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The trial court did not err by terminating Father’s parental rights to his minor child on the basis of neglect in accordance with N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1). The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s order termination of Father’s parental rights, concluding that the trial court erred in finding that grounds existed pursuant to section 7B-1111(a)(1) to terminate Father’s parental rights. On appeal, the New Hanover County Department of Social Services (DSS) argued, among other things, that the court of appeals incorrectly opined that, because Father was incarcerated at the time of the child’s removal, he therefore could not have neglected the child. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed the court of appeals’ judgment, holding that DSS met its burden of proving sufficient facts to enable the trial court to establish by clear and convincing evidence that grounds existed to justify termination. View "In re M.A.W." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing an order entered by the superior court removing a guardian of an estate and trustee under a special needs trust for breach of fiduciary duty. Mark Skinner was appointed as the guardian of the estate of Cathleen Bass Skinner. Mr. Skinner then executed the Cathleen Bass Skinner Special Needs Trust. Thereafter, the Assistant Clerk of Superior Court removed Mr. Skinner as trustee under the Special Needs Trust and as guardian of Ms. Skinner’s estate. The superior court affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Assistant Clerk did not err in determining that Mr. Skinner exceeded the scope of the discretion available to him to such an extent that grounds for his removal as the guardian of Ms. Skinner’s person and as trustee under the Special Needs Trust existed under N.C. Gen. Stat. 35A-1290 and 36C-7-706(b) and that these breaches of fiduciary duty justified his removal. View "In re Estate of Skinner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The indictment returned for the purpose of charging Defendant with the offense of robbery with a dangerous weapon was fatally defective because it did not sufficiently allege all of the essential elements of the offense. Defendant was convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon. The Court of Appeals arrested judgment with respect to the charge of robbery with a dangerous weapon, concluding that the indictment intended to charge Defendant with robbery with a dangerous weapon was fatally defective because it failed to name any dangerous weapon that Defendant allegedly employed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the indictment was fatally defective because it failed to allege sufficiently that Defendant possessed, used, or threatened to use a dangerous weapon. View "State v. Murrell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the Court of Appeals reversing the trial court’s order addressing the appropriate measure of damages in this condemnation action. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) condemned a leasehold interest held by Adams Outdoor Advertising of Charlotte Limited Partnership (Adams). Adams owned a billboard situated on the leasehold and rented out space on the billboard. At the time of the taking the billboard did not conform to city or state regulations, but Adams possessed permits that allowed for the billboard’s continued use. The Supreme Court held (1) the fair market value provision of N.C. Gen. Stat. Article 9 governed this condemnation proceeding; (2) the value added by the billboard, the evidence of rental income derived from leasing advertising space on the billboard, and the value added to the leasehold interest by the permits issued to Adams may be considered in determining the fair market value of the leasehold interest; (3) an automatic ten-year extension of a lease may be considered in determining the fair market value, but options to renew the lease may not be; and (4) bonus value method evidence offered by DOT may not be considered in determining the fair market value of the leasehold interest. View "Department of Transportation v. Adams Outdoor Advertising of Charlotte Limited Partnership" on Justia Law

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A district court has jurisdiction to modify a child support order without a party filing a motion to modify asserting that there is a change in circumstances. Catawba County, by and through its Child Support Agency, ex rel. Shawna Rackley (Plaintiff) failed to file a motion to modify a child support order. The district court concluded that a motion to modify a child support obligation must precede a modification order. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the district court did not have jurisdiction because Plaintiff failed to comply with the procedural mandates of N.C. Gen. Stat. 50-13.7(a). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s failure to file a motion to modify Defendant’s child support obligation did not divest the district court of jurisdiction to modify the child support order under section 50-13.7(a). View "Catawba County ex rel. Rackley v. Loggins" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Defendant was subjected to a custodial interrogation as defined in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), when police questioned him while he was confined under a civil commitment order, and therefore, the failure of police to advise him of his Miranda rights rendered inadmissible the incriminating statements he made during the interrogation. The trial court concluded otherwise and denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant was subsequently convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress and vacated his conviction, holding that the trial court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress was an erroneous application of the law and that the error was prejudicial. View "State v. Hammonds" on Justia Law

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In this criminal case, the prosecutor’s comments in his closing argument were improper but did not amount to prejudicial error in light of the evidence against Defendant, and therefore, the trial judge did not err by failing to intervene ex mero motu in the prosecutor’s closing arguments. The court of appeals vacated Defendant’s conviction and ordered a new trial, concluding that the prosecutor’s statements had the cumulative effect of resulting in unfair prejudice to Defendant, and therefore, the trial court erred by failing to intervene ex mero motu. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the prosecutor’s statements were improper; but (2) the statements were not so grossly improper as to prejudice Defendant’s due process rights. View "State v. Huey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the North Carolina Business Court’s substantive decision interpreting N.C. Gen. Stat. 105-130.5(b)(1) so as to preclude The Fidelity Bank from deducting “market discount income” relating to discounted United States obligations for North Carolina corporate income taxation purposes. The Supreme Court, however, reversed the Business Court’s decision to dismiss the second of two judicial review petitions that Fidelity Bank filed in these cases and remanding that matter to the North Carolina Department of Revenue with instructions to vacate that portion of the Department’s second amended final agency decision relating to the deductibility issue for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the Business Court’s decision to dismiss the portions of the second judicial review petition challenging the Department’s decision concerning the deductibility issue in the second amended final agency decision was erroneous. View "Fidelity Bank v. N.C. Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s order of dismissal that dismissed the attempts of Plaintiff, a former chief of police for the City of Greensboro, to obtain reimbursement from the City for costs he incurred in defending lawsuits brought against him for events that occurred during his tenure as chief of police. The trial judge granted the City’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the City was shielded by the doctrine of governmental immunity and that immunity was not waived. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiff set forth allegations that the City waived governmental immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently presented allegations that were adequate to raise a waiver of governmental immunity and thus to survive the City’s motion to dismiss. View "Wray v. City of Greensboro" on Justia Law

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The superior court correctly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant was pulled over for driving at an unsafe speed given the road conditions and cited for driving while impaired. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, which the superior court ultimately denied. Defendant eventually pleaded guilty to driving while impaired while preserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the traffic stop was unconstitutional because the police officer who pulled Defendant over did not have reasonable suspicion to do so. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the traffic stop was constitutional because the officer had reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law