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Author Archives: Paul Tharp, Staff Writer

IDS official blames appointed-lawyer mess on DAs’ group (access required)

A "totally inappropriate" presentation on March 30 at the North Carolina Legislature touched off the turmoil in North Carolina's indigent-defense system, an official with the state's Indigent Defense Services said. Angered by the prospect that the Legislature will cut their pay, court-appointed lawyers across the state have removed their names from the appointment lists, an action that could upset the administration of justice for defendants who cannot afford private lawyers. In addition, two outfits representing each side of the criminal justice system - the Indigent Defense Services and the Conference of District Attorneys - are sparring over the motivation of that March 30 presentation.

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Phony indigents may be draining defense funds (access required)

While dozens of North Carolina lawyers have stalked away in protest from the state's indigent-defense system in the last two weeks, a few voices are asking whether the protesters are targeting the wrong enemy. The lawyers who have left are upset that state lawmakers, facing an unrelenting budget squeeze, are considering cutting the appointed-lawyer fee, which stands at $75 an hour.

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False testimony (access required)

Beneath the surface of what appeared to be a routine driving-while-impaired case in Mecklenburg District Court lay what defense attorneys say is an ugly flaw in the justice system. In an April 15 hearing in front of Judge Sean P. Smith, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Barry D. Grimes testified that he had administered two field sobriety tests, and the driver flunked both. But that wasn't true.

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Dental Board’s suit against FTC dismissed (access required)

A lawsuit the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners brought in February against the Federal Trade Commission in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has been dismissed. Chief United States District Court Judge Louise Flanagan dismissed the case on May 3, ruling that the Board's lawsuit sought "to subvert the established administrative review process set forth in 15 U.S.C. § 45, which vests the circuit courts with exclusive jurisdiction to hear the sort of challenges made [in the lawsuit]."

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Rise of ADR means fewer trials, fewer experienced trial lawyers (access required)

For litigants and lawyers, the benefits of formalized alternative dispute resolution in North Carolina trial courts seem to be that rare issue upon which most attorneys agree. But those benefits come at a cost: ADR may be depriving young attorneys of courtroom experience. Charlotte attorney and mediator Wayne Huckel told Lawyers Weekly that more and more attorneys are starting to trust the mediation process to get cases resolved.

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Charlotte police officer convicted, sentenced for fabricating DWI evidence (access required)

A Mecklenburg County District Court judge Monday morning convicted a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer of criminal contempt after hearing from the officer and his attorney. The officer, Barry Grimes, told Judge Sean P. Smith (pictured) that on April 15 in District Court, he had mistakenly testified that a driver he had stopped failed two field-sobriety tests.

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Lawyers’ bill would wrest control of closings (access required)

Doing a closing is the practice of law - and it isn't. It depends whom you ask, where you are and which part of a "closing" you're doing. Last week the State Bar council adopted a resolution supporting H. 690, a bill pending in the General Assembly that would "clarify the law with respect to the involvement of attorneys in closings," according to Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, one of the bill's co-sponsors.

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