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Attorney Carilyn Ibsen's Blog

about Criminal Defense in North Carolina and South Carolina

 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Courts & The Legislature Collide

I previously blogged on the issue of state lawmakers creating laws that become impracticable to enforce. California is now set to release approximately 37,000 prisoners due to overcrowding. Today's editorial in the Charlotte Observer addressed this and the specific problem of how courts should respond to it. The editorial and video below is worth a look. This is not a problem that will remain exclusive to California.




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Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Punishable Need for Speed

Kyle Busch was in the news this week for his need for speed off the race track. Cited at driving 128 mph in a 45mph zone, Bush is facing speeding and reckless driving charges. My father called me with his opinion. He felt Busch needs to be punished and should be suspended from racing for a short period of time. I asked my father if he thought it was worse for him to be speeding than the average citizen. He thought yes- due to his position in the industry, he should be held to a higher standard of conduct. I followed up by asking if the neighbor down the street received the same speeding ticket, would my father have the same opinion? Should the neighbor not be allowed to go to work? Should the principal arrested for DWI not be allowed to be a principal? Should Montel Williams not be allowed to work?

Ultimately it will be up to the racing organization whether they suspend Busch. However, many will have different opinions on how the law should respond in these situations. Do we hold those in certain professions to higher standards of conduct?



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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Summer Has Arrived


As the summer weather arrives this weekend, so have the Mecklenburg County DWI Checkpoints. In the past 48 hours, police have conducted two separate DWI checkpoints. CMPD set up a checkpoint off Remount Road on Thursday night that resulted in 12 DWI arrests. Last night a checkpoint was conducted off of WT Harris Blvd. 14 DWI citations were issued. According to the article, these checkpoints are the beginning of a series that will run through Memorial  Day weekend.


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Saturday, May 14, 2011

An Educational Superhero

Time magazine recently published its 2011 World's Most Influential People. Geoffrey Canada, is the Founder of Harlem's Children's Zone Project, a non profit organization that has become a model for what many believe the educational system should strive to become. I first saw Mr. Canada on a 60 Minutes episode several years ago. The movie Waiting for Superman highlights his school. Based on the premise that education is the greatest path to success, Mr. Canada manages to educate a child for $5,000 a year. In 2010, 90% of his 254 senior graduates went to college. This class obtained 6.4 million dollars in scholarships. There is a strict dress code and only a 3 week summer vacation. Tuition is free. Money is raised privately.

Any criminal defense attorney, especially one that handles cases involving juveniles, understands the correlation between education and crime. Some statistics show that high school dropouts are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested and more that eight times likely to be incarcerated.  While the news of the week seems to be focused on a Connecticut high school suspending a student when he taped letters on the side of the school building in an effort to ask another student to prom, I felt more inclined to mention Geoffrey Canada. This is a remarkable story.




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Friday, May 6, 2011

The Presumption of Innocence

The presumption of innocence standard is supposed to be unequivocal. I'm not sure that it always plays out as true in everyday life. Just watch the first ten minutes of the local news, speak to those recently arrested for a DWI, or ask those who recently got a traffic ticket, I don't think they feel they are presumed innocent.

On Wednesday afternoon I received a call on my cell phone. This was the message:
"Hello Ms. Smith, this is Officer ____ with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. I need you to give me a call back in reference to an accident a vehicle that you were driving was involved in yesterday late in the evening. My phone number is _______ and this is Officer ______. I need you to call me immediately in reference to that incident." 
An accident? A vehicle I was driving? Tuesday was a long day. I spent Tuesday in the hospital with a family member and was there until early Wednesday morning.
Also, who is Ms. Smith and why is an officer leaving a message for Ms. Smith on my cell phone? I called the officer back, identified myself and told the officer I was not in an accident the night before. I also told him my name was not Ms. Smith. He was polite and stated that someone must have given him the wrong phone number.

But his call prompted me to think about the presumption of innocence. I didn't do anything wrong but immediately feel I am put on the defensive. I know where I was- I  have documents and witnesses to verify this, etc.

When a police officer questions a person, does that person walk away feeling like the presumption of innocence is on their side? I'm not sure they do.....

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