Category Archives: Advanced Legal Research

ALR Student’s Corner: Shuford North Carolina Civil Practice and Procedure with Appellate Advocacy

Introduction

A legal treatise is a scholarly legal publication that contains in-depth information related to a particular area of law. Legal treatises are authoritative secondary sources written by scholars for the purposes of providing practitioners with a “framework of analysis” and offering annotations to primary authority that stand for the rule of law.  For these reasons, treatises are great starting places for any research project.  Shuford North Carolina Civil Practice and Procedure with Appellate Advocacy (6th edition, West) (herein referenced as Shuford) by Alan D. Woodlief, Jr., Associate Dean for Admissions and Administration and Associate Professor of Law at Elon University School of Law, is one such treatise to reference when looking for detailed information concerning the practice of civil law in North Carolina.

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About Shuford North Carolina Civil Practice and Procedure with Appellate Advocacy

Shuford is a single-volume practice guide that explains and analyzes application of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. Each chapter corresponds to a particular rule of civil procedure and includes the text of the rule, an explanation of its application, interpretation of the rule by the appellate court and research references that expound on the rule. The book is divided into two parts: Part I contains Civil Procedure and Part II contains Appellate Advocacy.   This latter section is fairly new and addresses the evolving needs of attorneys by helping them to “synthesize the overlapping rules, statutes, and case law that govern North Carolina appellate practice.”  As more attorneys take-on appellate work, this guide will help them understand and navigate appellate practice.

The annotations to case law, located in the footnotes, separate Shuford from being a mere recitation of the rules of civil procedure. Relevant case law and statutory authority provide deeper insight and context to each rule and its application. Additionally, the footnotes point the practitioner to trends in the field, while also providing comparisons between the state and federal rules of civil procedure.  However, a research tool missing from Shuford are checklists which provide the practitioner with guidance for filing motions and other court documents and proceeding with discovery.

The print version of Shuford is located in the “Reference: Carolinas” section at the Charlotte School of Law library; the call number (KFN.7930.S53) can be accessed via the library catalog with the search term, “Shuford.”  The catalog additionally provides a link to the electronic version of Shuford on WestlawNext.  To access the resource on WestlawNext, drill down in accordance with the following navigational path: “Browse: All Content” > “Secondary Sources” > “North Carolina” > “Texts & Treatises” > “Shuford North Carolina Civil Practice and Procedure with Appellate Advocacy.”

How to Search Shuford North Carolina Civil Practice and Procedure with Appellate Advocacy

To demonstrate how easy and helpful this practice guide is, let’s conduct a hypothetical search.  Suppose you were looking for the appropriate form to commence a negligence action on behalf of a client.  Upon consulting the detailed table of contents, you see that “Chapter 3: Commencement of Action” discusses when a complaint is deemed filed and an action commenced.  There, you cull a better understanding of the requisite steps for the commencement of an action and find the appropriate forms, which, as per your client, is §84.3 – Complaint For Negligence.  This particular form, like the others, shows practitioners and law students the appropriate format and content pieces (i.e. terms of art, clauses, other specific language) of a multitude of legal documents.  To access this same form on WestlawNext, drill down to Shuford, select “Part I: Civil Procedure,” and then search within that part with the following search string: complaint /3 negligence.

Conclusion

Shuford North Carolina Civil Practice and Procedure with Appellate Advocacy is a great secondary source for gaining in depth knowledge, annotations, and forms related to the rules of civil practice and procedure in North Carolina.

~ Latoya Gardner, L’15 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Elements of Civil Causes of Action in North Carolina

I can only imagine what life will be like as a practicing attorney, and when I do, it often makes me nervous because work and life will be busy considering it takes a lot of commitment and excellence to stay abreast of the law which is ever changing.  But then I discovered Elements of Civil Causes of Action in North Carolina (2nd ed. 2014) by Douglas Scott MacGregor and Alyssa Rosen and published by the North Carolina Bar Association Foundation.

