A writ of certiorari is a discretionary, extraordinary writ—and is therefore never granted as a matter of right. See, e.g., King v. Taylor, 188 N.C. 450, 451, 124 S.E. 751, 751 (1924) (explaining that the writ “is allowed only on a reasonable show of merits and that the ends of justice will be thereby promoted”). Not surprisingly, it has long been the rule that a party seeking a writ of certiorari must explain why the writ should be granted.… Continue Reading

Requesting that trial judges modify their judgments or orders is not for the faint of heart.  Informing a trial judge that he or she has likely goofed is not fun, but it is often necessary.  Indeed, the Appellate Rules usually force litigants to alert trial judges to potential errors in the hopes that they will fix their errors—saving valuable judicial and party resources by obviating the need for an appeal. … Continue Reading

COVID-19 interrupted the plans of many North Carolina law students.  In-person classes (Cancelled).  Students (Sent home).  Summer internships (Postponed, shortened, or cancelled).

In the midst of these upheavals, the Court of Appeals showed aspiring advocates how to turn lemons into lemonade.  Judges Richard Dietz and Phil Berger, Jr. created a five-week, no-cost, online seminar for law students.  The topic?  North Carolina appellate practice and procedure. … Continue Reading

A lot of mistakes can be fixed, but those depriving an appellate court of jurisdiction are not usually among them.  Unless the appellate court deems the appeal to raise issues of great importance and to present a compelling case for reversal, jurisdictional errors are usually fatal.

Those exceptions are rare.  But this week, a panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals found Doe v.Continue Reading

In Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prevents prosecutors in criminal cases from exercising peremptory challenges to excuse prospective jurors solely on account of their race.  As illustrated by State v. Campbell COA18-998-2, filed 21 July 2020, application of that 1986 decision is not easy.… Continue Reading

It doesn’t take long for those who read judicial opinions to come across an unsigned, “per curiam” decision. Many decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, federal circuit courts, and our state Supreme Court are short-ish opinions that are not ascribed to a single judge or justice. There is a long history of using such opinions “by the court.”

The most recent batch of opinions from the Court of Appeals included 5 unpublished per curiam opinions.… Continue Reading

The future is now, and the NCBA Appellate Practice Section wants to help you be ready.  With the state’s appellate courts, and other courts around the country, going to remote videoconference hearings because of the Coronavirus pandemic, a special program has been put together for May 27.  It is described as follows:

Appellate Practice Section Panel
Preparing for WebEx Oral Arguments in NC Appellate Courts

You are invited to join the Appellate Practice Section for a Zoom panel to learn about preparing for and presenting remote video oral argument in our NC Appellate Courts via WebEx.

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Last year, I blogged about State v. Ellis where a passing motorist gave a Highway Patrol trooper the middle-finger salute and was arrested for his trouble.  A divided Court of Appeals allowed the defendant’s conviction to stand.  The case made it to the Supreme Court, which recently issued an opinion reversing the conviction.

A quick recap of our story.  A trooper was assisting motorists when he noticed that the passenger in a car driving by had extended his hand out the window and was waving. … Continue Reading

A recording of North Carolina’s first virtual oral argument is now available for viewing.   Because the video stream began before the actual arguments commenced, insight is available into how the Court of Appeals and the advocates worked through some technical kinks in the process.  (A round of applause to IT Superhero Fred Wood, who appeared to be getting quite a workout running between offices). … Continue Reading

As previously reported here, the Supreme Court of North Carolina at the end of March issued an order extending all appellate court deadlines falling between March 27 and April 30, 2020 for 60 days.

As a service to the bar, the Clerks of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals have posted answers to some of the most frequently asked questions they have received about the order. … Continue Reading