A grand jury handed up an indictment this week under North Carolina's Unborn Victims of Violence Act, or Ethen's Law. The law went into effect on Dec. 1, 2011, and the indictment marks the first application of the new statute. The defendant, a 22-year-old man, is accused of murdering a coworker who was two months pregnant.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision this week regarding GPS tracking of a criminal suspect, just one of the many criminal cases before the Court this term. The ruling upheld the lower court opinions that police need a search warrant before they can use a GPS device to track the movements of a suspect. A handful of justices say the opinion in the drug trafficking case does not go far enough.
North Carolina will host the Democratic National Convention in September, and the Charlotte City Council does not want to leave anything to chance. Earlier this week, the council approved amendments to ordinances that give police greater power and restrict demonstrations in some public areas. The council anticipates large protests during the convention and wants to avoid the assaults and looting that have marred national conventions in other cities.
We have been discussing the different approaches states have taken to the use of ignition interlock devices. The devices are meant to keep drivers convicted of DWI from becoming repeat offenders. As we said, some states mandate interlocks for every person with a DWI, while other target only the most serious offenders. North Carolina is in the latter group, but the General Assembly may revisit bills from last session that would put the state in the "any and every DWI offender" category.
States have adopted different laws around ignition interlock devices. Some states require every person convicted of drunk driving to install one -- even first-time offenders. Other states, like North Carolina, require interlocks for more serious offenders. Here, an interlock device is required if you are convicted with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more, if your conviction is your second for impaired driving in seven years or if your conviction is for habitual impaired driving.
When the North Carolina General Assembly adjourned last summer, a handful of bills concerning ignition interlock devices were pending, and they may or may not be picked up when legislators reconvene next month. Until a stricter interlock law passes, the state will continue to be a target for proponents. Research shows that states with interlock mandates have seen drunk driving re-arrest rates drop by as much as 67 percent.
We are talking about a case that made headlines last week. The story raises questions about the use of deadly force in defense of self or others. Deadly force used against an intruder into a home is justifiable under the "Castle Doctrine," a legal defense accepted in all states under case law or statute. North Carolina, in fact, just updated its Castle Doctrine statute.
The Internet has been awash with stories this week about the woman who shot and killed a man who broke into her mobile home. What makes the story unusual is that the woman, huddled in her bedroom with her baby, first called 911 to see if shooting the intruder would be okay. The dispatcher told her to do what she had to do to protect her baby, and, when the man kicked in the bedroom door, the young mother killed him with a shotgun blast.