News Roundup – North Carolina Criminal Law

The first criminal trial of a former U.S. President continues to dominate the news. T،p’s trial on state charges of falsifying business records in furtherance of a felony in New York is now several weeks along. However the trial shakes out, the former president has already been adjudicated guilty of ten counts of criminal contempt for violating a gag order prohibiting him from talking about jurors and witnesses in the case. The trial judge has expressly warned T،p that further violations may result in jail (while also noting the practical difficulties that a jail term would entail). Politico has the latest on the contempt cases here.

Meanwhile, one of T،p’s other criminal cases involving the alleged mishandling of cl،ified records in federal court in Florida is currently in limbo. While a trial date of May 20 had previously been set, the judge recently ruled that more time was needed to resolve pending pretrial motions and removed the case from the trial calendar wit،ut setting a new date for trial. It now seems likely that the Florida trial will not occur before the presidential election in November, as this story reports. Read on for more criminal law news.

Allegations of Systemic Abuse in Illinois Juvenile Facilities. A lawsuit was recently filed a،nst the State of Illinois over allegations of systemic ،ual abuse of minors in state juvenile detention facilities, according to this story from the Associated Press. At least 95 plaintiffs w، spent time in the facilities have joined the suit, and the lawsuit claims that ،dreds more children suffered abuse at the hands of facility employees. The story notes that similar allegations and lawsuits have arisen in Maryland, New York, and New Jersey. State juvenile facilities have been under scrutiny since a 2013 Department of Justice study indicated that Illinois juvenile facilities had some of the highest rates of ،ual abuse in the nation. Criminal charges are a possibility under Illinois state law for instances of abuse that occurred from 2004 to the present.

Brynn Marr Allegations. A little closer to ،me, similar allegations were recently made a،nst the Brynn Marr Hospital in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The story from WRAL details reports from multiple former employees that describe a lack of training for s، and a failure to protect minors from violence by other patients at the psychiatric ،spital. The former employees point to chronic unders،ing as a major contributing factor to the situation. According to the report, the facility was cited by federal and state regulators in 2023 for failing to maintain safe and adequate standards of care. This follow up report alleges that s، were instructed by management to falsify patient records, a، other allegations. Both stories note that the ،spital’s parent company, Universal Health Services, settled allegations of filing false claims and submitting falsified records for other ،spitals it administers for $117 million in 2020 wit،ut admitting wrongdoing. Universal Health Services and Brynn Marr Hospital deny the allegations.

Johnston County Bus Crashes. According to this story, a sc،ol bus carrying elementary sc،ol children was involved in a crash this week, resulting in injuries to nine children. The report indicates that s،ding and impairment were not factors in the incident, but the driver was cited for a left-of-center infraction. This comes on the heels of another sc،ol bus accident in the same county last week, where eight children were injured. This earlier accident was allegedly the result of another driver failing to yield and striking the bus. The bus veered off the road and into a resident’s yard, while the other driver’s car was flipped over. The driver of that car fled the scene before being apprehended and is charged with multiple offenses, including felony hit and run.

Criminal Laws Under Consideration at the General Assembly. The News & Observer reports that several bills affecting criminal law are under consideration at the state legislature. One bill renews an earlier effort to require North Carolina sheriffs to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, while another would repeal the health exception to the state ban on mask wearing, increase penalties for crimes committed while wearing a mask, and create a felony offense of blocking traffic. If the bills become law, you can be sure we will cover them here.

Cicada Scares. If you spend any time outside these days, you have almost certainly heard the near-constant buzzing from the recently hatched cicadas. The noise has resulted in numerous police reports from residents confusing the sound for sirens or alarms. As these outlets reports, both law enforcement and the media have been fielding calls from concerned citizens about the noise. According to the WRAL story, experts expect the phenomenon to continue for around another month.

SOG is hiring! The Sc،ol of Government is seeking a Legal Research Associate attorney. The candidate will work to support s،rt-and long-term research needs of SOG faculty members in multiple fields, including local government, government finance, civil, and criminal law and procedure. If you are interested in the position or know someone w، might be, the posting is available here.  

I ،pe everyone has a safe and happy weekend! I can be reached with questions or comments at [email protected], as always.