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New law has civil action for fathers of aborted babies (access required)

A House bill that became law on July 28 after the Senate overrode Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto contains a new cause of action for fathers of aborted babies. The law, known as the Woman’s Right to Know Act, imposes several conditions on pregnant women and their physicians before abortions can be performed. It also specifically allows the father to bring an action if those conditions are not met. Katherine Lewis Parker of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said the intent of the new cause of action was “to scare doctors to prevent them from performing medical procedures that they have a right to perform.” Even if lawsuits are not filed, she said, the threat of litigation will cause doctors to be reluctant to perform abortions.

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Forsyth County’s pre-meeting prayers unconstitutionally divisive   (access required)

A divided three-judge panel of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that prayers at Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meetings that mention Jesus and other tenets of Christianity violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. “Sectarian prayer is unconstitutional,” said Katherine Lewis Parker of the American Civil Liberties Union of N.C., who represented plaintiffs Janet Joyner and Constance Lynn Blackmon in their suit against the county. “This serves as a reminder of what the law is. Local and state governments that are violating the law will have to come into compliance,” Parker said.

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Two trials, two verdicts in the Casey Anthony case (access required)

When Casey Anthony (pictured in this AP Photo by Red Huber, Pool) was unanimously acquitted in July, a USA Today/Gallup poll showed that nearly two out of three Americans believed she was guilty of murder. How could the court of public opinion differ so drastically from the jury in an Orlando courtroom? Every parent has experienced that moment of panic in a store or park when you can’t find your child. Those moments can seem like hours, and when your child is found, an unbelievable wave of relief washes over you.

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Womble Carlyle adds another ‘first’ (access required)

Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice clearly likes being first. The firm boasts about being the first law firm in North Carolina to have its own website, first to embrace magazine ads, and first to indulge in airport advertising. But as Guinness World Records proves with every update of its fabled compilation, any list of notable achievements almost always eventually veers into the bizarre. Womble Carlyle’s latest “first” is no exception: first law firm to sponsor a car in a quirky cross-continental road rally that runs from Prague to Mongolia. It’s called the Mongol Rally, and a cardboard cut-out of the firm’s mascot, a bulldog named Winston, is accompanying the team in the firm’s sponsored car.

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McGuireWoods adds muscle to its debt finance group (access required)

Charlotte-based law firm McGuireWoods has added four partners to its debt finance practice group, a move that allows the department to expand its services to two major clients. Attorneys Jim Hedrick, Eric Burk, David Lapp and Kent Walker have joined McGuireWoods, literally moving across the street from the office of Winston & Strawn. McGuireWoods partner Bob Cramer, chairman of the firm’s debt finance department, said their addition means a more solid presence in the loan syndication market.

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Creditor attorneys deal with consumer-protection laws (access required)

The debt crisis was rocking Wall Street and beginning to reach North Carolina. Jerry T. Myers, a well-connected Raleigh debt collection attorney, kept getting regular, half-joking reminders that he needed to organize the state’s creditors bar. Starting in 2008, his friend, Adam Olshan, a board member of the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys, or NARCA, would call every so often and needle him. “So, Jerry, how’s that creditors bar association going?” Olshan would ask, and Myers would answer, “I’m working on it.”

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NC ranks in bottom half of judicial pay nationally (access required)

Serving in a state’s judiciary has long been a noble profession, and many lawyers relish service on the bench after years of appearing before it. But increasingly, people in the legal arena say that too little pay for judges is taking its toll. Young lawyers who once dreamed of becoming judges set that goal aside because the salary is half to two-thirds less than what they’re making in a law practice. And current judges are leaving the bench early, when they hit their first retirement benchmark or even before. That trend doesn’t bode well for the citizenry, local attorneys say.

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State’s business courts straining under caseload

Earlier this year, a committee of lawmakers asked Business Court Chief Judge John R. Jolly Jr. (pictured) if he thought the Legislature should again raise the fee for filing cases in the state’s three business courts. The fee had jumped from $200 to $1,000 two years ago, which sparked concern and grousing among lawyers and litigants. The number of cases assigned to the Business Court fell by nearly 30 percent, though only for a few months. In fact, case filings quickly rebounded and the courts are busier now than ever – so busy that some lawyers worry that Jolly and the two other Business Court judges will not be able to juggle their caseloads if they don’t get some help. And help requires money.

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NC man separated from wife because feds can’t decide whether he’s married (access required)

A Hillsborough man who married his Indonesian bride in an Islamic ceremony in Jakarta in 2008 has been separated from her and his U.S.-born son because the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security can’t agree on whether he’s married. The Republic of Indonesia’s Department of Religion, Office of Religious Affairs, declared that as of July 12, 2008, there was an “authenticated covenant of marriage” between the man – David Rowe – and Indonesia native Tri Aminudin (pictured with their son, Sean).

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Judge rules in FTC’s favor in suit against NC Dental Board (access required)

Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell has ruled that the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners engaged in illegal conduct by asking providers of teeth-whitening services to cease and desist from their activities. The providers were based largely in mall kiosks around the state. Chappell, a federal administrative judge, ruled that Federal Trade Commission staff attorneys had shown “by a preponderance of the evidence that dentist members of the Dental Board had a common scheme or design, and hence an agreement, to exclude non-dentists from the market for teeth whitening services and to deter potential providers of teeth whitening services from entering the market.” The decision followed a four-week trial in front of Chappell in April, according to Raleigh attorney A.P. Carlton (pictured), who represented the Board.

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