Archives by: Melissa Boughton

Melissa Boughton

About the author

Melissa Boughton, Courts and Law Reporter, joined N.C. Policy Watch in September 2016. She covers local, state and federal courts and writes about key decisions that impact the lives of North Carolinians. Before joining the project, Melissa worked the crime and courts beats at The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.; The Winchester Star in Winchester, Va.; and The Kerrville Daily Times in Kerrville, TX. While reporting in Charleston, she covered the Emanuel church shootings and the police killing of Walter Scott. She was part of the team that was named a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in breaking news reporting for coverage of Scott’s death.

melissa@ncpolicywatch.com
919-861-1454

Melissa Boughton's articles and posts

Law and the Courts Top Story

Bipartisan elections bill wins committee approval, heads to state House floor

North Carolina House lawmakers will consider an elections bill today that would provide temporary funding and set up new election protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, but voting rights advocates say it doesn’t go far enough.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Big changes, challenges on the horizon as North Carolina courts move to reopen

On any given week prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of people went in and out of the Wake County courthouse without worrying about the crowds they’d encounter in the building. In courtrooms, defendants, attorneys, victims and public agency workers alike would squeeze into the pews as a judge conducted hearings on dockets that could drone on for hours. No one wore masks; no one compulsively sanitized their hands.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Legislators seek to prevent access to emails, other documents in voter ID lawsuit

North Carolina lawmakers say that they cannot be required to turn over communications and documents related to their most recent passage of a voter ID law because of an absolute legislative privilege. Six voters are challenging the law, enshrined in Senate Bill 824, which the legislature passed in December 2018 after voters approved a constitutional amendment on the subject..

Six voters are challenging the law, enshrined in Senate Bill 824, which the legislature passed in December 2018.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Monday numbers: How much the NC judicial system spends in a year and what it buys

Every year, the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts releases an annual report detailing its budget, programs and highlights from the year before. The 2018-19 annual report was released this week. Below are some of the featured numbers:

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COVID-19 Defending Democracy Law and the Courts News Top Story

PW special report: What NC must do to conduct a fair and safe election this fall

North Carolina advocates, election officials and lawmakers answer our questions about holding an election in the era of COVID-19 It’s not easy to forget the photos of masked Wisconsin voters standing in large lines waiting to cast a ballot in the middle of a pandemic. Residents there risked their health and lives to make their voices heard; they chose democracy in the face of uncertainty, and now, the rest of the nation has a chance to learn from them.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts

Uncharted territory: Solo attorneys, small law firms struggle with impacts of COVID-19

Some lawyers are taking side jobs now, but could face a flood of indigent clients when courts reopen  As courts across the state consider reopening, it’s expected that more people with criminal citations or charges will be found indigent after losing their jobs or a significant part of their income during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these people might need representation from public defenders, but they too, are struggling.

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

In their own words: North Carolina prisoners share experiences from the inside during COVID-19 pandemic

Many media outlets, including Policy Watch, have reported the Department of Public Safety’s side of the COVID-19 response, but it’s rare audiences get to hear from the people serving time. This compilation is meant to provide a glimpse of life in prison during this historic moment. Policy Watch knows the names of the incarcerated people, but is not publishing them because they fear retribution in prison for talking to media. Some of their stories have been edited and condensed for publication.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts News Top Story

Monday numbers: Incarceration and COVID-19

Last week, several civil rights organizations and incarcerated people filed a lawsuit seeking emergency help from the North Carolina Supreme Court. Conditions for battling the COVID-19 pandemic in prisons and jails are less than ideal, and they’ve asked justices to consider releasing to release as many incarcerated adults and youths as possible in the face of the rapidly spreading virus. Below are several numbers about incarceration and COVID-19 (numbers are current as of Sunday):

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts Top Story

PW special report, Part Four: COVID-19 pandemic poses dire threat to NC prisons and jails

Disease poised to spread like "wildfire" at overcrowded ICE detention facilities At Stewart Detention Center in southwest Georgia, 350 immigrants began starving themselves last week to protest the conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ana María Reichenbach, who used to live in North Carolina but is now in New York, spoke to Policy Watch last week about her friend who is being detained at Stewart, where immigrants picked up in North Carolina, as well as other states, are housed.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts News Top Story

PW special report, Part Three: COVID-19 pandemic poses dire threat to NC prisons and jails

The challenge of keeping kids and staff safe in juvenile detention facilities The needs of children in detention centers are almost identical to those of adults in jails and prisons, but their age and development can be an added challenge for officials to consider when responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. “They are uniquely ill-equipped to deal with this type of emotional and psychological strain that this virus is causing,” said Dawn Blagrove, Executive Director of Emancipate NC, formerly the Carolina Justice Policy Center.

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