Archives by: Melissa Boughton

Melissa Boughton

About the author

Melissa Boughton worked as the Courts and Law Reporter at NC Policy Watch from 2016 to 2020.

Melissa Boughton's articles and posts

Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

With state elections bill sleight of hand, GOP seeks to revive enjoined voter ID law

Republicans add language in effort to circumvent two court injunctions; final vote today What started as a bipartisan effort to address the challenge of administering an election during the COVID-19 pandemic has devolved into a battle over another Republican attempt to require North Carolinians to show a photo ID to cast a ballot in November.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

PW exclusive: Inside the state Supreme Court’s landmark Racial Justice Act ruling

When Andrew Darrin Ramseur, a Black man, walked into court in Iredell County on May 10, 2010 to face charges related to the murder of two white victims, there was a noticeable difference about his side of the room: the first four rows behind the defense table were cordoned off by yellow crime scene tape.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Black North Carolina justice system leaders speak in support of protesters’ calls for change

Powerful Black leaders across North Carolina in charge of administering justice are speaking out to support protesters calling for change in the aftermath of the homicide of George Floyd. Floyd’s story is all too familiar to Black Americans – he was killed on camera as a result of police brutality, and now his name has become another hashtag, another call to white people to recognize their privilege and the systemic racism that enables ongoing violence and injustice.

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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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