The N.C. Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice

By Shana Fulton

This blog post summarizes some of the recent activities of the newly formed North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice (“TREC”) chaired by N.C. Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls and N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein. The TREC consists of 24 individuals representing policy makers, civil rights advocates, judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors and law enforcement officers. The full membership can be found at the TREC’s website at www.ncdoj.gov/TREC.

The TREC has had two meetings and one public comment session. The first meeting on July 10, 2020, included an introduction by Gov. Roy Cooper. Justice Earls and Attorney General Stein explained how the TREC would accomplish its work. The members then each shared what they hoped they could contribute to the TREC and what perspective they hoped they could gain from the TREC to share with their organizations and to encourage and enact further meaningful change to the criminal justice system.

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N.C. Marks an Important Moment for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice

By Josh Stein 

Tomorrow, July 10, will be the first convening of the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, which I am co-chairing with Justice Anita Earls.

This Task Force has been created to examine our criminal justice system through a lens of racial equity. In North Carolina, we have long sought to improve our criminal justice system. Now, we have the opportunity—the imperative—to explicitly consider racial equity as we continue this effort.

The inequities that African Americans experience—whether it’s in the economy, health care, our schools, or the criminal justice system—are pervasive, just as they are wrong. Even today, African Americans are suffering death at a greatly disproportionate rate from COVID-19 due to longstanding inequities.

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Chief Justice Beasley Extends Certain Emergency Directives Through July 20

By Kasi Robinson

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has issued an order extending Emergency Directives 9-16 through July 20, 2020.

Relevant to criminal practitioners, these Emergency Directives provide:

No sessions of court may be scheduled if doing so would contravene current public health guidelines. Remote hearings should be used to the greatest extent possible. (Emergency Directive 9.)

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Court Reopening Plans, Video Conferencing Rules, and Other COVID-19 Updates

By Kasi Robinson

Some time has passed since the initial flurry of court orders modifying deadlines, postponing in-person hearings, and setting guidelines for remote hearings. In an attempt to stay up to date with the latest orders and announcements from the state and federal courts within North Carolina as those courts begin to contemplate reopening, here is a compilation of the most recent items within each jurisdiction. A high-level summary is included below each order, but the specific language of each order should be carefully reviewed alongside any additional orders issued by a presiding judge in a particular case.

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Justice Beasley Continues Trial Court Deadlines into June

Daniel Adams

Kasi Robinson

By Daniel Adams and Kasi Robinson

On April 13, 2020, Chief Justice Beasley issued another order further extending certain District and Superior Court filing deadlines and limitations periods into June 2020.  Until this order was issued, these deadlines were set to expire this Friday, April 17, pursuant to Justice Beasley’s March 19 order. The key provisions of the latest order are below.

Extension of Time and Periods of Limitation

  • All pleadings, motions, notices, and other documents and papers due to be filed in any county on or after March 16, 2020 and before the close of business June 1, 2020 in civil actions, criminal actions, estates, and special proceedings shall be deemed to be timely filed if filed before the close of business on June 1, 2020.
  • All “other acts that were or are due to be done” in any county on or after March 16, 2020 and before the close of business on June 1, 2020 in civil actions, criminal actions, estates, and special proceedings will be timely if done before close of business on June 1, 2020.
  • This order does not apply to filings or acts due in the N.C. Appellate Courts.
  • As reiterated by Chief Business Court Judge Bledsoe’s April 14, 2020 Order, Chief Justice Beasley’s April 13, 2020 Order applies to all actions pending before the N.C. Business Court.

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What are all those dates again? And another extension from Justice Beasley

By Jessi Thaller-Moran

I know it is difficult keeping track of all the moving dates and deadlines. For your convenience, here is a chart with all the current extensions. Below the chart is an update about Justice Beasley’s latest order pushing out state trial court proceedings into June.

 

 

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COVID-19 Criminal Justice Update (Apr. 1, 2020)

By Daniel Adams 

With coronavirus infections multiplying exponentially around the globe, countries, states, and localities are taking action to slow the spread. This update does not attempt to recount all that has changed since my last post. In particular, I do not catalogue all the state and local stay-at-home orders that have been enacted—though the North Carolina Judicial Branch’s COVID-19 Resource Page appears to have aggregated them all. Rather, I focus just on recent developments involving North Carolina state and federal courts and of particular interest to criminal justice practitioners.

[Note: This post was updated on April 3, 2020, as reflected below.]

NC State Courts

As reported earlier, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley previously entered an order extending filing deadlines and certain limitations periods in the trial courts through April 17, 2020. After some initial debate about whether Justice Beasley’s order applied in the Business Court, Chief Business Court Judge Louis Bledsoe answered that question in the affirmative, by order entered May 23. There was no doubt that Justice Beasley’s March 19 order did not apply to filings due in the appellate courts. Late last week, however, Justice Beasley entered another order extending all appellate court deadlines that fall between March 27 and April 30, 2020, for 60 days. The March 27 order also encourages electronic filing and credits back secure-leave scheduled in April and May 2020.

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More Judicial Updates on COVID-19 (Mar. 19, 2020)

By Daniel Adams 

North Carolina’s courts have taken further steps to address the impact of COVID-19 on the court system.

North Carolina Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will not be holding travel sessions in April or May. Cases previously scheduled for April or May may still be heard, at the litigants’ option:

 

  1. Via WebEx the week of May 4 at a specific date and time set by the Court,
  2. At a later date, or
  3. The matter may be decided on the briefs

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Fight Hunger, Help Others in the COVID-19 Pandemic – Participate in the Legal Feeding Frenzy and Support Your Local Food Bank!

Michele Livingstone

Will Quick

By Michele Livingstone and Will Quick

We are in unprecedented times with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  It is now more important than ever that we help our neighbors and those who are not as fortunate. I am confident that each of you is doing your part.

Even in the best of times, however, over 1.5 Million North Carolinians struggle with hunger—of those, nearly half a million are children. With public schools and many religious and nonprofit organizations that traditionally serve the food insecure in our communities being closed for indefinite periods, and government leaders calling for social distancing to help limit the spread of Coronavirus, that need is never more pressing than now.

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Judicial Updates on COVID-19

By Daniel Adams 

Criminal Justice Section members should pay close attention to rapidly developing guidance from state and federal courts concerning COVID-19. The most recent guidance is summarized below, and the relevant orders are linked. Please also check with your local courts to track developments affecting you and your clients; as of 11:00 a.m. Monday, March 16, 2020, 16 counties were reporting court closings and/or advisories.

 

NC State Courts

Chief Justice Beasley entered an order on Friday, March 13 regarding the operation of the North Carolina court system.

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