Category Archives: Of Interest to Law Students

NLRB Ruling: Northwestern University Football Players are “University Employees”

protective football helmet and leather football with reflection

On March 26, 2014, an official for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Northwestern University football players are “university employees” within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act, and not simply student-athletes.[1]  The significance of this ruling is that the NLRB has directed the players to vote by secret ballot to decide whether they wish to unionize, which would force Northwestern to listen and bargain with its players on compensation/scholarship awards for playing football at the university.

Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples suggests “[this] ruling likely will have zero immediate effect. . . . and the ruling only affects players at private schools because the NLRB has no power over state-run institutions.  Still, the ruling should serve as the tipping point for the NCAA and the leaders of the schools in the five wealthiest conferences to realize it’s time to stop fighting and start bargaining.”[2]

According to the 24-page decision, between the years 2003 and 2012, Northwestern’s football program generated revenues of approximately $235 million and incurred total expenses of $159 million.  The decision also provides that scholarship players typically receive $61,000 each academic year for tuition, fees, and books.  Living-expense stipends are also provided to upper-classmen who reside off-campus; and additional funds may be provided to cover expenses such as health insurance, dress clothes for game travel, tutoring fees, and other assistance as needed.

Seemingly significant to the ruling were the facts outlined in the decision with respect to Northwestern’s control over the students in the performance of their duties as football players, who stand to lose their scholarship/aid for failing at any number of those duties.  The decision outlines duties such as: engaging in training camp six weeks before the start of the academic year, many days beginning at 5:45 a.m. and ending at 10:30 p.m.; devoting 40-50 hours per week to their football duties during the academic year in football season; obtaining permission from coaches to make living arrangements, apply for outside employment, travel off-campus, post items on the Internet, and engage in other types of activities affecting their private lives.

The docket activity[3] shows that Northwestern requested a review of the decision to the NLRB in Washington, D.C. on April 9, 2014.  The player vote is scheduled for April 25, 2014.[4]

~Shannon Reid~


[1] The full text of the “Decision and Direction of Election” by the NLRB can be downloaded at http://www.nlrb.gov/case/13-RC-121359.

[2] Andy Staples’s article is available at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-football/news/20140327/ncaa-athletes-union-ruling-northwestern/.

[3] The docket activity on this matter is available at http://www.nlrb.gov/case/13-RC-121359.

[4] The vote is scheduled at Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois on April 25, 2014, according to the Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/09/northwestern-football-team-union-vote_n_5120617.html.

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ALR Student’s Corner: The Namby Pamby

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The Namby Pamby is a comical, legal blog that light heartily pokes fun at everyday issues lawyers may face. The blog is aimed at and will completely satisfy anyone who is looking for a little bit of humor to brighten the day.  Oftentimes, the blog creator uses humor to deliver helpful information about the legal profession to his readers. When he talks about the legal profession, he demystifies its more complicated parts with concise explanations and creates analogies of his legal experiences to everyday life. This makes the blog relatable to almost anyone who reads it.

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The creator of The Namby Pamby has made the website easy to navigate with a variety of tools available to the user.  These tools include being able to search for a blog post by the month, follow the blog by email, and read past comments. The Namby Pamby currently has over 2,443 people following the blog by email. Although there are a lot of followers, few leave comments, usually no more than three per post.  The small number of comments, however, is offset by the large dose of humor within them.

For nine years, the creator of The Namby Pamby has run the blog.  He generally blogs about seven times a month, but lately his level of output has progressively decreased. It would be nice to have a daily post because the blog is so funny and a great daily pick-me-up.

I enjoy that the blog is not too long and does not take a lot of time to read, which is very important for those with a busy life. If you are looking for a humorous read that includes some insight into the legal realm, I suggest you take some time to read The Namby Pamby.

~ Courtney Rudy, L’14 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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Free Online Resources for Criminal Law & Procedure: North Carolina Defender Manual Part 2

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Here is Part 2 of our series of blogs on the free online resources available on the website of the North Carolina Court System Office of Indigent Defense Services (NCIDS).

