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May 30, 2012

Attorneys – Sanctions – Civil Practice – Discovery – Deposition – Corporate Representative

Billips v. NC Benco Steel, Inc. Even though defendant substituted a new person as corporate representative at plaintiff’s deposition, this did not justify plaintiff leaving the deposition. The magistrate judge’s award of sanctions against plaintiff’s counsel is affirmed.

May 21, 2012

Criminal Practice – DWI – Constitutional – Attorneys – Effective Assistance – Opening & Closing Arguments – Prior Offenses – Stipulation

State v. Rouse Even though, in his opening and closing statements, defense counsel referred to the arresting officers as “very good officers,” counsel did so in the context of arguing that everyone makes mistakes. Counsel could have reasonably made a tactical decision to refrain from challenging the officers’ general professionalism and competence, while still encouraging the jury t[...]

May 8, 2012

Labor & Employment – Unemployment Compensation – 9-Week Disqualification – Substantial Fault – Insubordination – Attorneys – Public Employees

Hershner v. Employment Security Commission Petitioner was repeatedly insubordinate to her supervisor in that she divulged confidential information to a complainant of her employer-agency without considering the possible consequences of such disclosure, violated a known policy of communicating with complainants about a determination in their case prior to the issuance of an agency determin[...]

May 3, 2012

Criminal Practice – Attorneys – Defendant’s Wishes – Frivolous Defenses – Ethics

State v. Jones Even though an attorney is bound to comply with his client’s lawful instructions, defendant sought to have his attorneys present claims that they felt had no merit. Thus, the impasse was over whether defendant could compel his counsel to file frivolous motions and assert theories that lacked any basis in fact. To do so would have been a violation of the attorneys’ profe[...]

May 2, 2012

Attorneys – Fees – Constitutional – Due Process Violations – Schools & School Boards – Alternative Schools

Rone v. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education The trial court lacked authority to award attorney fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988 when the case at issue was an action or proceeding brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 but did not involve one of the civil rights listed in that section.

Apr 12, 2012

Attorneys – Consumer Protection – Solicitation – FOIA – S.C. DMV – Car Buyers – Potential Class Action — Driver Privacy – Litigation Exception

Maracich v. Spears Lawyers who used FOIA requests to the South Carolina DMV to find plaintiff car buyers for a potential class action against car dealers for collection of unlawful fees did not violate a federal privacy statute that protects drivers’ personal information; the 4th Circuit upholds summary judgment for the lawyers who satisfied the “litigation” exception to the driver [...]

Apr 6, 2012

Labor & Employment – Public Employees – Attorneys – Administrative Agency – Confidentiality – Insubordination Allegation

Hershner v. NC Department of Administration One of the reasons given for the petitioner-attorney’s termination was her alleged violation of a known work rule: a ban on discussing the possible outcomes of investigations with complainants. However, the written rule applied only to investigators – not to attorneys – and investigators had violated the rule in the past with no disciplina[...]

Apr 3, 2012

Attorneys – Labor & Employment – Fee-Splitting Contract – Quantum Meruit – Tort/Negligence – Fiduciary Duty – RPC Violation – Client’s Costs & Expenses

Crumley & Associates, P.C. v. Charles Peed & Associates, P.A. The plaintiff-law firm’s employment agreement with its associate required the associate – if he left the firm and took a client with him – to pay plaintiff 70 percent of the fees he received from his continued representation of the client. Even though this fee-splitting agreement violated the Rules of Professional[...]

Mar 21, 2012

Attorneys – Discipline – Disbarment – Constitutional – Due Process – Complaint Allegations – Different Evidence – Real Property – Closing Document

North Carolina State Bar v. Barrett The complaint alleged a single false representation by the defendant-attorney in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct: the entry of a $7,400 loan from the seller to the buyer as a “down payment” on a HUD-1 statement, which defendant contended was approved by the lender’s loan officer Paul Johnson. However, at the hearing, the State Bar p[...]

Mar 19, 2012

Corporate – Merger – Civil Practice – Pleadings Amendment – Relation Back – Real Party in Interest – Intellectual Property – Patent Application – Tort/Negligence – Attorneys – Legal Malpractice

Revolutionary Concepts, Inc. v. Clements Walker PLLC Although an inventor had assigned his patent rights to a Nevada corporation, a North Carolina corporation hired the defendant-law firm to apply for the patents. The Nevada corporation filed this action to assert its rights as assignee. Subsequently, the two corporations merged, with the Nevada corporation being the surviving entity. The[...]

Feb 27, 2012

Attorneys – Discipline – Suspension – ‘Entrusted Property’ – Trust Account – Mistakenly Wired Funds

North Carolina State Bar v. Staples Even though $81,000 was mistakenly wired into the defendant-attorney’s trust account, the funds constituted “entrusted property” within the meaning of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Feb 23, 2012

Attorneys – Fees – S.C. Statute – Frivolous Lawsuits – Arbitration – Securities – Labor & Employment

Wachovia Securities LLC v. Brand A securities firm that lost its FINRA arbitration proceeding against former employees who left to work for a competitor winds up paying over $1 million in attorney’s fees under a South Carolina statute that penalizes frivolous lawsuits; the 4th Circuit affirms the district court order refusing to vacate the arbitration award in favor of the former employ[...]

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