Happy New Year! 2021 is off to an interesting start. Hopefully, it gets better. . . real soon. We need a soft landing!
Instead of focusing on current events in the news, I’d rather highlight one of the important benefits that the NCADA provides its members – the submission of amicus curae briefs in appellate cases. Currently, the NCADA has a handful of cases pending in which it has submitted an amicus brief and/or petition for review. Over the past year, the amicus efforts have included issues involving class certification, contributory negligence, uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage, medical malpractice, products liability, and workers’ compensation.
Several factors come into play when considering whether to participate in an amicus. First, the executive committee must believe the merits of the argument. Not all cases requesting NCADA participation are accepted. At some point in an attorney’s career, he or she will likely have to pursue an appeal despite recognizing the case is a loser from the start.
A second important factor is the benefit of our clients: the NCADA cannot advocate for the interests of one set of members’ clients against the interests of another. We sometimes see some meritorious requests that, for this reason, NCADA must decline participation.
Of equal importance is if a ruling in our side’s favor will benefit most of our members’ practices. NCADA does not take a case that will be averse to the interests of the members of our organization. For this reason, we have declined some interesting cases.
The NCADA is selective of cases approved for amicus; the legal issue on appeal must be of substantial interest to the NCADA and its members. NCADA has built a distinctive reputation and we are proud our participation in this process has an impact.
If you have a case in which you would like NCADA involvement, I encourage you to contact the current chair of Amicus Committee, Hon. Linda Stephens, to advise of the issue before the court, explain the importance of the issue, and share information about who will write the brief and/or petition. More information about how to request an amicus can be found on the NCADA website.
As we approach the end of this tumultuous year, I want to scream, “Goodbye, 2000! Leave me alone. 2021, you cannot get here soon enough.” More importantly, I want to wish all our members happy holidays and a safe new year. I hope the members who celebrate Christmas were able to see family—whether in person or virtually.
The new year brings a changing of the guard on the North Carolina Supreme Court. I would like to congratulate incoming Chief Justice Paul Newby on his new position as head of our courts. I would also like to congratulate incoming Justices Phillip Berger, Jr. and Tamara Barringer on their successful campaigns to obtain seats as associate justices on the North Carolina Supreme Court. I wish the best of luck to all of them.
Our state owes Chief Justice Cheri Beasley a debt of gratitude. She has provided the appellate courts of North Carolina with a high level of dedication. Additionally, Chief Justice Beasley demonstrated exemplary leadership during the Covid-19 crisis. With regard to the Supreme Court, I do not want to overlook Justice Mark Davis, who will also be leaving the bench. Like Chief Justice Beasley, Justice Davis has served on both levels of the appellate courts in North Carolina and distinguished himself as a jurist who understands the rule of law in the role of the courts in North Carolina.
The Court of Appeals will have two retirements of significance. Chief Judge Linda McGee has provided steadfast leadership to the Court of Appeals, particularly over the last six years when she has served as chief judge. Additionally, Judge Wanda Bryant is retiring after over 18 years on the Court of Appeals. Both judges have distinguished themselves and provided dedicated service.
For those of us who are used to regular courtroom appearances, 2020 was a frustrating year, particularly regarding trials. Our court system has shown agility in developing a WebEx system for motions hearings. While trials on a regular basis may still be several months away, we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. The trial court administrators throughout our state deserve appreciation and recognition. We as attorneys will continue to show patience as we work our way through first half of the year and the vaccination process.
It is my most sincere hope to see each of you in person during 2021. Here’s to better times ahead!
On behalf of the Board of Directors and dedicated staff, I wish all of our members and the legal community a very happy Thanksgiving. The year 2020 has been topsy-turvy at a minimum. However, from my perspective, we are a fortunate lot. The attorneys in our fields of practice fared better than the workers in many other industries. The litigation bar has been nimble in adapting to the Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. In short, we still have work, and we can go about our jobs with relatively minor inconveniences.
