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Writer’s block? Some in NC’s legal community say Supreme Court issues too few opinions (access required)

Pull N.C Reports Volume 363 - the most recently published volume - from the shelf and you'll be holding a book that covers just over a year's worth of output from the state's Supreme Court justices but contains only about three dozen written opinions. Is something wrong with this picture? Some members of the bar and academic experts on the judiciary think so. As the court's productivity in terms of opinion-writing has decreased during the last decade, some members of the bar are growing concerned that North Carolina's legal landscape is lacking crucial guidance.

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Allegations leveled against driving school (access required)

The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into alleged improprieties at the Safety and Health Council of North Carolina, a nonprofit organization that offers defensive driving courses in 54 counties in the state. The investigation in Mecklenburg County was confirmed by an attorney who represents a former employee of the driving school who was terminated in September. The employee's name is Cathey Byrd.

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ABA ponders ‘Truth in Law School Education’ (access required)

Law schools need to be more transparent about the costs and employment data they give to applicants, and it's time to make that happen. So says American Bar Association President Steve Zack (pictured), who recently told a group of educators that the ABA is considering whether to increase the types of information that schools are required to disclose to consumers.

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Bojangles’ biscuit maker’s case remanded for findings of fact (access required)

The Court of Appeals took up the hefty issue of made-from-scratch biscuits in an unpublished opinion. The verdict? Bojangles' biscuits are made from scratch. But did they cause Ana Garcia's carpal tunnel syndrome? Perhaps, but the commission's findings of fact were insufficient to support that conclusion, so the Court of Appeals remanded the case of Garcia v. Huffbo (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-07-1005, 6 pp.) to the Industrial Commission for further findings.

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Non-discrimination preamble to resurface at Bar meeting (access required)

The N.C. State Bar will hold its quarterly meeting in Raleigh next week, and the Ethics Committee will take another stab at a putting to rest a controversial amendment to the preamble to the Rules of Professional Conduct. The preamble became an issue in July when attorneys argued whether a proposed amendment would limit free speech and threaten attorney autonomy. The controversy has been so heated that the Bar has had to publish comments to the provision in a separate book-length binder.

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Investors must arbitrate claims over startup (access required)

Shareholders must arbitrate their claims over a startup Charlotte advertising company in which they invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, even though they brought suit against its CEO as an individual, the appeals court has ruled. "This case affirms what our position has been all along," said Charlotte attorney Ross R. Fulton (pictured) of Rayburn Cooper & Durham. Fulton represented Alexander in the case. "You cannot sue an individual officer of a company to get around an arbitration agreement with the company."

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Heart balm’s constitutionality challenged in federal court (access required)

Claimants, attorneys and supporters have long argued that North Carolina's common-law heart-balm torts are designed to protect and preserve the sanctity of marriage. Hogwash, says Winston-Salem attorney John C. Vermitsky of Morrow Alexander Porter & Whitley. He says the torts are "tools used by vindictive spouses to put a scarlet red letter on their exes' [paramours] after a relationship is long over." Vermitsky said he has statistics that show that the few states that retain the heart-balm torts actually have higher divorce rates than states that don't.

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NCBA floats hybrid model for seating judges (access required)

Amid increasing calls for reform in judicial selection across the country, the North Carolina Bar Association is putting together a proposal that would fundamentally change the way judges are selected, while keeping elections as part of the equation. Since 1868, North Carolina residents have chosen judges at the polls. But a new layer between the electorate and the ballot box could be put in place under a proposal expected to be introduced when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

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