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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  In State v. Thabet, COA17-1417 (unpublished) (September 18, 2018), the majority held that defendant’s roadside request for “a breathalyzer” was the equivalent of a request for a Portable Breath Test and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

Deadlines and Florence: A Helping Hand From The Chief Justice

Hurricane Florence has brought flooding and other forms of misery to much of North Carolina, especially in the coastal and southeastern counties. On Thursday, 13 September 2018, Chief Justice Martin issued a helping hand to attorneys in those areas. Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 7A-39(b)(1) the Chief issued an emergency order  finding that “catastrophic conditions” existed in Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Sampson, and Tyrrell …Read More

Rushing To Replace Duncan

For some time, North Carolina lawyers have been waiting anxiously to see who would be named to fill the seat being vacated by Judge Allyson Duncan. Now we know. Allison Jones Rushing is from East Flat Rock, North Carolina and earned her undergraduate degree at Wake Forest and her law degree at Duke. She went on to clerk for some federal jurists you may have heard of:  Sentelle, Gorsuch, and …Read More

Is This the End of Legal Yeti (a.k.a. Bigfootnote)?

Just at the “Arab Spring” brought both revolution and repression to the Middle East, an “Appellate Spring” may be upon us as appellate practitioners and judges agitate against the Bluebook’s excessively technical rules.  More specifically, many are embracing the notion that quotations in opinions and briefs should be streamlined to make them more readable. A full history of this evolving process is beyond the scope of this blog but you …Read More

Almost Heaven? Judicial Décor 101

Attorneys and judges everywhere are watching with amazement the developments in West Virginia, where the entire state Supreme Court bench is on the ropes.  Of the five Justices, one retired in July in anticipation of pleading guilty to a federal wire fraud charge, and the other four have been impeached by the West Virginia House of Delegates.  The impeachment cases will proceed to the state Senate for trial.  Details are …Read More

Come see about…who? Thoughts on the Supremes

Now that an opening looms on the Supreme Court of the United States, the thoughts of all who follow this blog turn to Justice Kennedy’s replacement.  Regardless of what can be said about the qualifications of the various contenders for the seat, one aspect of the announced selection process is heartening.  An unusually wide net is being cast. Consider some of those who have sat on that Court in the …Read More

Setting the Tone

Writing some opinions can be a daunting and sometimes downright unpleasant experience. Others, however, can be a pleasure, especially when the facts are unusual or offbeat.  In all cases, however, the judge or justice writing the opinion knows that case and its outcome are important to those involved.  For that reason, most judges who draft appellate opinions are careful to maintain a neutral tone when discussing the facts and the …Read More