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

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

You may have noticed a lull in new posts here over the holidays.  There’s good reason: we’ve been renovating the site, like a hotel adding an omelet station to its continental breakfast. We had to break a few eggs in the process, but it was well worth it.

The key changes:

  • The blog should load faster—much faster.
  • We consolidated our many linked resources into fewer tabs on the top of the main page.
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Wouldn’t it be great if an automatic notification was sent out whenever court rules were updated?  Wait . . . I hear you!  “What self-respecting lawyer doesn’t subscribe to the blog, which provides updates and summaries of all Appellate Rules amendments?!?”  Alas, not everyone understands the thrill of an appellate practice blog.  Plus, our focus is the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure–not Supreme Court rules on court-ordered arbitration.… Continue Reading

“How long will I have to wait for an appellate opinion?”  “Why is the Court taking so long?”  These are two of the most frequent questions I get from clients. The accurate (and unhelpful) answers are “Until the appellate court issues a decision,”  “You will get an opinion when you get an opinion,” and “I don’t know.”

The Court of Appeals’ internal goal is to issue decisions within 90 days of either oral argument or the Rule 30(f) conference if oral argument is not scheduled.  … Continue Reading

Our goal in creating this blog was to be a “one-stop shop” for news, information, tips, and resources involving North Carolina appellate practice and procedure.  Over a five-year period,’s content has grown significantly.  One area of law that has contributed to that expansion has been North Carolina Business Court appeals.   In particular, the NCAPB team has blogged extensively over the past two years on at least seven different appellate traps that have emerged in Business Court cases. … Continue Reading

This week the Fourth Circuit joined a growing trend in acknowledging that its judges can, and sometimes do, look outside of the joint appendix/appellate record and Westlaw/Lexis for support for their appellate opinions.  The Court adopted Internal Operating Procedure 36.4, which states

Internet resources cited in the Court’s opinions that can be saved in PDF format will be preserved by the opinion’s author at the time of viewing and placed on the Court’s docket as opinion attachments when the opinion is filed.

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[box] ♪♪ If there is something strange,

In your neighborhood,

Who you gonna call?

. . .

If there’s something weird

And it don’t look good,

Who you gonna call? [/box]

For children of the eighties, the catchphrases “Ghostbusters!” and “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” are now likely floating in your head.  Outside the supernatural world, when “there’s something weird” in the “appellate neighborhood,” one name likely comes to mind when asked, “Who You Gonna Call?”: … 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

The Supreme Court of North Carolina long ago observed that “the ‘substantial right’ test for appealability of interlocutory orders is more easily stated than applied.” Waters v. Qualified Pers., Inc., 294 N.C. 200, 208, 240 S.E.2d 338, 343 (1978).  As “[n]o hard and fast rules exist” for determining whether an interlocutory order affects a substantial right, North Carolina appellate courts have long analyzed whether an interlocutory order affects a substantial right “on a case by case basis.”… Continue Reading