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Author Archives: Sylvia Adcock

DAs’ PowerPoint budget presentation piques defense lawyers (access required)

Lawyers at Indigent Defense Services, the agency that provides representation to criminal defendants who can't afford attorneys, are fuming over claims by the state's prosecutors that the prosecution is getting the short end of the stick when it comes to state funding. The feud was sparked by a PowerPoint presentation given to legislators by the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys last month. During the presentation, the organization said legislators should consider sparing the district attorneys' offices from budget cuts and look for savings in the office of Indigent Defense Services instead, saying prosecutors were "outspent" every day in court.

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Bills would bring sweeping changes to workers’ comp system (access required)

North Carolina's workers' compensation system has been around since the late 1920s. Every few decades it gets a bit of an overhaul, with the last one coming 15 years ago. But the renovations anticipated in a Republican-backed bill under consideration in the General Assembly could lead to seismic changes in the system, which is designed to make injured workers whole and prevent lawsuits against employers. Critics of the current system say it can reward people for staying out of work and provides the potential for abuse. But those who support the status quo say the changes being proposed are draconian and would unfairly limit the rights of injured workers.

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NC Central law in top 10 for accepted students who enroll (access required)

North Carolina Central University School of Law has been named one of the nation's 10 "most popular" law schools in a ranking released by U.S. News & World Report last week. The listing is based on an analysis of admission yield - the percentage of students accepted by a school who choose to enroll. In the rankings compiled for 2010, Central's law school placed ninth, with a yield of 49.6 percent; of 415 applicants accepted by the school, 206 subsequently enrolled. "We were honored to receive the recognition," said Raymond Pierce, dean of the law school.

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Perdue order creates panel, cedes power for judge picks (access required)

Saying "this is history," Gov. Bev Perdue signed an executive order last week that will establish a nominating commission to screen candidates for consideration when judicial vacancies come open. "You've seen a page turned in the North Carolina judiciary," Perdue said after she signed the bill, flanked by seven former N.C. Supreme Court justices and chief justices from both parties. The order takes effect July 1 and does not require any legislative action.

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February bar exam pass rate up 3% over 2010

The ranks of North Carolina's attorneys swelled by 254 this month as the results of the mid-year bar exam given in February were announced. A total of 426 would-be N.C. lawyers took the test, with 59.6 percent passing, an increase over last year's passing rate of 56.3 percent on the mid-year exam. As is often the case, the first-timers did better, with repeat takers having a lesser chance of succeeding.

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Bill would insert committee into judicial elections (access required)

A measure introduced in the General Assembly last week would create a hybrid system of selecting judges that would combine a screening committee with elections by the public - the first system of its kind in the nation. The legislation was crafted by the NCBA Committee for Judicial Independence, co-chaired by former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Exum and John Wester (pictured), past president of the NCBA. "This bill, if enacted and approved by the people, will greatly improve the way we select judges in North Carolina," Exum said in a prepared statement.

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Regulators’ nod would bar liability for products (access required)

A sweeping tort-reform bill that would have the effect of preventing product-liability lawsuits in cases where the product got a stamp of approval from government regulators was formally introduced in the state House this week. At a packed hearing, Greensboro attorney Janet Ward Black (pictured) said the product-liability provision in the bill would be the most plaintiff-unfriendly in the country. The bill also incorporates some controversial aspects of a medical-malpractice tort-reform bill under consideration in the Senate.

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Where immigration law meets family law (access required)

On Thursdays, a telephone at the Legal Aid of North Carolina office in Raleigh rings off the hook. The callers aren't the usual questioners who might need help with things like foreclosures or consumer-protection issues. This is Legal Aid's Battered Immigrant Project, a highly focused area where the intersection of immigration law and family law helps address the specific needs of immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence. The project formally began in 2002 with one full-time attorney and has since grown to five attorneys and three paralegals. It was initially an interest of Deborah Weissman, former executive director of what is now LANC.

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Separating Together offers a different kind of divorce (access required)

The table in the conference room down the hall from Mark Springfield's office is round. Not oval. Not oblong with round edges. Completely round. "There's no position of power," said Springfield, taking a seat. Springfield's practice of collaborative divorce sets him apart from the traditional adversarial-style attorney who practices family law.

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