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Opinion Digests

Aug 16, 2023

Attorneys – Suspension – Constitutional – Inadequate Notice – Disciplinary Hearing

According to the narrative compiled by the respondent-attorney – with no help from the trial court or the district attorney’s office – respondent went to a hearing expecting to have one of his client’s cases heard. Instead, he was the subject of an unrecorded disciplinary hearing based on a heated exchange he had previously had […]

Aug 16, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Guardianship – Insufficient Evidence – Visitation

The affidavit submitted on behalf of “Phoebe’s” foster parents was not signed, only the foster father testified, and his testimony indicated only that he understood the financial and emotional obligations of guardianship, not that he understood other aspects of guardianship or that the foster mother understood the obligations of guardianship. We vacate the guardianship order […]

Aug 16, 2023

Domestic Relations – Marriage Validity – Virginia Law – Marriage by Estoppel – Lack of License

After defendant’s brother performed a religious marriage ceremony for them in Virginia, the parties lived together in North Carolina and held themselves out as husband and wife. This was not sufficient to allow us to presume a marriage or to apply the principle of marriage by estoppel. We affirm the trial court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s […]

Aug 16, 2023

Criminal Practice – Heroin Possession & Conspiracy – Corpus Delicti – Credibility Cross-Examination

When law enforcement officers entered a home looking for two suspects, they found defendant, 39.98 grams of heroin and one of the suspects they had been looking for, Justin Riddle. This evidence was sufficient to corroborate defendant’s confession that “Justin gave him the dope for bringing him customers.” The rule of corpus delicti did not […]

Aug 16, 2023

Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Suspicious Exchange – Meth & Cocaine Possession

Based on the testimony of Officer Price of the Kings Mountain Police Department, the trial court found that two vehicles, one containing defendant, entered the parking lot of a shopping center on a Sunday night shortly before 10:00 p.m., a time when a laundromat was the only open and nearby business. Defendant exited the vehicle, […]

Aug 16, 2023

Criminal Practice – Attorneys – Conflict of Interest – Ineffective Assistance Claim – Cell Phone

Surveillance cameras in the jail revealed that defendant’s attorney handed his cell phone to defendant while visiting him in jail, potentially in violation of G.S. § 14-258.1(d), which makes it a Class H felony to give a mobile phone to a jail inmate. An assistant district attorney sought advice from the State Bar as to […]

Aug 16, 2023

Criminal Practice – Methamphetamine Possession – Hearsay Evidence – Police Body Cam Footage

Under subpoena, the driver of a car – in which methamphetamine had been found – showed up for the first morning of the defendant-passenger’s trial for possession of the methamphetamine, but she failed to return that afternoon or thereafter. The trial court admitted police body camera footage into evidence. It showed the driver saying “anything” […]

Aug 16, 2023

Criminal Practice – Probation Revocation – Absconding – Incorrect Contact Information

Even though defendant contacted her probation officer once by phone shortly after her probation began, (1) she gave incorrect contact and residence information; (2) her mother, with whom she ostensibly lived, had not seen her since her release from jail; and (3) over a period of months, probation officers called the jail, searched arrest records, […]

Aug 16, 2023

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Abandonment – Blocked Calls – Single-Ground Jurisprudence

Although, during part of the six-month period preceding the petitioner-Mother’s filing of the petition to terminate the respondent-Father’s parental rights, Father was subject to a domestic violence protective order and Mother blocked his calls, Father had – but did not use – other avenues to support the parties’ three children emotionally and financially. We affirm […]

Aug 16, 2023

Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Right to Counsel – Motion to Withdraw – Interaction with Witness

After an out-of-court interaction with a prosecution witness, defense counsel moved to withdraw. However, the trial court conducted an adequate colloquy with defendant, and defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived any conflict of interest. We find no error in defendant’s convictions for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, attempted armed […]

Aug 16, 2023

Labor & Employment – Collective Bargaining Agreement – NLRA – Longshoremen – New Port

A collective-bargaining agreement between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), an association of carriers and other employers, earmarks all container loading and unloading work on the East and Gulf Coasts for the union’s members. So when USMX-affiliated ships docked at a new South Carolina terminal that used non-union lift […[...]

Aug 16, 2023

Environmental – Clean Water Act – Shrimpers – Bycatch & Disturbed Sediment – Major Questions Doctrine

When shrimpers return their bycatch to the ocean, and when their trawl nets kick up already-present sediment, the shrimpers are not discharging any pollutants. Consequently, these activities do not violate the Clean Water Act. We affirm the district court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ complaint. It is true that the Clean Water Act definition of “pollutant” includes […]

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