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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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.

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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:

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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.

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

Published in partnership with EndDD.org & 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 EndDD.org 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 EndDD.org 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.

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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.

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