Go to Top

Blog Archives

A Wistful Farewell

Chief Justice Martin has just announced his retirement from the bench. While his accomplishments are well-known, Mark (and since that’s how I’ve always known him, I won’t stop now) has always been a little formal in public and prefers to divert attention to others. So what’s he really like? Having spent sixteen years working with him, I hope I can shed a little light on that question. Mark’s early adulthood …Read More

In Re Civil Penalty (again)

Last October, I blogged about the interaction between State v. Alonzo, __ N.C. App. __, 819 S.E.2d 584 (2018), and In re Civil Penalty, 324 N.C. 373, 379 S.E. 2d 30 (1989).  To recap, In re Civil Penalty holds that the first Court of Appeals opinion addressing an issue controls if that issue arises again and that the Court of Appeals cannot overrule itself.  The Alonzo result was based upon …Read More

Farewell, My Lovely—Oops, Not Quite

The Supreme Court of North Carolina just issued a fascinating but divided opinion with facts straight out of a 1940’s noir thriller.  How far can a would-be wife killer go before he gets into serious trouble? The case is State v. Melton, 253 PA 17, issued 7 December 2018.  It began when defendant Melton, in a bitter custody dispute with his former wife, contacted a friend who defendant believed had …Read More

AJEI–From Atlanta to DC

In the past, I have written about the annual Appellate Judges Education Institute (AJEI). The most recent was held in Atlanta last November.  I write about it now not to make you heartsick that you missed it and insanely jealous of those who made it, but to convince you to plan to attend next year.  It will be held in the District of Columbia November 14-17, 2019 and will be …Read More

Four New Appellate Specialists Welcomed

  The North Carolina State Bar announced last week that four attorneys had met the practice requirements and passed the examination necessary to be designated as Board Certified Specialists in Appellate Practice.  Congratulations to Pat Kane, Kip Nelson, Sherri Horner Lawrence, and Mark Sigmon! With the addition of Pat and Kip to the rank of specialist, Fox Rothschild (nee Smith Moore Leatherwood) now boasts five board certified specialists as members …Read More

No news is, uh, no news: The Supreme Court Passes On A Second Opportunity To Address “Proper” Rule 59 Motions.

In his book, Five Seasons, great baseball writer Roger Angell relates the story of a game where, near the end, a hard rain began to fall.  It was the bottom of the ninth, the score was tied 2-2, the bases were loaded, and the batter had worked the count to three balls and two strikes.  The umpire reluctantly delayed the game for hours until the rain let up sometime after …Read More

Constitutional Crowd-pleasers

A couple of opportunities to enjoy some good old-fashioned state constitutional law history are now being offered. First, the NC Supreme Court Historical Society and Campbell Law School have joined forces with Court of Appeals Judge Beach Bob Hunter’s Ad Hoc Committee to Observe the 150th Anniversary of the 1868 NC Constitution to give us all something special.  Michael Kent Curtis, Wake Forest Law School Professor of Constitutional Law, will …Read More

What’s Going On? In re Civil Penalty, Dissents, and a Call for the Views of the Solicitor General

Apparently Marvin Gaye is not the only one who wants to know. For those of us who live and breathe the appellate rules, recent cases issued by the Court of Appeals are providing more than ample food for thought.  The question that will not die is the extent to which the Court of Appeals is bound by its own precedent. This issue was long thought to have been put to …Read More

West Virginia Redux (maybe)

As discussed in an earlier blog post, every member of the current West Virginia Supreme Court got into some type of trouble.  According to the American Bar Association Journal’s Weekly Newsletter, Associate Justice Beth Walker, impeached by the West Virginia House, was acquitted by that state’s Senate on a vote of 31-1. My initial impression is that this outcome is heartening.  Its near-unanimity indicates that the state’s Senate reached a …Read More

Dissent Into The Maelstrom

Something not seen in recent years emerged in a recent opinion from the Court of Appeals.  In State v. Thabet, COA17-1417 (unpublished) (September 18, 2018), the majority held that defendant’s roadside request for “a breathalyzer” was the equivalent of a request for a Portable Breath Test and that the trial court did not err in denying defendant’s motion to suppress evidence of his impaired driving. Nothing remarkable here until we …Read More