Justia North Carolina Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals vacating the trial court's planning order in this case and remanding the case for additional findings, holding that the court of appeals did not err in concluding that Father waived his constitutional argument.After a hearing, the trial court granted guardianship of Father's two children, Jimmy and Lola, to the maternal grandparents. The court of appeals vacated the trial court's permanency planning order, holding that the trial court erred by failing to make necessary findings under N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-906.1(n) but that Father had waived his argument that the trial court erred by granting guardianship without concluding beforehand that Father was an unfit parent or had acted inconsistently with his constitutional right to parent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Father's unpreserved constitutional arguments were waived on appeal. View "In re J.N." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Mother's parental rights in her son, Scott, holding that the evidence supported the trial court's conclusion that termination of Mother's parental rights was in Scott's best interests.After a hearing, the trial court adjudicated that grounds to terminate Mother's parental rights to Scott under N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1) and (2) and concluded that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the child's best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court's dispositional findings were supported by competent evidence; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that it was in Scott's best interests that Mother's parental rights be terminated. View "In re S.D.C." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court terminating Mother's parental rights to her two children, Lucy and Joseph, holding that there was no error.Petitioners, court-appointed custodians of the two juveniles, filed petition to terminate Parents' parental rights on the grounds of willful abandonment. The trial court eventually entered an order terminating Mother's parental rights to Lucy and Joseph, finding that Mother had willfully abandoned the children and that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the children's best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Mother's motion to continue. View "In re L.A.J." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals vacating the order of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss, holding that the trial court did not err.Defendant was charged with one count of driving while impaired and one count of reckless driving. Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained at a Harnett County checking station. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, and Defendant later pleaded guilty to driving while impaired. The court of appeals vacated the trial court's order denying Defendant's motion to suppress, concluding that the trial court could not assess whether the public interest in the checking station outweighed its infringement on Defendant's Fourth Amendment privacy interests. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the unchallenged findings of fact supported the trial court's conclusion that the public interest served by the checking station outweighed the intrusion on Defendant's liberty interests. View "State v. Cobb" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the trial court terminating Father's parental rights to his minor child Becky, holding that the trial court did not err in adjudicating that a ground existed to terminate Father's parental rights due to willful abandonment pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(7).Mother filed a petition to terminate Father's parental rights. The trial court adjudicated that a ground existed to terminate Father's parental rights on the basis that he willfully abandoned Becky for six consecutive months and further determined that termination of Father's parental rights was in Becky's best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly terminated Father's parental rights pursuant to section 7B-1111(a)(7). View "In re B.E.V.B." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Mother's parental rights to her minor child holding that the trial court did not err.The Department of Social Services petitioned to terminate Mother's parental rights to her child on the grounds of neglect and willfully leaving him in foster care for more than twelve months without making reasonable progress in correcting the conditions that led to the child's removal. The trial court adjudicated that both grounds for termination existed and that it was in the child's best interests that Mother's parental rights be terminated. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in determining that a ground existed to terminate Mother's parental rights under N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1). View "In re B.R.L." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the superior court terminating Father's parental rights to his son, holding that the trial court's denial of Father's motion to continue the adjudicatory hearing undermined the fairness of that hearing and that the trial court prejudicially erred.On the day of the adjudicatory termination hearing, Father was unable to appear due to a lockdown at his prison due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The trial court denied Father's motion to continue the hearing and later terminated his parental rights. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment below, holding that by denying Father's motion to continue the adjudicatory hearing, the trial court violated Father's rights to due process and undermined the fundamental fairness of that hearing. View "In re C.A.B." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the order of the trial court and vacating Defendant's convictions on the grounds that the delay in his case was unjustified and violated his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial, holding that remand was required.After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of felony hit and run resulting in serious injury or death, two counts of second-degree murder, and attaining violent habitual felon status. The court of appeals reversed and vacated Defendant's convictions, holding that the trial court erred in denying Defendant's pretrial motion to dismiss based on speedy trial grounds. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court improperly admitted the testimony of Defendant's prior attorney where there was no waiver of the attorney-client privilege; and (2) the case is remanded for a rehearing on Defendant's speedy trial claim. View "State v. Farook" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this termination of parental rights matter for further proceedings, holding that the findings of fact supported by clear, cogent and convincing evidence in the record were insufficient to support the trial court's conclusion that Father's parental rights in his daughter Annie were subject to termination.Petitioners sought to terminate Father's parental rights based on the fact that he failed some of the drug screens he admitted to between 2018 and 2020 and failed to submit to others. The trial court, however, found Father to have completed a required substance abuse assessment, completed twenty hours of substance abuse treatment, attended visits with his daughter, and completed a parenting program, among other things. The trial court terminated Father's parental rights in his daughter. At issue on appeal was whether the findings of fact that were supported by clear, cogent and convincing evidence in the record were sufficient to support the trial court’s conclusion that grounds existed to terminate Father’s parental rights for neglect and failure to make reasonable progress. The Supreme Court remanded the matter, holding that the trial court's findings of fact were insufficient to support its termination decision. View "In re A.N.H." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's lawsuit against Defendants asserting claims under North Carolina's Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (UVTA), holding that remand was required for further proceedings.Defendants were co-principals in a joint real estate development venture with a party that intended to defraud creditors by way of the party's insider conveyance to Defendants of certain real property. In dismissing Plaintiff's UVTA lawsuit, the trial court concluded that Defendants were good faith purchasers for value and therefore possessed a legitimate defense against Plaintiffs' claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that Defendants were imputed with the knowledge of their co-principal's fraudulent intent by virtue of the principal-agent relationship existing between the parties pursuant to common law. View "Cherry Community Organization v. Sellars" on Justia Law