Articles Tagged with in the news

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Mark Griffin, M.E., Blog Writer

On Thursday, July 12, Greensboro’s John Isner battled on the green grass of Wimbledon for 6 ½ hours. It was the longest semi-final in the tournament’s storied history. Wimbledon is considered tennis’ most prestigious event, featuring 128 of the worlds best players. Isner blasted his way into the semifinals beating several top players along the way including Greece’s very best up and comer, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Canada’s top player, Milos Raonic.

Isner met South African Kevin Anderson in the semifinals for a chance to play in for the ultimate championship in tennis. Isner, a former Page High basketball and tennis star, stands 6’10” tall and was on his way for setting the record for the most aces in Wimbledon history. Anderson was almost as tall at 6’8” and backed up his booming serve with a crushing forehand. Anderson was fresh off a massive upset of the number one seed and arguably the greatest tennis player the world has ever seen in Roger Federer. Both men play power tennis, and on slick grass, that power is often rewarded with aces and groundstroke winners.

With both players being incredible servers, breaking serve would prove extremely difficult. The match predictably started with both players blasting several aces and unreturnable serves. On serve, both men were making contact over 10 feet off the ground and were hitting up to 140mph serves. The first set would see no service breaks as it went to a tie-break. Anderson got the better of Isner winning that tie-break 8 to 6. The first set was desperately close with very little separating the two foes. The tightness of the first set would set foreshadow a long close match.

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Dear Carolyn,

My spouse has done something that is terribly embarrassing to me.  It also might be criminal.  Everyone in the community knows; our friends know, and I am mortified and humiliated.  I want a divorce.  Do I have grounds for getting a divorce?

– Humiliated

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Toni Maurie Gwynn was a 17-month angel who died July 10, 2013 in Eden, North Carolina. She was found suffocated and strapped to a car seat. Apparently, she had not had food or water for many hours.

The latest “who dun it” was resolved last week with her father Antonio Gwynn pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

The mother who is being sentenced for manslaughter helped the police and sheriff’s department find a missing blanket in a pond in Rockingham County. The blanket was the murder weapon.

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By Carolyn J. Woodruff, North Carolina Family Law Specialist

Winston Salem, North Carolina: Malecek v. Williams (2017)

Derek Williams is a Forsyth County doctor who had an affair apparently, or at least allegedly, with his nurse. Playing doctor-nurse games got them in trouble with the nurse’s husband, Marc Malecek. The nurse’s then-husband Marc sued Derek for alienation of affection and criminal conversation.

What is alienation of affection? This heart balm tort is something like an automobile accident where a marriage is rear-ended. This alienation of affection requires a spouse to prove that he or she had a genuine marital relationship and that marriage relationship was interfered with by a third party paramour, causing damages. What is criminal conversation? That is simpler. That is sex with someone’s spouse creating damages. Frequently the damages might be one dollar, which is required to reward if sex is found with someone else’s spouse. Of course, in North Carolina damages for alienation of affection and criminal conversation has been as much as $30 million.

Interestingly enough, Derek Williams was sued by Marc Malecek in May of 2016. The Honorable Todd Burke dismissed the lawsuit indicating that alienation of affection and criminal conversation were unconstitutional. There had been several other cases wherein judges had found or not found alienation of affection and criminal conversation to be unconstitutional.

For now, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has spoken on the constitutionality of alienation of affection and criminal conversation. These heart balm torts are constitutional, according to Court of Appeals Judge Richard Deitz. Continue reading →

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by Carolyn Woodruff, North Carolina Family Law Specialist

Opioids are the growing problem in family law. Opioids and domestic violence do not mix and yet yield dreadful consequences. From Greensboro, North Carolina, a 28-year-old woman named Marie Aman will spend many years in prison for the death of a man, who may or may not have been her boyfriend.

The problem? She ran over him, and her opioid addiction played into it.

More tragically, she already has two children. What prospects do these two children have? Life in foster care? Being adopted? Hopefully, in prison she will beat her opioid addiction which is very hard to do, but where will her children be while she is in prison? I don’t know anything about her extended family, and perhaps there are fabulous grandparents out there.

For the life of Dona Auzins, her son is dead. Aman ran over the Auzins’ son after what appears to be a domestic dispute. The story of what happened is unclear, but whatever happened, Auzins is dead. He was found on the street having been hit by the automobile driven by Aman. Her story: She put her boyfriend out of her car to walk home. She planned to drive to her own home, and she says she suddenly say Auzins in front of her. He allegedly shouted: “What are you going to do? Run me over?”

The case came on for trial yesterday in Greensboro, North Carolina. Aman took an Alford plea to second-degree murder, which has a minimum sentence of approximately eight years. The Alford plea means she does not admit guilt. She is the only one alive who was there. What she says happened is that she and Auzins argued. Domestic violence. She saw Auzins later in the road in front of her, and she ran over him crushing the right side of his brain. He was delivered to Moses Cone and was brain dead. That’s when his mother found out.

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Leesa M. Poag, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group

After the death of their eight-year-old son earlier this year, two parents in Ohio have filed a lawsuit against Cincinnati Public Schools. The child hanged himself with a necktie from his bunk bed, an act that his parents claim was a result of bullying he suffered at his elementary school.  The parents claim that the child was repeatedly bullied at his school, as were several of his fellow classmates.

