Sunday, October 26, 2014



By Cash Michaels

             A ballot referendum for a NC Constitutional Amendment in the upcoming Nov. 4th general election is troubling many defendant’s rights advocates who are urging the public to vote against it.
            On the back of the ballot, the statewide referendum states, “Constitutional amendment providing that a person accused of any criminal offense for which the State is not seeking a sentence of death in Superior court may, in writing or on the record in court, and with the consent of the trial judge, waive the person’s right to a trial by jury.”
            The voter then casts a ballot “for” or “against.”
            A statewide movement is afoot to defeat this ballot referendum.
            Indeed, letters to the editor are circulating, like this one from Edda T. Lea of Raleigh, stating that the referendum, “… is a deliberate attempt to take away our hard fought freedom to have a jury “of our peers” determine guilt or innocence.  If allowed to pass, this Constitutional Amendment would place a consenting defendant’s fate in the hands of one judge who would single-handedly become the only one to determine his/her guilt or innocence. “
            Passed by the NC General Assembly last year with bipartisan support, proponents say all the referendum does is give a defendant what he/he feels is the best chance for a fair trial. They still have the right to a jury trial if they ultimately choose.
            Critics, however, see a hidden danger of poor defendants being railroaded.
            Article III, Sec. 2 of the US Constitution states,  “The trial of all crimes shall be by jury and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes have been committed.” The Sixth Amendment to the US Bill of Rights adds,  “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state where the said crimes shall have been committed.”
            Critics say by now allowing defendants to choose the right to have what is commonly known as a bench trial, meaning there’s no jury, so only the judge alone will render a guilty or not guilty verdict, that will allow prosecutors and judges to put undue pressure on poor defendants in an effort to skip the costly process of choosing a jury, and getting through trials faster.
            “Bringing jurors in and doing jury selection and all of the work that goes into a jury trial takes resources,” Thom Maher, director of the state Office of Indigent Defense Services, told WUNC radio last March. “If the system starts to push defendants to waive that to save money, and right now they can’t, in a sense right now you’re protected from any kind of improper or undue pressure to waive that right.”
             Defendants already have the right of a bench trial in federal court, and for non-felony cases in NC district courts, again, defendants have the right to have a judge decide without a jury.
            But opponents believe, especially for defendants of color, that the right to a jury trial is paramount and singular to protect their rights from a biased judge.
            “What unspeakable power to give one individual over another’s fate,” wrote Edda T. Lee. “Recent history has proved the conviction of innocent victims can occur without sufficient proof, even after twelve jurors study the evidence. What is the likelihood that one person will study the case from more than one perspective? Little to none—especially in the cases of those of us who end up with public defenders or less diligent representation.”
 Lee continued, “Minorities continue to struggle to obtain and secure equal human rights. The current judicial system must follow the law as it is written.  We must not allow any attempt to alter the law through an unfair amendment to happen on our watch.  We must vote against it. By failing to do so, we will forfeit an individual’s protection and hand his/her fate over to an individual judge who becomes, single-handedly, “your Judge, Jury and Executioner.”


            Even though the Republican-led NC General Assembly shortened the early voting period from 17 days to just 10, ending this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the numbers of early voters is up substantially from the last midterm election in 2010. Reports as of Tuesday, over 386,000 North Carolinians have voted early thus far, roughly five percent of all 6.6 million registered voters in the state. That’s four times the number at this juncture in 2010.
Democrats are outpacing Republicans at the early voting polls, with more than  148,000 cast, compared to just over 88,000 for Republicans.
In mail-in absentee balloting, registered GOP voters lead, with over 38,000 to over 27,000 Democrat.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.. No voter ID is required for this election, but you must vote in your assigned precinct.


                                      [wilmjourn ed]  ELECTION DAY 2014       
            If you didn’t take advantage of early voting, which ends on Saturday Nov. 1st. from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., then your last chance to cast a ballot in this all important 2014 general midterm election is Tuesday, Election Day.
 YOU are NOT required to provide photo voter identification for this election just as long as you are properly registered.
            To early vote Friday, you can always go to the One-Stop Absentee site located at the Government Center at 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 38, Wilmington, NC 28403, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm; and Saturday, Nov 1, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Other sites include:
Main Library  201 Chestnut Street   Wilmington, NC 28401 
Northeast Library  1241 Military Cutoff Road Wilmington, NC 28405   
Senior Resource Center  2222 South College Road Wilmington,      NC 28403
The hours at these sites are 10:00 am to 7:00 pm on Friday, and Saturday,  Nov 1, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.
For Tuesday, Nov. 4th, Election Day, polls open at 6:30 a.m., and close at 7:30 p.m.. Please remember that that no photo ID is required for this election, and there is no straight ticket balloting by party.
If you have any questions regarding the information provided, please contact the New Hanover County Board of Elections at 910-798-7330.
The Journal encourages all of our readers and community to take the time, study the candidates, and vote your preference. The issues are too important for any of us who are properly registered to just sit on the sideline, allowing those outside of our community to decide our future.

