NCAJ Members Begin State Bar Committee Service For 2020

Congratulations to the NCAJ members who begin their 2020 North Carolina State Bar committee service this week.

Marcia Armstrong: Ethics (advisory), Legislative (advisory), Proactive Management Based Regulation (advisory), Special Committee to Study the ABA Rule Amendments to the Model Rules on Advertising (advisory)

Clark R. Bell: Authorized Practice, Grievance Subcommittee II

Julie L. Bell: Authorized Practice, Grievance Subcommittee I, Legislative

Harold Lee Boughman Jr.: Authorized Practice, Grievance Subcommittee II

Raymond A. Bretzmann: Authorized Practice, Grievance Subcommittee III

Adam Campbell: Communications (advisory)

Richard J. Costanza: Administrative, Cyber Security (vice chair),

William C. Fields Jr.: Administrative, Distinguished Service, Grievance Subcommittee III

Anna Hamrick: Communications, Distinguished Service, Executive, Grievance Subcommittee II (vice chair), Legislative

Charles R. Hardee: Distinguished Service (Chair), Executive, Grievance Subcommittee I, Issues

Philip Isley: Legislative (advisory)

Darrin D. Jordan: NCSB Vice Chair, Appointments, Executive, Finance and Audit (vice chair), Issues (chair), Legislative, all other ex-officio

Thomas Lamm: Communications (advisory)

John C. Lloyd: Ethics (advisory),

William S. Mills: Authorized Practice, Ethics (vice chair), Executive, Issues

Gena Graham Morris: Administrative, Ethics

Robert E. Nunley: LAMP (advisory)

Melissa Owen: Ethics (advisory)

Stewart Poisson: Ethics (advisory)

Eben T. Rawls III: Executive, Ethics, Issues, Proactive Management Based Regulation (vice chair)

Warren T. Savage IV: Authorized Practice, Distinguished Service, Ethics, Issues, Proactive Management Based Regulation, Special Committee to Study the ABA Rule Amendments to the Model Rules on Advertising

Charlotte Stewart: LAMP (advisory)

Everett Thompson III: Administrative (Chair), Distinguished Service, Executive, Grievance Subcommittee II, Issues, Special Committee to Study the ABA Rule Amendments to the Model Rules on Advertising

Herbert “Jay” White: Administrative, Grievance II, Legislative, LAMP, Special Committee to Study the ABA Rule Amendments to the Model Rules on Advertising

Eddie S. Winstead III: Administrative, Grievance Subcommittee II, Issues

Rising Star: Matt Gambale

Look for this feature in the upcoming edition of Trial Briefs, exclusively for NCAJ members.  

By Amber Nimocks 

Hanging around outside an RV on a sunny autumn afternoon, Matt Gambale and his law partners look dressed for a day off – plaid shirts and jeans, Sperry Topsider loafers, no socks. But it’s not casual Friday, it’s pro bono Tuesday. The partners of Osborn Gambale Beckley & Budd PLLC are offering free legal answers for anyone who approaches their mobile office, which today is the RV bearing the firm name parked in a busy midtown Raleigh parking lot. 

The mobile office and the regular pro bono days, which they do about eight times a month, are part of the new firm’s business plan.  

“We rely on karma to make this work for the for-profit side of the business,” Gambale said. “We take care of the community and hopefully they will take care of us.”  

The partners do no client intake on pro bono days. They answer gateway questions for people who aren’t sure what kind of legal representation they might need. They advise folks on how they might handle misdemeanor cases. And if it seems appropriate, they recommend hiring an attorney – but not necessarily one from their firm.  

The RV affords the firm a physical presence in neighborhoods where brick-and-mortar law offices are scarce or non-existent. People who might be intimidated by gold-plated firm names and sleek office furniture feel less wary about talking to a couple of guys sitting around in camp chairs. And Gambale and his partners feel like they’re practicing law as they intended to.   

Gambale earned his BA in history from the University of Virginia and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, as did his law partners. He has practiced for eight years and focuses on criminal defense, DUI/DWI defense and traffic tickets and insurance disputes. He lives in Raleigh with his cat Dorian, near his parents who are retired in Apex. 

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Welcoming 2020 | NCAJ Five Year Strategic Plan Approved

On Dec. 16, your NCAJ Board of Governors approved a comprehensive strategic plan to guide the organization over the next five years.

I am grateful to the leadership for setting a course that will modernize and sustain this organization for the future. I want to thank the members of the Strategic Planning Committee for their commitment and dedication to the development of this plan and for their continued oversight of the plan in 2020. I also want to thank Mary Moss and Kim Glenn from moss + ross for their professional guidance and assistance in developing NCAJ’s strategic plan.

In early 2020, I will work with the NCAJ staff to begin addressing and implementing the plan’s action steps. With this strategic plan, NCAJ will be focused on mission, beliefs and goals that will allow this organization to continue protecting people, preventing injustice and promoting fairness.

Learn more about the NCAJ strategic plan for 2020-2025 and its highlights.

Thank you for your continued support of NCAJ.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Crouch
Executive Director

Rising Star: Ben Hiltzheimer  

Ben HiltzheimerFind this feature and more member news and profiles in the October edition of Trial Briefs, available exclusively to NCAJ members.

