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Most homeowners assume they own the soil and everything else that’s under their lawn.

But that may not be the case for homeowners in subdivisions built by the giant homebuilder D.R. Horton, which lists more than two dozen neighborhoods in the Raleigh and Greensboro area on its website.

As The Independent’s Lisa Sorg reported here, homeowners in several Triangle-area D.R. Horton subdivisions are finding out from a basic search at county Register of Deeds offices that the mineral rights to the house were split off at the time of purchase from the general deed.

Owning the mineral rights is a Colorado company that’s turns out to be—surpise! — a subsidiary of the homebuilder.

The mineral rights appear to give the energy company, in some cases, the right to drill and extract gas or other substances from below a home’s surface.

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The unemployed in North Carolina are in limbo once again, with the extended benefits for some of the long-term unemployment expected to dry up on Jan. 28 – less than three weeks from today.

The N.C. Division of Employment Security estimates 25,000 North Carolinians will be kicked off of their extended benefits by the end of the month, unless state officials take action in coming days to extend the federally-funded benefits past that date.

The anticipated Jan. 28 cut-off comes despite a two-month extension passed by the U.S. Congress on Dec. 23 that many thought would keep money flowing to the jobless to the end of February.

The state employment agency, known as the N.C. Employment Security Commission before being folded under the state’s commerce department, has posted a notice with limited information on its website about the cut-off .

As of December 23, Congress and the President authorized a two-month extension of emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) benefits and extended benefits. In North Carolina, the last payable week for extended benefits (EB) is expected to be January 28. Read More

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The number of people being affected by a standoff in the state legislature over unemployment benefits has ticked upwards again, now at 43,000 and 46,000 people.

The new estimate was released by the N.C. Employment Security Commission. Today marks the 40th day since April 16, when the benefits stopped for an estimated 37,000 people.

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A pending US Supreme Court case could have disastrous consequences for justice and fairness in North Carolina.  It could also present our new governor, Beverly Perdue, with one of the greatest challenges of her tenure.

The issue in the case is whether federal courts are required to pay for lawyers in state clemency proceedings.   The Court’s decision in the case could coincide with the end of the judicially imposed moratorium on executions in North Carolina.  If the case loses, Governor Perdue might find herself confronted with an unprecedented number of clemency decisions to make – just as all of those inmates have lost their attorneys.

Clemency is vitally important because it is the last chance to prevent the execution of an innocent person or someone who for another reason should not be executed.  It is a non-legal proceeding that allows the governor to look at issues that might not have been presented in court.  Clemency can be granted on the grounds of justice and also on the basis of mercy.

In North Carolina, as in many states, the plea is made by the inmate’s lawyer directly to the governor.  If the governor decides to grant clemency, the inmate is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.   If not, he is executed.  Currently, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal court, appoints and pays attorneys to prepare the clemency presentation.  There is no state funding for clemency.

In the case before the Court, two former NC governors, Jim Hunt (D) and Jim Martin (R), along with governors from other states, filed a “friends of the court” brief, urging the continued federal funding for attorneys to make clemency pleas.

Both governors granted and denied clemency requests during their tenures.  The governors’ brief discusses several cases, including the case of Anson Avery Maynard, to whom Governor Martin granted clemency, based on questions about who actually committed the killing.  The brief also emphasizes that there are many issues – beyond guilt or innocence – that deserve full investigation and presentation, and that are worthy of clemency, such as racial bias, mental illness and remorse.

Governor Martin and his staff spent days talking to witnesses, reviewing evidence and deciding whether to grant clemency to Maynard.  Given the volume of cases Governor Perdue may face, it is unlikely she will be able to devote a week to each one, but she can still be guided by her predecessors’ call to approach clemency hearings with the utmost seriousness and dedication to fairness.  The last thing we’d want to see is the execution of an innocent person because we didn’t have the resources or the time to discover the truth.