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Supreme Court Adopts Universal Citation Format

Back in June, the Supreme Court of North Carolina sought feedback on a potential change to the citation format for North Carolina appellate court opinions.  This week, the Court has officially made plans for the universal citation format to go into effect.  The purpose of the change is to present “an immediate, permanent, and medium-neutral” citation the moment an opinion is issued. Under the new format, each opinion will contain …Read More

Can You Appeal from a Nullity?

The trial judge who presides over a hearing or trial is supposed to, and usually does, sign the resulting written order. But what happens if that normal process is not followed? What options do the parties have? Last week, the Supreme Court articulated one option that is not available: filing a notice of appeal. In re C.M.C. involved a bench trial of a petition for termination of parental rights. The …Read More

Can an Appellate Judge’s Vote Count After Death or Retirement?

Suppose an appellate judge casts the deciding vote in a case, creating a majority in support of the lead opinion.  Before the opinion is released, however, the judge retires or dies.  Does his or her vote still count? In federal court, no.  In a North Carolina appellate court, yes. In Yovino v. Rizo, issued today, the United States Supreme Court considered this question for the first time.  In this Equal …Read More

Supreme Court Clarifies Special Pleading Requirement in Medical-Malpractice Actions

If you have ever litigated a medical-malpractice case, you likely know all about Rule 9(j). Rule 9—the repository of the exceptions to our “notice-pleading regime”—requires a med-mal plaintiff (who isn’t relying on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur) to include certain magic words about expert review in the complaint. No magic words, no lawsuit. But wait: what if Rule 9(j) is less about writing something specific in the complaint, and …Read More

Could North Carolina Finally Adopt Federal Standing Requirements?

It has long been harder for a plaintiff to show standing in federal court than in North Carolina’s state courts. A juicy 2-1 decision from the North Carolina Court of Appeals—yielding an automatic right of appeal to our Supreme Court—could finally change that. See Comm. to Elect Dan Forest v. Emps. Political Action Comm. (“EMPAC”). Federal Courts Take a Stand Throughout the latter part of the twentieth century, the U.S. …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

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

By the Numbers: 2016 Outcomes in Supreme Court Decisions

North Carolina’s appellate statistician, Kenzie Rakes, has more numbers for us. Kenzie’s pie charts break down the outcomes from last year’s appeals to the Supreme Court.  Which disposition was used most frequently in 2016?  Affirmed, modified and affirmed, reversed, or vacated? Check out the North Carolina Appellate Stats Blog for all the details. –Beth Scherer

Supreme Court Reverses Court of Appeals Application of Appellate Rule 2

Last Friday was a blockbuster appellate day for the Supreme Court of North Carolina. Not only did it effectively declare an appellate jurisdiction statute unconstitutional (see Matt’s blog post), but Justice Newby authored a concurring opinion inspired by “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  (“Was Old Man Potter simply morally corrupt or was he also guilty of a crime?”). For North Carolina’s appellate defenders, however, Friday was not a wonderful day. Out of 11 …Read More