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What Type of Review Is Triggered by a “No-Merit” Brief?

At first blush, it might not seem surprising that the Court of Appeals would dismiss an appeal if “[n]o issues have been argued or preserved for review.” But what is surprising is the fact that the Court reached that conclusion in a published opinion and, in doing so, made a significant change to the jurisprudence of cases arising under Rule 3.1 of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure (which …Read More

Marbury v. Madison–in 2018?

Unlike some sites, this blog does not focus heavily on decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court. But last Friday’s decision in Ortiz v. United States on the breadth of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is a must-read for anyone interested in appellate practice and procedure. As background, the petitioner in Ortiz was a member of the military who was convicted of a crime as part of a military court …Read More

Statutory Construction: The Saga Continues

Statutory construction continues to be an important issue to the Supreme Court of North Carolina. Consider this statute: “Only a county director of social services or the director’s authorized representative may file a petition alleging that a juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-401.1(a). In In re A.P. , the Court considered the question of which county director can file such a petition. The county in …Read More

Is “Failure To Preserve” An Issue That Must Be Preserved?

I will note at the outset that our firm represented the property owners in this case. But aside from the substantive issues, the Supreme Court’s decision from last week in North Carolina Department of Transportation v. Mission Battleground Park contains an important caveat for appellate practitioners. The case involved the DOT’s condemnation of property in Greensboro for a state highway project. During the trial to determine the amount of just …Read More

Amy Funderburk Announced As Clerk Of Supreme Court

As we have discussed previously, the Supreme Court has been looking for a new clerk for a few months.  Christie Cameron Roeder has been serving as interim clerk, but today the Court announced that Amy Funderburk will serve as the 16th Clerk of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.  Ms. Funderburk has most recently been with the AOC and also serves as an adjunct professor at Campbell Law School.  For more …Read More

U.S. Government Teaches Us “How to Write Good”

We have written before about the benefits of plain speak in appellate opinions. We have also written about the importance of consistency in brief writing. I would like to throw one more resource into the ring, courtesy of the Plain Language Action and Information Network. If you need some (tongue-in-cheek) tips on how to improve your writing, see the organization’s 51 rules of “How to Write Good” here. –Kip Nelson

Disagreement in the Supreme Court of North Carolina: How to Interpret a Statute

Our State Supreme Court issues a lot of unanimous opinions. But this month’s batch of opinions contained two interesting examples of an area in which the justices may disagree: statutory interpretation. In State v. Fletcher, the Supreme Court was interpreting the scope of the phrase “oral intercourse” in a criminal statute. Not surprisingly, the Court “look[ed] first to the plain meaning of the words of the statute itself.” But because …Read More

Job Posting for Supreme Court Clerk

As we discussed previously, the Supreme Court finds itself in need of a new clerk. Are you interested in applying? Do you know someone who might be? Here is the job posting from the Supreme Court: The North Carolina Supreme Court seeks a qualified Clerk of Court to serve as the Court’s executive officer overseeing the management of the Clerk’s Office and supervision of the professional staff within the Clerk’s …Read More

Are These Rhetorical Questions?

Tuesday’s batch of opinions from the Court of Appeals included several helpful reminders. None of these is especially earth-shattering, but the opinions do answer some questions that may be forgotten during the rough-and-tumble process. Do you have to file a responsive pleading after dismissal is reversed on appeal? Yes, you do. But when you have to do so is an open question. In Swan Beach Corolla, LLC v. County of …Read More

It Never Goes out of Style

The Appellate Rules Committee has updated the Appellate Style Manual, which is intended to give practical examples and tips for those practicing in North Carolina’s appellate courts.  Though not a substitute for the Rules themselves, it may be helpful to consult the style manual in light of the recent changes to the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure. The revised version can be found here. –Kip Nelson