Is there institutional disharmony in the Fourth Circuit? That’s the question that one judge suggested, in a concurring opinion, that lawyers and judges might be asking after an en banc opinion released on Tuesday.  In response, the judge whose dissenting opinion prompted the question submitted that the apparent tension we are witnessing within the Court is simply a “vigorous exchange of views over basic and fundamental principles of law,” and that such a “robust” exchange enhances “mutual respect and collegiality.”… Continue Reading

North Carolina’s appellate statistician, Kenzie Rakes, has more numbers for us. Kenzie’s pie charts break down the outcomes from last year’s appeals to the Supreme Court.  Which disposition was used most frequently in 2016?  Affirmed, modified and affirmed, reversed, or vacated? Check out the North Carolina Appellate Stats Blog for all the details.

–Beth Scherer… Continue Reading

A party has an appeal of right to our Supreme Court from certain decisions of the Court of Appeals under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-30.  The overwhelming majority of those appeals of right are taken from Court of Appeals decisions in which there was a dissent.  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-30(2).  Section 7A-30(2) has an oft-forgotten sibling, however.  Section 7A-30(1) provides the right to appellate review by the Supreme Court of any decision of the Court of Appeals that “directly involves a substantial question arising under the Constitution of the United States or of this State.”… 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

Jerry Hartzell recently published an article in the April 2014 issue of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice’s Trial Briefs. The article is entitled “Probability of Success on Appeal: Reversal Rates for the Fourth Circuit and the North Carolina Court of Appeals.”

The article is worth an independent read, but Jerry concluded that in 2013 “the North Carolina Court of Appeals reversal rate (in whole or in part) exceeded the Fourth Circuit’s reversal rate by a factor of ten.” … Continue Reading