The general election added to the topsy-turvy nature of 2020. It is hard to imagine a tighter statewide race than the one North Carolina had for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. As of today (but before final certification by the NC State Board of Elections), Justice Paul Newby leads Chief Justice Cheri Beasley by the narrowest of margins (406 votes out of over 5.39 million votes cast). This close race demonstrates the importance of voting and is a testament to the dedicated service both Chief Justice Beasley and Justice Newby have given to our great state.
Best wishes to all for Thanksgiving.
I hope all of you are doing well in dealing with the Covid - 19 pandemic and the bombardment of election commercials, the latter of which has a light at the end of the tunnel. Depending on your party affiliation, the light may be sunshine or a locomotive headed at you full speed! The good news is that election season is almost over . . . for this year.
We cannot help you with the election, but the NCADA is focusing on how it can help its members, their firms, and their practices. We want to hear from you! Please let us know what the NCADA can do to increase the value of your member experience. Traditionally, we have provided excellent continuing education and networking opportunities. We are doing our best to continue this tradition in the present virtual world, and we are open to suggestions and increased membership participation. Please contact Lynette Pitt, Jennifer Edwards or Allen Smith and let us know what we can do to make your NCADA experience even better.
At our annual Fall Seminar, we had an excellent panel of for managing partners who discussed how firms are coping with the pandemic. The association has also hosted many webinars for CLE credit, several of which have been complimentary to members due to the generosity of our sponsors.
Which leads to my next topic: sponsors. Bar organizations depend on sponsors, and NCADA is fortunate to have so many loyal and generous sponsors. Please remember to use our sponsors and thank them.
Our Sponsorship Committee is looking for members to join the committee. This presents an excellent opportunity for members to get involved. If you are interested, please contact the committee chair, Melissa Walker or Lynette Pitt.
The NCADA has a history of encouraging and promoting diversity and inclusion. In 2019, we won the DRI Rudolph A. Janata Award for the second time. But we do not want to rest on our laurels. The committee continues to be an important focus of the NCADA, and it welcomes additional members. This also presents an excellent opportunity for members to get involved. If you are interested, please contact the Diversity Committee Chair, Denaa Griffin or Lynette Pitt.
When I next write you, we will be approaching Thanksgiving. I wish you well between now and then.
A Note from NCADA President, Allen Smith
I can think of reasons to love purple: football (think Minnesota Vikings, ECU Pirates, and TCU Horned Frogs), music (Jimi Hendrix’s classic, “Purple Haze,” and the band Deep Purple), Easter, lollipops, rainbows, Crayola Crayons, Rockies, and leisure suits. I probably lost you with the leisure suits, as purple ones were particularly ugly.
BUT purple is not a good color for a state during election years. Sure, we North Carolinians get lots of attention, but we get too much attention. About the only good thing about COVID-19 has been no national political convention in my hometown of Charlotte, USA. One is enough, if not too many, for a lifetime.
We the people who live in the purple states like North Carolina get force fed the commercials and commercials and commercials and still even more commercials for the race for president. If one candidate wins, the country will fall apart at its seams. If another candidate wins, the country will experience its greatest moments in history. If the other candidate wins, riots and looting will never end. If one candidate wins, the country will be safe. Or at least all the TV commercials have said so - and I have seen plenty by both sides. Many have been back to back! As of the day I write this, we will get pummeled with commercials for another six weeks. And with the talking heads on TV predicting days to count all the votes, the commercials may continue past election day--or new types of commercials will appear.
How does my rant about seeing way, way too many ads for the presidential election apply to the practice of law? You learn what not to do. Do not call your opponent names. That may work (or it may not) in a political race, but it will come back to bite you in the practice of law. Do not denigrate the other side; show the opposing counsel and party respect in person. You do not have to be friends, but you have to work together to get through the litigation process. Do not mislead the court. When you are before the court, have facts and law to support your arguments. Only promise jurors or the court what you can deliver. Politicians lose credibility and win all the time. If a lawyer loses credibility with jurors, the lawyer is likely to lose the case. If a lawyer loses credibility with the court, the lawyer hurts the current client and possibly future clients.
