On October 13, 2021, the North Carolina Supreme Court adopted amendments to the Rules of Appellate Procedure. These changes will be in effect for appeals taken on or after January 1, 2022. A few of these amendments were directly caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and some were accelerated by it. Below are some major changes that will take effect.
Record on Appeal defined (Rule 9). The first major change involves the Record on Appeal. The amendment inserts language that defines what is in the Record: “…the printed record, transcripts, exhibits and other items included in the record on appeal pursuant to Rule 9(d), any supplement prepared pursuant to Rule 11(c) or Rule 18(d)(3), and any additional materials filed pursuant to this Rule 9.” Therefore, all further references to “the printed record” indicates the materials and documents that are further described in Rule 9.
Exhibits (9(d)). The section on exhibits was also amended in a major way. The new rule now defines copies of exhibits, and a separate section (2) governs “original” exhibits. The rule gives preference for copies rather than originals. Additionally, originals cannot be sent to the Court without the Court’s prior approval upon the filing of a motion that also explains why the original is required. Then, if the original is sent to the Court, a brief description of each original exhibit or item must be included as part of the Record, pursuant to Rule 9.
Timeline and items that need to be filed in Record on Appeal (Rule 12). After the Record is settled pursuant to Rule 11, the appellant has 15 days to file the Record with the Court. With the new definition and list of items that came with the amended Rule 9 comes further explanation of what needs to be filed in 15 days: it applies only to “the printed record, transcripts, copies of exhibits and other items included in the record on appeal pursuant to Rule 9(d), and any supplement prepared pursuant to Rule 11(c) or Rule 18(d)(3).” It does not include “original exhibits” and items.
Filing (Rule 26). Wholesale changes were also made to Rule 26 that governs the filing system. Newly added is a REQUIREMENT that counsel file documents with the Court ELECTRONICALLY (except when a technical failure occurs). A document/item is filed when it is received by the electronic-filing website. Pro se parties are encouraged to file electronically, but they are not required to do so, unlike attorneys.
Virtual oral argument (Rule 30). Very likely as a result of the pandemic, the Court has allowed for the opportunity to hold oral arguments by “audio and video transmission.” Parties may make a motion explaining why the Court ought to conduct the oral argument remotely/virtually. There will likely be updates to the website to accommodate the new requirements for filing, and hopefully they will continue to make the appeals process more streamlined.
These amendments bring some welcome changes and clarifications to the Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Rules remain very technical, and this is just a summary of some changes. For a thorough reading of the Rules, please contact an experienced appellate attorney for your family law appeal.