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Court fleshes out how to calculate ‘income’ for child support (access required)

A North Carolina appellate court has for the first time addressed the effect that payments an employer makes on behalf of an employee have on the employee's adjusted gross income under the child-support guidelines in G.S. § 50-13.4(c). "Any time we have a new case that helps us define what is income and what is not for calculating child support, it is a big deal," said Charlotte attorney Rebecca K. Watts, who represented the mother in Caskey v. Caskey (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-07-0859, 16 pp.).

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Nonprofit sees prisoner mail spike after SBI report (access required)

Fueled by Styrofoam cups of coffee, the attorneys sit around a small table every morning in what they call a "triage" meeting, sorting through more than 100 letters every day from inmates asking for legal assistance. This is life at N.C. Prisoner Legal Services, a nonprofit that contracts with the state to provide prisoners access to the courts. At any one time, the post-conviction team has between 80-120 cases open, according to Mary Pollard (pictured), executive director of Prisoner Legal Services.

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New book gives college students crash course on law (access required)

Wilson Parker, a constitutional law expert at Wake Forest University's School of Law, has just published a law book that doesn't cite any cases. But it has plenty of good advice. With headings such as "Pay Attention!" Parker lays out everything a college student might need to know about avoiding legal problems in Ignorance is No Defense: A College Student's Guide to N.C. Law.

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Double-murder trial brings discovery statute into focus (access required)

A homicide investigator's handwritten notes have become the focus of what some attorneys are calling the biggest murder trial in Charlotte in a decade. The case, State v. Montgomery, involves the killing of two Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers in 2007. Attorney Bill Powers of Charlotte-based Powers McCartan said if police officers and prosecutors don't turn over their entire file, except for work product, they may be subject to sanctions. Powers is not involved in Montgomery.

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Appeals court contest brings rare endorsement from ex-justices

The yard signs aren't up yet. But the websites are up and running as candidates for North Carolina's appellate courts put together their - as usual - low-key campaigns. The November ballot will feature one contested Supreme Court seat and three incumbent Court of Appeals judges fighting to keep their spots. But one race in particular is drawing more attention than usual - a Court of Appeals battle pitting a sitting judge against a 2005 law school graduate who has never practiced law.

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Investigation into Mecklenburg PJC arrangement begins (access required)

Officials in Mecklenburg County are exploring the legality and appropriateness of the relationship among the district attorney's office, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the local courts and the Safety and Health Council of North Carolina, a nonprofit organization that offers defensive-driving courses to ticketed motorists. Mecklenburg County Chief District Court Judge Lisa Bell (pictured) said she began an inquiry into the matter in July after former Mecklenburg County Assistant District Attorney Sean P. Smith first raised the issue publically in an interview with Charlotte's FOX News affiliate.

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Capping e-discovery costs in smaller cases requires creativity (access required)

Electronic discovery shouldn't cost more than a case is worth. Uncovering relevant electronic evidence has become critical in a wide range of civil litigation, from divorce cases to business disputes. But keeping a lid on e-discovery costs can be challenging, especially in smaller cases. To curb e-discovery costs, Conrad Jacoby, an attorney and litigation technology consultant in the Washington, D.C., area, recommends "thinking creatively."

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