I conclude by urging you to vote. The members of our organization have a wide array of opinions and political beliefs. However, I think that everyone agrees on the importance of casting a vote.
By Allen Smith, NCADA President
NCADA and President Allen Smith are pleased to introduce a series of columns to be included in The Resource over the next year on “What it means to be a defense attorney.”
We are very fortunate that some of the recent winners of the Elster Award and Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy graciously agreed to share their impressions over the remainder of the 2020-21 NCADA a year.
In writing the first column on the subject, I feel like a Double-A baseball player batting leadoff in a Major League Baseball All-Star Game. (Not knowing whether we will have a college football season, and I sure hope that we do, I am reticent to use a football analogy like kick-off.)
Over the past 24 hours, the eastern Piedmont and Coastal areas of our state were hit with devastating rain, wind, and in some areas, tornadoes. The impacts of Hurricane Isaias will be long lasting, and while property can be replaced, the lives lost cannot.
Please keep our members, their family members, and the communities impacted by the storm in your thoughts and prayers. The North Carolina Coast is still in the process of recovering from Hurricane Florence, and this latest storm will only add to the struggles faced by the residents of these areas.
Please reach out to your friends, family members, and fellow NCADA members in the impacted areas of our great state and let them know they have our support, attention, and prayers.
NCADA President 2020-2021
RALEIGH – Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has issued new emergency directives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that require the wearing of face coverings inside county courthouses and planning for the resumption of jury trials.
“I have issued several emergency directives calculated to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina's communities,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “Consistent with the Governor’s recommendations and the clear guidance of public health experts, requiring face coverings in courthouses is necessary to keep our courts open while protecting court personnel and the public.”
Chief Justice Beasley announced that jury trials in North Carolina courts will be delayed through at least September, and has directed senior resident superior court judges to develop comprehensive plans for the eventual safe resumption of jury trials in their districts. Each Jury Trial Resumption Plan must ensure that all court operations are in compliance with each of the Chief Justice’s emergency directives and must be informed by the Best Safety Practices distributed by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.
Each Jury Trial Resumption Plan must include:
Each Jury Trial Resumption Plan must be approved by the following officials in the county:
N.C. Defense Fund Endorses Judicial Candidates for 2020 Appellate Races
Raleigh, NC, July 13, 2020 --- The N.C. Defense Fund, the political action committee of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, endorses the following candidates seeking seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals:
For Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the N.C. Defense Fund endorses both
Cherie L. Beasley and Paul M. Newby for re-election to the Court.
For Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the N.C. Defense Fund endorses
For Seat 2: Lucy N. Inman for election to the Court.
For Seat 3: Mark A. Davis for election to the Court.
For Associate Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the N.C. Defense Fund endorses:
For Seat 4: Patricia P. Shields for election to the Court.
For Seat 5: No Endorsement
For Seat 6: R. Christopher Dillon for re-election to the Court.
For Seat 7: Reuben F. Young for election to the Court.
For Seat 8: Jefferson G. Griffin for election to the Court.
The NC Defense Fund made the decision to endorse each judicial candidate based on the following criteria:
•Substantial legal experience in and demonstrated understanding of civil litigation and issues recurrent in defense of claims;
•A willingness to impartially apply the statutory law and rules as written and the common law, including the application of affirmative defenses, and the granting of dispositive motions when warranted;
•A recognition of the legislature's exclusive role to enact statutes and the Court’s role in interpreting existing common law and statutes in a fair, consistent and predictable manner with respect for prior court rulings as compelled by stare decisis;
•Exemplifying a high level of independence and integrity in applying the law impartially and in compliance with judicial standards and the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The N.C. Defense Fund is the political action committee of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys. The North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys [NCADA] is a professional association for lawyers and paralegals defending the interests of individuals and businesses in civil litigation. Current membership stands at over 850 attorneys and paralegals from across the State.
North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys
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