Courts and justice

a map of North Carolina that highlights counties which are legal deserts

Eight new public defender districts funded in the budget — but legal deserts remain

BY: - September 28, 2023

In May, the head of the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services told members of the Governor’s Crime Commission that almost half of the state’s 100 counties are “legal deserts,” meaning there was less than one lawyer for every 1,000 residents. But the state budget could help with that, Mary Pollard told officials. At […]

NC prison staffer sounds alarm on overcrowding, neglect of basic prisoner health and safety

BY: - September 27, 2023

A prison so packed that people on suicide watch are sleeping in 5-by-5-foot holding cages. A disabled Vietnam veteran sent to segregation after his peers attacked him. Incarcerated people spending months in solitary confinement, not because of misconduct inside the prison, but because they’re waiting for a bed to become available elsewhere. These were among […]

a photo of the L. Richardson Preyer Federal Courthouse

North Carolina’s new abortion law is back in federal court

BY: - September 26, 2023

Under the state’s new abortion law, doctors are not allowed to prescribe abortion pills before a patient’s embryo is visible on an ultrasound, which happens at about five or six weeks.   Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Dr. Beverly Gray, a Duke OB-GYN, are asking a federal court judge to put a freeze on that provision […]

Booking photos from the Fulton County conspiracy case

Bookman: Trump, ‘Cop City’ RICO cases show danger of such laws

BY: - September 21, 2023

Georgia’s wide-ranging version of an anti-racketeering act, or RICO, puts a powerful weapon in the hands of prosecutors. And like any powerful weapon, it can be used for good, or for ill. The best safeguards against its abuse must be judges and juries, and both will come into play in the two major RICO-based prosecutions […]

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee

U.S. attorney general defends Hunter Biden investigation under questioning by House GOP

BY: - September 21, 2023

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Republicans led by Ohio’s Jim Jordan on Wednesday grilled U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland about how the Justice Department has handled its investigation and prosecution of Hunter Biden on felony gun charges. The questions about the president’s son came after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last week asked several committees, including the […]

The words Legal Aid of North Carolina and an image of the scales of justice

Legal Aid lawyers carved out of tuition assistance program in latest budget

BY: - September 20, 2023

Under the latest state proposal budget, the North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Foundation would still provide tuition assistance for prosecutors and public defenders — but not Legal Aid lawyers. The carveout, located on page 413 of the most recent version of the state budget Republican lawmakers will vote on this week, restricts NC LEAF funds […]

an aging prisoner in his cell

Latest budget still includes expanded eligibility for prison medical release

BY: - September 20, 2023

Following the lead of a budget drafted by Senate legislators earlier this year, the latest version of lawmakers’ budget proposal would expand medical release for elderly people in state prisons. Current law dictating the medical release of old or sick incarcerated people is very narrow: they must be so sick that they’re likely to die […]

A graphic from a recent Prison Policy Initiative report that emphasizes the multiple crises that can be helped by expanding access to housing.

Monday numbers: New reports tout ‘Housing First’ to support formerly imprisoned people

BY: - September 18, 2023

The phrase, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” is often hurled at people who have criminal records. But the “time” of a person’s punishment often extends beyond prison walls and follows a person home. People with criminal records who have paid their debt to society frequently have a hard time getting […]

Justice Anita Earls

NC Legislative Black Caucus defends Supreme Court justice’s right to talk about bias in the courts

BY: - September 13, 2023

The NC Legislative Black Caucus defended NC Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls on Wednesday, with members saying the investigation into her comments about bias in the judicial system violates her First Amendment rights.  Earls, the only Black woman on the state’s high court and one of two Democrats, sued the state Judicial Standards Commission in […]

flashing lights on a police car

Legally required racial data can still fail to prove police stop people for ‘driving while Black’

BY: - September 12, 2023

Jeremy Johnson had parked his Ford Mustang beside a “No Trespassing” sign in the parking lot of Raleigh North Apartments in the early morning hours of Nov. 22, 2017. As Raleigh Police Officer B.A. Kuchen patrolled the lot, it looked to him like Johnson slid his body under the steering wheel, apparently trying to hide […]

Governor Roy Cooper speaks as Judge Allison Riggs and Judge Carolyn Thompson look on.

Gov. Cooper selects Judge Allison Riggs to fill NC Supreme Court vacancy

BY: - September 11, 2023

Nine months after Governor Roy Cooper appointed Allison Riggs to serve on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Cooper turned to Riggs again today, asking her to fill the vacancy created by the recent resignation of state Associate Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan. In announcing the promotion Monday afternoon, the governor voiced unwavering confidence in […]

Abortion pills

U.S. Justice Department asks Supreme Court to take up abortion pill case

BY: - September 9, 2023

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday asked the Supreme Court to decide whether the abortion pill should remain on the market after two lower courts issued differing opinions about its use. The case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will likely be the second time the conservative-leaning Supreme […]