On March 7, 2008, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued Dogwood Dev. & Mgmt. Co., LLC v. White Oak Transp. Co., probably the most important appellate rules opinion of its time. We have, over the years, often blogged about cases in which Dogwood has affected the Court of Appeals’ approach to appellate rules violations. As we approach the seven-year anniversary of Dogwood, the NCBA’s February 2015 Per Curium newsletter includes an excellent follow-up article by Drew Erteschik and Carrie McMillan entitled “Checking in on Dogwood: A Brief Retrospective.” The article itself is only available to NCBA Appellate Practice Section members, but a publicly available chart contains a handy catalogue of the Court of Appeals’ opinions that have addressed Dogwood over the past seven years. The chart appears to confirm that only the most egregious of non-jurisdictional appellate rules violations will result in dismissal of an appeal.
I must add one caveat to this assumption: the chart only tracks Court of Appeal’s opinions addressing Dogwood. In my experience, most post-Dogwood dismissals for appellate rules violations are contained in orders that simply say “appeal dismissed.” These orders–which are not available on searchable case law databases such as Westlaw, Lexis, and Fastcase–are hard to find unless you know the case number you are looking for. As a prior blog post notes, good appellate practitioners should continue to make focused efforts to comply with the Appellate Rules–lest the court’s patience with inattentiveness wear thin.
Which brings me to my last point. If you regularly handle appeals, you should seriously consider joining the North Carolina Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section (if you have not already). The February 2015 newsletter contains articles on some of the hottest topics in North Carolina appellate practice and procedure including Dogwood, hyperlinked electronic briefs, strategic notices of appeal, proposed legislation that could significantly alter post-appeal procedures in the trial court, and the funding of judicial races in North Carolina.
Do you have any post-Dogwood experiences to share? Have you found Appellate Practice Section membership as beneficial as we have? Let us know in the comments below!