North Carolina Appellate Practice Blog

Latest from North Carolina Appellate Practice Blog

After more than a year of remote oral arguments, the Supreme Court of North Carolina is ready for some face-to-face time.  Barring a COVID-19 resurgence, both the Justices and advocates will be back in the Justice Building during the week of August 30, 2021 for oral arguments. In a change from pre-pandemic practice, specific argument times are assigned to each case being heard.  For example, on days when five cases are scheduled to be heard, the assigned timeslots are 9:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. One benefit is that advocates and their clients do not…
In its recent opinion in Warren County Department of Social Services ex rel. Glenn v. Garrelts, the North Carolina Court of Appeals addressed an unusual choice of law issue.  In the recitation below, for ease of reading, I will refer to the mother as “plaintiff,” even though the suit was brought on the mother’s behalf by Warren County DSS. Plaintiff and her same-sex partner wanted to conceive a child, so plaintiff asked defendant, a male friend, to serve as sperm donor.  When he agreed, plaintiff and defendant entered into a “verbal contract,” the terms of which were not revealed in…
As reported previously, Dan Horne is retiring as Clerk of the Court of Appeals at the end of the month. His successor will be Eugene “Gene” Soar, who has served as Staff Attorney for the Clerk of the Court of Appeals since August 2020. You may have seen Gene running WebEx oral argument sessions for the Court of Appeals. He is also talented at reassuring nervous WebEx participants that their cat filters are not on. Gene received his law degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law. After graduating from law school, he served as a law clerk for…
Those who follow NCAPB know that AJEI offers the best CLE on appellate practice and law.  AJEI 2021 is being held live in Austin this year November 11-14.  One of the presenters will be Fox’s own Matt Leerberg, appearing as a panelist on a program addressing ethical aspects of creating an appellate practice.  Registration is now open.  Here’s a link:  2021 AJEI Summit Registration, Thu, Nov 11, 2021 at 1:00 PM | Eventbrite –Bob Edmunds…
As discussed previously, the Court of Appeals is searching for a new Clerk of Court due to the retirement of Dan Horne on June 30, 2021.  Perhaps you forgot to send your resume in during the first round.  Good news! The position has been reposted–but only for a short period.  The reopened application window closes on Thursday, June 3, 2021. For those interested in applying or who know someone who might be, the job posting and application information can be found here, –Beth Scherer  …
The Appellate Rules Committee has updated its style–the Appellate Style Manual that is. The Style Manual provides practical examples and tips for those practicing in North Carolina’s state appellate courts.  Although not a substitute for the Rules themselves, the Style Manual is a handy guide for those dealing with pesky table of authorities or seeking guidance on the latest appellate transcript rules.  Caitlin Mitchell, who recently took over as editor-in-chief of the Style Manual, has a summary of the latest updates here. The Rules Committee has been busy.  In March 2021, the Committee issued a facelift to its ever-popular…
In March, the concept of nominal damages (often just a single dollar awarded to a plaintiff to represent a defendant’s liability in the absence of actual damages) took center stage at the highest courts of both the country and this state.  The results in both courts placed a potential value on nominal damages that far exceeds a single dollar. On March 8, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion holding that a request for nominal damages alone is sufficient to keep a plaintiff’s cause of action for a constitutional violation alive, even if there is no allegation…
In April 2017, the General Assembly moved primary (i.e., initial) appellate jurisdiction in termination of parental rights appeals from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.  That change (which went into effect in January 2019) required the appellate courts and Rule 3.1 practitioners to make significant adjustments. Recently, the General Assembly changed its mind.   For notices of appeal filed on or after July 1, 2021 in these cases, primary appellate jurisdiction has been shifted back to the Court of Appeals. Interestingly, the legislative change also comes with a new set of reporting requirements for termination of parental rights…
An intriguing by-play between judges on the North Carolina Court of Appeals recently emerged into public view in the case of State v. Calvin Lee Miller. After shooting his wife, Miller was convicted of attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and possession of a firearm by a felon. One issue raised on appeal was the trial court’s admission of ballistics evidence, presented through the State’s expert witness. This issue was reviewed for abuse of discretion and the Court of Appeals majority found none. In addition, the entire panel found that,…