Posts tagged Courts and Law
With honor

Not many folks enter courthouses happily – except perhaps for a marriage or an adoption. But today my family gets to do just that as we gather to witness and celebrate the public swearing-in of my brother, Tom McCloskey, as a judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey.

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First Monday in October

The United States Supreme Court opens its new term on Monday, already loaded with blockbuster cases headed for argument in the first several weeks. Some familiar issues -- voting rights, same-sex marriage, cell phone privacy, employee arbitration – will all make an appearance early in the term. Here's a quick look at what's on tap.

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Run or retain – Justices to decide how they keep their seats

Six justices of the state Supreme Court will hear argument this morning in a case that just might determine their own judicial destinies, considering in Faires v. State Board of Elections whether a new law subjecting them to an up-or-down approval vote at the end of their eight-year terms – as opposed to a contested election against a challenger – satisfies the constitutional mandate that justices in North Carolina be “elected.”

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House Bill 2 lands its first challenge; legal scholars examine prejudice, motives behind the anti-LGBT legislation

Three state residents and several gay, lesbian and transgender advocacy organizations filed a federal lawsuit early yesterday morning challenging the constitutionalityof North Carolina House Bill 2, the hastily-enacted law that not only targets transgender individuals by limiting their use of public restrooms to those corresponding to their birth sex but also preempts all local nondiscrimination ordinances.

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Appointments power hanging in the balance at the state Supreme Court

State lawmakers and governors past and present squared off at the Supreme Court yesterday over who’s empowered to make commission appointments – particularly, in this instance, to the recently created Coal Ash Commission, Oil & Gas Commission and Mining Commission. The dispute between the branches of government came to a head last fall after legislators created the commissions and authorized the House speaker and Senate president to appoint most of the members on each.

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Down one judge and deserving another

The federal courts in eastern North Carolina have been operating under a state of judicial emergency for years now, though you wouldn’t know it given the lack of a sense of urgency exhibited by the state’s United States senators. Down a judge since December 2005, the courts in this largely rural part of the state have managed one of the heavier district caseloads in the country — relying in large part on help from three senior judges: James C. Fox, age 86; W. Earl Britt, age 83; and Malcolm Howard, age 75.

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Death to the Map Act

Michael Hendrix had a contract to sell eight of his 24 acres of land at Old Hollow and Germanton Roads in Winston-Salem for morethan a million dollars in early 1998. But because the state Department of Transportation had identified that land as lying in the path of a proposed beltway project running east to west just north of the city, the deal died.

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All white and overwhelmingly male: Latest departure leaves NC federal courts among least diverse in the nation

All white and overwhelmingly male- Latest departure leaves NC federal courts among least diverse in the nation. It’s been more than 3,000 days since U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard announced that he would be stepping down from his position on the federal court in eastern North Carolina. At roughly the same time, the then-freshman senator from North Carolina, Richard Burr, stood lecturing his colleagues on the senate floor about their blocking of votes for nominees to the federal bench.

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Three-judge court: An idea whose time has passed

Tucked away near the end of the 250-page Senate budget, in between the section slashing funds for legal services and the section forecasting cuts to state cultural resources, lies a proposal which would change the rules of the game in which state lawmakers now find themselves deeply entrenched: defending their laws from constitutional challenges. From voting rights to school vouchers to issues of local rule, the members of the General Assembly are fending off claims in at least a dozen lawsuits that laws enacted during the long session violate state and federal constitutions.

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Time to clean up the criminal code?

Steven Pruner learned the hard way that in North Carolina, selling a hot dog can get you jail time. Imagine his surprise when, in 2011, the vendor was charged and later convicted for operating his cart without a license near Duke University Medical Center – an offense which got him 45 days in the custody of the Durham County sheriff (a sentence later suspended to probation). Steve Cooksey almost suffered a similar fate when, after fighting his own diabetes and sharing insights into his recovery on his blog, he learned that his advice to readers constituted the unlicensed practice of dietetics, a misdemeanor offense under catchall provisions of the administrative code.

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Ignorance of the law is no excuse - unless you're a police officer

It started with a flickering brake light on Nicholas Heien’s Ford Escort. He was asleep in the back seat while Maynor Javier Vasquez drove the car along Interstate 77 in Surry County during the early morning hours in April 2009, when Officer Matt Darisse of the Surry County Sheriff’s Department flipped on his blue lights to stop the car. The officer told Vasquez he had pulled the Escort over for a non-functioning brake light.

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Corruption in the courts: Read this book

It’s a troubling story line: A well-heeled and powerful group with a vested interest in the outcome of a lawsuit contributes millions to land a favored justice on a supreme court where its case will likely land. John Grisham used it in his bestseller The Appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court considered the true-to-life version arising out the battle between coal-mining executives in West Virginia in Caperton v. Massey Coal.

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In a battle between banks and consumers, banks win, Supreme Court says

If there’s one message to be gleaned from the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bumpers v. Community Bank of Northern Virginia, it’s this: When it comes to mortgage lending, consumers better shop around. And not just for the best interest rates and payment terms. Now the onus is on you, borrower, to find the best deal for all those ancillary charges that show up on that mysterious closing form – fees for the title company for example, or a loan settlement provider or even an appraiser.

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NineBar CreativeAll, Courts and Law
Roy Cooper v. the General Assembly: Who defends the state?

With a rising number of divisive laws being challenged in courts across the country — including those addressing same-sex marriage, immigration and voting rights – some attorneys general are refusing to defend their states, agreeing that such laws are unconstitutional. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced in July that she wouldn’t defend that state’s same sex marriage ban in a pending federal lawsuit.

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Behind closed doors: North Carolina creates a "star chamber" for wayward judges

It started out as a simple bill allowing parties in family court to appeal rulings before their cases were finally resolved. By the time it landed on the House floor for a final vote, one of the last bills on the last day of the long session, it had a new name, a new number and a new purpose: to give the justices of the state Supreme Court the sole authority to discipline judges — including themselves –and allow them to decide if, when and who to discipline in secret. 

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Joining the Fight

After Paul Dacier became EMC Corporation’s first in-house attorney in 1990, he soon realized that the data storage company would need more than patents and lawyers to protect its intellectual property. It would have to become an aggressive litigant. Dacier was promoted to general counsel in 1993, the same year that Storage Technology Corporation sued Hopkinton, Massachusetts–based EMC.

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Is the 4th Circuit veering back to the Center?

It’s been nearly a decade since the New York Times profiled the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond—the court of last resort for the vast majority of cases filed in federal courts in North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia —as “the most aggressively conservative federal appeals court in the nation.”

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