See here for Part 1.

This blog will focus on Volume 2 of the North Carolina Defender Manual, available for free online as a pdf.

“Volume Two of the North Carolina Defender Manual, a reference in the School of Government’s Indigent Defense Manual Series, is a resource for public defenders and appointed counsel who represent poor people accused of crimes. The book focuses primarily on criminal procedure at the trial stage. Fifteen chapters cover a variety of topics such as personal rights of the defendant, selection of the jury, opening and closing arguments, witnesses, and appeals, post-conviction litigation, and writs.  This manual is also useful to others who work in the court system and who need a reference source on the law. It replaces the first edition dated 2002-2005.“

Here is the Table of Contents:

North Carolina Defender Manual Volume 2, Trial

Chapter 21:  Personal Rights of the Defendant

Chapter 22:  Duties and Conduct of Presiding Judge

Chapter 23:  Guilty Pleas

Chapter 24:  Right to Jury

Chapter 25:  Selection of Jury

Chapter 26:  Jury Misconduct

Chapter 27:  Miscellaneous Jury Procedures

Chapter 28:  Opening Statements

Chapter 29:  Witnesses

Chapter 30:  Motions to Dismiss Based on Insufficient Evidence

Chapter 31:  Mistrials

Chapter 32:  Instructions to Jury

Chapter 33:  Closing Arguments

Chapter 34:  Deliberations and Verdict

Chapter 35:  Appeals, Post-Conviction Litigation and Writs

Appendix A:  Performance Guidelines for Indigent Defense Representation in Non-Capital Criminal Cases at the Trial Level

Appendix B:  Preserving the Record on Appeal

Look for this symbol for future blogs on free online resources for criminal law and procedure:

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Come see us in the library for more resources in print and online.

~Mary Susan Lucas~

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A Study in Environmental Activism

Stand Up That Mountain: The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness along the Appalachian Trail  by Jay Erskine Leutze.

Stand Up That Mountain: The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness along the Appalachian Trail by Jay Erskine Leutze.

For anyone who loves the North Carolina mountains, the Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains… this is an all too familiar story. Jay Erskine Leutze’s first book is his account of the battle against a large gravel mine set to take down Belview Mountain in Avery County, North Carolina. Not only was the largest surface mine in the South to be located adjacent to homes in the small community of Dog Patch but also within close view of the Appalachian Trail, a federally protected park.

Jay Erskine Leutze is a non-practicing lawyer who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After law school, Leutze retreated to an “intentional” quiet life in Avery County intending to write, fish and hike. His quiet life ended in 1999 with a test blast that shook his home and a call from fourteen-year-old Ashley Cox that got him involved in a legal battle against Paul Brown and the Clark Stone Company. The case became known at the Putnam Mine case.

This book is the story of Leutze’s four year campaign that started with pulling together a legal defense team to a landmark decision upheld by the North Carolina Supreme Court. Along the way, his legal team partnered with advocacy groups such as the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Appalachian Trail Conference, and the National Parks Conservation Association to oppose the mine. In an ironic twist, they were also drawn into supporting the State of North Carolina as the state Division of Land Resources revoked Brown’s ninety-nine year mining permit, an unprecedented decision. The story clearly shows the twists and turns of multiple court battles as the case goes through the legal process.

Just as the case meanders through the court system, Leutze’s story fleshes out the importance of the area, describing in detail the scenic aspects of the mountains and the history of various parts and people like Sugar Top, a condominium complex built on the top of Sugar Mountain that resulted in North Carolina’s landmark Mountain Ridge Protection Act. Leutze’s humble tone and passion for the cause makes this an unusually attractive story. Here is a true guide to environmental advocacy.

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~Betty Thomas~

Note:  Stand Up That Mountain has been added the Charlotte Law Library’s collection and is available for check out.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Lowering the Bar

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Lowering the Bar is targeted at the legal professional, including students and practitioners. The author, Kevin Underhill, is a partner at Shook, Hardy and Bacon in San Francisco and graduated from Georgetown in 1993. His postings are humorous, yet true.  He prides himself on verifying information before he posts it to the blog, and embedding links to cited authority and other resources.