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This single-volume, annotated resource relieves my anxiety because, like most other practice guides, this one is put together by lawyers for lawyers to use in practice.  So, the practice guide does much of the early research for you, explaining the rule of law and any applicable exceptions in clear, concise language and offering annotations to relevant case law and statutory authority.  Elements of Civil Causes of Action in North Carolina covers 38 of the most frequently filed causes of action in North Carolina, breaking each down according to definitions, elements, defenses and remedies.  I dream that my class outlines could be as well organized as this resource.  It is important to note that this resource exists only in print; there is no electronic version.  The print version of Elements of Civil Causes of Action in North Carolina can be located in the “Reference: Carolinas” section at the Charlotte School of Law library; the call number (KFN7933 .M33 2014) can be accessed via the library catalog with the following search string: “elements north carolina.”

Using the table of contents is the quickest and most efficient way of navigating to a particular cause of action as each is presented in its own chapter.  At the end of each chapter, endnotes provide additional references to journal articles, cases, and statutes that provide background information about the particular cause of action and the legal authority that stands for the rule of law.  Chapter titles include such causes of action as assault, battery, infliction of emotional distress and negligence.   At first glance, this is a clear throwback to Torts class, but other “non-doctrinal torts” are also covered such as the cause of action called “wrongful conception, wrongful birth and wrongful life,” also known as prenatal torts.

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I had never heard of wrongful conception, wrongful birth and wrongful life, but learned from Elements of Civil Causes of Action in North Carolina that the Court of Appeals first recognized the tort in 1986.   These types of cases are usually brought by the parents of a child whose physician negligently performed an abortion or sterilization procedure or by a couple whose physician or pharmacist negligently performed a vasectomy or improperly filled a birth control prescription.  These prenatal torts are generally brought under a plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim, and the North Carolina Supreme Court has established that, to state a claim for malpractice, the plaintiff must establish the following: 1) there was a duty; 2) there was a breach of that duty; and 3) damages or injuries proximately resulted from that breach.

If you are ever working through a fact pattern that involves the alienation of affection, neglect, wrongful birth, or a similar tort, take the time to review Elements of Civil Causes of Action in North Carolina, a great resource to use when becoming familiar with an unfamiliar area of law.

~ Raeneice Taltoan, L’16 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: North Carolina Law of Damages

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What is North Carolina Law of Damages?

North Carolina Law of Damages (5th edition) is a two-volume, annotated practice guide for attorneys practicing in North Carolina. It provides a wide-range of information on damages as they pertain to such legal topics as criminal proceedings, hospital liens, personal injury, fraud and deceit, wrongful death, family torts, estates, and statutory penalties. These diverse topics represent a mere fraction of the information available in North Carolina Law of Damages, making it an enormously valuable resource for attorneys researching the law of damages in North Carolina as it applies to a multitude of civil law issues.

This practice guide is exceptionally well organized; topics are broken down further into concise sub-topics, 269 in total. Part I (Damages, Generally) contains 12 chapters and 88 subtopics, while Part II (Damages Relating to Particular Subject Areas) contains 26 chapters and 181 subtopics. This organization provides an extremely user-friendly way of searching for almost any information about damages in North Carolina.

How to Locate North Carolina Law of Damages

To locate the electronic version of the practice guide on WestlawNext, type the title in the universal search box and, once “North Carolina Law of Damages” populates in the suggestion box below, select the practice guide (note: make certain to check the “Show Suggestions” box beforehand). From there, you can choose Part I for general information on damages or Part II for more specific information on damages relating to a particular subject.  The electronic version of the practice guide might also be accessed on WestlawNext by drilling down in accordance with the following navigational path: “Browse: All Content” > “Secondary Sources” > “North Carolina” > “Texts & Treatises” > “North Carolina Law of Damages.”

The print version of the practice guide is available at the Charlotte School of Law library; the call number (KFN7595 .W66 2004 v.1) can be accessed via the library catalog with the following search string: “north carolina damages.”  The practice guide can also be purchased for $312.00 with monthly updates costing $27.00.

