• 24 Feb 2021 2:17 PM | Lynette Pitt (Administrator)

    A Note from NCADA President, Allen Smith

    Weatherwise, February has been a less than ideal month – cold (as usual) and lots of precipitation. The good news is that we had some sun on weekends (particularly on February 20 and 21) and we are starting to see light at the end of this long tunnel known as the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of you participated in the Zoom presentation that Chief Justice Paul Newby on Thursday, February 18. Chief Justice Newby shared his reason for allowing the judicial districts to make decisions about when to re-open courts for in-person trials and hearings, and I hear some counties have started jury trials again.

    If you have been a participant in a jury trial, we would love to hear from you. Did you have a difficult time getting enough jurors? Did the court push hard for you to use fewer than 12 jurors? How was the flow of the trial compared to before the pandemic?

    Our Annual Meeting and Spring Program will be virtual again this year and is tentatively scheduled for June 10-12. We’re just not confident the world will be ready for big in person meetings by June. We’ll have more information and details soon!

    But it is our hope that society will have somewhat returned to normalcy by September. So with that hope in mind, The NCADA is planning to return to live meetings this September for our Fall Seminar. It will be at the Omni Oceanfront Resort on Hilton Head Island from Sunday September 19 to Tuesday September 21. Yes, this is a little different than we’ve done it before, but we’re hopeful and looking forward to seeing everyone in person--I cannot wait! Details coming soon.

    Speaking of the fall meeting, we would love to hear from members about topics they would like covered. There is no need to be bashful – please share your ideas!

    I look forward to seeing some of you in a courthouse soon and more of you in HHI in September.

  • 27 Jan 2021 10:33 AM | Deleted user

    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.  

  • 28 Dec 2020 12:12 PM | Deleted user

    As we approach the end of this tumultuous year, I want to scream, “Goodbye, 2020!  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!

  • 19 Nov 2020 1:27 PM | Deleted user

    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.

  • 29 Oct 2020 11:09 AM | Deleted user

    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.

  • 24 Sep 2020 10:18 AM | Deleted user

    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.

  • 26 Aug 2020 2:08 PM | Deleted user

    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.)   

    When I talk to most defense lawyers, I hear a universal theme: there is no feeling better in the profession than winning a trial. I share that sentiment and have been fortunate enough to experience the so-called “thrill of victory” many times.  It is hard to beat the positive reinforcement of receiving compliments from several jurors after a trial. However, this is an important but small part of being a defense attorney.

    As I have grown older (but not yet become “old“ – that will always be 10  years away), I recognize that being a complete defense attorney is much more than winning trials. Having the tools and confidence to win trials is important. These skills are valuable in helping you perform the most important role of a defense attorney: recognizing the best manner to resolve the client’s case and achieving it.  Sometimes, the best resolution is through a trial, and we all look forward to those cases.  However, statistics show trials are a rarity.  In some cases, the best resolution is settling the case before it goes into litigation.  Some of my most grateful clients are from cases that settled before the opposing party filed a lawsuit.  These clients viewed the pre-litigation resolution as a home run.  For the majority of cases we have, the best resolution involves gathering more facts or evidence through the litigation process, determining the value of the case, and settling.  The key is to make sure the attorney and client are on the same page. 

    The “five tool“ (we do have a baseball analogy theme going!) defense attorney develops the knowledge and skill to recognize the best way to resolve the case; the confidence to make recommendations and execute a litigation plan; and the temperament to work with the clients, the opposing attorneys, and the courts to achieve the goal.  Developing your litigation skills does not occur over night.  Doing so requires patience, dedication, and a long-term plan.  I doubt that any part of this column is eye-opening to my fellow defense attorneys regardless of years of practice.      

    I hope that each of you takes the time to read the columns from our exceptional defense attorneys in the upcoming issues of The Resource. Regardless of your years of practice, you are bound to pick up some valuable information.  Please also be sure to thank these columnists; we are quite fortunate they are willing to share their wisdom.

  • 04 Aug 2020 11:47 AM | Deleted user

    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. 

    Allen Smith
    NCADA President 2020-2021

  • 30 Jul 2020 11:53 AM | Deleted user

    As the Covid-19 pandemic has dragged on and on and we have learned of more and more postponements and cancellations, my energy level has been depleted at times. Of course, this is normal in the practice of law and most professions; we all go through our peaks and valleys during the course of a work year. 
    However, this year has been different--finding diversions has been more difficult. One thing I look forward to each year is taking a trip with my two sons, ages 24 and 27. In the summer of 2018, we had a weekend visit to Boston that featured visits to the Harpoon and Sam Adams breweries during the day, an Eagles concert in TD Garden on Friday night, and a Foo Fighters concert in Fenway park on Saturday night. My younger son even made it to the front row about midway through the concert. In April of 2019, the Smith boys joined 80,000 other fans in MetLife Stadium to attend Wrestlemania 35. (Yes, there really were 80,000 fans there!) This summer, we had planned a trip to Chicago, and that fell through.  We had to find an alternative trip, so Nashville and Knoxville serve as substitutes for Chicago.
    What does this have to do with practicing law?  We all need to find ways to recharge our batteries. This year, we’re having to be more creative.  Our levels of interaction with others are much lower because of restrictions on live appearances in court, at depositions, and at mediations.  Attorneys need to recharge their batteries for the short term and long term. In the short term, call your clients, fellow defense counsel, or opposing counsel more often instead of sending just emails. Restaurants are open, so you can take a colleague to lunch. Walk up and down the stairs of your office or around your block if you’re working from home. You can even do a business call while doing some exercise. Little things like this can help attorneys get through the day. For the week, make sure you set aside some time for your family, your friends, and yourself.  
    Having some type of exercise routine is probably more important than ever. This helps in the short term and long term. Ideally, you can find somebody to join you for the exercise.
    Our profession and country will get through this pandemic. At some point, trials will resume and Wrestlemania will be back with 80,000 fans. Take care of yourself.


  • 16 Jul 2020 11:17 AM | Deleted user

    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:

    • A confirmation that each court facility and any alternate facility to be used for court operations is in compliance with each of the Chief Justice’s emergency orders in response to the COVID-19 outbreak;
    • A plan for summoning and excusing jurors, which allows for as much of the process to be handled remotely as possible;
    • A plan for conducting voir dire with social distancing;
    • A plan for conducting trials with social distancing in the courtroom for all court participants, including the jury, and in the deliberation room;
    • A plan for daily screening of jurors, court personnel, attorneys, witnesses, and parties for COVID-19 exposure or infection;
    • A plan for making face coverings available to jurors, court personnel, attorneys, witnesses, and parties;
    • A plan for responding in the event that a juror, defendant, attorney, witness, judge, or other courtroom personnel becomes symptomatic, tests positive for COVID-19, or has a known exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 during the trial.

    Each Jury Trial Resumption Plan must be approved by the following officials in the county:

    • The chief district court judge;
    • The clerk of superior court;
    • The district attorney;
    • The public defender, or a criminal defense attorney chosen by the senior resident superior court judge in districts without a public defender;
    • The sheriff; and
    • The public health director.

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