Although legal professionals enjoy the site, it is written in a very down-to-Earth way that appeals to law students and non-legal professionals, as well.  In a convenient column on the right side of the home page, Lowering the Bar offers 30 links to other outside sites. There are also links within the site to archives and useful resources such as commonly used pleadings. To ensure easy access, there is a column that lists over 50 areas of law alphabetically. This helps if you are looking for interesting items in a particular area such as animal law or environmental law.

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Lowering the Bar archives older posts and, at the end of each post, provides links to other relevant articles on the site and metadata tags. At the top of the homepage, there is also a list of recent posts.  To make following the blog easier, there is a “Follow Me” button on the home page, links to social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and several others, and an RSS feed.

My first experience with Lowering the Bar was a Google search that listed the blog among other relevant hits related to a federal case, in which police in New Mexico manually searched the anus of a man believed to be hiding drugs behind his clenched buttocks, that I had decided to research as a result of a posting on Facebook.  I went to the blog and found a post discussing the “clenched buttocks” case and other current actions, as well as, links to the original news stories and subsequent others. Lowering the Bar has posted updates to its original post, including links to the federal court filings and news coverage of the victim’s police and medical records.

Mr. Underhill generally posts every day, sometimes several posts a day. They usually discuss recent news and are interesting and informative, while still being entertaining. The recent murder investigation of an undercover agent is one example of an interesting news item that has appeared in several blog posts. The police had ruled the agent’s death due to natural causes, even though his body was found inside a locked duffel bag that had been placed in a bathtub. The blog posts several pictures of the expert witness recreating the scene by getting into a bathtub and zipping himself into a duffel bag.

I love Lowering the Bar; it is easy to use and has a lot of helpful resources. The blog also is a great place to find a little bit of humor about the sometimes, very heavy subject of law.

~ Debra Chamberlain Marshall, L’15 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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ALR Student’s Corner: Law and the Multiverse: Superheroes, Supervillains, and the Law

What Happens When Real Law is Applied to Superheroes and Supervillians?

Today, I am taking a look at a blog called Law and the Multiverse: Superheroes, Supervillains, and the Law. While fighting villains, Hulk breaks anything in his way, Superman throws Ironman through a building, and the Avengers destroy a train while trying to contain Hulk. Have you ever wondered who pays for all of that damage? Well, two lawyers who are clearly superhero enthusiasts started this blog in an attempt to answer that question.

You might be asking yourself, “Who would read a blog like this?” Well, the answer to that are legal practitioners or others interested in the law who are also comic book nerds who like superheroes and have wondered who is liable for the collateral damage once the superheroes have saved the world…again. The goal of the authors is to provide a forum where real legal principles can be applied to fun fact patterns for the purpose of explaining legal concepts. Judging by the large numbers of comments for each article, which are almost as important and informational as the articles themselves, there are many readers who enjoy learning about the law in this way.

If you are an avid reader of comic books, you may have noticed that the storylines sometimes include legal questions. In an effort to make the characters appear more realistic, the ingenious writers of comic books add sometimes subtle and sometimes blatant legal issues to the storylines for our amusement. For those who have an interest in the law behind these legal issues, this blog attempts to answer those legal questions using the fictional scenarios created in the superhero stories. If you are saying to yourself, “Who cares?” – this blog is likely not for you. But, for the rest of us comic book readers and superhero movie watchers, who recognize these legal issues and wonder how they would be resolved, here is a forum where those questions can be answered!

The authors of the blog are attorneys currently practicing in the fields of intellectual property and insurance. There is a disclaimer stating that the information contained in the blog is not legal advice or analysis, but merely legal discourse based on fictitious scenarios. Most often, when analyzing a legal issue on behalf of their Superhero clients, the authors consider laws from across the various jurisdictions, rather than rely on a single state’s laws.

