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Court of Appeals Downsizing Bill Becomes Law

On Wednesday, the General Assembly overrode the Governor ‘s veto of House Bill 239.  Against opposition from the bench and the bar, the legislature pushed the court-shrinking bill through on a mostly party-line vote.  The override votes came on the heels of a remarkable move by retiring Judge Douglas McCullough–a registered Republican–who reportedly retired a month early to avoid having his seat eliminated by the bill.

Moving beyond the political turmoil surrounding the bill, let’ s summarize what the bill means for our appellate courts:

1.  Court of Appeals Will Get Smaller–But When?

The Court of Appeals will lose three seats, shrinking to 12 jurists.  There is no strict timeline for the downsizing.  A seat will be abolished only when a sitting judge dies, resigns, retires, or is impeached under the constitution or otherwise removed by the Supreme

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BREAKING NEWS: John Arrowood to Replace Judge McCullough on Court of Appeals

North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Doug McCullough earlier today announced his retirement from the bench, effective immediately, only a month and a few days before he was to reach the mandatory retirement age on May 28.  Governor Roy Cooper immediately appointed former Court of Appeals judge John Arrowood to fill the seat left vacant by Judge McCullough’s early retirement.  This surprising chain of events appears to be directly related to proposed legislation that would

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A Jurisdictional Jamboree (including an RPR sighting!)

Tuesday’s batch of opinions from the Court of Appeals contained a smorgasbord of jurisdictional issues pertaining to interlocutory appeals. In no particular order:

Department of Transportation v. Riddle

This condemnation proceeding involved a partial taking by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (“DOT”). The Riddles owned a parcel of land that they had subdivided into seven separate lots. The DOT originally commenced the action by filing a complaint and

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Court of Appeals To Be Downsized Unless…

UPDATE:  House Bill 239 was vetoed by the Governor on Friday.  Read the Governor’s statement here.  The override vote has been calendared in the house for Wednesday.

A bill to downsize the Court of Appeals—from 15 judges to 12—has been sent to the Governor.  The bill may have just enough partisan support to override a veto, although the override votes may be very close.

House Bill 239 would shrink the

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Fourth Circuit May Conduct Initial En Banc Review of Revised Federal Travel Ban

Since December 2016, we have been monitoring the status of the North Carolina Court of Appeals ‘ new en banc authority.  Several motions for en banc review have been filed, but to our knowledge, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has not yet accepted a case for en banc review.

Not to be outdone, the Fourth Circuit is generating its own en banc buzz. The Fourth Circuit has long had the authority to hear cases en banc.  En banc review in the Fourth Circuit is extremely rare (at least in recent years). Initial en banc review–before a three-judge panel decides the case–is virtually unheard of in the Fourth Circuit.  That may be about to change.

As reported by Maryland’ s Appellate Blog, the Fourth Circuit recently took the unusual step of sua sponte ordering the parties to brief the “appropriate[ness] of initial en banc review” of the revised federal travel ban.  As noted by the Maryland blog,
The decision to order the parties to brief whether they consider initial en banc review appropriate is even more unusual

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Court of Appeals Calendared Fewer Cases in 2016

A few months ago, Matt shared Kenzie Rakes’s 2015 statistics on the frequency of oral arguments in the Court of Appeals.   Now that 2016 is behind us, Kenzie has crunched some updated numbers on her blog, www.ncappellatestats.com.

The chances of a case being orally argued essentially held steady from 2015 to 2016 (14% versus 12%).   However, the Court of Appeals calendared approximately 16% fewer cases for decision (i.e., with or without oral argument) in 2016 than it did in either 2014 or 2015. 

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