For 20 seasons, on the television show Law & Order, we watched the police investigate the crime and arrest the criminal, and then, with bated breath, hung on Jack McCoy’s every question and objection as he prosecuted the crime for the win. We’ve seen this scenario play out countless times and believed it to be the criminal process, but is it really? In North Carolina, there is a clear beginning, middle, and end to the criminal justice system, and it revolves around the rules of criminal procedure. But, as new criminal lawyers starting out on our own, how do we know what to do? After all, the beginning, middle, and end of the criminal justice system can seem a little overwhelming, especially so if we do not have a mentor to guide us through the process.
Luckily, there is hope! Criminal Procedure in North Carolina by Irving Joyner is the very practice guide that can help the new lawyer, and even some seasoned lawyers, navigate the rough waters of our state’s criminal justice system. To find this practice guide, locate the call number (KFN7975 .J69 2005) in the Charlotte School of Law library catalog, or look up the title using the “browse sources” feature in Lexis Advance.
After a defendant has hired you as her defense attorney, how do you know what to do? The great thing about Criminal Procedure in North Carolina is that, similar to the dramatic arc of Law & Order, the practice guide logically and sequentially moves the practitioner from arrest, to pre-trial, to trial, and then to sentencing. At each stage in the prosecution of a crime, the practice guide explains the relevant processes and procedures, providing annotations to primary authority for greater context, and supplements with a plethora of other useful information for new attorneys, like sample forms. The pre-trial section, for example, uses precedential case law to explain the importance of discovery and pre-trial motions practice to a client and the pre-trial issues that arise.
Furthermore, the pre-trial section includes sample forms that show the attorney how to draft and file a particular motion. I found the forms particularly helpful because, while I had learned how to file a motion in limine, others like a special venire were foreign to me. So, how do you file a motion for a special venire? Well, the practice guide explains who can file this type of motion, when it should be filed, and the type of claim the defendant might bring, such as a motion based on array or racial composition. After the full discussions of the motions that a defense attorney can use, the practice guide then provides the forms so that the attorney can properly file the appropriate motion within the court, changing only what they need to change based on the court where the motion is to be filed.
What better way, when lost in the sea of the criminal justice system, than to go to Criminal Procedure in North Carolina to make sure that you are taking proper advantage of any and all pre-trial and trial motions on behalf of your client. It doesn’t matter if you are a new attorney or have been admitted to the bar for 20 years, this practice guide is a great resource to make sure that you are following the proper criminal procedure guidelines in the North Carolina courts. Criminal Procedure in North Carolina makes better attorneys because it helps them provide their clients the representation that they deserve.
~ Adrianne Ribar, L’14 ~
Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.