Friday, February 04, 2011, 2:42 PM

Today at the Court of Appeals

Today, Tuesday, February 8, 2011, a panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals comprised of Judges McGee, Bryant, and Beasley is scheduled to hear oral argument in the following cases:

State v. Castillo

This case arises out of the defendant's conviction on charges related to the shooting of his father and two students at Orange County High School in 2006. The defense contended that Castillo was not guilty of these charges by reason of insanity.

The questions for the Court of Appeals are (1) whether the trial court committed plain error by failing to instruct the jury that the insanity defense applies if a defendant believed that due to mental illness that his conduct was morally right; and (2) whether the trial court abused its discretion by overruling the defendant's objection to the prosecution's statement during closing argument that the defense was relying on an insanity defense because it could not support its case with factual evidence.

Harston v. Tippett

In 2007, the Department of Transportation sent Harston a notice informing him that a billboard he erected on private property adjacent to I-85 that read "If you die today, where will you spend ETERNITY?" was illegal because Harston did not have an approved outdoor advertising permit. After unsuccessfully challenging the notice before the Department of Transportation, Harston sought judicial review in Wake County Superior Court. After considering cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court entered judgment in favor of the Department.

Harston asks the Court of Appeals to find that the statute at issue is unconstitutional on its face and as applied to him because it is a content based restriction that (1) is more favorable to commercial speech than non commercial speech and (2) discriminates against different types of noncommercial speech.

Liebes v. Guilford County Department of Public Health

This case presents an interesting challenge to the ban on smoking in most restaurants and clubs that went into effect in 2010. Gate City Billiards is challenging the smoking ban on the ground that the ban violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution because there is no rational basis for permitting smoking in nonprofit private clubs while prohibiting smoking in for profit clubs.


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