The North Carolina Court of Appeals has overturned an order that Alamance County senior resident superior court judge Tom Lambeth, Jr. entered in the fall of 2019 that would require a Burlington man to enroll in lifetime satellite-based monitoring (SBM) once he completes his nearly 47-year prison sentence.
James Dwayne Barnes, 58, white male, formerly of 615 South Broad Street, Apartment C, Burlington, was convicted in October 2019 of three first-degree counts of rape, kidnapping, and sexual assault, as well as assault by strangulation, against his then-live-in girlfriend, the
case background states. The victim is referred to by a pseudonym, “Cindy,” in the opinion issued last week by the Court of Appeals. An Alamance County jury also convicted Barnes of being an habitual offender at his trial in Alamance County superior court in 2019.
Barnes’ live-in girlfriend, “Cindy,” was prostituting herself to “buy cigarettes and dope” when he discovered her in bed with another man in May 2018 and became so violently angry that he beat her until she lost consciousness. When Cindy came to, Barnes “anally raped” and continued to beat her until she fell asleep, though Barnes “periodically woke her, beat her, and also forced her to perform anal sex,” the case background states. The next day, Burlington police officer Justin Jolly received a call about the victim’s injuries and went to investigate at a Walmart, where the couple was spotted panhandling. Jolly arrested Barnes after conducting separate interviews with him and the alleged victim.
At the conclusion of the trial in Alamance County, Lambeth sentenced Barnes to serve a minimum of 35 years, up to a maximum of 47 years, in prison. He also ordered Barnes to enroll in lifetime SBM upon his release from prison due to the sexually-violent and aggravated nature of the crimes for which he was convicted, the case background states. Defendants – often those convicted of sexually violent offenses – who are required to enroll in lifetime SBM must wear a GPS-enabled bracelet that tracks their movements at all times.
On appeal, Barnes successfully argued that no hearing had been held to support the order requiring lifetime enrollment in SBM. The North Carolina Supreme Court, as well as subsequent appellate rulings, have previously established that a hearing must be held to determine whether the imposition of lifetime monitoring– to prevent any future crimes that a defendant might commit – outweighs his or her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
A panel for the Court of Appeals split 2-1 on whether they had the legal authority to review the SBM order in Barnes’ case.
Writing for the majority, Appeals Court judge John Arrowood acknowledged that Barnes had failed to properly file a written appeal of the SBM order, as required under the state’s rules of civil procedure. Nor had Barnes raised a constitutional challenge during his trial in Alamance County, Arrowood noted in his opinion, with Appeals Court judge Lucy Inman concurring. The majority nonetheless agreed to review the order for lifetime SBM enrollment and ultimately concluded that the failure to conduct a proper hearing had jeopardized Barnes’ Fourth Amendment rights.
The judge, Lambeth, and the prosecutor in the case, Alamance County assistant district attorney Elizabeth Olivier, “failed to follow well-established precedent in failing to apply for and impose SBM by conducting” a hearing, Arrowood wrote in his opinion for the Appeals Court.
A “Grady hearing” serves as a “balancing test” that would demonstrate the need to prevent Barnes from reoffending against the need to preserve the defendant’s constitutional rights, he wrote.
Appeals Court judge John M. Tyson issued a dissenting opinion in which he concluded that the appellate court lacked jurisdiction to review the order requiring Barnes to enroll in lifetime monitoring.
A 1959 ruling by the N.C. Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals “should grant such writs only if the petition ‘shows merit or that prejudicial error was probably committed,’” Tyson countered.
Barnes “never raised any constitutional challenge,” or any specific objection to the SBM order, during his trial in Alamance County, Tyson wrote, citing another state Supreme Court ruling, which he said bars a defendant from raising a constitutional challenge for the first time on appeal.
The Appeals Court has remanded the case to Alamance County to allow an application to be filed for SBM enrollment and to hold the required hearing.
Barnes was represented by Durham attorney Mark Montgomery for his appeal and by Graham attorney John W. Cox for his trial in Alamance County, according to the court file. He is currently incarcerated at
Central Prison in Raleigh; his projected release date is May 5, 2053, according to the N.C. Department of Corrections (DOC).
Barnes was previously convicted of felony larceny in Alamance County in 2014; driving while intoxicated in Randolph County in 2013; second-degree trespass in Alamance County in 2011; felony breaking and entering in Sampson County in 2008; as well as numerous other misdemeanor and felony charges dating back to 1985, according to his DOC file.