News

According to WRAL, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission has found that 70-year-old inmate Joseph Sledge’s claim of innocence in two Bladen County murders is supported by sufficient evidence to warrant further review for a three-judge panel.

Sledge, who has been behind bars since 1978 after his conviction for those murders, has steadfastly maintained his innocence over the years and has spent countless hours researching the law and asking investigators, judges and anyone else who’d listen to revisit his case.

Read more about his case here.

News

VoteHere’s something North Carolina voters can put on their wish lists for 2015:  voting reforms like those enacted by the Illinois legislature earlier this week that make registration simpler and more reliable, cut election costs in the long run, reduce voter fraud and, most importantly, expand the right and ability to vote.

In just about every way, the Illinois bill is the polar opposite of North Carolina’s House Bill 589, enacted in August 2013 and widely criticized as one of the most restrictive voting laws in the country.

Here are the highlights, as summarized by the Brennan Center’s DeNora Getachew:

The Illinois bill has three major pieces:

  1. It will implement electronic registration, which means more voters will have the opportunity to sign up when they interact with a government agency.
  2. It will create a permanent same-day registration (SDR) system. SDR will increase convenience by allowing citizens to register and vote on the same day, either before or on Election Day.
  3. It will increase early voting options by extending them to include the three days — most notably, the Saturday and Sunday — before Election Day.

Illinois had already adopted online voter registration in 2013, joining 17 other states doing the same — recognizing that it would increase voter participation, particularly among young people, and would reduce registration costs.

“This law will increase participation in our democracy,” State Senator Don Harmon said at the time. “But it will do more than that. It will also save the state money. Processing a paper registration costs 83 cents. Processing an online application costs 3 cents.”

With the new law, Illinois also joins “ERIC” — the Electronic Registration Information Center — which helps states share voter information, making voting rolls more accurate and adapting to the mobility of voters.  Eleven other states and Washington, D.C., had already joined the center.

To see more about how ERIC works, watch below.

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News

Gov. Pat McCrory today joined 14 states and the governors of three others in a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s recent executive order on immigration, which among other things halted the deportation of certain undocumented immigrants.

“The president has exceeded the balance of power provisions clearly laid out in the U.S. Constitution and his unilateral expansion of power must be challenged,” McCrory said in a statement. “In North Carolina, the 10th most populous state, the president’s actions are likely to put even more financial strain on our state’s government services.  It’s disappointing that the president has shown little regard for states which must shoulder the costs of his actions.”

McCrory appears to have joined the lawsuit in his capacity as governor and without the participation of Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Governor’s counsel Robert Stephens signed the complaint on McCrory’s behalf.

Read the full complaint here.

News

The Marshall Project has this excellent summary of the grand jury proceedings that concluded yesterday with the return of no indictment of Ferguson police office Darren Wilson for the death of teenager Michael Brown.

The summary has links to many relevant stories and sources, including legal commentary on the unusual nature of the prosecutor’s handling of the proceedings — pointing out as some experts have that prosecutors know how to get an indictment when they want one.

Referring to St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s quick release of grand jury testimony and his unusual failure to get an indictment in the case, writer Andrew Cohen says:

The release of the evidence may or may not change the minds of people around the world who have been waiting in suspense for the past 108 days for this story to come to some sort of resolution. But it is unlikely to change the view of some legal observers that McCulloch manipulated the result here by managing the process. This was not a typical grand jury proceeding in which only a few witnesses testify, the prosecutor tightly controls what grand jurors hear, and the suspect does not testify at length about why he should not be charged.

How do we know it is rare for a prosecutor to manage a grand jury in this fashion? We know because the grand jury process has become pro forma in most jurisdictions and because prosecutors almost always get an indictment from them when they want one. On the federal level, Five Thirty Eight reported last night, “U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return in indictment in 11 of them.” That’s about 0.01 percent of the time.

News

VoteLate yesterday, the state Board of Elections completed the recount of votes cast in the Supreme Court race between sitting Justice Cheri Beasley and her challenger, Winston-Salem attorney Mike Robinson, with Beasley coming out ahead by more than 5,400 votes.

When Robinson initially requested the recount, the tally showed Beasley ahead by 5,427 votes.  Final recount totals gave Beasley a 5,410 vote margin.

The Beasley win moves the balance on the court a little more to the center, with four Republicans  (Chief Justice Mark Martin and Justices Robert Edmunds Jr., Paul Newby and Barbara Jackson) and three Democrats (Justices Robin Hudson, Beasley and Sam Ervin IV).

Justice Beasley had the incumbent advantage after having been appointed to the court in late 2012 by outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue, but Robinson had the backing of well-heeled conservative donors pushing for Republican dominance on the court.  He also got a last-minute boost from the Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee, which threw in $400,ooo in October to blitz the “I Like Mike”  jingle on television during the last week of the campaign.

According to state Board of Elections public information officer Josh Lawson, state law gives Robinson the option of demanding a second recount in a sample of precincts, which would be conducted by the hand-to-eye recount method.  He has 24 hours from the completion of the first recount to ask for that, making his deadline today at 7:48 p.m.

UPDATE:  Per NPR’s Jorge Valencia, Robinson has conceded the race to Justice Beasley. See below:

npr

And as now confirmed by the SBOE, per below, Beasley has won the race.

SBOE

 

Click here to see the final recount numbers.