Ben Hiltzheimer is the founder of Hiltzheimer Law Office, PLLC, with offices in Raleigh and Durham. From 2006 to 2011, Ben was employed as an attorney at the federally funded Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. His tenure there included two years in a targeted litigation role focusing on complex forensics and systemic criminal justice issues in partnership with the Innocence Project.

In his capacity as a trial attorney at the Public Defender Service, he represented indigent individuals charged with felonies in the District of Columbia, from their initial appearance in Superior Court through trial. Ben earned his law degree from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the 10th Judicial District Bar Association and the National College for DUI Defense. He lives with his wife and three children in Durham.

What attracted you to criminal defense work? 

I’ve thought about this question over the years and I have at least three different answers.

On one hand, I started out specifically as a public defender because I wanted to stand in the shoes of the marginalized and push back against the substantial power of a government that often oversteps its bounds, particularly with respect to minorities and the poor. It was that disparity that first attracted me to this fight, from a core belief that one’s rights shouldn’t be a function of race or socio-economic status.

As I got into the work and it became less abstract, another guiding principle that evolved for me was the more general belief that people shouldn’t be judged solely on the darkest moments in their lives – which is often where I meet my clients for the first time. The system tends to view individuals through the narrow lens of a single act, and part of my job as a defender is to put those acts into the context of an entire human life, with hardships and struggles and often a complicated and tragic story to tell.

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Our Time to Take Back the Courtroom

by Vernon Sumwalt, 2019-2020 President of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice

Trial lawyers are losing the ability to try cases. 

Yes, you heard me right.  The president of the NCAJ, formerly called the NCATL (remember what the “TL” stood for?) just said that. 

Now, I’m not the first to say this.  U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Anderson’s Where Have You Gone, Spot Mozingo? A Trial Judge’s Lament Over the Demise of the Civil Jury Trial, 4 Fed. Cts. Law Rev. 99 (2010), expressed concern about the decline of civil jury trials almost a decade ago.  North Carolina’s own federal bench has said the same about federal criminal trials.  See Conrad, Robert J. & Clements, Katy L., The Vanishing Criminal Jury Trial: From Trial Judges to Sentencing Judges, 86 George Wash. L. Rev. 99 (2018).  Why are trials running the way of the dinosaurs?  Fewer jury trials means fewer juries.  Fewer juries means fewer guards left standing on the last line of our Constitutional system of defense, where our Founders put 12 representatives of our communities—the only unelected ones under our Constitution—to protect the shores of justice from the erosion of popularity, power, and indifference.  There are a ton of excuses for this decline: arbitration (and ADR in general), sentencing guidelines, increasing costs of litigation and extensive discovery, inexperience of new lawyers, risk aversion of old lawyers, risks of conviction, dispositive resolutions, the list goes on.  Abraham Lincoln, who is said to have tried over 3,000 cases in 25 years as a trial lawyer—about 120 trials a year—didn’t have these obstacles.  Neither did most trial lawyers just 30 or 40 years ago.                   

We, as trial lawyers, cannot excuse this trend to end trials, or else we will lose our Constitution.  What’ happened?  What can we do to fight back?  This is the task of trial lawyer groups — NCAJ included —t oday.  To revitalize trial, rebound from this loss, and rebuild our last line of defense for Constitutional integrity. This is our destiny. Who trial lawyers are meant to be.      

So, if the hair on your neck stands up or your heart starts to race when I say, “Trial lawyers are losing the ability to try cases,” then good.  Very good.  It’s time to fight back.  We need the fire in your belly to throw NCAJ into hyperdrive to train new trial lawyers.  We need you now.

Things are moving at light speed at NCAJ.  While gradual, our CLE offerings launch into the realm of practical trial skills on Thursday, September 26, 2019, when William Goldfarb conducts a seminar with two live focus groups in Charlotte.  We have a depositions course planned in January 2020 to tackle North Carolina-specific practices and black letter law.  Meanwhile, we welcome Mark Kosieradzki to our Sustainer Summit at the Grove Park Inn in October.  Koz is a national expert on 30(b)(6) depositions and countering abusive discovery tactics.  NCAJ is test driving its first applications for its new focus group program before we open the doors for everyone’s consumption.  Our listservs and moot court participants continue to debrief their experiences and share takeaways, so others can experience the ride as close to a “real life” driver’s seat as they can be.  We are building better trial lawyers to try cases like they have nothing to lose, because all we have to lose is time.  Because the fear of loss holds us back from being who we are and what we are meant to be. 

We are trial lawyers.

Vernon Sumwalt is the 2019-2020 President of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice and a partner at The Sumwalt Law Firm in Charlotte. Sumwalt is a North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Appellate Practice and Workers’ Compensation Law and has served in numerous leadership positions for both the NC State Bar and NC Bar Association’s workers’ compensation committees and sections.

Inaugural NCAJ Diversity & Inclusion Conference Inspires Candid Conversation About Bias

by Amber Nimocks, NCAJ Marketing and Communications Manager

CARY – Judges and attorneys discussed pervasive gender bias and the possibility of a new CLE requirement that would address matters of inequity – among many other topics – at the inaugural North Carolina Advocates for Justice Diversity & Inclusion Conference Sept. 20 in Cary.

