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Cancer-stricken mom in custody case files appeal (access required)

A Greensboro attorney on Tuesday filed a notice of appeal in the case of Alaina Levane Giordano, a breast-cancer-stricken Durham mother who has been ordered either to move to Illinois to be near the father of their two children or have her custody of them significantly reduced. The case has drawn international attention. Clint S. Morse (pictured), an associate with Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, said Tuesday that he is representing Giordano pro bono.

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Cap concerns delaying tort legislation (access required)

Tort reform appears to be thriving in the North Carolina General Assembly, but the opposition has not given up on blocking it in the 2011 session. Todd Barlow, representing the North Carolina Advocates for Justice's Political Affairs Council said, "The NCAJ and other groups concerned about safety absolutely continue to fight for the rights of injured patients. Every day, patients and their advocates are asking legislators to put people above insurance company profits."

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Judge takes setback case to the streets (access required)

A judge will decide as early as this week whether a Charlotte homeowner has to demolish a half-million dollar addition to her Queens Road home. Before deciding, Superior Court Judge Jesse Caldwell (left in photo) said he wanted to see the structure with his own eyes. "Seeing something in person does put a different perspective on it," Caldwell said last Tuesday morning while viewing the structure.

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Royally honored (access required)

Don't solicit gossip about the royal wedding. That was Raleigh attorney H. Martin Lancaster's first lesson as the newest honorary officer of Order of the British Empire. Even as he chatted face-to-face with Prince Charles not one week after the worldwide frenzy surrounding the prince's son's nuptials, Lancaster bit his tongue. The two men stood amid blooming roses and azaleas in the spectacular garden of the British Embassy. Female attendees hatted themselves with colorful fascinators.

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Former GlaxoSmithKline lawyer acquitted (access required)

A federal judge in Greenbelt, Md., has acquitted the former GlaxoSmithKline lawyer accused of lying to the government about off-label marketing of one of the pharmaceutical company's drugs. The lawyer, former Glaxo Associate General Counsel Lauren Stevens, is from Durham. In a trial that ended last week, Judge Roger Titus said there was not sufficient evidence to submit to the jury the case against Stevens.

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Forsyth County hopes that 4th Circuit is answer to prayers (access required)

The legal battle, in which the county lost its first two skirmishes, renewed May 12 with oral arguments in front of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court in Richmond, Va. The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners invites local clergy to open meetings with a sectarian prayer. But in 2007, Forsyth County residents Janet Joyner and Constance Blackmon filed a federal lawsuit claiming the Board of Commissioners' policy of inviting local clergy members to give invocations at the start of the board's twice-monthly meetings violated the First Amendment's separation of church and state doctrine.

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FTC, Dental Board tussle may land in highest court (access required)

As the collision between the Federal Trade Commission and the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners unfolds in legal slow motion, Ron Haynes sells teeth-whitening supplies and insists he doesn't understand the fuss. It's a fuss that is taking two routes toward the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and appears bound for the U.S. Supreme Court. The Board of Dental Examiners says non-dentist proprietors of teeth-whitening kiosks, such as Haynes, are breaking the law by practicing dentistry without a license. A subsection of G.S. § 90-29(b) defines the practice of dentistry to include the removal of "stains, accretions or deposits from human teeth." But Haynes (pictured with employee Kate Law), who runs his Pro White kiosk in SouthPark Mall in Charlotte, told Lawyers Weekly that his employee doesn't remove stains from anyone's teeth. The kiosk merely supplies the materials and equipment for teeth-whitening.

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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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Lots of jawing, not much enforcement against ‘unlicensed dentists’ (access required)

The math is coldly convincing. A person having a teeth-whitening treatment can spend between $300 and $700 at a dentist's office, or between $100 and $150 with a non-dentist, according to a Federal Trade Commission antitrust complaint filed in opposition to the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners' cease-and-desist letters sent to about 40 teeth-whitening services. Ron Haynes, the proprietor of Pro White teeth whitening services in SouthPark Mall in Charlotte, said his service comports with state law and offers consumers a low-cost choice. But Raleigh attorney A.P. Carlton, who represents the Board of Dental Examiners, said the real choice was between upholding the rule of law and supporting lawbreakers. The FTC chose the latter, he said.

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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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