In North Carolina, parties to a case may be able to file an appeal if they believe the trial court made a mistake of law or legal procedure. Appeals courts analyze decisions by the trial courts to determine if the law was applied appropriately and to ensure there were no conduct errors. There are a few potential rulings that the appeals court can make. Continue reading →
AMAN V. NICHOLSON, 2023-NCCOA-________ (2023).
- Facts: Plaintiff and Defendant are parents of a minor child. They separated in fall of 2019. Plaintiff filed for custody, and a temporary order was entered. The temporary order granted joint legal custody (decision making) and primary physical custody to Plaintiff, visitation to Defendant. It further required each party to obtain and exchange psychological evaluations and to attend counseling. Eventually, the custody matter was set for trial in spring of 2021. On the first day of trial, Defendant provided a list to Plaintiff containing three expert witnesses that he planned on calling to testify. Defendant also provided the witnesses’ CVs and the written reports of two of the witnesses. Plaintiff objected and wanted to exclude the expert testimony. The trial court agreed, and entered an Order that excluded Defendant’s three expert witnesses from testifying. When trying to settle the record on appeal, Defendant wanted the CVs and written reports of the experts included, while Plaintiff objected to their inclusion. In judicial settlement of the record, the trial court ordered that the reports and CVs not be included. Defendant appealed.
In re J.J.H., Supreme Court of North Carolina, No. 430A19, December 18, 2020
This is Respondent Mother’s Appeal to the termination of her parental rights.
- Facts: Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) filed petitions alleging that three of the five minor children involved were neglected and dependent juveniles. The remaining two minor children were alleged to be neglected juveniles. The agency reported receiving eleven reports on this family between October 2011 and February 2016. DHHS had substantiated nine of these reports. The reports alleged inadequate supervision. DHHS found that the two-year-old female was taken to the hospital twice for burns to her hands, arms, and buttocks. The five-year-old male received a school suspension for hitting and kicking daycare teachers. The Respondent Mother’s elderly grandmother, who suffered from seizures, reported that the mother had left the children in her care without permission. DHHS found that the respondent-mother left the children alone in the home only supervised by a five-year-old. Reports included the child drawing pictures of sexual acts, explaining human anatomy to classmates, attempting to engage in sexually inappropriate conduct with siblings, and describing acts of sexual abuse by an older cousin, who also acted as an overnight caregiver. The respondent-mother missed multiple medical appointments for one minor child that suffered from a large mass in his nose. The children were returned to school when the respondent mother failed to be present when they arrived home on the bus. DHHS reports noted the home’s utility services were disconnected.
NC Court of Appeals (No. COA20-545)
Grace DiPrima (“Plaintiff”) and Clifton Benjamin Vann, V (“Defendant”) were the best of friends. Their friendship began in the third grade, and the two stayed friends throughout grade school and beyond. Plaintiff and Defendant attended The Fletcher School (“Fletcher”), an educational institution for children with learning differences. Plaintiff and Defendant would contact each other through various means, including text messages, Instagram, phone conversations, etc. However, by 2018, Plaintiff disclosed to her parents that the relationship had become more volatile. Plaintiff stated that some of Defendant’s recent actions made her feel uncomfortable. Between July 2018 and November 2018, Plaintiff and Defendant exchanged messages concerning suicide. Continue reading →
Appeals are very technical. In the last blog, we covered the beginning sections of an appellate brief. There is opportunity to fashion a primer for argument with the presentation of facts and issues. However, be forewarned: omissions of bad facts and argumentative spin on the facts is improper and will hurt the credibility of the attorney. Continue reading →
Appeals are very technical. Last time, we covered the technicalities in a Record on Appeal. Now we address the appellate brief. The Brief is where the case is won or lost. It contains the arguments of counsel on why the appellate court should overturn the court below. As one can imagine, an argument is made in writing is very different from arguments made orally. Over time, the appellate courts have adopted uniform rules on how to present an argument in a brief, which makes things more efficient and consistent. Continue reading →
Appeals are very technical. A filing with the Court of Appeals can happen after a final judgment, or as an interlocutory appeal—meaning before the final judgment. But in order for the Court of Appeals to properly hear your case, you have to provide them with all the facts. The Court of Appeals is not a fact-finding court; you are bound by the facts that were presented in the trial level, and further bound by the facts that you present to the Court. Those facts are included in the “Record on Appeal.” Continue reading →
Despite the name, a final judgment from a trial court is not always the end of a case. Appeal of the trial court judgment is often the next step in the timeline of a case. On appeal, typically, the Courts of Appeal are only restricted to the issues and factual record that were present in the trial court. That means no new evidence can be presented, and outside of a few exceptions, no new legal issues can be presented. Sometimes the appeal is based in a misinterpretation or a misapplication of law. Thus, many appeals focus on legal arguments and rely on old legal cases to argue how the law was misapplied. But at other times, the appellate court has an opportunity to set a new precedent or to distinguish the application of law to a set of facts. In these instances, there lies potential for far-ranging consequences of the Court’s decision. In such cases, interested organizations and attorneys will often want to weigh in on the matter, and attempt to persuade the Court. Remember that on appeal it is still plaintiff versus defendant, so these outside parties’ opinions may not always have any effect. Continue reading →