Civil rights advocates call for death of bail bonds

The use of bail bonds dates back centuries as a means to settle disputes peacefully and to ensure a defendant shows up to court by having a friend or family member agree to pay the debt if the accused flees. 

Case study, Durham County: Changes can begin by offering pre-trial services

The Durham County Detention Facility opened in the summer of 1996 with a capacity of 576 single cells. By 2005, the jail was at or over capacity a majority of the time. 

Welch seeks second term as 30th Judicial DA

Ashley Welch, the first female District Attorney for the 30th Judicial District, is seeking a second term — and is so far unopposed for the seat. 

Did the southeastern Native Americans take scalps?

(Editor’s Note: Readers should be cautioned that several of the descriptions of scalping and related practices presented in this column are graphic.)     

When I was a boy, incidents of scalping by Native Americans were a staple in the old-time movies about the “Wild West.” And there is no doubt whatsoever that the western tribes utilized that practice. But what about the Cherokee, Creek, Catawba and other southeastern tribes — to what extent was scalping a part of their warfare and ritual?

State tries to curb indigent defense expenses

Court-appointed lawyers are the crux of the U.S justice system because it is their duty to ensure every U.S. citizen is granted their constitutional right to a fair trial, but many lawyers in Western North Carolina are concerned a new pilot program implemented by the state could threaten that right.

Macon is one of six counties across the state that is being included in a pilot program in which court-appointed lawyers are compensated using a flat-fee schedule instead of an hourly rate. According to data from the Indigent Defense Office of North Carolina, indigent defense costs increased 168 percent between 1989 and 1999 while caseloads increased by 90 percent. Capital defense costs rose 338 percent during the same time period.

Worth it at every turn: WNC native joins N.C. Court of Appeals

As voters cast their ballots each Election Day, judicial races are often overlooked — they’re the least publicized, least funded and least understood of the lot.

Voter ID law struck down in N.C.

Ruling that North Carolina’s 2013 voter identification law purposely targets African-Americans with “almost surgical precision,” the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down the measure last Friday, stating that there was evidence that “because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.”

A strained relationship: Suspicion of NPS lingers among some backcountry users, parkside communities

coverIt’s been three years since a vigorous debate about charging for backcountry camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ended with the park’s decision to charge backpackers a $4 fee, but for the fee’s most stalwart opponents, the issue isn’t yet in the rearview mirror. 

Southern Forest Watch, a group that formed expressly to fight the fee, filed suit against the National Park Service soon after the fee was approved in February 2013. The public had overwhelmingly decried the proposal, SFW said, arguing that the park hadn’t followed correct procedure when approving it and contending that the assertion that the existing backcountry system was inadequate, crowded and causing complaints — necessitating the fee — was unfounded.

Gaming the system: Hunters snared in Operation Something Bruin claim legal proceedings were unjust

fr bruinBy Katie Reeder • SMN Intern

Hunters accused in a sweeping bear poaching sting in Western North Carolina have turned the tables on wildlife officers and prosecutors, tarnishing an operation that was initially trumpeted as a victorious round-up of rouge hunters.

Cherokee court hands out first-ever sentence to non-Indian

fr cherokeejusticeWhat in most courts would have been a simple case of violating a domestic violence protective order was a landmark moment for the Cherokee Tribal Court.

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