North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Doug McCullough earlier today announced his retirement from the bench, effective immediately, only a month and a few days before he was to reach the mandatory retirement age on May 28.  Governor Roy Cooper immediately appointed former Court of Appeals judge John Arrowood to fill the seat left vacant by Judge McCullough’s early retirement. … Continue Reading

A few months ago, Carrie blogged about the dismissal of the State’s appeal by the Court of Appeals in North Carolina State Board of Education v. State of North Carolina & North Carolina Rules Review Commission.  A substantial development occurred in this case in the Supreme Court on Thursday.

As discussed previously, the General Assembly amended  section 7A-27 and other statutes to provide special trial and appeal pathways for facial constitutional challenges to a statute: 1) initial review by a three-judge panel, and 2) direct appeal to the Supreme Court if a law is declared facially invalid. … Continue Reading

A Petition for Writ of Certiorari continues to be the most powerful tool in the Supreme Court’s arsenal.  Last Friday, the North Carolina Supreme Court used its certiorari authority to revive an appeal involving the State Bar and a sitting superior court judge.  The Court did so six months after the appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeals, and four months after it had declined to issue a PDR.… Continue Reading

If you have never had to deal with an appellate trial transcript that is missing deposition testimony, consider yourself lucky.  When deposition testimony is being read or a video deposition is being shown to a jury or trial judge, court reporters often see no need to “re-transcribe.”  The theory is that since the deposition testimony was previously recorded, there is no need for a contemporaneous transcription of the testimony’s presentation at trial.… Continue Reading

The general rule is that a decision of one panel of the Court of Appeals is binding on future panels addressing the same issue. State v. Jones, 358 N.C. 473, 487, 598 S.E.2d 125, 133 (2004). This rule is especially true when the subsequent panel is considering the same issue in the course of the same case. Should there be a different rule when questions of subject matter jurisdiction are presented?… Continue Reading

Most appellate questions are decided by a panel of jurists, from the “three-judge panel” ubiquitous in our state and federal intermediate courts to the larger bodies common at the highest courts.  But what about thorny questions faced by solitary judges at the trial court level?

A fascinating article in the New York Times today explores how federal District Court judges rely on informal input from each other to help explore tricky issues. … Continue Reading

“Brevity is appreciated.”  “A short brief can be very effective.” How many times have you heard appellate judges make statements like this about appellate briefs?  While I can most certainly understand an appellate judge’s desire for shorter briefs, a soon-to-be-published article in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies examines whether more concise briefs are correlated with success on appeal.  The full paper is accessible here, but the abstract notes surprisingly that for civil appellants in the Ninth Circuit, “briefs of greater length are strongly correlated with success on appeal.… Continue Reading

Yesterday, Governor McCrory announced the appointment of Bob N. Hunter to the seat being vacated by Jimmy Ervin’s recent election to the North Carolina Supreme Court.  As you may recall, both Hunter and Ervin were N.C. Court of Appeals judges vying for the same Supreme Court seat in the November 2014 elections.  Midway through the campaign, McCrory elevated Justice Mark Martin to the Chief Justice seat and appointed Judge Hunter to Justice Martin’s old seat–a seat Justice Hunter will have retained for four months before Judge Ervin is sworn in in January 2015. … Continue Reading

Justice Barbara Jackson recently published an article in the ABA Judges’ Journal on judges’ use of social media  (a.k.a., Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn).  The well-written article includes interesting examples of how a judge’s use of social media can quickly go awry. (Think: sitting federal district court judge uses his blog to “bench-slap” his bosses at the United States Supreme Court). … Continue Reading