A form book can be helpful in many ways to a practicing attorney. It provides checklists for litigation and fill-able practice forms within various areas of law that become a good starting point for lawyers, particularly were they to need to draw up a form in an area of law that is outside their practice area. It is important to remember when using this resource that forms are unique in every case and should be modified to reflect the individual defendant.
North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Forms, 5th edition, by Ronald M. Price, is a single volume resource filled with a bounty of criminal trial forms. It has a table of relevant cases, general index, and a master table of contents, not to mention individual ones at the beginning of each chapter. According to the table of contents, this form book addresses the following legal issues: stop and frisk, search and seizure, confessions and self-incrimination, double jeopardy and collateral estoppel, bonds, probable cause hearings, venue, arraignment, discovery, and motion to dismiss. Each of these issues is broken down further in the table of contents by subject matter. Under “Chapter 18: Capacity,” for example, there are forms dealing with capacity that a practitioner would need to file on behalf of a client, such as notice of defense of insanity, motion for mental evaluation, application of transfer of prisoner to a hospital, and motion questioning defendant’s capacity.
The table of cases is one of the most important features of North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Forms. The reader uses the table of cases to quickly look up and consider or cite the law used in any given form. The index, organized by a more extensive topical listing than the table of contents, includes a range of legal topics and subtopics such as age, Batson, blood, children and minors, burglary, capital cases, interpreter, voir dire, and weapons. These topical headings make it easier to locate the form relevant to your client’s situation. Additionally, the pocket part, at the back of the resource, includes the most current itineration of each form were its language and corresponding annotation to case law updated since the most recent publication. This is important because failing to submit to the court the proper form, one that is reflective of the most current and binding legal authority, is a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
To locate North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Forms, look up the electronic version of the resource in the universal search box on WestlawNext, or conduct a search for the print resource in the Charlotte School of Law Library catalog. Getting here requires the following steps: 1) access the Charlotte School of Law homepage, 2) follow the link on the left-hand side, to “Our Law Library,” 3) click on the “Library Catalog” link on the right-hand side, and 4) search within the catalog for the call number using the following search string: “North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Series.” The print version of North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Forms is located in the “Reference: Carolinas” section of the library, but unfortunately does not circulate outside of the library. It’s always nice to have remote access to the electronic version of a specific resource so that you don’t have to commute to the library, but upon my graduation this summer, the luxury of remote access will be no more and, alas, I will have to come on campus for the print resource and its electronic counterpart on WestlawNext, just like the other attorney members of the CSL library.
To demonstrate how easy and helpful this book of forms is, let’s conduct a hypothetical search. Let’s say that you are a new attorney and you wish to file a motion to suppress a coerced taped confession from your client. First, you would start in the table of contents and locate “Chapter 5: Confessions and Self-Incrimination.” It sounds like the perfect place to start, so you proceed to browse through the subtopics within the chapter. Under “motion to suppress,” you locate two different forms for motion to suppress defendant’s statements and another helpful form for motion for exclusion of involuntary admissions and confessions, but nothing relevant to the element of coercion. So, you go to the index and look up “confessions, generally.” There, you find exactly what you are looking for, just in a different chapter, a form called “Suppression Motion for Taped Confession” which has the element of coercion. After this, don’t forget to check for updates in the pocket part to complete your research effectively! Also, remember, these forms are not a “one size fits all” kind of thing. They should be modified and tailored to fit your client specifically; no two defendants are the same.
North Carolina Criminal Trial Practice Forms is an indispensable resource for any lawyer and even more so for newly admitted attorneys just learning which form to submit to which court on behalf of their respective clients.
~ Ashley Lawrence, L’14 ~
Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.