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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Due Process

By Mike Meno, ACLU of North Carolina Communications Director

Real time cell phone tracking reveals private, invasive, and increasingly precise information about our locations and movements. Whenever your phone is turned on—even if you enable its location privacy settings—your cell phone service provider is able to determine with increasing accuracy where your cell phone is located. For many of us who carry our phones throughout the day and sleep with them nearby, that also means that our cell phones can reveal where we are virtually all the time.

And what the cell phone company can learn, police can find out too. In a brief filed yesterday in a North Carolina case, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation argue that any time police seek to use cell phone location data, they should first obtain a warrant showing probable cause.


Solitary Confinement is Torture, Says UNC Report

Posted on in Due Process

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Solitary confinement is a cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment that amounts to torture and must no longer be used in the United States, according to Solitary Confinement as Torture, a new report released by the Human Rights Policy Seminar at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

The report, made in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, North Carolina Stop Torture Now, and the law firm of Edelstein and Payne, uses research and interviews with prisoners to shine a light on the cruel and ineffective use of solitary confinement in prisons, with a particular focus on North Carolina. It explains how solitary confinement cannot be squared with state, national, and international human rights laws, and offers a series of recommendations for reform.

“Solitary confinement violates the boundaries of human dignity and justice and should no longer be tolerated in North Carolina or anywhere else,” said Deborah M. Weissman, the Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, who served as faculty adviser for the report. “The evidence shows that solitary confinement is not only ineffective at decreasing violence, preserving public safety, or managing scare monetary resources, but more importantly, it often arbitrarily subjects inmates to circumstances that can be described only as torture.”


Law Enforcement Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse

Posted on in Due Process

by Meghan Jones, ACLU-NC Legal Fellow, and Chris Brook, ACLU-NC Legal Director

Can a police officer’s mistaken interpretation of the law justify a traffic stop?  On Monday, October 6, 2014, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument on that question in the case of Heien v. North Carolina.

In 2009, Nicholas Heien was the passenger in a vehicle that had only one operating brake light.  An officer pulled the car over, wrongly believing the vehicle was in violation of the law.  North Carolina plainly requires only one rear brake light, as the North Carolina Court of Appeals recognized in 2011.  That conclusion was so obvious that attorneys for the State did not dispute it before the North Carolina Supreme Court.


Getting It Dead Wrong for 30 Years

Posted on in Death Penalty
By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project

According to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Henry Lee McCollum deserved to die for the brutal rape and murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie. There's just one problem, and a frequent one in death penalty cases: Henry Lee McCollum didn't do it.

Instead of tracking down the true killer, police and prosecutors went after Henry Lee McCollum and his half-brother Leon Brown, two intellectually disabled and innocent teenagers. While his mother wept in the hallway, not allowed to see her son, officers interrogated McCollum for five hours, ultimately coercing him to sign a confession they had written. In a trial without forensic evidence and plagued by racial bias, these two half-brothers with IQs in the 50s and 60s were sent to death row. Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown, whose sentence was later reduced to life in prison, have been behind bars for the last 30 years.

Last week, they were finally exonerated in another disturbing example of how deeply flawed the death penalty is, particularly for African-American men in the South.