flung, and far-right, political advertising all over the United States.

In this latest attack, a black-and-white commercial accuses Hudson of siding with child molesters in one ruling. In fact, the state high court ruled in a 2010 decision that convicted child molesters could be subject to being electronically monitored even if they had been convicted before the monitoring law was passed. Hudson was part of a dissent.

Hudson took the view that applying the new law to those previously convicted fell under the category of an ex-post facto law, a law that institutes retroactive punishment. That might be something conservatives would like to be able to do, but it happens to be unconstitutional in the United States.

Hudson made her call based on her interpretation of the Constitution, exactly what a justice is supposed to do.

But now, Justice for All North Carolina is using a deceptive ad to attack Hudson, a respected incumbent and sound justice, by simplifying what happened and going straight for a claim that Hudson “sides with child predators.” The point is to knock Hudson out of the race in the primary stage. Her opponents are Republicans Eric Levinson, a Superior Court judge, and Jeanette Doran, a lawyer who has worked for a conservative group connected to ... drum roll ... Art Pope, GOP funder-in-chief and Gov. Pat McCrory’s powerful budget director.

Some of the same money sources that helped dump this trash into the living rooms of North Carolinians also supported the unfortunate campaign of incumbent Justice Paul Newby, who defeated a Supreme Court challenge from the respected Judge Sam J. Ervin IV in 2012 thanks to millions of dollars in outside money and the regrettable “banjo ad” talking about how Newby would be tough on crime.

It was amateurish and insulting to the intelligence of voters, but money talked, and Newby won.

The aim of such ads, which are appearing more frequently these days in supposedly nonpartisan judicial races, is to politicize the judiciary, making sure those seeking election to judgeships will pledge their loyalty to conservative ideology.

The ad against Hudson reaches a new low in terms of negative campaigning. It really does. She sides with child molesters?

Ideally, a political party would reject this kind of thing outright. But we doubt the state GOP will do the right thing and reject these maneuvers. No, too many party leaders apparently side with the deceivers. That is unfair to the voters of North Carolina and to the state itself.

Monday, April 14, 2014

NC Supreme Court Criminal Decisions, April 11, 2014

State v. Barnes. Per curiam affirmed, Wayne County, Christopher Barnes. (unpublished COA decision, no legal affect).

State v. Stokes.  Appeal of unanimous unpublished decision of COA vacating conviction for kidnapping.

COA erred in failing to determine, when vacating kidnapping for insufficient evidence, if there was sufficient evidence for a lesser included offense. If so, they should remand on judgment for that offense. Because there was sufficient evidence of attempted 2d kidnapping, reverse for entry of judgment and resentencing on lesser included of attempted 2d kidnapping.