Chief Justice Cheri Beasley Extends COVID-19 Modifications to Court Operations

By Adam Banks

As most of you are painfully aware, it doesn’t appear that the coronavirus or the statewide coronavirus restrictions we have been living with since March are going away anytime soon.

Just this week, Gov. Cooper announced a new Executive Order to limit alcohol sales at restaurants after 11 p.m. Although it received much less media attention, this week also included a new Order from Chief Justice Beasley extending Emergency Directives 2-8 until August 28.

The new order simply extends current restrictions, but as a refresher, practitioners may expect the following modifications to court operations:

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When Is A Settlement Agreement A Final Settlement Agreement?

By Charles George

The North Carolina Business Court lists on its website Orders of Significance—unpublished Business Court opinions “regarding a matter of significance.” Although Judge Gale’s order on the enforcement of a settlement agreement last month in Howard, et al. v. Iomaxis, LLC, 20 NCBC 36 did not make the list, it nevertheless serves as a good reminder for practitioners: a mediated settlement agreement leaving additional terms to be memorialized later may result in an unenforceable agreement.

To me, the most interesting part of Judge Gale’s order in Howard was not the conclusion— because as discussed below, the parties did not agree on all material terms, and thus he refused to enforce the settlement agreement—but a citation to N.C. Nat’l Bank v. Wallens, 26 N.C. App. 580, 583 217 S.E.2d 12, 15 (1975). This case was decided well before mediation became mandatory in North Carolina and states that a “reference to a more ‘complete’ document does not necessarily indicate that material portions of the agreement have been left open for future negotiation. It could mean only that immaterial matters, which are of no consequence, will be added to complete the agreement.”

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Catharine Arrowood Receives The Advocate’s Award

By Marilyn Forbes

Congratulations to Catharine Biggs Arrowood, the 12th recipient of The Advocate’s Award and the first to receive the award virtually via Zoom presentation, on Friday, June 19, 2020. The Advocate’s Award is presented by the North Carolina Bar Association’s Litigation Section as merited to recognize members who are the “superstars” of our Bar.

The Advocate’s Award recognizes litigators who 1) have the highest ethical standards; 2) have shown great skill and ability as a litigator/trial lawyer and commitment to the very best work product; 3) demonstrate a true commitment of service to clients; 4) demonstrate a respect for and love of the law; 5) are held in the highest regard by both bench and bar; 6 ) are dedicated to the community and the bar with a track record of pro bono or volunteer service; and 7) serve as an example of how to effectively balance both outstanding professional performance and other life endeavors.

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Be a Part of Our Team – the Litigation Section Needs You!

By Rick Conner

Thank you all for being members of the Litigation Section! As you know, your Section membership offers numerous benefits, such as networking opportunities, discounted CLE rates, and the opportunity to read and publish on our blog.

Because of COVID-19, we are living in strange and challenging times, unlike anything any of us have ever seen during our careers. Attorneys, judges, courthouse officials, legal staff, and our clients are all doing their best to adapt to social distancing and public health recommendations that make operating a business and maintaining a litigation practice much more difficult. New rules and recommendations are being written and revised nearly every week, and it is a constant challenge to stay up to speed on the latest developments.

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New COVID-19 Orders from Chief Justice Beasley on Civil Court Operations

By PJ Puryear

Chief Justice Beasley just rolled out her newest orders on the courts.

You can read about them here, but below are the highlights that should be of interest to North Carolina litigators:

Filing, Deadlines, and Statutes of Limitation/Repose

  • Filings due pursuant to statutes of limitation or repose are extended until July 31.
  • Filings and actions due in civil matters that had been previously extended are due June 1.
  • Filings by mail are encouraged and clerks may require filings be dropped off rather than submitted face-to-face at a service counter as well as reduce hours/require appointments.
  • To encourage filing by mail, a 5-day grace period will be provided for documents delivered by mail.

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COVID-19 Eviction Assistance Project – Help Those Who Are in Jeopardy of Losing the Most

By Will Quick

Dear Litigation Section Members:

We know better than most how great a disruption the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to the legal system. Trials have been postponed indefinitely, motions are just starting to be heard remotely, and how we connect with, advise, and counsel our clients is so very different than it was just two months ago.

While we litigators want the courts to open up as soon as is safely possible, the reopening of the Courts carries a whole different significance for many North Carolinians. For many in our state, the reopening of the courts—particularly the Small Claims Court—represents the moment when they must face the reality of eviction proceedings stemming from an inability to pay residential rent due to the impact of COVID-19 on their personal financial situations.

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COVID-19 Update

By Martha J. Efird

Formed by Chief Justice Beasley, the COVID-19 Judicial Task Force (Task Force) comprised of members of our judiciary, other court officials, and members of the bar has met twice to anticipate, identify, and discuss issues related to the transition of our courts back to full operations. The next meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m., May 13, 2020, and may be livestreamed. Additional Task Force information is available.

While the Task Force addresses issues statewide, our judicial districts are working tirelessly to develop plans and procedures for the resumption of local court functions in keeping with the directives of our Chief Justice, our Governor, and health care advisors. As judicial districts make information available, we will share it with this practice section. The statewide judicial conferences remain scheduled for the week of June 15, 2020.

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A New Chief Justice Beasley Order, Session Law 2020-3, and the Court Wants Your Help!

PJ Puryear

Kellie Myers

By PJ Puryear and Kellie Myers

Good morning, everyone! There are three important new developments that we want to ensure you know.

1. Chief Justice Beasley’s Newest Order
As most of you know by now, last Friday Chief Justice Beasley issued a new Order regarding the administration of justice during COVID-19. Every part of that Order is incredibly important, extending the Chief Justice’s prior directives out to June 1, clarifying the procedure regarding remote hearings, and much more. We recommend every attorney and paralegal read this Order in full. Click here to read it.

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Chief Justice Further Extends Deadlines for North Carolina Court Filings, Acts, and Limitations Periods

By Jacob Morse

On March 19, 2020, Chief Justice Beasley of the Supreme Court of North Carolina entered an order extending deadlines for filings and actions to be done in North Carolina trial courts which were set to be filed or done between March 16, 2020 and April 17, 2020.  This blog summarized that order and several subsequent related orders entered by the Chief Justice and the Chief Judge of the North Carolina Business Court.

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New Order Closes State Courts Through May 1 (if not June 1) For Most Business

By Kevin Stanfield and PJ Puryear

A few days ago, we provided the section an update on extensions and closures due to COVID-19. With another week comes yet another update, this by way of an Order from Chief Justice Beasley.

Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 7A-39(b)(2), Chief Justice Beasley has issued seven emergency directives which we have summarized below. The Order itself is not long, and we highly encourage everyone to read it, to ensure your staff and firm are familiar with the changes it provides, and we also strongly encourage you to make your clients aware of how this affects not only proceedings that may be pending, but their accessibility to our state courts for the next 30 if not 60 days.

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