                                                  OUR ENDORSEMENTS
As with every election, based on our research, The Journal is pleased to offer our analysis of the various candidates in selected races for you, our readers, to consider. We offer the following for your consideration:

                               JONATHAN BARFIELD – US HOUSE DISTRICT 7

                               ELIZABETH REDENBAUGH – NC SENATE DISTRICT 9



                                      VOTE “NO” ON TRIAL BY JUDGE
Beyond the candidates, there is an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution for voters to consider which, if passed, would allow defendants in criminal cases to waive their right to the jury trial, and select a trial by judge instead. The Journal strongly feels that citizens should vote “NO” on this referendum. Many criminal defendants in our court system are poor and people of color. Regardless of their alleged crime, each one deserves their Constitutional right to have their evidence heard by a jury of their peers from their community. To allow any one human being to be both judge and jury in matters of felony offenses is contrary to how our founding fathers envisioned our criminal justice system.
Vote “NO” against this proposed Constitutional Amendment.

                                                NON-PARTISAN RACES
            When it comes our judicial races, Democrat or Republican shouldn’t matter. A judge’s ability to conduct an orderly legal proceeding, and make cogent, insightful rulings from the bench, keeping his or her’s personal or political feelings out of the process, is what citizens should look for by way of required service.
            The Journal believes, after careful study, that the following candidates of the North Carolina bench at all levels, will, if elected, continue their fine records of legal expertise, and commitment to justice.
            We offer them to you for your consideration:

            NC Supreme Court Chief Justice--Ola M. Lewis

NC Supreme Court Associate Justice--Sam J. Ervin IV

NC Supreme Court Associate Justice--Robin Hudson

NC Supreme Court Associate Justice--Cheri Beasley

NC Court of Appeals Judge--Keishcha Lovelace 

NC Court of Appeals Judge--Lucy Inman 

NC Court of Appeals Judge--Mark Davis

            NC District Court Judge District 5--Melinda Crouch

NC District Court Judge District 5--James H. Faison III

We also offer, again for your consideration, this candidate for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor--William J. (Bill) Hart

By Cash Michaels

GOOD FEELING – I can only use Wake County as a barometer, but from what I saw during last Sunday’s “Souls to the Polls” voting at Chavis Park Community Center, there seemed to be a dignified, yet defiant urgency with the people I saw standing in line waiting to vote in this 2014 general midterm election. The weather is beyond gorgeous, and people genuinely seemed happy to see one another, and be with one another.
Candidates were there shaking hands, introducing themselves, and asking for every vote they could get. And through it all, there seemed to be a determined air of purpose in the wind, a sense that this election is too important to ignore.
I hope that feeling spreads like wildfire throughout the African-American community in the coming days as early voting comes to an end this Saturday, Nov. 1st at 1 p.m., and then Election Day commences on Tuesday, Nov. 4th. I hope that neighbors who have already voted are encouraging family and friends who haven’t. Sitting on your behind this election decides nothing. You can’t win anything, can’t change any public policy.
And what’s fascinating about that is here you are, sitting back, convincing yourself that voting isn’t going to do anything for you, or change anything for you, not realizing that because you didn’t vote before, so has already changed for you in terms of certain social services no longer available, and if you don’t vote this time, those with the power to change more to make your life harder will be free to do so.
And you had the chance to stop them, and didn’t, because you just didn’t feel like voting.
What gets me is that if you are a parent with children at home, you don’t seem to realize that your kids have less rights today, than they had four years ago! All because 280,000 African-Americans in North Carolina who voted for Barack Obama for president in 2008, did not come back to give him the Congress he needed in 2010.
Do you see how they’re treating the president in Congress now? He can’t get anything done because some folks there have decided they want to stop him in his tracks, and make his tenure in office a failure.
You’re helping them by not voting, because by not going to the ballot box, you’re keeping them in power to everything they can to hurt him, if not destroy him (read that sue the president in court, or worse yet, impeach him from office).
It used to be hard to believe that there are some people in this nation who are so hateful that they will say or do anything to get their way, like shut down the government, for instance, causing widespread pain. By not voting, you embolden these people, give them a clear path to do whatever they darn well please.
And they really don’t care what you think of them, or what they do, because as far as they’re concerned, you can’t touch them. They believe they have enough people in their district to keep them in power forever.
And they believe that because they are counting on you not to vote.
See how predictable you are? Is that really what you want to be…predictable?
And if voting is really no big deal, because it doesn’t do anything for anybody but the very rich, then riddle me this….why are the rich people trying so desperately hard to keep you from voting, eh? Why is it so important to them that you be put through the mill in order to make it more difficult to vote? Why would they even do such a thing if your vote didn’t take something from them …like control over your life?
Think about this now…folks have passed laws to desperately stop you from doing something you don’t want to do anyway. Does that make sense to you? What does make sense is that fact that if and when you do vote, there are powerful people who are afraid of that, and wish it would never happen. Are you going to give them peace of mind, and do exactly what they want you to do so that their interest are met?
Or are you going to peep their game, and realize that the more you vote for the issues and candidates that are closest to what you believe, the more power you take away from those who are trying to stop you, and those who look like you.
This voting thing is no game, it’s the real deal. And the only way we can hold on to many of our rights not already lost, is to come together, and vote for those issues important to us.
It’s the only way. We need you. We need each other.
So vote.
As we said, polls close at 7p.m. tonite and Friday, open at 11 a.m. on Friday, and open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1st. No photo ID is needed in this election. And if you miss early voting, then your last chance is on Tuesday, Nov. 4th, Election Day, where you must properly vote in your assigned precinct (check your latest registration card).
So let’s do this, and do it right!
Let’s vote this election.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (
           Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.


