Ashley Welch, the first female District Attorney for the 30th Judicial District, is seeking a second term — and is so far unopposed for the seat. 

(Editor’s Note: Readers should be cautioned that several of the descriptions of scalping and related practices presented in this column are graphic.)     

When I was a boy, incidents of scalping by Native Americans were a staple in the old-time movies about the “Wild West.” And there is no doubt whatsoever that the western tribes utilized that practice. But what about the Cherokee, Creek, Catawba and other southeastern tribes — to what extent was scalping a part of their warfare and ritual?

Court-appointed lawyers are the crux of the U.S justice system because it is their duty to ensure every U.S. citizen is granted their constitutional right to a fair trial, but many lawyers in Western North Carolina are concerned a new pilot program implemented by the state could threaten that right.

Macon is one of six counties across the state that is being included in a pilot program in which court-appointed lawyers are compensated using a flat-fee schedule instead of an hourly rate. According to data from the Indigent Defense Office of North Carolina, indigent defense costs increased 168 percent between 1989 and 1999 while caseloads increased by 90 percent. Capital defense costs rose 338 percent during the same time period.

As voters cast their ballots each Election Day, judicial races are often overlooked — they’re the least publicized, least funded and least understood of the lot.

Ruling that North Carolina’s 2013 voter identification law purposely targets African-Americans with “almost surgical precision,” the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down the measure last Friday, stating that there was evidence that “because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.”

coverIt’s been three years since a vigorous debate about charging for backcountry camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ended with the park’s decision to charge backpackers a $4 fee, but for the fee’s most stalwart opponents, the issue isn’t yet in the rearview mirror. 

Southern Forest Watch, a group that formed expressly to fight the fee, filed suit against the National Park Service soon after the fee was approved in February 2013. The public had overwhelmingly decried the proposal, SFW said, arguing that the park hadn’t followed correct procedure when approving it and contending that the assertion that the existing backcountry system was inadequate, crowded and causing complaints — necessitating the fee — was unfounded.

fr bruinBy Katie Reeder • SMN Intern

Hunters accused in a sweeping bear poaching sting in Western North Carolina have turned the tables on wildlife officers and prosecutors, tarnishing an operation that was initially trumpeted as a victorious round-up of rouge hunters.

fr cherokeejusticeWhat in most courts would have been a simple case of violating a domestic violence protective order was a landmark moment for the Cherokee Tribal Court.

fr samesexJamie Kemper knew it’d happen. She just didn’t think it’d happen this quickly.

“We thought it’d be a few years,” Kemper said. 

An expansion of Jackson County’s court facilities could be in the cards, pending a $30,000 analysis of what some in the legal system have dubbed a space shortage.

The county has hired an architectural firm to study space needs of the court system in coming months. The likely outcome: a reshuffling of space in the county government complex to make more room for court functions, possibly edging out other county offices in the process.

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