Every magistrate has picked up the phone to a caller who is staying at a hotel asking if he is a tenant or a hotel guest. If it is not the occupant calling, then it is the owner of the hotel asking if they have to evict the occupant or if they can take out trespass charges. Recent legislation, S.L. 2023-5, defines “transient occupancy” in inns, hotels, motels, recreational vehicle parks, campgrounds, and other similar lodgings in a manner that may provide some clarification for callers who are owners and residents of these types of lodgings. Continue Reading
Begin reading this post by standing up.
Remain standing if you have worked in a position that has required you to interact directly and regularly with members of the public during the pandemic. Otherwise, sit down.
Remain standing if this job has required you and your colleagues to (1) apply changing guidance from the state and federal governments regarding residential evictions, (2) perform marriages, (3) stay abreast of changes in criminal law and procedure, and (4) regularly work nights and weekends. Otherwise, sit down.Continue Reading
This post was written by UNC School of Government faculty member Tom Thornburg.
Following years of discussion and drafts, a formal Rules of Conduct for Magistrates was promulgated by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) effective October 1, 2021.
In June, Session Law 2021-47 Section 13.(a) authorized the AOC to prescribe rules of conduct for all magistrates via a new G.S. 7A-171.3. It said that the rules of conduct shall include rules governing standards of professional conduct and timeliness, required duties and responsibilities, methods for ethical decision making, and any other topic deemed relevant by the AOC.Continue Reading
Personal jurisdiction, as the name implies, refers to the authority of a court over a particular person. In order for a court to have authority over someone in a civil case, three things must exist: (1) effective service of process, (2) a statute allowing the exercise of personal jurisdiction in the case (G.S. 1-75.4, North Carolina’s long-arm statute, is the relevant statute in our state), and (3) compliance with the due process clause of the federal constitution. Continue Reading
Magistrates have limited authority to file juvenile petitions and enter custody orders related to delinquent and undisciplined juveniles. Specifically, a magistrate may “draw and verify the petition and accept it for filing,” in “emergency situations” when the clerk’s office is closed and “a petition is required in order to obtain a secure or nonsecure custody order.” G.S. 7B-1804. Recently, I was invited to discuss this statutory provision with magistrates at their annual fall conference. I had assumed that most magistrates rarely, if ever, file juvenile delinquency or undisciplined petitions and expected to finish the presentation early with few questions. To my surprise, I discovered that magistrates in some counties are routinely being asked to file after hours juvenile petitions and enter secure custody orders, and they had lots of questions. Since I ran out of time trying to answer them all, I decided to write this blog post.
When a magistrate has heard evidence in a case and makes a decision based on that evidence, the formal document reflecting that decision is a judgment of the court. Form judgments for each kind of small claims case are provided by the AOC (designated as CVM forms), and they provide a valuable guide to the finding and conclusions required for a proper judgment. While the AOC forms are convenient, the law does not require their use, and some counties routinely utilize different forms. The AOC forms do reflect thoughtful decisions about what should be included in a judgment, however, and a small claims magistrate is advised to investigate further before deciding to routinely deviate from or ignore some portion of the judgment form.