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The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals concluding that Defendant received adequate notice of his probation revocation hearing pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-1345(e). The trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and activated suspended sentences for crimes Defendant committed in August and September 2012. Defendant appealed, arguing that the probation violation reports filed by the State relating to Defendant’s probation for the August and September crimes, arguing that they did not give him adequate notice because they did not specifically state the condition of probation that Defendant allegedly violated. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court upheld the revocation of Defendant’s probation, holding (1) the “statement of the violations alleged” requirement in section 15A-1345(e) is satisfied by a statement of the actions that a defendant has allegedly taken that constitute a violation of a condition of probation; and (2) the probation violation reports in this case included a list of the criminal offenses that Defendant allegedly committed, and that list provided a statement of alleged acts by Defendant that, if proved, would violate a probation condition, as required by section 15A-1345(e). View "State v. Moore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals vacating Defendant’s conviction for first-degree sexual offense and remanding the matter for a new trial on the charge and reinstated Defendant’s conviction. The court of appeals concluded that there was insufficient evidence to submit to the jury an instruction on the theory that Defendant committed a first-degree sexual offense by being aided and abetted by another individual in the commission of the sexual act. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that, based upon the court’s enunciated test used to establish the principle of aiding and abetting, the evidence was sufficient to allow the jury to be instructed on the theory of aiding and abetting because the evidence supported the conclusion that Defendant was aided and abetted by at least one other individual even where Defendant was the only individual in the room with the victim when the incident occurred. View "State v. Dick" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court disqualifying Defendants’ counsel under North Carolina Rule of Professional Conduct 1.9(a), which balances an attorney’s ethical duties of confidentiality and loyalty to a former client with a party’s right to its chosen counsel. Rule 1.9(a) permits disqualification of an attorney from representing a new client if there is a substantial risk that the attorney could use confidential information shared by the client in the former matter against that same client in the current matter. The Supreme Court held (1) rather than applying an objective test as to the scope of the representation and whether the matters were substantially related, the trial court disqualified Defendants’ counsel based on the former client’s subjective perception of the past representation, which Rule 1.9(a) prohibits, as well as the now replaced “appearance of impropriety test”; and (2) therefore, the trial court applied the incorrect standard under Rule 1.9(a) in disqualifying Defendants’ counsel. View "Worley v. Moore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s decision to award Plaintiff benefits arising out of a 2009 automobile accident. The court of appeals concluded that Plaintiff was barred from pursuing compensation for his personal injury claim under the Workers’ Compensation Act because he had elected to settle his claim against the third-party tortfeasor without the consent of Defendant, the City of Charlotte, and had received disbursement of the settlement proceedings. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the Act protects both the employer’s lien against third-party proceeds and the employee’s right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits under these circumstances; and (2) therefore, the Commission correctly concluded that Plaintiff had not waived his right to compensation under the Act. View "Easter-Rozzelle v. City of Charlotte" on Justia Law

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In this appeal from criminal convictions, the Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals concluding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by overruling Defendant’s objection to alleged misstatements of law contained in the prosecutor’s final argument to the jury and that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s request that the jury be instructed that the “oral intercourse” element of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor involves “penetration, however slight.” The Supreme Court held (1) the challenged prosecutorial argument was erroneous, but the error was not prejudicial; and (2) the trial court did not err by refusing to deliver Defendant’s requested “oral intercourse” instruction. View "State v. Fletcher" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals vacating Defendant’s conviction for committing the felony of habitual misdemeanor larceny and remanding the case for resentencing based upon a misdemeanor larceny conviction. The court of appeals based its decision on the grounds that the indictment returned against Defendant was fatally defective. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals and instructed that court to reinstate the judgment of the trial court, holding that because Defendant did not challenge before the trial court the failure of the indictment returned against her to comply with the separate indictment provision set out in N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-928, Defendant was not entitled to seek relief based upon that indictment-related deficiency for the first time on appeal. View "State v. Brice" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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An attorney-client relationship existed between Defendants and a non-party that contractually agreed to indemnify Defendants, but because Defendants failed to request that the trial court provide written findings of fact and did not present in a timely manner the documents at issue, the trial court did not err in determining that the attorney-client privilege did not extend to the communications at issue. Plaintiff sued Defendants for payment of back rent and other charges due under a lease. Defendants notified the non-party, which agreed to indemnify and defend Defendants in accordance with their agreement. During discovery, counsel for Plaintiff requested copies of documents exchanged between Defendants and the non-party. Defendants moved for a protective order, asserting the attorney-client privilege. The trial court denied Defendants’ motion for a protective order and granted Plaintiff’s motion to compel. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the attorney-client privilege did not extend to the communications between Defendants and the non-party. The Supreme Court modified and affirmed, holding (1) the non-party’s contractual duty to defend and indemnify Defendants created a tripartite attorney-client relationship; but (2) the trial court did not err in determining that the documents between Defendants and the non-party were not privileged. View "Friday Investments, LLC v. Bally Total Fitness of the Mid-Atlantic, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing an order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress and vacating Defendant’s guilty plea. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence derived from a search of the car he was driving after he was pulled over for traffic violations, arguing that the search violated the Fourth Amendment. The trial court denied the motion to suppress. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the traffic stop had been unlawfully prolonged under the standard that the United States Supreme Court set out in Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. __ (2015). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the stop was not unlawfully prolonged under the standard set forth in Rodriguez. View "State v. Bullock" on Justia Law

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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