Waiving right to trial could be defendants' choice

CHARLOTTE, MECKLENBURG COUNTY - When voters go to the polls in November, they'll decide whether North Carolina will join 49 other states in giving criminal defendants another option to a jury trial.

If approved, the proposed constitutional amendment would allow people charged with a felony to decide if they want a judge or a jury to hear their case.  Such a waiver wouldn't be allowed in death penalty cases.

The University of North Carolina's School of Government has studied the issue and just released a report intended to provide background and context to voters.

University of North Carolina associate professor of public law and government, Jeff Welty, says the issue hasn't attracted much attention.  But he says it would be a major change in the way the courts operate.

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