How to Search North Carolina Law of Damages

To demonstrate how easy and helpful this practice guide is, let’s conduct a hypothetical search.  Let’s say that a client has come to you after a trial judge set aside a jury verdict awarding him $10,000 in compensatory damages and $50,000 in punitive damages. To advise your client, you decide to determine whether the damages are considered excessive under North Carolina law. This is a more general topic, so you consult Part I of North Carolina Law of Damages. From the table of contents, you decide “Chapter 7: Amount of Damages” seems relevant to your client’s issue, and even more so, the subtopic below, “§ 7:4 – Excessive or inadequate damages.” Turning to that section in the volume, you learn the trial judge has discretionary power to set aside an award of damages if she believes that the damages are excessive or inadequate and given under the influence of passion or prejudice, or if the evidence is insufficient to justify the verdict. This does not provide much guidance as to whether your client’s award of damages might be considered excessive. However, § 7:4 goes on to state that a ruling by the trial judge on the issue of damages is within her discretion and will not be set aside except upon a showing of abuse of discretion. You can now advise your client appropriately, and you have North Carolina Law of Damages to thank for it.

~ Michelle Abbott, L’15 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Bender’s Forms of Discovery

bendersformsofdiscovery

Introduction

Discovery is a key part of a civil or criminal action because it can force an adverse party to disclose information and evidence that is essential to the preparation of the requesting party’s case.  Because discovery is a key part in any trial, there must be rules and regulations monitoring it to avoid abuse by one or both parties.  The purpose of Bender’s Forms of Discovery is to showcase all the different avenues and tools used in the discovery process today.  Since Bender’s publication in 1975, the world of discovery has drastically changed thanks to the Internet and all the technological advances our country has seen over the past 35+ years.  In most cases, the law struggles to keep up with the ever evolving world of technology.  As a subset of that issue, our legal system must address how to handle and deal with each new form of evidence through discovery, and keep pace with its constant evolution.

Background

Bender’s Forms of Discovery, authored by Matthew Bender of Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., a subsidiary of LexisNexis, is a 17 volume, loose-leaf series made up of Treatises and Interrogatories.  The Index for the Interrogatories is volume 10A which provides an index for volumes 1-10A.  The Index for the Treatises is volume 17 which provides an index for volumes 11-17.  Each volume contains its own index for that specific volume.  Each index is given section numbers based on broad topics depending on the type of discovery.  These sections are broken down further into sub-categories, providing its users with even more detailed descriptions.  For instance, within Interrogatories, the categories for the different types of discovery range from accountants to computers to products liability to slip-and-falls to zoning, while the categories for the different types of discovery, in the Treatises, range from discovery generally to production and inspection (federal and state rules) to discovery of electronically stored information.

Bender’s Forms of Discovery was last updated in 2013 and can be accessed in one of the following ways: 1) using the Browse Sources feature on Lexis Advance, search or browse by title; 2) using the Charlotte School of Law Library catalog, locate the title and then click on “Ebook” to be directly linked to the Lexis Advance site; and 3) using the call number – KF 8900.A3 – pulled from the catalog, access the print version of Bender’s Forms of Discovery in the stacks at the CSL Library.

Critique

The volume indices do a great job of grouping categories into broad topics first and then breaking those down further into chapters, subcategories, sections, and subsections.  For example, “Chapter 15: Discovery of Electronically Stored Information” is broken down into such subcategories as Scope, Understanding Electronically Stored Information, Record Retention and Disposition Policy, Litigation Response Plan Formulation Stage, Identification Stage, and Preservation Stage.  These subcategories are further broken down into detailed sections and sub-sections.  However, the Index of Treatises and the Index of Interrogatories may be slightly confusing to a layperson interested in looking up a specific topic because of how the indices refer to specific topics.  The indices refer to topics by chapter numbers and sections rather than volumes, whereas the volumes are not broken down by chapters, but rather by alphabetical categories.  So, you first have to find the appropriate volume based on your topic, and then locate the chapter and section referenced in the Index.

Example

To demonstrate how easy and helpful this form book is, let’s conduct a hypothetical search.  Suppose I were a corporate attorney and had a client who is being charged with embezzlement.  Because electronic data on computers, hard drives, and other storage systems will be sought by opposing counsel, I have a moral and ethical duty to ensure that no evidence is destroyed pending litigation.  I can locate my duties as the defense attorney by using Bender’s Forms of Discovery; within Chapter 15 discussing electronically stored information, I learn everything I need to know about these duties as they pertain to this specific form of discovery.  To get there, I locate Volume 17 because it contains the Chapter 15 discussion about electronically stored information.  Within the table of contents for Chapter 15, I locate the topic “Preservation Stage” and within that, § 15.63[1]0 providing a full description and analysis of the attorney’s responsibilities to advise a client of her duty to preserve, with annotations to primary and secondary authorities.