The authors also analyze the charges against Supervillians for stealing intangibles, such as a Superhero’s powers. In one post, the authors consider criminal charges against Yashida were he successful in stealing Wolverine’s healing ability, particularly since, without it, Wolverine becomes mortal and faces the possibility of death. Ultimately, the authors determine that, in the very least, Yashida could be charged with some type of theft or assault depending on the jurisdiction, and could also be sentenced to life in prison. Assault is a possibility because Yashida would have to extract Wolverine’s claws and bone marrow in order to steal his powers and turn him mortal.

The authors post anywhere from two to twenty nine articles every month. Those articles are archived, and the archives are easily accessible on the right side of the home page. A reader can also navigate and browse the articles by legal category.

Readers can easily share articles and stay current with the most recent posts by clicking on the Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ icon. In each article, there are hyperlinks to internal resources, such as Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses, and external resources, which become very useful when the reader is not completely aware of what character or story the blog is referencing.

~ Jennifer Morgan, L’14 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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Copyright Questions and Answers for Information Professionals: From the Columns of Against the Grain – A Book Review

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For many information professionals, copyright fascinates and confounds. Copyright is glossed over in many classes, and librarians struggle to find clear answers to questions that arise in their practice. In the early days of a career, it is easy to blame youth for your befuddlement, but as years pass it becomes more and more difficult to plead ignorance. I have turned to a number of resources, including books, seminars, and massive online open courses, but all have skimmed over practical issues. For many librarians, copyright is simply a hurdle, not a concept to be lingered over, and swift resolutions to imperative questions are invaluable. Copyright Questions and Answers for Information Professionals: From the Columns of Against the Grain by Laura N. Gasaway goes a long way in fulfilling that need.

Gasaway, a recognized expert on copyright, has been wrangling with copyright problems for fifteen years now, answering questions from readers in a regular column in Against the Grain, the periodical offshoot of the Charleston Conferences. In her column, she addresses her audience of librarians, publishers, teachers, and authors, clearing the fog and replacing it with clear practicalities, one query at a time.

In her new offering, these questions and answers have been curated, updated, organized, and reassembled, giving readers access, in a single work, to Gasaway’s experience and expertise that was before scattered throughout her columns. Gasaway covers all the usual suspects, including fair use rights, library reserves, licensing, interlibrary loan, preservation, software, and digitization. Question-and-answer pairings are organized into topical chapters, and the book finishes with an emerging issues chapter providing current content on timely subjects such as HathiTrust and the first sale doctrine.

Each chapter features a brief introduction that provides context, but the value of the text lies in her answers to each questioner’s specific needs. While this idiosyncrasy does make the book poorly suited for cover-to-cover reading, it is perfect for quick reference. Other popular copyright texts use the question-and-answer format to show applications of broad concepts, but since the questions posed in this book are wide-ranging and true to life, it effectively provides applicable answers to specific questions. Unfortunately, this also means that when looking for concrete answers, there is no guarantee that guidance for a given question is present between the covers.

In this case, a comprehensive and exhaustive index holds the key to unlocking the precious wisdom inside this book. This is a weakness of the book. While a primarily question-and-answer format leads you to believe that this work would be well-suited for novices, specialized vocabulary or specific portions of the Copyright Acts are often indexed instead of the words used by the questioner. Underutilized cross references again hinder those without a strong knowledge base, and while excellent term definitions and clear, concise summaries of concepts are repeatedly provided throughout the text, the index does not easily lead a reader to them. Not having comprehensive keyword references may seem to avoid redundancy, but instead it limits usability. Readers will not be approaching this text with exact replicas of existing questions, but instead will need to glean their own answers through a careful reading of answers to similar inquires. Because the language of exact inquires is not carefully indexed, an e-book version of this work would be preferable, allowing readers to perform keyword searches and thus work with whatever vocabulary they have on hand.

