Articles Tagged with Civil Rights

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question:”A past conviction is keeping me from finding work. What can I do?”

Virginia’s Supreme Court ruled this July that its governor’s decision to restore voting rights to over 200,000 felons violates the state’s constitution. The court ruled 4 to 3 that Gov. Terry McAuliffe overstepped his executive powers when he issued an en-masse order in April that restored voting rights to all of the state’s ex-offenders who are no longer incarcerated, on probation, or on parole.

Charlotte DWI and Criminal Defense Attorney J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can the police search my car without a warrant?”

When the U.S. Open tennis tournament concluded last weekend in New York, one of the tournament’s major storylines had nothing to do anything that happened on a tennis court.  Retired tennis player James Blake, once ranked No. 4 in the world, was leaning on a column in front of the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York when he was rushed by undercover police officer James Frascatore and forced to the ground.

J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “If I have an outstanding warrant, what should I do?”

Saturday, April 4 seemed like a good day for a cookout. Walter Scott drove his friend Pierre Fulton to a local church to pick up some vegetables. The men dropped the vegetables off at Fulton’s house and then headed over to Scott’s, where the cookout was planned.

Charlotte DWI and Criminal Defense Attorney J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What am I obligated to do if I’ve been pulled for Drinking and Driving?”

Long before Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, and long before New York City police restrained an alleged untaxed-cigarette seller named Eric Garner, killing him and sparking a wave of protests nationwide, a Texas campus police officer shot and killed a 23-year-old college student outside his campus apartment after pulling him over for suspected drunken driving in circumstances that had some calling for a murder charge against the officer.

J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “If I have an outstanding warrant, what should I do?”

 

The “Hands up, don’t shoot!” moniker is all the rage in the United States, with prominent professional athletes in the National Basketball Association and National Football League, as well as well-known celebrities, politicians, political pundits and media figures adopting the meme—some displaying the same on tee shirts proclaiming the phrase.

Police stop Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg DWI AttorneyLong before the rage—before Michael Brown was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and before New Yorker Eric Garner died after being wrestled to the ground by a small team of New York City police officers—an unarmed backseat passenger in Billings, Montana was shot to death for failing to raise his hands during what began as a simple traffic stop.

Officer Grant Morrison said that on the night of April 14, 2014 he saw a car “turn quickly and decided to follow it.” After following it, Morrison said, he pulled the car over because of a “light violation.” Richard Ramirez was a passenger in the car.

Morrison testified at a hearing that after pulling the car over, he noticed that the back right passenger was pushing against the door. Morrison ordered all of the car’s occupants to raise their hands, but the 38-year-old Ramirez kept fumbling for something in his pocket.

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Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?

 

Former Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon found himself back in federal court in Charlotte last Thursday, where he faced the same federal district court judge who sentenced him to 44 months in prison last month.

Ballot Box Charlotte Mecklenburg DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal AttorneyJudge Frank Whitney told Cannon he embarrassed the city by accepting bribes in the mayor’s office and then embarrassed the city again by voting in this year’s elections.

Cannon cast his votes on October 30 at Community House Middle School, records show. In the State of North Carolina, persons convicted of felonies are ineligible to vote.

The United States Attorney argued that Cannon was a sophisticated voter and should have known that he had been stripped of his voting rights. The government asked that Cannon’s bond be revoked and that he be placed in custody immediately.

Judge Whitney agreed that Cannon had violated the terms of his bond but declined to place Cannon in immediate federal custody. Instead, Cannon will be fitted with an electronic monitoring device and will be confined under house arrest until he reports to a minimum security federal prison in West Virginia at the end of the year.

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Do I need to hire an attorney if I have been falsely accused?”

 

The shooting death of teen Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer—and the subsequent protesting, rioting and looting—has many Charlotteans asking “Could that happen here?”

Police body camera Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyNAACP Charlotte President Kojo Nantambu said during a Thursday press conference that Charlotte, like Ferguson, is a hotbed of racial hostility. “NAACP” stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “Police are supposed to be protecting us,” Nantambu said, “but they are killing us instead.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. echoed Nantambu’s sentiments in a USA Today editorial, writing that anywhere Americans look, “There’s a Ferguson near you.”

Like the Brown case, the killing in Charlotte last year of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell made headlines around the world. Ferrell was shot to death by CMPD Officer Randall Kerrick after a car crash. Both Brown and Ferrell were unarmed at the time of their shooting deaths. In the Ferrell case—unlike in the Brown case—Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police quickly named Kerrick as the officer who fired the shots that killed Ferrell. After an investigation, Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter.

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Should I talk to the police?”

 

Driving-while-Latino makes you ten times more likely to be pulled over in Alamance County for committing a traffic infraction. That is according to a 2012 statistical study commissioned by the United States Department of Justice. Sheriff Terry Johnson told officers manning vehicle checkpoints to “go out there and get me some of those taco eaters,” according to a civil rights lawsuit brought against Johnson in 2012. A trial in that case began on Tuesday in United States Federal Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Alamance County Charlotte Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DUI AttorneyIn its lawsuit, the United States asked the court to order Johnson and sheriff’s deputies to stop discriminating against Latinos and to adopt systems and policies that eliminate discrimination. Johnson denied the allegations in his answer to the lawsuit and moved for dismissal.

In order to prove its case, the United States must show that law-enforcement officers engaged in “a pattern or practice” of activities that denied Latinos in Alamance County their Constitutional rights. One of the most difficult elements of proving such a claim is demonstrating that the accused had “discriminatory intent.”

The United States has used Johnson’s past statements, emails sent to and from the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, and statistics on law-enforcement activities in an effort to show Johnson’s alleged bias. Johnson has responded that statements of opinion or political belief have been misconstrued by the government as evidencing bias on the part of law-enforcement officers against Latinos. Regarding law-enforcement efforts, Johnson alleged in his trial brief that, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, ninety-percent of drug traffickers in Alamance County are Mexican, while one-hundred percent of drug and money couriers are Mexican.

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