Join Us At Virtual Convention To Honor Leaders In the Legal Profession

The pandemic has altered our Convention plans, but it can’t deter us from honoring those who continue to lead the legal system and NCAJ through these unprecedented times.

When we meet via Zoom for Virtual Convention on Thursday, June 18, we will present awards to the following:

  • Outstanding Trial Judge Award to Judge Paul C. Ridgeway
  • Outstanding Appellate Judge Award to Chief Justice Cheri L. Beasley
  • Outstanding Legislator Award to N.C. Sen. Danny Earl Britt Jr.
  • Charles L. Becton Teaching Award to Rick Glazier

The Becton Award recognizes excellence in the teaching of trial advocacy.

  • Ebbie Award to Michael S. Adkins
  • Ebbie Award to Carmaletta L. Henson
  • Ebbie Award to Jennifer Moeller Lechner
  • Ebbie Award to Jason A. Orndoff
  • Ebbie Award to Kimberly Wilson White

The Ebbie Award is named after Ebbie Bailey, the first lady emeritus of NCAJ, who helped founding member Allen Bailey establish the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers over 50 years ago. Named in her honor, the Ebbie Award was created in 2003 to recognize service and inspired commitment to NCAJ and its mission.

Find more details about Convention 2020 on our website. Please register to join us and help us honor all our award winners.

Give Thanks For Invisible People And Remember That Trial Lawyers Can Save the World

By Vernon Sumwalt

My last President’s Column. Here it is, and here I am — for the first time ever — sipping coffee in New Orleans as I start putting my thoughts to paper. It’s a brisk dawn. Late February. Mardi Gras. My balcony hangs above Canal Street, only a block from Bourbon Street. I wonder, “How do the streets get so clean so soon after mayhem? And so early in the morning? After all that happened down there last night?”

Just a few hours before, a horde of beadseekers stumbled through the trash, beer bottles and other litter. NOLA, I decide, is a lot different from where I grew up. But they have one thing in common, at least when the sun rises: They have clean streets. “Who did this? And so fast?”

When we have a chance to pause and take a breath, we see the fingerprints of many invisible people who make the world happen while the rest of us enjoy the ride. For them, we give thanks.

Continue reading

COVID 19 and Civil Litigation: What Is a Litigator To Do?

By John O’Neal

For the civil practitioner who relies on jury trials this can be a disconcerting time. The civil courts in North Carolina civil courts are closed and it is unclear as to when and in what form jury trials will return. Many of us are hoping for some measure of re-opening in June but that remains to be seen. In the meantime, cases must continue and there are more cases to be filed. So what is the civil practitioner to do?

One thing to do is to look at each of your civil cases and consider how best to bring them to resolution without a jury trial, if possible. Mediation remains an option in many cases be it court-ordered or voluntary. Arbitration may be in your future.  I recognize, however, that some cases will only be resolved after you have your day(s) in court in front of a jury. Here are some tips you can apply to each of your civil cases:

Continue reading

Chappell v. NCDOT a Win For Landowners – With Asterisks For Pending Cases

By Shiloh Daum

The Supreme Court of North Carolina has issued the latest rulings in a line of condemnation cases brought under the now-notorious Map Act. Members of the NCAJ Eminent Domain section briefed the case of Chappell v. NCDOT (No. 51PA19) as amicus curiae. The case was largely a win for the landowners, but the NCDOT likely gained back some ground, and there are some important asterisks for any pending map act cases looking ahead.

The story began in Cumberland County in 1992 when NCDOT recorded a protected roadway corridor that encumbered the Chappell family’s property for a future road project. Importantly, the Map Act corridors prohibited landowners from improving, subdividing, or developing their property. The Chappells filed an inverse condemnation action in 2014 seeking just compensation for the impact and lost value from the restrictions on their property. Other recent cases (Kirby v. NCDOT and Beroth II v. NCDOT) held that the Map Act restrictions were a compensable taking, and that landowners should recover damages from the indefinite restraint on their property rights. “The value of the loss of those rights is to be measured ‘by calculating the value of the land before the corridor map was recorded and the value of the land afterward, taking into account all pertinent factors, including the restriction on each plaintiff’s fundamental rights, as well as any effect of the reduced ad valorem taxes.’”  Chappell, slip opinion, quoting Kirby.

Continue reading

Free End Distracted Driving Webinar to be Broadcast to High School Students Across US and Canada

Published in partnership with & the NCAJ Auto Torts & Premises Liability Section

As educators search for diversified digital learning content, local trial lawyers deliver

Local trial lawyers are coming together on May 12 to present a webinar aimed at teaching high school students the dangers of distracted driving. The webinar is being put on by in conjunction with the Anapol Weiss Foundation and Zoom Video Communications.

The webinar, entitled “End Distracted Driving: Keeping Ourselves and Loved Ones Safe After COVID-19,” will take place Tuesday, May 12, at 10am PT/1pm ET. Hosted by Joel Feldman, founder the nonprofit and partner at Anapol Weiss in Philadelphia, PA, the webinar content will focus on the dangers of distracted driving and shifting our perspective to avoid it, particularly ahead of our world’s return to normalcy post-COVID-19.

Continue reading

Hobbs Decision a Good Start To Ending NC’s Legacy Of Race Discrimination In Jury Selection

By David C. Weiss

Last week, on May 1, the N.C. Supreme Court issued an important decision in State v. Hobbs, No. 263PA18, clarifying several aspects of North Carolina case law that have long been barriers to relief under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), the landmark decision that established the modern framework for addressing race discrimination in jury selection.

The court granted review of the case after Hobbs pointed out in his petition for discretionary review that North Carolina has a serious, unaddressed problem of denying black citizens the right to serve on juries. Two different comprehensive, statewide studies have shown that black citizens are excluded from both capital and non-capital juries at twice the rate as white citizens. Another recent study revealed that North Carolina has the only appellate court system in the South that has never, in the three decades since Batson was decided, recognized an instance of discrimination against a juror of color.

Continue reading

Advocating for the Incarcerated: Join Our Pro Bono Effort

NCAJ, in partnership with the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center and the North Carolina Justice Center, is joining with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services to bring pro bono aid to the state’s incarcerated populations.

View the NCAJ webinar “Advocating for Incarcerated Populations” on our COVID-19 Resources Center.

As of this week, North Carolina prison officials have reported more than 400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state’s prisons. North Carolina prisons are unequipped to either prevent transmission of COVID-19 among inmates and staff or to isolate and treat individuals who become infected. This combination of close quarters and limited medical capacity create an intolerably dangerous situation, putting detainees, correctional staff and the communities they belong to at greater risk of illness and death.

Due to this unprecedented public health crisis, Prisoner Legal Services, a nonprofit law firm that advocates for the rights of those incarcerated in North Carolina state prisons, is seeking pro bono attorneys and paralegals to help PLS file Motions for Appropriate Relief to amend sentences for people who are particularly vulnerable to infection and/ or have other compelling mitigating factors.

Continue reading