Approved State Ballot Measure Gives Defendents Another Option
North Carolina voters approved a measure that will bring bench trials to the state's courthouses. The amendment to the state constitution allows defendants in most felony cases to go before a judge instead of a jury. The amendment passed with 53 percent of the vote.
North Carolina was the last state to allow defendants in felony cases the right to waive a jury trial. Supporters of the measure say it will make the courts more efficient and will save time and money. But critics say there's a risk that defendants with influential attorneys will be able to find judges who will be more lenient toward them.
The measure received little public attention early on, but it became more controversial closer to Election Day. Last month, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to go on record opposing the amendment.