Law and the Courts

Law and the Courts

Law and the Courts Top Story

Senate committee rehashes 2020 battles over election rules – here’s what happened and what they were debating

Republicans on the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee questioned the legitimacy of rule changes enacted last year by the State Board of Elections in a contentious two-hour hearing Tuesday with the board's executive director Karen Brinson Bell. Sen. Paul Newton, a Cabarrus County Republican co-chairing the committee, described the board's settlement with voting rights groups, which resulted in a modified process of voting, as "secretly negotiated" and motivated by partisan advantage.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts News Top Story

NC courts expand in-person proceedings, but online options may not be going anywhere

As with many other public and private institutions, the North Carolina court system is slowly but surely reopening to more in-person proceedings as COVID-19 infection and death rates continue to trend downward. It could, however, be a very long time before things return to "normal." Indeed, if recently introduced legislation and the assessments of some experts end up holding sway, online proceedings could become a permanent part of state judicial proceedings.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

AOC Director Andrew Heath kept his special judgeship and received an unprecedented pay raise. But is he really doing two jobs?

On his first day as director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, Andrew Heath got a pay raise of more than $12,000. While the salary hike might be expected for a directorship, Heath's case is different. He had a benefit most state and private-sector workers don't have: his choice of salaries.

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

‘Raise the Age’: Where things stand after one year

Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, NC's new juvenile justice law is making a difference A state juvenile justice committee plans to ask the General Assembly for $6.7 million to accommodate more teens in the Raise the Age program.

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

After a pandemic pause, jury trials are back. The assurance of a “jury of peers,” however, may be missing.

Plus: A guide for what to expect from a jury summons now After state Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby let a statewide pause to most in-person court proceedings expire, some jurisdictions are pressing ahead with jury trials.

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

After Trump’s rush of executions, President Biden and a Democratic Congress want to abolish the federal death penalty

While former President Trump was ending his term by granting last-minute clemency to aides and those in his close circles convicted of white-collar crimes and obstruction of justice, his administration was ordering the executions of 13 people on ...
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Law and the Courts News Top Story

Legal scholars: Constitution clear that Trump’s impeachment for role in Capitol attack is appropriate

As the U.S. House impeached President Trump for the second time for "incitement of insurrection" Wednesday afternoon, many legal and political science scholars have decried his behavior and are demanding accountability to the Constitution.  The Constitution lays the ground rules in Article 2, Section 4...

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

New Administrative Office of Courts director replaced top employees with Republican loyalists on his first day

Five employees asked to resign with just a few hours' notice Last Friday, within hours of being appointed by State Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby as the head of a key judicial office, Andrew Heath began purging it of some career employees. As new Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) director, Heath forced top senior employees to resign with only a few hours' notice and replaced them with Republican loyalists, including the daughter of a conservative appellate judge.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Fewer people incarcerated in NC’s county jails during the pandemic, but the ones left are staying longer

Backlogged court system and delayed trials create social justice inequities during COVID-19

While the number of people in county jails has dropped because of the pandemic, some incarcerated people in North Carolina are staying locked up longer, a study monitoring these populations shows.

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

The Supreme Court could strike down Obamacare. Here’s what’s at stake.

WASHINGTON— The fate of the sweeping 2010 health care law known as Obamacare is again in limbo, with the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday scheduled to hear arguments over whether the statute should be overturned. States are at the heart of the case; nearly every one has made an argument about why the Affordable Care Act, as it's officially titled, should be kept or struck down.

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Law and the Courts News

Election 2020: GOP judicial candidates appear to pull off clean sweep

At the end of long night of close contests, Republican candidates appeared on the verge of pulling off a somewhat surprising clean sweep of statewide races for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. With an unknown number of mail-in ballots yet to be counted, however, at least one (and possibly others) appear to remain too close to call.

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

Supreme Court refuses to take up Equal Rights Amendment dispute; advocates persist

One month after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, having argued that the nation needs the Equal Rights Amendment, the surviving justices have dismissed an effort by women’s groups to enshrine the ERA in the U.S. Constitution. The court refused to take up the matter at the behest of ERA proponents, who will instead make their case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, which they’d hoped to bypass.

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

Special DC update: The Barrett confirmation hearings

Republicans, including Tillis, endorse controversial nomination while Democrats express deep concerns Day Two of the extraordinary U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett stretched into the evening hours yesterday, but the event generated few surprises and little new information as the nominee avoided taking controversial stances.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

In open letter, more than 5,000 lawyers oppose Barrett Supreme Court nomination

[Editor’s note: On Friday, Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG), the nation’s largest network of attorneys committed to upholding human rights and equal justice for all, in partnership with Alliance for Justice, a national association of over 120 organizations that leads the fight for a fair America, submitted the following open letter, signed by more than 5,000 attorneys representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, to the United States Senate objecting to the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. It is the largest known lawyer opposition letter to a Supreme Court nominee. Click here to see explore the signatures]

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts News Top Story

Purges or list maintenance? How voter rolls have become so polarized

Inactive registered voters in North Carolina can cast ballots In the last decade, millions of registered voters across the county  have been removed from voter rolls. In 2019, Ohio removed more than 460,000 voter registration files from its list. Georgia removed 313,000 people from its rolls in October 2019 alone, and in Michigan, from 2011 to 2018, 1.2 million voters were removed from voter lists. 

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

Slavery, lynching and the era of public hangings

Capital punishment arrived in the colony of North Carolina as part of English common law. Even misdemeanors warranted harsh corporal punishment and a long list of felonies qualified for the death penalty. People were executed not only for murder but also rape, theft, arson, and assault.

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