• Who Can Access a Delinquency or Undisciplined Juvenile Court Record?

    I have had the pleasure of working here at the School of Government for eight months now. In that time I have gotten some interesting questions about North Carolina’s delinquency laws. Most often, those questions relate to the confidentiality of juvenile court records. When I first read the statute – G.S. 7B-3000 – I thought it was an open and shut case. Unless you are on the list of people allowed access without a court order, access can only be allowed pursuant to a court order. But then the questions started to come in. Who exactly is the juvenile’s attorney under this statute? Can any prosecutor access juvenile records any time? Can a federal court order disclosure of a North Carolina juvenile record? On what basis can courts order release of juvenile records? It turns out that it’s not open and shut at all. Here is what I have learned so far. Continue Reading

  • Grandparent visitation: termination of parent’s rights does not terminate grandparent’s court ordered visitation

    The court of appeals recently reversed a trial court decision that a judgment terminating a mother’s parental rights voided a court order entered five years earlier granting her mother visitation with her grandchild. In Adams v. Langdon, (NC App March 19, 2019), the court of appeals held that the termination of the mother’s rights had no impact on the visitation rights the trial court ordered for grandmother before mother’s rights were terminated.

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  • Juvenile Justice Changes in Federal Law

    The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA) is the central federal law that establishes core requirements for state juvenile justice systems. 34 USC §111. In return for compliance with these core requirements, the statute authorizes federal funding for states to use in their juvenile justice systems. The JJDPA expired in 2007 and was recently reauthorized in the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018. Public Law No 115-385. The reauthorized statute made several significant amendments to the JJDPA. In this blog post I will discuss three of the highlights: a new focus on evidence-based and promising programs and practices, changes in the disproportionate minority contact core requirement, and new requirements regarding identification and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. Continue Reading

  • Big Changes to Appeals of A/N/D – TPR Orders Designated in G.S. 7B-1001

    On January 1, 2019, the process to appeal abuse, neglect, dependency (A/N/D) and termination of parental rights (TPR) orders designated in G.S. 7B-1001 changed significantly. Amendments to G.S. 7B-1001 now require that some orders be appealed directly to the NC Supreme Court, bypassing the Court of Appeals (COA). Other orders have new notice of appeal and timing requirements. Amendments to the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure (Rules) also became effective on January 1st and impact appeals of all orders including those designated in G.S. 7B-1001.

    Last week, I attended the Supreme Court’s CLE program, “Information about Termination of Parental Rights Cases and the Rules of Appellate Procedure.” As I listened to the justices and other speakers, I started to hear David Bowie singing “ch-ch-ch-changes.” There are a lot of changes and procedures that you need to know. Continue Reading

  • A Frequent Flyer in Estates: The Spousal Year’s Allowance


    If I had to guess, I would say the most common filing in a decedent’s estate is the year’s allowance.  Last year in NC, there were 18,000 filings for a year’s allowance.   There are two types of year’s allowance: one for children of the decedent and one for the spouse of the decedent.  This post focuses on some basics of the spousal year’s allowance. Continue Reading

  • “You’ve Been Served?”: Private Process Servers in North Carolina

    According to Hollywood, court process is served by guys wearing backward baseball caps pretending to deliver pizzas. They roll up, toss a summons-stuffed cardboard box at an unsuspecting defendant-to-be, then ride away proclaiming, “You’ve been served, dude!” (Remember Seth Rogan practicing for the gig in Pineapple Express? Oh, wait. I mean, no, I haven’t watched that movie either.)

    Of course this isn’t how private process servers really do things. Even in states where private process servers are authorized to do this work, they typically have to follow a tighter set of rules. But in North Carolina, things are even stricter—the use of private process servers is very limited in the first place.  In most cases, the sheriff is the proper service agent for personal service of summonses, and the sheriff must refuse or neglect to serve, or must actually try and fail to effectuate service, before private process servers come into play.  Locklear v. Cummings, 822 S.E.2d 587, 593 (N.C. Ct. App. 2018); N. Carolina State Bar v. Hunter, 217 N.C. App. 216, 224 (2011). Continue Reading

  • Getting Ready for Raise the Age Implementation

    North Carolina now sits ten months away from implementation of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (JJRA), widely referred to as “Raise the Age.” I had the opportunity to attend a summit hosted by Justice Initiatives in Charlotte last week focused on readiness for raise the age implementation. The recent report from the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee (JJAC) is full of information about what still needs to be done for optimal implementation. The recommendations contain two major themes: provide legislative fixes to avoid unintended consequences and fully fund the new system. Continue Reading

  • New Listserv Available for Appointed GAL Attorneys: Subscribe Now!

    I am excited to announce our new listserv for appointed guardian ad litem (GAL) attorneys in G.S. Chapter 35A adult guardianship cases. This new listserv administered by the School of Government is available for guardian ad litem (GAL) attorneys appointed in G.S. Chapter 35A adult guardianship proceedings across North Carolina.

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  • What the law says about ex parte custody orders

    While there are no doubt numerous ex parte custody orders entered by North Carolina courts daily throughout the state, there is very little appellate guidance regarding the circumstances under which such orders are appropriate and regarding the procedure that should be followed after such an order has been entered. Because these orders are interlocutory and not subject to immediate appeal, we probably never will have much case law to direct us.

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