Yanqi Xu

Yanqi Xu, Courts, Law and Democracy Reporter, came to Policy Watch in December of 2020 from the Investigative Reporting Workshop in D.C., where she combined data and reporting to cover public accountability issues. Yanqi graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 2019. Her multimedia work appeared in PolitiFact and the Columbia Missourian, and was featured on the local NPR and NBC affiliates. Originally from China, Yanqi started her career producing newscasts to tell people what’s going on around the world.

Monday numbers: Criminal justice reforms in two NC judicial districts show promise

By: - October 25, 2021

Tool allows magistrates to make more effective decisions on when to impose bail requirements The UNC School of Government's Criminal Justice Innovation Lab released two reports last month detailing the results of  pretrial procedure reforms piloted in two judicial districts: Forsyth County...


As U.S. Senate Republicans again stall voting rights legislation, advocates call for stronger protection

By: - October 21, 2021

With opposition from U.S. Senate Republicans, Democrats again failed to meet the 60-votes threshold Wednesday needed to move the landmark “Freedom to Vote Act” along for debate. The bill would expand voter registration, including automatic voter registration and same-day registration, end partisan congressional redistricting, enhance voting by mail, require at least 15 days of early […]

Wake district attorney faces spirited challenge in March 2022 primary

By: - October 19, 2021

Challenger says Democratic incumbent is behind the times on issues like the death penalty and marijuana For the first time since winning election in 2014, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman is facing a challenger in the 2022 Democratic primary: Damon Chetson, a criminal defense attorney who focuses on death penalty cases and high-level felonies in state and federal courts.

Voting rights advocates express concerns over redistricting process at the General Assembly

By: - October 13, 2021

As lawmakers began drawing voting district maps last week, voting rights advocates and Republican lawmakers differed sharply on the fairness and adequacy of the process. According to the advocates, the process is flawed and fails to deliver on the promise of transparency or to adequately consider community input.

State Supreme Court to consider possibility of involuntary recusal for Justices Berger and Barringer

By: - September 29, 2021

Court asks parties for briefs in case challenging 2018 constitutional amendments The Supreme Court of North Carolina issued an order Tuesday directing the parties in the case of NAACP v. Moore and Berger to submit new briefs addressing questions surrounding the recusal of justices.

Ambitious criminal justice reform agenda spurred by George Floyd murder makes little headway in NC

By: - September 21, 2021

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May of 2020 and the demonstrations that ensued in scores of communities helped spur efforts across the nation during the months that followed to reassess systems of policing and criminal justice. North Carolina State Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed, D-Mecklenburg, says the Floyd murder illustrated an injustice in policing that is both “frightening” to a lot of people in the country and badly in need of attention...

Monday numbers: a closer look at the election turnout rates of white and Black voters

By: - September 20, 2021

As U.S. Senate Democrats united behind a bill dubbed the "Freedom to Vote Act" that would expand voter registration, promote nonpartisan redistricting and designate Election Day a federal holiday, experts at the Brennan Center for Justice have identified gaps in voter turnout that warrant stronger protection for non-white voters.

Superior Court permanently enjoins 2018 NC voter ID law

By: - September 17, 2021

A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 Friday that the state voter ID law enacted by the General Assembly in 2018 is unconstitutional. The law required voters to present a photo ID when casting their ballots, including provisional ones. Lawmakers approved Senate Bill 824 by overriding Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the legislation during a lame duck […]

Federal court strikes down NC law that barred farmworkers from seeking union representation via lawsuit settlements

By: - September 16, 2021

A federal district court judge on Wednesday entered a permanent injunction against a provision from the North Carolina Farm Act of 2017 that invalidated lawsuit settlements in which parties agree to recognize union representation of farmworkers as part of the agreement. The challenged provision was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by […]

Monday numbers: A closer look at mass incarceration in NC, and the implications for redistricting

By: - September 13, 2021

Last week, the Prison Policy Initiative published a report – "States of Incarceration: The Global Context 2021" – which compared the incarceration rate of each state in the U.S. to other countries' rates. The research think tank used U.S. and United Nations crime and incarceration data (including figures from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program) to illustrate a stark contrast between America and other countries.

NC House Democrats to file petitions to discuss gun control bills that stalled

By: - September 9, 2021

At a press conference Thursday, four North Carolina House Democrats announced their plans to file petitions to discharge, or to directly bring two bills onto the House floor, for discussion next week. The two bills would introduce a system to temporarily restrict access to firearms and to require a purchase permit for long guns. They […]

Redistricting public hearings fall short in accommodating public input, advocates say

By: - September 8, 2021

Starting this evening, lawmakers will travel to 13 locations throughout the state to host public hearings on redistricting, which will redefine the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts for up to a decade to come, including a new, 14th congressional district. However, it appears that members of the public will not be able to participate […]