While the index and other minor inconsistencies keep Gasaway’s content from shining as brightly as it should, Gasaway deserves great praise for her work’s greatest strength: her ability to strike a balance between handing out specific advice and teaching readers strategies to navigate the treacherous waters around best practices and general guidelines. Guidelines and fair use do not lend themselves to cut-and-dry answers, making many copyright texts full of generalizations. However, Gasaway brilliantly teaches her lessons through examples, focusing not only on the use of best practices, but also on the importance of careful risk assessment. She reminds readers that copyright is rarely a firm line, unfortunate though it seems. Instead, application of copyright law is often nebulous. Gasaway’s well-balanced advice guides readers in making their own choices, weighing their options, and choosing to overcome their copyright hurdles the way that is most appropriate for them. In this role, Gasaway is truly a master of her craft.

~Ashley Moye~

This book review first appeared in 106 Law Libr. J. 108-109 (2014).

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Resources for Professional Responsibility Courses and the MPRE

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If you are taking or preparing to take a Professional Responsibility course and/or the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), there are many helpful resources and materials at your fingertips.

The Charlotte School of Law Library has a number of professional responsibility treatises, legal periodicals, study aids, and more.  A part of the CSL Research Guide collection, Professional Responsibility outlines and describes the print treatises and e-books available to CSL students, faculty, and staff.  This collection includes major treatises, such as the Model Rules and the Restatement; study aids, including volumes from the Nutshell series; and several other popular resources.  This Guide also includes links to the CSL catalog, where users can click into full-text journals and electronic databases and search for items and articles of interest.*  The Carolinas tab includes jurisdiction-specific resources for present and future practitioners of North Carolina and South Carolina.

Another CSL Research Guide, Academic Success: Professional Responsibility, includes a listing of study materials, including Emanuel Outlines, CrunchTime, E&Es, Barbri Review, Q&As, and more.  It also provides a brief description of the different types of study aids so you can determine what may work best for you.  These items are available for check out in the CSL Law Library.

CSL students also have access to West’s Study Aids Subscription, which has 13 different e-books on the topic of legal ethics and professional responsibility.  A link to those Study Aids is available on your Westlaw homepage.  You may search by keyword or browse by subject.

Finally, on the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) MPRE website, studiers can view NCBE tips on preparing for the MPRE, a subject matter outline of the MPRE, sample test questions from the MPRE, and more.

*Off-campus access to these electronic journals and databases requires a username and password.  Your username is your Last Name, First Name (e.g., Reid, Shannon), and your password is your Library Bar Code Number, which is located on the sticker on the back of your ID badge.

~Shannon Reid~

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Filed under Books & Stuff, Careers, collection, electronic resources, Libguides, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Information, West Study Aids

ALR Student’s Corner: Real Lawyers Have Blogs

Check out Real Lawyers Have Blogs for the Scoop on Social Media and the Legal Community

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Real Lawyers Have Blogs is a legal technology blog authored by Kevin O’Keefe, LexBlog’s CEO and publisher. Through this blog, Mr. O’Keefe encourages law firms to engage in online community building and business development. His posts often stem from Twitter discussions with legal professionals, as Mr. O’Keefe is a frequent tweeter himself.

The content on the blog suggests that its target audience is law firms and lawyers. The posts on the blog widely discuss issues related to lawyers and law firms and their involvement in the online community. For example, the blog discussions range from what lawyers should put in their online profiles to what clients expect in those profiles to what lawyers think about other lawyers who use social media.  Real Lawyers Have Blogs also provides great resources like blog posts about the 10 most popular stories Tweeted during the week and a section on the “Top 10 in Law Blogs,” each providing hyperlinks to the named external blogs.  Real Lawyers Have Blogs lets its users access much of its information through internal and external hyperlinks.

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Real Lawyers Have Blogs also allows its users to stay connected through various social networking sites, including Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Additionally, followers may subscribe to all posts via RSS feed or email. The blog organizes its older posts by month and year. For instance, if a user goes to the “Archives” and selects October 2013 from the drop-down menu, she gets all of the posts from the month of October 2013, starting with the most recent one. The “Archives” goes back 10 years to October 2003.  There are only three posts from that oldest archive, versus the near daily posts of the October 2013 archive, demonstrating the substantial growth of the blog and its readership over the past decade.