CRUCIAL ELECTION - Early voting for the 2014 general midterm election ends this Saturday, Nov. 1st. from 9a.m. to 1 p.m. . Then, on Tuesday, Nov. 4th, Election Day, the polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.. Be certain to vote in your assigned voting precinct (check your voter registration card). Provisional ballots are not allowed. if you vote outside of your precinct, your vote will not count. No straight-ticket voting by party. No voter photo ID required this election. Get out and VOTE! [Cash Michaels Photo]


            The shockwaves are still being felt from the devastating report which revealed that or 18 years, athletes at UNC – Chapel Hill were allowed to pass “paper classes” in the African and Afro-American Studies Department by just submitting subpar work, yet being rewarded with A’s and B’s that allowed them to stay eligible to participate in sports. According to the report from former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein, Deborah Crowder, the student services manager, supplied the grades thanks to virtually no oversight by her superiors, and especially her department chairman Professor Julius Nyang’oro. The report notes that several counselors and other administrators knew about the scheme, and repeatedly sent students to Crowder. Crowder and Nyang’oro retired UNC years ago. Charges were dropped against them, and they both will receive their pensions.
            [GREENSBORO] Two hundred – twenty confirmed victims of North Carolina’s infamous forced sterilization program received their first checks of compensation this week from the state of North Carolina. The NC General Assembly agreed to provide $10 million in restitution to whomever made application, and could prove that they were among the hundreds whose reproductive rights were violated by county health departments under the eugenics law that existed in the state from 1929 to the mid 1970’s. Officials say there may be over 1800 victims still living that didn’t make application.

            [RALEIGH] There were no serious ride accidents, no guns, and best of all, not one day of rain. All of that and more made the 11-day 2014 NC State Fair one to remember. This year’s fair attracted nearly 930,000 people from all across the state, taking in the rides, crazy fried food, animals and agricultural attractions. It’s the fifth straight year attendance has topped 900,000. In 2010, an estimated one million visitors went through the gates.



            The Southeast Raleigh Assembly (SERA), a Southeast Raleigh-based nonprofit group that promotes economic development, is slated to lose two-thirds of its city funding by 2018, if a new proposed city budget is adopted. That means that SERA has to find ways to replace almost $207,000 the Raleigh City Council appropriates – 79 percent of it’s total funding annually - through other means, or shut down operations. Published reports indicate that the African-American Cultural Festival, which gets half of its funding from the city, is in the same boat. The city’s goal is to provide only 25 percent of any nonprofit agency’s budget.

            Former nationally syndicated radio talk show host Warren “Truthfighter” Ballentine was convicted Friday in Chicago of six counts of fraud connected to an alleged $10 million mortgage scheme. Ballentine, 43, who lived in Durham and did his show from the studios of Foxy 107/14 FM, faces at least 30 years in prison when sentenced. Ballentine maintains his innocence, and his attorney has appealed the verdict. The jury took less than an hour to find him guilty in federal court.

            NCCU, along with Elizabeth City State University and Fayetteville State University, will soon begin admitting students whose Scholastic Aptitude Test scores are below standard, thanks to a new pilot program approved by the UNC Board of Governors. No more than 100 students per campus will be admitted each fall semester. Administrators say the program seeks to give students who have potential an opportunity to prove themselves.


