What Your Trial Court Administrator Wants You to Know, Part III: Eastern Region

By Molly Martinson and Bridget Warren

For our third and final installment of this series (you can read Part I and Part II here), we head to the coast and summarize what the TCA and TCC of New Hanover County want you to know about practicing in their county.

Rule No. 10: Know Your Local Rules (Third Time’s the Charm)

For the third time running (see Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 5), the New Hanover County TCA and TCC both stressed the importance of attorney familiarization with the local rules.  New Hanover County’s local rules can be found here and the local calendaring rules can be found here.

Rule No. 11: Look Carefully at the Applicable Calendar Prior to Submitting a Calendar Request

We’ve talked in prior installments about utilizing each county’s online resources via the N.C. Courts website, but the New Hanover County District Court TCC Lee Alexander noted attorneys often attempt to schedule hearings on the wrong date or in the wrong division (district court vs. superior court). Both the district court and superior court calendars for New Hanover County can be found here.

Rule No. 12:  Don’t Ask a Judge to Sign an Order on a Motion that Hasn’t Been Filed and Heard

One of the common mistakes New Hanover County TCA Tonya Gilley sees is attorneys submitting proposed orders to the TCA’s office that purport to rule on motions which were never filed or heard by the court. Remember that motions are not merely formalities—all motions, including motions to withdraw and motions for default judgment must be properly filed in accordance with the local rules and heard by a judge before he or she can sign an order addressing the motion.

Rule No. 13: Don’t Ask a Judge to Sign an Order Before it Has Been Signed/Reviewed by the Proper Parties

On the issue of orders, remember that you should send a proposed order to opposing counsel prior to sending it to the judge for his or her signature. That way, if any aspect of the proposed order is disputed, the dispute can be resolved in advance of the judge’s review. Along the same lines, when submitting consent motions to the TCA’s office, remember to attach the signatures of all parties or their attorneys.

Rule No. 14: Ask Questions . . . to a Point

Both the TCA and TCC of New Hanover County emphasized their willingness to field questions from attorneys related to local rules or procedures. However, remember that the TCAs cannot answer legal questions from the public or from attorneys.

Rule No. 15: Thank a TCA

OK, we admit, this is our rule not theirs. We are incredibly appreciative of our hard-working TCAs across the state. They make our lives easier as litigators, and we hope that following these tips will make theirs easier too. Next time you talk to a TCA, thank them for all that they do!