This election, voters will decide whether to amend the State constitution to allow criminal defendants the right to waive a jury trial in superior court and instead allow a judge to rule on their guilt or innocence. This is known as a “bench trial,” which is less expensive and takes less time than a jury trial.
The proposed amendment would not apply to capital trials—such as murder—nor would apply to misdemeanor cases in district court, which are automatically overseen by bench trials.
North Carolina is the only state in the country where defendants automatically receive jury trials. Though it’s not always in the defendant’s best interest to receive a trial by judge, we believe that they should have the choice, in keeping with the rest of the country, provided that they aren’t pressured by their lawyers to waive their jury trial rights. Vote for the amendment.