FRESH FACE - Wake County Commission candidate Jessica Holmes is regarded as a young, capable new leader who cares deeply about education, and making sure that Wake County schools are treated fairly. [Cash Michaels photo]

By Cash Michaels

            They don’t have the name recognition of US Senate hopefuls incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan or Republican challenger Speaker Thom Tillis, and they certainly don’t have the tens of millions in their respective campaign war chests. And yet, they too, are vying for important offices during the 2014 general midterm elections, and they’re hoping that the African-American community hears their individual messages on why they feel they are bested suited to serve the community.
            NC Appellate Court Judge Mark Davis is not a household name, and yet in 2012, he was key to helping his former boss, Gov. Beverly Perdue, make the historymaking, yet controversial decision to issue pardons of innocence to the Wilmington Ten.
            Davis served for two years as Gov. Perdue’s general counsel, her legal adviser on all matters that came before her. In the four years that Perdue served in office, she had received literally hundreds of petitions to pardon those who had committed crimes and sought the state’s forgiveness.
            Perdue never granted any of those, and the one she did grant was for a man that DNA evidence proved was innocent only after he served over a decade in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
            So when, thanks to the Black Press and its coalition partners, the pardon requests for the Wilmington Ten landed on the governor’s desk, it was Davis’ job to research it, determine the merits, and make a recommendation to Gov. Perdue as to what to do.
            Davis found the case of ten young civil rights activists, falsely convicted in 1972 of firebombing a grocery store in Wilmington during the height of civil and racial unrest, compelling, and it was because he saw good reason to not only question the guilty verdicts, but also how the prosecutor comported himself, that Davis shared his concerns with the governor.
            After much study on her own, Perdue agreed, and issued the historic pardons on December 31st, 2012. But before she did, Perdue appointed Davis to the state Appellate Court, where he’s been ever since hearing a wide range of cases.
            Davis says he enjoys the job, and the chance to make a difference in determining how the law is meted out.
            Keisha Lovelace is also vying in a separate race to serve on the NC Court of Appeals. She is currently a Deputy Commissioner on the North Carolina Industrial Commission, where she travels the state hearing workers compensation cases.
            Prior to her tenure. Commissioner Lovelace served as an Assistant Appellate Defender, representing criminal defendants in child abuse and parental rights cases before the state Court of Appeals. Her legal career took off only after Lovelace spent several years as a high school history and civics teacher. She got her big break as a law clerk after law school for both former state Appellate Court Judge James A. Wynn, Jr.  and  Judge Robert C. Hunter.
            Former Wake Superior Court Abraham Penn Jones is also running for a seat on the North Carolina Appellate Court. A lawyer with many years of criminal and civil law experience, Jones has served as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. As a Superior Court judge for 17 years, Jones has ruled on several headline cases, making sure that all sides were heard fairly.
            Fairness, honesty, a working knowledge of the law, and a strong work ethic are qualities that I both value and possess,” Jones says. “It would be my honor to serve the citizens of North Carolina once again”
NC Associate Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley is the only appointment to the state’s High Court from former Gov. Beverly Perdue – only the second African-American woman to serve - and she’s found herself in the thick of some of North Carolina’s toughest legal issues ever since. Justice Beasley had served in both District Court, and on the state Appellate Court before the governor had elevated her in December 2012. She appears frequently in the community statewide, speaking at various engagements, extolling her belief in a criminal justice system where all are equal.
            “I have been honored to serve the people of our state on the District Court, Court of Appeals and now as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court,” stated Justice Beasley. “As I face election in 2014, I promise to make decisions that are fair and unbiased based on the rule of law.”
            For Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ola M. Lewis has thrown her hat in the race. She graduated Fayetteville State University with a BS in Business Administration, and NCCU School of Law in 1990. She has served in private practice at Thigpen and Blue law firm, as well as an assistant prosecutor, and special Superior Court judge.
            As Chief Justice, I will continue to uphold impartiality and sustain what is right,” Judge Lewis says. “In leading the Supreme Court, I am willing to apply the innovative steps, experience, and commitment to the rule of law that I have embodied throughout my career.”
            [FOR WAKE COUNTY ONLY]
            In Wake County, four Democrats seek to unseat four conservative Republican incumbents – John Burns, Matt Calabria, Sig Hutchinson, and Jessica Holmes. All four say a change is needed in order to better plan for growth in the county, and also to partner with the Wake County School Board in order to ensure that teachers are paid better, and students get all of the resources or learning they needs.
            Former Wake County Sheriff's Dept. investigator Willie Rowe, who worked under former Sheriff John Baker for many years, is running to unseat Sheriff Donnie Harrison. Rowe says it's time to bring the department back to working with the community to ensure public safety.
            And Marshall Harvey, a community historic preservation consultant, is running for Wake County Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.