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News Story

Judicial reform bills face resistance (access required)

Controversial legislation that would scrap the state’s election-based system for selecting judges appears to have stalled again and has little chance of passing before lawmakers adjourn for the summer. Supporters of judicial selection reform are now pushing the Legislature to form a study commission before the session ends. They’re hoping that the commission either recommends one of two reform bills or comes up with more palatable legislation before lawmakers reconvene for the fall session.

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Surviving the downturn – Part 1  (access required)

The recession has affected lawyers and law firms of all stripes and sizes, altering relationships, changing expectations and forcing uncomfortable conversations between lawyers and clients about the way legal business used to be done, the way it’s done now and the way it will be done in the future. Most lawyers say they began to feel the recession’s effects in the first quarter of 2009. Practical changes in the handling of cases, dealings with clients and firm management quickly followed. Charlotte attorney Zipporah B. Edwards (pictured) said her practice group at Horack Talley, which provides legal services for title insurance companies, has seen what she calls a “counter-cyclical uptick in the last several years because of mortgage-related issues and foreclosures.” But she’s also seen some belt-tightening by clients.

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Surviving the downturn – Part 2  (access required)

Jerry Myers, the managing partner of Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, says that because of the recession his firm has "cut down on discretionary spending. We suspended a charity golf tournament we used to sponsor in 2009 and 2010. Our marketing and advertising ventures have been rolled out at a more deliberative pace than if things were normal." He and other North Carolina attorneys share their thoughts on the Great Recession in part 2 of this 3 part series.

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Surviving the downturn – Part 3 (access required)

Jeremy White is a 2009 graduate of Elon University School of Law. He planned to open a solo real estate practice, and did – in the Macon County town of Highlands. But with the real estate market tanking, White was forced to widen his practice. White says, "I’ve definitely modified my expectations. I understand that a six-figure income is still a long way off, but I am optimistic that the real estate market will eventually pick back up, and when it does I hope to be in a good position to finally earn enough to pay down my two-hundred-thousand-dollar-plus student loan debt." He and H. Monroe Whitesides of Charlotte share their thoughts on the Great Recession in the last of this 3 part series.

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Most Important Opinions (access required)

Lawyers seeking to buttress their understanding of the latest and (we humbly suggest, greatest) hits from both trial and appellate courts in North Carolina will find in this edition of Lawyers Weekly a hefty list of important court decisions released in the past six months. No need to digest them – we’ve done that for you. And among those chosen as our “most important” we’ve identified some common themes...

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Dubious Deeds  (access required)

On June 1, a real estate agent was showing a house to a couple in the Union County town of Weddington. While the couple checked out the basement of the house in the 1000 block of Antioch Woods Lane, two men, Asaru A. Ali and Kenneth W. Lewis, suddenly showed up, according to Detective Brian Keziah of the Union County Sheriff’s Department. Ali and Lewis had some news that took everyone by surprise, Keziah said. “These two guys came in, showed the purported deed and said the Moorish Temple now owned this house,” he said. “They took over the house.”

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New Jersey man thwarted in attempt to sue UK-based machinery maker (access required)

A U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down the same day as Goodyear suggests that the high court is seeking to clarify some blurry lines of jurisdiction. New Jersey attorney Jonathan W. Miller of the Philadelphia, Pa.-based Locks Law Firm, told Lawyers Weekly that the high court had not visited the jurisdictional issues raised in J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-17-0659, 47 pp.) since its 1987 opinion in Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court, 480 U.S. 102 (1987). Miller wrote an amicus brief for the American Association of Justice in the Nicastro case.

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Supreme Court clarifies jurisdiction (access required)

In a ruling sure to reverberate far beyond North Carolina’s borders, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 27 that parents of two 13-year-old boys killed in a 2004 bus crash outside Paris cannot subject the foreign makers of a tire that failed to a wrongful death lawsuit brought in Onslow County Superior Court. The high court rejected what it called a “sprawling view of general jurisdiction… embraced by the North Carolina Court of Appeals,” which in 2009 upheld Onslow Superior Court Judge Gary E. Trawick’s denial of motions to dismiss brought by Goodyear Luxembourg Tires, SA, Goodyear Lastikleri T.A.S. and Goodyear Dunlop Tires France, SA.

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Pro-business or anti-lawyer? Lawyers’ groups muse about the impact of recent legislation.  (access required)

As the political tides turn in the North Carolina General Assembly, so does the nature of the legislation being passed. With the new Republican majority taking up various reforms as a way to make the state more business-friendly, lawyers — particularly plaintiff’s attorneys — ended up as collateral damage. “Lawyers are not in very good odor in the Legislature right now,” said recently appointed North Carolina Bar Association President Martin Brinkley. The big bills that passed over the last session are evidence of the anti-lawyer sentiment: A tort reform bill, a worker’s compensation bill and a medical malpractice bill all gave the average Joe less ground for a lawsuit.

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