~ Courtney Carter, L’14 ~

  Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Arrest, Search, and Investigation in North Carolina

Introduction

Are you a solo practitioner looking for cases to support your client’s unlawful search and seizure? Are you a judge wondering how to correctly apply the law to defendants involved in criminal matters? Or, are you a new police officer eager to carry out your duties within the law, or one looking to fill-out the proper form subsequent to the search of a vehicle? Regardless of your law enforcement role, the resource for you is Arrest, Search, and Investigation in North Carolina by Robert L. Farb, an annotated practice guide that analyzes issues of criminal law and procedure in North Carolina, specifically the law of arrest, search and seizure, and rules of evidence.

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Content of the Guide

Arrest, Search, and Investigation in North Carolina, currently in its fourth edition, is published by the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The practice guide is designed to help law enforcement and legal professionals, including judges, public defenders, police officers, law students and law professors, apply federal constitutional law and North Carolina state law as each pertains to arrest, search and seizure, and post-arrest procedures.  Within this practice guide, you will find comprehensive and relative treatment of North Carolina criminal law and procedure, insight into the practical issues of policing, and advisement within the legal field.  The practice guide further breaks down the probable cause requirements necessary to satisfy the Constitution, details the elements and factors of proof of various crimes, and annotates with case law from the United States Supreme Court (highest federal authority), NC Supreme Court (highest state authority) and NC Court of Appeals.

The practice guide is located in the “Reference: Carolinas” section, on the fifth floor of the Charlotte School of Law library.  Taking the search string – “arrest search” – into the CSL library catalog gives you the call number (KFN 7976.F37 2011) for the exact location on the shelf; a reference librarian or student workers at circulation are also there to assist.

Organization of the Guide

Inside the practice guide, there is a general table of contents listing the six chapters and chapter titles. There is a more detailed table of contents for each chapter highlighting the particular subtopics discussed. At the end of chapters two through five, there are appendices for case summaries, and at the back of the book, an index of cases in the case summaries and a subject index. Additionally, the practice guide includes forms that address such criminal procedure issues as search warrants for the search of the home, car, or person (i.e. blood samples when a DUI offender refuses a Breathalyzer), administrative inspections, and non-testimonial identification orders.

Best Way to Navigate the Guide

The general table of contents and the chapter-specific ones make it a breeze to navigate Arrest, Search, and Investigation in North Carolina. For instance, suppose you have a client who questions the lawfulness of a recent police search of his home.  Upon browsing the general table of contents for the search term “Arrests,” you are directed to Chapter 2 which deals with the law of arrest and investigative stops.  This seems relevant to your client’s issue, and upon perusing the table of contents specific to Chapter 2, you discover there are discussion and analysis of the rule of law related to entering a premises to arrest, with annotations to relevant case law and statutory authority.  Additionally, you might consider navigating the practice guide via the subject index, which is organized alphabetically.  For instance, were the same hypothetical client from above searched and frisked on the street, locating “frisk,” under the “F” column of the subject index, leads you to analysis of the rule of law related to stop-and-frisks (i.e. definitions, lawful versus unlawful Terry stops, annotations).

Conclusion

Arrest, Search, and Investigation in North Carolina is an excellent source to consult when involved in any field of criminal law, from investigating crimes to administering justice.

~ Shante’ Burke, L’14 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: The North Carolina Defender Manual – Pretrial and Trial

The North Carolina Defender Manual is part of a collection called the North Carolina Indigent Defense Manual Series.  The series serves to provide comprehensive, up-to-date reference materials to attorneys who defend indigent clients.  The Defender Manual has two volumes: volume one addresses the intricacies of pretrial criminal procedure, while volume two provides materials for the trial level.  Each volume includes a complete table of contents at the beginning of the manual, as well as, a more in-depth table of contents at the beginning of each chapter.  The Defender Manual is funded by and made available for free online through the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services.

