The Chair’s Comments

By Robert Ward

HB2 will be the subject of the Constitutional Rights & Responsibilities Section’s upcoming annual CLE on Thursday, Feb. 9 at the Bar Center in Cary. During the section’s most recent council meeting, Eric Doggett, co-chair of our CLE committee, gave a brief summary and circulated a copy of the CLE program, which will focus on Session Law 2016-3 (House Bill2) Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. This program will include the following topics:  an HB2 overview; HB2 and the Constitution; HB2 and employment law; and panel discussions addressing the interplay between local and state authority and the status of pending court proceedings challenging HB2.  This CLE program will help to better understand the details of this law and its potential implications.  This program will be presented on please mark your calendars and plan to attend to earn CLE credit and learn about this timely statewide topic.

The council meeting on Nov. 17, 2016, at the Bar Center also included a great beginning with remarks from four students from The Cary Academy: Grace Jin, a senior; three juniors, Danielle Carr, Max Nunez and Margaret Velto; and their history and government teacher Maret Jones.  It continued with an explanation from them as to how they related their classroom study of the U.S. Constitution to current events.  As you might imagine, the discussion that ensued was very informative and entertaining.  One particular classroom project conducted by these students was the convening of a mock constitutional convention in which they went over the Constitution line by line in an effort to determine if and how it could be amended to better address our changing times.  Not surprisingly, these students concluded that the Constitution was very well written, and that underscores how it has withstood the test of time.  Also, when asked by the council, the students responded that they would make very few changes to this venerable document.  On behalf of the council I presented each student a certificate of appreciation, a reprint of the U.S. Constitution and a copy of the book “Constitutional Law for Kids” by Ursula Furi-Perry, published by the American Bar Association and provided by the NCBA’s Law Related Education Department.

Committee updates included Colin Shive’s report for our blog, The Constitutionalist.  He informed the council that the Sept. 2, 2016 blog post contained an article entitled, “Economic Liberty Challenges In the 21st Century” by Drew Erteschik and J. M. Durnovich. Blog Chair Colin Shive further reported that there would be forthcoming articles for our blog from students from Elon University School of Law.

Council member Michael Weisel briefly reported that he had attended an initial meeting of the task force appointed by N.C. Bar Association Immediate Past President Shelby Benton to study the internet practice of law and its regulation, HB-36:  “An Act to Further Define the Term ‘Practice of Law’ for the Purpose of Protecting Members of the Public from Harm Resulting from the Unauthorized Practice of Law by a Person Who is Not a Trained and Licensed Attorney.”  He advised that there will be additional meetings and he would keep the council apprised of any reports generated by this task force.

Under new business, council member Patricia Perkins presented a rack card that she had drafted for consideration by the council.  The rack card, similar to other cards from other NCBA’s sections, listed the Top 10 Reasons to join the NCBA’s Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section. Among the reasons listed were:  (1) professional growth, offering opportunities to engage with other professionals who are interested in promoting public awareness of our constitutional system; (2)  annual CLE program, earning CLE credit while learning about important constitutional issues and practical tips from knowledgeable speakers; (3) blog, “The Constitutionalist,” informing practitioners of current case law and legislative changes related to constitutional rights; (4) networking, providing opportunities for meeting, working with, and learning from the other professionals in the field, and (5) legislative watch, serving as a liaison with the NCBA Office of Governmental Affairs tracking pending state bills with constitutional implications.  The council suggested changes to the rack card, which will be incorporated and circulated to the council for final approval and authorization to order a supply of cards for distribution as needed for council activities and NCBA functions.

In other business, the council received an income statement fiscal year 2016-2017 for Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section and a membership report to the Board of Governors.  Financially, our section is in good shape, and as of June 2016 our Section had 175 members showing a net gain of 31 new members for the year.

I would like to express my appreciation to Kearns Davis, president of the NCBA, for attending our meeting and addressing the council and our guests from The Cary Academy and for our retiring N.C. Bar Association Executive Director Allan Head for taking time to visit with us.  As always, a big thank you is in order for our council members, committee chairs, staff Andi Bradford and Coleta Bell and many other staff members of the N.C. Bar Association for their continuing support and collective assistance in orchestrating our council meetings and making sure that our actions are effective, timely, and meaningful for members of the Constitutional Rights & Responsibilities Section as well as other members of the NCBA.