NCAJ Elects New Members To Board of Governors, Executive Committee

The North Carolina Advocates for Justice held its Annual Convention and Meeting on Thursday, June 18 and Friday, June 19 virtually via Zoom.

The NCAJ’s newly elected leaders Board of Governor’s Members for its 2020-2021 fiscal year are:

Class of 2023: J.K. Moser Kristen Dewar, Darrin Jordan, J.K. Moser, Kevin Murphy, Paige Pahlke, Manisha Patel, Anabel Rosa, David Sherlin, Brad Smith, Jeremy Wilson
Class of 2022 (filling unexpired term): Mike Adkins, Rachel Matesic
Class of 2021 (filling unexpired term): Miranda Mills

Representing NCAJ at the American Association for Justice will be:
AAJ Delegate: William Goldfarb
AAJ Minority Delegate: Curtis Osborne
AAJ Revitalization Delegate: Lauren Newton

Also, the NCAJ Board of Governors approved members of the 2020-21 Executive Committee, a subset of the board. Continue reading

David Henson Accepts NCAJ Presidential Gavel From Vernon Sumwalt

David Henson, a partner in the Raleigh law firm Henson & Fuerst, P.A., accepted the president’s gavel from Vernon Sumwalt on Thursday during the Annual Convention of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, held virtually via Zoom. Henson will serve a one-year term as NCAJ president beginning July 1.

Henson will succeed Sumwalt of The Sumwalt Group in Charlotte to become NCAJ’s 46th president.

Henson received his bachelor’s degree with academic distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995 and his law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1998. After passing the Bar, he joined Henson & Fuerst, a state-wide law firm representing individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries from motor vehicle accidents, workplace incidents, nursing home abuse and neglect and professional negligence.

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Bill To Modernize Partition of Property Statutes On Its Way To Governor

Senate Bill 729, which Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to sign into law, will modernize the state’s statutes governing the partition of property and make technical, conforming and modernizing amendments to the elective life estate statute.

This matter was reviewed by the General Statutes Commission, a diverse committee of legislators and representatives of North Carolina law schools, that reviews and recommends statutory changes to the General Assembly. NCAJ worked with the staff of the General Statutes Commission during its review, which occurred over several years.

NCAJ Eminent Domain Section Legislative Chair Kenneth Sack provides an overview of the changes below.

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N.C. Supreme Court Preserves RJA, Ensures Closer Scrutiny For Death Penalty System

By David C. Weiss

As historic protests against endemic racism in the criminal punishment system sweep the country, the N.C. Supreme Court issued three important decisions addressing racial bias in criminal cases in meaningful and much-needed ways. In each of the cases decided on Friday, June 5, NCAJ filed amicus briefs urging the court to fully enforce the constitutional right to equal treatment under the law.

In recent years, statistical studies of North Carolina’s criminal system have borne out the justifiable anger and anguish over the mistreatment of black citizens that is currently playing out in demonstrations across the nation. A commission established by former N.C. Chief Justice Martin found in 2017 that North Carolinians widely believe our court system treats people differently based on race. Meanwhile, numerous studies have found that North Carolina’s criminal system is riven with discrimination. For example, decisions about which citizens are allowed serve on capital and non-capital juries are made on the basis of race, as are decisions about which cases are punished with the death penalty.

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Class Action Litigants Get Critical Win At Supreme Court in Chambers v. Moses Cone

By Burton Craige

In Chambers v. Moses Cone Hospital, the plaintiff filed a class action claiming that the defendant hospital had a practice of overbilling uninsured ER patients. After the hospital wrote off the named plaintiff’s bill, the trial court dismissed the action as moot. A unanimous Court of Appeals affirmed (Bryant, Dietz, Berger). On June 5 the Supreme Court reversed.

In a 6-1 decision written by Justice Anita Earls, the Court agreed with NCAJ and its co-amici, and held that a defendant cannot automatically moot a class action by picking off the named plaintiff before class certification.

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33 NCAJ Members Inducted Into 2019 Pro Bono Honor Society

We offer our thanks and congratulations to the 33 NCAJ members inducted into the Pro Bono Resource Center’s 2019 North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society. The attorneys listed below reported completing 50 or more hours of pro bono legal services in 2019 to become members of the honor society. For more information about the society, view this article from the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.

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We Are Listening To the Painful Truths Of Racial Injustice: A Joint Statement From NCAJ Leaders

From NCAJ President Vernon Sumwalt and NCAJ Executive Director Kim Crouch

Our eyes, like yours, are watching through tears as the grief, frustration and anger of the oppressed spill into the streets of our cities. Our hearts, like yours, are breaking over the senseless deaths, the continuing pain and the gaping wounds caused by the institutional racism and inequity America has too long embraced.

As our nation and our communities continue to bear witness to the difficult truths that must be told, we want you to know that NCAJ is listening. We are here to help in any way that we can. And after the glass is swept up and the streets are quiet, NCAJ will continue to listen and continue to work to right the wrongs that have led us to this time of reckoning.

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North Carolina Advocates for Justice PAC Endorses Nine Candidates in 2020 Statewide Appellate Judicial Elections

The North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ) Political Action Committee is pleased to announce its slate of endorsements for the state’s 2020 appellate judicial elections to be held Nov. 3.

The carefully considered endorsements are for three seats on the Supreme Court of North Carolina and five seats on the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Supreme Court, Seat 1: Cheri Beasley
Supreme Court, Seat 2: Lucy Inman
Supreme Court, Seat 4: Mark Davis
Court of Appeals, Seat 4: Patricia Shields
Court of Appeals, Seat 5: Lora Cubbage
Court of Appeals, Seat 6: Chris Dillon
Court of Appeals, Seat 7: Jeff Carpenter
Court of Appeals, Seat 13: Chris Brook and Jefferson Griffin

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COVID-19 Relief Bill Immunity Language Strips Patients Of Protections

By Carma Henson

North Carolinians who suffer harm while seeking health care during the COVID-19 pandemic will have limited recourse to be made whole by the legal system, thanks to language included in the COVID-19 bill passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Cooper on May 4.

At the request of several health care advocacy groups, the 70-page omnibus bill included an immunity clause that addresses the needs of health care providers and owners of health care businesses but strips patients of the protections normally available to ensure that appropriate care is delivered.

The North Carolina Advocates for Justice worked tirelessly to help narrow this language, while still protecting those serving on the front lines during a pandemic. NCAJ agrees with the need to help front-line health care workers. However, the immunity provided in Senate Bill 704 extends beyond front-line health care workers to provide cover to those in the board room, those who make the decisions that directly affect the lives of patients and front-line workers.

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