The centerpiece of the conference was a judicial panel featuring N.C. Supreme Court Justice Anita S. Earls, N.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Linda M. McGee and Judge Ashleigh Parker Dunston of the 10th Judicial District.

Earls told the crowd of about 50 attorneys that she is concerned that the gender bias she encountered when she began practicing law in 1988 persists. She recalled that she would often find herself in a rural N.C. county trying to persuade others in the courtroom that she was a practicing attorney and not the court reporter or a legal assistant.

“I thought that since that was over 30 years ago, that it doesn’t happen anymore,” she said. “But I have recently heard stories from younger female attorneys who have had to pull out their bar cards to convince either a sheriff’s deputy or a judge that they really are an attorney.”

Several audience members recounted similar instances, and one suggested that the N.C. State Bar adopt a requirement for a CLE that addresses such issues.

NCAJ President-elect David Henson, NCAJ Executive Director Kim Crouch, NCAJ President Vernon Sumwalt, Judge Ashleigh Parker Dunston, State Bar Executive Director Alice Neece Mine, N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anita Earls, N.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Linda McGee, State Bar Assistant Executive Director Peter Bolac and NCAJ Diversity Officer Valerie Johnson gathered after the panel.

Dunston agreed, and pointed to Maine, which requires one annual CLE credit hour that is “primarily concerned with the recognition and avoidance of harassment and discriminatory communication and conduct.”

McGee said she had thought adding a program like the diversity and inclusion conference would be helpful.

“We’re all learning more technology as a result of being required to do it,” she said, referring to the N.C. State Bar technology CLE requirement that became effective this year. “I see no reason why we couldn’t be required to be focusing on the fact that racism and sexism still occur in the courtroom far too often.”

McGee responded to an attendee’s comment that a new CLE will not necessarily change hearts and minds by recommending that leaders in the profession call out instances of bias when they witness them.

“There is no reason in this day and time that we shouldn’t be bold,” she said. “If we sense it and believe that it has occurred, we should take just a moment to address it right then because unfortunately, there are still a number of people that simply don’t see it. It’s a little difficult to think that’s true, but they don’t seem to.”

Earls said that when a lawyer decides to speak up about an instance of microaggression, it is actually giving that person a gift.

“You are saying that you are invested in them, that you are invested in them being better citizens of our community,” she said. “They may decide not to take advantage of the gift that you’re giving them. And you have to let that go if they don’t.”

The conference grew from the work of the NCAJ’s Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, now a committee, which appointed Greensboro attorney Karonnie R. Truzy as NCAJ’s first diversity officer in 2017. Truzy said the event was part of the committee’s ongoing commitment to bring awareness to the NCAJ’s need for diversity in programming and participation.

“The first thing we really had to get past was getting people to understand that there’s a need for this,” he said. “Now, we have not only an awareness but an intentional effort to make the organization more diverse and more inclusive.”

In addition to the panel, the conference included presentations from nationally renowned experts Lisa Coleman, Chief Diversity Officer for New York University, and Sybil Dunlop, of Green Espel PLLP in Minneapolis, who spoke on implicit bias in the legal profession and ways to confront it.

Inaugural NCAJ Conference To Feature NC Judiciary Leaders and National Diversity & Inclusion Experts

MEDIA ADVISORY

Sept. 19, 2019

CARYNorth Car­­olina Advocates for Justice will welcome nationally known experts and three members of North Carolina’s judiciary at its inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Conference for attorneys on Friday, Sept. 20 at One Eleven Place in Cary.

North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Anita S. Earls, North Carolina Court of Appeals Chief Judge Linda M. McGee and Judge Ashleigh Parker Dunston of the Tenth Judicial District will participate in a judicial panel discussion on the importance of diversity in the legal profession and the judiciary. Lisa Coleman, Chief Diversity Officer for New York University, will deliver the keynote address, and Sybil Dunlop, of Green Espel PLLP in Minneapolis, will speak on implicit bias and diversity. See schedule below.

SCHEDULE FOR FRIDAY, SEPT. 20

  • 1 p.m. Welcoming Remarks and NCAJ Diversity & Inclusion Annual Report: Kim Crouch, Executive Director, North Carolina Advocates for Justice
  • 1:15 p.m. Keynote: Lisa Coleman, Ph.D. Chief Diversity Officer, New York University
  • 2:15 p.m. Judicial Panel Discussion with N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anita S. Earls, N.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Linda M. McGee, Judge Ashleigh Parker Dunston, Tenth Judicial District
  • 3:30 p.m. Implicit Bias and Diversity: Sybil Dunlop, Green Espel PLLP, Minneapolis, MN

Media Contact

Amber Nimocks
amber@ncaj.com
(910) 547-0457

About NCAJ A nonpartisan association of legal professionals dedicated to protecting people’s rights, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice provides continuing legal education aimed at enhancing the quality of the legal profession, works to improve access to the legal system, and advocates at the state legislature in the areas of criminal and civil justice.