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Below the day’s blog posting, there is a section that displays other blog posts authored by Kevin O’Keefe. This area displays the date posted, the name of the original host site for the blog post, a link for further reading of the post’s full text, and a link to the comments posted. To the right of this section, Mr. O’Keefe populates the page with additional articles that would interest lawyers plugged into the online community.  Some of those articles are collected in a section entitled “Best In Law Blogs” which provides a featured blog article, its date and author, and a hyperlink to the “Best In Law Blog Archives” for additional reading. Additional articles can be found in sections entitled “Events” and “New to the Network,” each with its own archives. The format of these sections is clear and easy to read. The information provided here is also a good source of reference for users who enjoy following Mr. O’Keefe’s blogs.

The contact information (address, fax, and phone) for Real Lawyers Have Blogs is at the base of the home page, along with hyperlinks to the blog’s privacy policy and disclaimer information. At the bottom of the blog, there is a great feature that allows readers to quickly access the best and most read blog articles via hyperlink from “Best of Real Lawyers Have Blogs,” “Latest Across LXBN,” and “Most Read.”

There are several ways that users can participate in the blog’s community, particularly those who have mastered the use of social media.  They can post questions or comments through LexBlog or simply fill out the required fields and send their questions or comments from the blog’s home page. A user may also click the “LinkedIn Discussion Group” button to participate in the blog’s community via LinkedIn, or “Like” the blog on Facebook.

Lawyers and law firms alike should keep abreast of the to-dos within the social media community by staying connected to Real Lawyers Have Blogs via Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, RSS feed, or email. Doing so will give lawyers an edge on social media use within the legal profession.

~ Shantel Tatem, L’14 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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April Happenings

Here’s what’s happening this month, peeps!

Easter egg hunts:

PALS Easter celebration April 13 at 3:00 pm at Freedom Park (at the Princeton Road entrance). You’ll find everyone in the Princeton shelter!

Romare Bearden Park, Independence Park, Queens UniversityLatta Plantation, Historic Rosedale Plantation, Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt, Peter Rabbit’s Garden Adventure. Charlotte on the cheap has even more!

Easter Brunch deals

Earth Day: Earth Day Play Date

Music Miley Cyrus, Miles and Coltrane, Lady Antebellum, Chevelle, Kenny Loggins, Kat Williams, Bruce Springsteen, Chick Corea, Weezer, Local Natives, Jimmy Buffett, Zucherro, Tuck Fest

Performing Arts: Othello, Other Desert Cities, Ghost the Musical, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Dances of India, Debby Boone—Swing This!, Little Red Riding Hood, All Russian, Charlotte Symphony Youth and Junior Youth Orchestras Youth Festival Concert, Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, Post Secret: the show, Blue Man Group, Peter and the Starcatcher, Tao: Phoenix Rising, Ben Sollee, Spring Forward, Star Gazer: A Trek to Outer Space

Sports: BB&T Ballpark Grand Opening, Charity Golf Tournament, Wells Fargo Championship, Queen’s Cup Steeplechase

For laughs: DL Hughley, Nikki Glaser, Doug Benson, The Rich Guzzi Comedy Hypnosis Show

For the kids: The Reluctant Dragon, The Owl who was afraid of the dark,

For the “furry” kids: Pet Palooza, Bark in the Park

Chews&Booze: Amazing Race Bar Crawl, Taste of the New South Savor the Sixties, Taste of the the Nation, $15 all you can eat crawfish boil at e2, Free cone day at Ben&Jerry’s, Alive After 5

Races: Charlotte 5k Color Vibe, TuckFest Half Marathon, Freemorewest 5k on the Greenway

Other fun events: Girls’ Night Out, Passport for Fashion, Purses with a Purpose,Record Store Day, Jillian Michaels, Tiny House Conference, Dixie Charlotte Gun & Knife Show, Charlotte Auto Fair, Hands on Charlotte Day, Kings Drive Art Walk, Better Living  Home & Garden Expo

~Jamie Sunnycalb~

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