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Thursday, September 26, 2013

DWI/DUI & The Public Interest

Today's Charlotte Observer contained an article regarding a recent audit finding that North Carolina failed to make DWI/DUI court results accessible to the general public. Under a law enacted seven years ago, North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) is legally required to provide detailed information of conviction/acquittal rates in DWI cases in addition to detailed statistics on how judges and prosecutors handled cases. You can read the audit here.

To actually comply with the detailed requirements of this law, AOC would need an additional 25 million dollars in computer upgrades. In light of the AOC's technology budget being cut from 45 million dollars to 29 million, I don't see how this is going to happen.

Mecklenburg County Courthouse is a busy place. The dockets are heavy and the court staff is working with technology that is anything but cutting edge. Clerks and Attorneys use the antiquated green screen technology that resembles the computer system in the 1983 movie War Games or the MS-DOS system.

Asking the Courts to direct additional funds towards technology that focuses on a narrow set of cases should be questioned; every criminal case is fact specific. A DWI case can be dismissed for not only lack of evidence but also if the police officer is unavailable to testify. Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick is now facing charges of Voluntary Manslaughter in Mecklenburg County. If the District Attorney decides to dismiss all criminal cases where he was the primary police officer involved, would the court data reflect this specific reason for dismissal? Or, would the judge assigned to the courtroom where Officer Kerrick's cases were set for trial appear to be 'soft on crime' when dismissals were entered into the computer system?

Mecklenburg County Criminal Attorney Updates Provided by The Law Office of Carilyn Ibsen PLLC
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