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NC Legislative Update

 

NCPBA Division member,

 

Below you will find a report from PBA Legislative Lobbyist Sebastian King that outlines the current status of our bills following the all important crossover deadline of May 5, 2023. Please take note, that while the 25 year retirement bill, HB 597, is not mentioned in this report, this remains a priority issue on the PBA Legislative Agenda. Unfortunately, despite having 58 sponsors, this bill will not pass into law without the support of the State Treasurer. Despite several meetings PBA has had with Treasurer Dale Falwell over this, to include the previous 25 year buy-back bill from 2021, he remains opposed to any 25 year LEO retirement bill. The good news is that there are candidates who do support this bill that have announced they will be running for State Treasurer in 2024. 

 

A second legislative issue, HB 704, Right to Appeal Giglio Notifications, while mentioned below, deserves further clarification due to the critical damage or even destruction that a new law from 2021 could do to your career. We believe that unintended consequences from SB 300, which became law on October 1, 2022, and was designed to provide criminal justice reform, has a component regarding Giglio notifications that we believe to be unlawful and unconstitutional against police officers.

 

While the PBA supports a database for bad cops, we also believe officers deserve, as a matter of law, the right to be heard before the issuance of a Giglio or so called "Death" letter from a district attorney. Not only are these letters not part of the US Supreme Court's decision in Giglio v. United States, they are the invention of prosecutors.

 

That said, HB 704 as originally written maintained the collection of justified Giglio notifications; it also provided officers notice, the right to be heard and right of appeal BEFORE the dissemination of such letters. PBA has been joined by the NC Association of Chiefs of Police and NC Sheriff's Association in supporting this due process for law enforcement officers. However, surprising opposition came from the NC Conference of District Attorneys, who has proffered four positions which have created disagreement.

 

According to Conference of District Attorneys lobbyist Chuck Spaos, these positions are:

 

  1. prosecutors have an ethical and professional obligation to write Giglio letters.
  2. the US constitution requires prosecutors to write Giglio letters.
  3. writing Giglio letters is a core prosecutorial function and;
  4. the General Assembly does not have the authority to regulate the conduct of duly elected district attorneys.

 

Respectfully, these positions are myth. While this may be the interpretation of some prosecutors, there is nothing in law or per their constitutional and prosecutorial authority that makes these positions true. In fact, such implementation by a DA without first giving an accused officer the right of notice and to be heard is likely, we believe, not only unlawful but unconstitutional pursuant to Article 1, sections 1 and 19 of the North Carolina Constitution. Consequently, PBA is supporting members who have filed suit against two district attorneys with more to likely follow. If HB 704 is passed into law in its original text, future law suits against our district attorneys would become moot. This clearly puts this issue in the district attorney's court. Do they want to help promote good law or do they want to be sued?

 

While HB 704 as currently rewritten is not as we want it, the bill has survived the legislative crossover deadline and we do have commitment from Senator Danny Britt, primary lead sponsor of SB300, to work with us to pass the needed legislation to resolve this matter.

 

We are also encouraged by support from the chiefs and sheriffs associations and commitment from the NC Conference of DAs to work with us on bill language we can agree to as the bill moves through the Senate.

 

Legislative Update Report

 

We will keep you posted!

 

John Midgette

NCPBA Division 

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