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Volume one was authored by John Rubin, also the series editor, and Alyson A. Grine.  John Rubin has been with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Government since 1991.  He specializes in criminal law and procedure and indigent defense education.  Alyson A. Grine has been with the School of Government since 2006 where she serves as defender educator.  Volume two was authored by John Rubin and Julie Ramseur Lewis.  Ms. Lewis has served as an assistant public defender in Charlotte since 1993.

The first volume has 15 chapters that include the following issues related to pretrial criminal procedure: pretrial release, probable cause hearings, discovery, grand jury proceedings, jurisdiction, venue, suppression motions, and stops and warrantless searches.  Case law authority includes decisions through June 30, 2013 and statutory authority, through the end of the 2013 session of the North Carolina General Assembly.  Volume two, current through February 2012, includes the following issues related to criminal procedure at the trial stage: personal rights of the defendant, guilty pleas, jury selection, opening statements, closing arguments, and appeals, post-conviction litigation, and writs.

The manual cites to all relevant case law and statutes.  It lays out the elements of rules in easy-to-read bullet form and then provides an in-depth explanation of the rule.  Throughout the volumes, you will find helpful charts, forms, and other materials. Volume two includes Performance Guidelines for Indigent Representation in Non-Capital Criminal Cases at the Trial Level which acts as a training tool to help practicing attorneys provide quality representation to indigent defendants.  Additionally, the manual includes practice notes that provide instruction for problems that may arise during representation. For example, consider the following practice note below:

Volume two includes about twice as many practice notes as volume one.  But, unlike volume two, volume one includes legislative notes that detail any changes made to the statutes during the 2013 session.

Because this practice guide is available for free online through the Office of Indigent Defense Services’ website, it has the advantage of providing external links to helpful forms and websites, as exemplified below.

Although it places a special emphasis on indigent clients, the North Carolina Defender Manual is a great resource for any attorney practicing criminal defense.  It reads much like one of the many study aids that law students come to know very well.  It is a one-stop-shop for the key legal principles and practice pointers at every stage of litigation. The manual also provides checklists, fillable practice forms, sample questions, and many other helpful practice materials.  It is a great reference guide for anyone who is interested in criminal law.

~ Lindsey Cox, L’14 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: North Carolina Estate Settlement Practice Guide

In general, practice guides are secondary sources that aid and guide lawyers through the understanding of a particular area of the law.  In addition to explaining an area of law, practice guides often times provide useful forms and tips, as well.

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North Carolina Estate Settlement Practice Guide covers the topic of estate settlement in North Carolina.  The practice guide begins with a checklist that chronologically goes over the steps for settling an estate, and then, over the course of 36 chapters, examines each step, starting with becoming a personal representative and ending with tort actions involving wills and related documents.

Additionally, the practice guide provides useful tips and forms.  For instance, in Chapter 2, there are numerous forms to aid a lawyer in becoming the personal representative of an estate.  These forms and letters, such as the Application for Probate and Letters, will be very helpful to a new lawyer who may not know how to locate such information.

Part of the Charlotte School of Law Library catalog and available for purchase for $259, North Carolina Estate Settlement Practice Guide is also accessible via WestlawNext.  Simply search for the title in the universal search box or drill down within the database in accordance with the following navigational sequence: “Secondary Sources” > “North Carolina” > “North Carolina Texts & Treatises” > “North Carolina Estate Settlement Practice Guide.”  The practice guide is currently in its second edition and was last updated on WestlawNext in March 2014.

To demonstrate how easy and helpful this practice guide is, let’s conduct a hypothetical search.  Let’s say that you are a new attorney and you wish to determine how the laws and courts of North Carolina treat illegitimate children. After considering several different search terms, you decide to take “illegitimate children” into the index of the practice guide.  The index then directs you to § 20-20 where you find a general overview of the topic and references to relevant statutory and case law authority.

North Carolina Estate Settlement Practice Guide offers concise overviews of the relevant law and provides helpful practice tips for lawyers who practice in (or wish to learn) estate law in North Carolina.

~ Marci Gattis, L’ 14 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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