• Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Findings Required in Delinquency Adjudication Orders

     

    Last month the Court of Appeals held in In re J.A.D., 2022-NCCOA-259, that the findings in an adjudication order were deficient because they did not include an affirmative statement by the court, beyond the pre-printed language on the form, that the allegations in the petition were proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Given the minimal legal requirements for delinquency adjudication orders, drafting them can sometimes feel like a largely ministerial duty. However, this appellate decision is a good reminder that adjudication orders in delinquency cases must contain certain essential findings of fact.

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  • Alimony:  the court can order security for the future payment of an award but probably not by life insurance

    As with child support, spousal support orders are most often enforced by contempt after a supporting spouse has failed to comply with the order. G.S. 50-16.7(j)(postseparation support and alimony are enforceable by civil and criminal contempt). However, G.S. 50-16.7 sets out other mechanisms that can be used as an alternative or in conjunction with contempt to enforce support orders when an obligor fails to pay. That statute also sets out several mechanisms for securing the future payment of an alimony award at the time the court orders that support be paid. Several of those mechanisms are authorized by G.S. 50-16.7(b), which states broadly that

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  • It is time to review the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines

    N.C. Gen. Stat. 50-13.4 requires the North Carolina Conference of Chief District Court Judges to prescribe uniform statewide presumptive guidelines for determining the child support obligations of parents, and to review the guidelines periodically (at least once every four years) to determine whether their application results in appropriate child support orders. The Conference of Chief District Court Judges currently is reviewing the statewide presumptive child support guidelines.

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  • How to Comply with Federal Confidentiality Laws When Reviewing Comprehensive Clinical Assessments in Delinquency Cases

    Comprehensive clinical assessments (CCA’s) are frequently completed—and sometimes required—prior to ordering a disposition in a delinquency matter. G.S. 7B-2502(a2). You can find more information about when the statutory requirement is triggered in a previous blog.  CCA’s contain information about the juvenile’s mental health and they may also contain information about substance use disorder treatment. These kinds of information are covered by federal confidentiality laws that are not specifically addressed by the Juvenile Code. While the federal laws generally prohibit disclosure absent a valid patient authorization, courts can order disclosure after following the required procedure and making certain findings. The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) recently released new and revised forms that are structured to provide the court access to CCA’s while complying with the requirements of federal confidentiality laws. This post explains why and how to use the new and revised forms. Continue Reading

  • Goodbye Dolly, Hello Chad

    We wish we were singing Hello Dolly but, as you may have heard, Dolly Whiteside, longtime Chief Special Counsel with the Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS) retired on March 31 after FORTY-THREE YEARS of public service. In her work, Dolly focused primarily on civil commitment, incompetency, and guardianship matters. She has been a tireless advocate, not only for the people whose lives are at stake in those proceedings, but also for the hardworking and dedicated attorneys who represent them. Dolly has been a valued partner to our Public Defense Education team at the School of Government, always willing to lend her expertise and insight when answering legal questions and collaborating on countless educational programs over the years. We will miss her tremendously. Dolly, enjoy retirement—you have more than earned it—but please come back and say Hello.

    As sad as we are to see Dolly go, we are equally excited about the appointment of Chad Perry as Chief Special Counsel at IDS. Chad spent close to a decade working as an assistant public defender in Durham County, where he represented clients charged with misdemeanors and felonies as well as clients in civil commitment and youth drug treatment courts. Chad also served as an attorney with the Office of the Inspector General and with the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council. Most recently, Chad represented respondents in commitment hearings in Wake County for the Office of Special Counsel.

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  • More on Single Protective Arrangements and Single Transactions under G.S. Chapter 35A

     

    Recently, the School of Government offered a webinar on single protective arrangements and single transactions under G.S. 35A-1121, which was enacted into law by Session Law 2021-53 and applies to proceedings initiated on or after October 1, 2021. Meredith Smith and Timothy Heinle of the School of Government joined Catherine Wilson, an attorney with McPherson, Rocamora, Nicholson, Wilson & Hinkle, PLLC, and Matt Kraus, legal counsel with the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, to discuss some of the key questions and issues raised by this new law. Clerks of superior court, guardian ad litem attorneys, private attorneys, and directors, attorneys, and social workers from various departments of social services across the state participated in the webinar.

    A recording of the webinar can be found here, where the presentation can be viewed for free. In the coming weeks, the video will be added to the online training library  for the SOG’s Public Defense Education group, which will offer the option of purchasing access to the webinar for CLE credit.

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  • NC Supreme Court Addresses Jurisdiction in TPRs of Out-of-State Parents

    In the last two years, the North Carolina Supreme Court has published two opinions that answer questions raised about whether a North Carolina district court has personal and/or subject matter jurisdiction to terminate the parental rights of a parent who lives outside of North Carolina. Both opinions are cases of first impression. Both opinions held that the district court had personal jurisdiction over the respondent parent. One opinion held the district court also had subject matter jurisdiction in the TPR action. Both opinions affirmed the challenged TPR orders. Both opinions overturn previous court of appeals opinions on the issues raised. Here’s what you need to know. Continue Reading

  • Apples to apples? The issue-preclusive effect of federal dismissals for failure to state a claim

    Although the vocabulary of preclusion can be convoluted, the core concept is not: preclusion prevents relitigation of matters that have already been decided. The doctrine is intended to protect both litigants and the courts from unnecessary litigation and to respect the finality of judgments. You might think of it as a policy against allowing a second bite at the apple.

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  • GiveUNC

    Today is GiveUNC, the University’s annual day of giving. As Dean Mike Smith is set to step down as Dean at the end of this year, today we are celebrating his 30 years of leadership at the School. The message below invites you to honor his service and legacy with a gift supporting the Mike R. Smith Dean’s Greatest Needs Fund which will provide unrestricted funds that will allow the School to support and address current needs and issues facing North Carolina. The importance of today is less about the amount raised and more about the number of donors – a testament to the value of the School and what we do.

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  • GiveUNC

    Today is GiveUNC, the University’s annual day of giving. As Dean Mike Smith is set to step down as Dean at the end of this year, today we are celebrating his 30 years of leadership at the School. The message below invites you to honor his service and legacy with a gift supporting the Mike R. Smith Dean’s Greatest Needs Fund which will provide unrestricted funds that will allow the School to support and address current needs and issues facing North Carolina. The importance of today is less about the amount raised and more about the number of donors – a testament to the value of the School and what we do.

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