This is, unfortunately, not the first such lawsuit to arise over the issue of school bullying.  As discussions surrounding bullying are becoming more prominent in our society today, so are parents seeking to recover damages as a result. In 1999, the Supreme Court addressed the issue of school liability in bullying cases.  In the case of Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, the Supreme Court held that damages were recoverable from a school board in bullying cases, but only if the Plaintiff proves that the school was deliberately indifferent to the bullying.  The Court held that a Plaintiff must show that the harassment was so severe and pervasive that it effectively barred the child from access to educational opportunities. This standard creates an extremely high bar for a plaintiff to meet in a bullying case.

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Bullying in the classroom is, unfortunately, a continuing epidemic both nationally, as well as in the Triad. A new case out of Ohio has recently made news on this topic. An eight-year-old boy named Gabriel Taye from Ohio hanged himself from his bunk bed after being continually bullied at his grade school. The parents of the young boy have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Cincinnati Public Schools, asserting that the school is liable for the child’s death. The lawsuit states that school officials knew about the bullying but were indifferent to the situation and allowed a dangerous school environment to flourish for Gabriel.

Currently, the case law on school liability in the suicide of a student is somewhat sparse. There are two cases which make up the primary law on the issue: Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, which deals with sexual harassment in schools, and Stiles v. Grainger County Board of Education, No. 01-91360 (6th Circuit, March 25, 2016), a 6th Circuit case which deals with bullying and sexual harassment. The main thrust of the cases is that schools are liable where the school’s deliberate indifference to the harassing behavior makes students vulnerable to further harassment or causes them to undergo harassment. Ultimately, the Court must determine what the school was aware of, and what, if any, remedial actions the school took after learning of the harassing behavior.

These two cases do not deal with the issue of suicide, as the students in these cases survived the bullying. In some ways, it may be more difficult for the Ohio court to ascertain the school’s liability as the student Gabriel Taye is not present to testify to the bullying behavior he had to endure and what the school and his teachers were aware of.           Continue reading →

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Bullying is not a new or novel occurrence; however, the effects bullying may have come as a surprise to many.  Advancements in technology and the associated effects in society have created many new challenges in combating bullying, especially in schools.  Whereas before, a child who was bullied at school was able to achieve some relief upon the bell ringing and returning home- an escape was possible. Today cyber bullying creates a new outlet for tormentors to attack their victims, often anonymously, anytime day or night in front of a limitless audience. A dangerous problem is evolving into an uncontrollable one. So where do we look for help? A recent trend takes the position that bullying is a legal issue that should be confronted in a court of law, but should it?

Gabriel Taye, a young boy lost in the worst way possible, where bullying is believed to have played a major role. His tragic story raises an interesting question as to what role schools play in policing and monitoring bullying, and whether or not they should be held liable when the unthinkable happens.  Children today are smarter and more resourceful than ever; this is especially true with the introduction to electronics and technology at very young ages.  Bullying can be as obvious as physical abuse and as inconspicuous as verbal harassment via social media or messaging apps.  So how does the Court system come into play in enumerating the responsibility and liability of schools when it comes to bullying?               Continue reading →

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By: Carolyn J. Woodruff, attorney

While nothing in this article should be viewed to condone the horrific acts of Christopher Lee Neal, age 42, who shot at a social services worker after children were taken from his home, the event should be a wake up call for the Department of Social Services (DSS). Apparently this Reidsville man targeted at least two social services employees that had been working on his child custody case. He shot at one of the social workers through her car window in Burlington. According to news reports, she was not injured. He was later apprehended in Myrtle Beach.

Let’s face it. Taking away a child is serious business and emotionally drenching, and should only be done by DSS with all the proper protocols, which involve either having law enforcement or a Juvenile Judge.   Unfortunately, DSS in many instances is acting outside the bounds of the law and the Constitution, and they do not follow proper protocol regarding the removal of children, in allegedly dangerous situations, from homes. This makes a parent mad.

DSS is not law enforcement, and DSS is not a court of law. DSS is an agency that MUST apply to the Juvenile Court for the authority for search and seizure of children. DSS can assess the danger and apply to the Juvenile Court, but DSS is not permitted to “search and seize” children based on its own safety assessment. This seizure is improper. While I like Sheriff Page, his statement if reported accurately is both incorrect and not in keeping with the US Constitution. He reportedly said in a Press Conference, ‘Child Protective Services were investigating a case…During the process in their job, sometimes they have to remove children from the home because of neglect and abuse.” No, this is not correct. DSS can investigate, and DSS can apply to the court to obtain an order to remove the child, but DSS cannot do this removal simply because DSS thinks it should. To do so is unconstitutional search and seizure.

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thumbnail_backbendOn June 8, Dance Legends from Russia, USA, Italy, South Africa, Denmark, and Azerbaijan will perform at the State Kremlin Palace, Moscow, Russia in “Stellar Duo.”

Carolyn Woodruff, known as the Dancing Divorce Attorney, will represent the USA for the second year in Moscow, Russia in the “Stellar Duo” with partner, Alosha Anatoliy (from Ukraine, now US citizen). The two have been dancing together since 2006 and are the reigning United States Pro-Am Show Dance Champions. The two have also won several titles for themselves in the last 10 years including; Gold Medalists at the 2016 United States Dancesport Championship, Fred Astaire National Dance Championship in both Smooth and Cabaret, Best of the Best in Gold Show dance at the Millennium Dancesport Championship, and were featured on Simon Fuller’s Ballroom Blitz, which played in over 10 countries.

“Alosha and I are so privileged to be representing the United States for the second time in Moscow. We understand what an honor it is to be included in “Stellar Duo” with all this world turmoil between the United States of America and Russia. We believe that Art and Dance will rise above the political unrest,” says Woodruff, owner of Woodruff Family Law Group, Greensboro, North Carolina. 

I feel very honored and excited to be part of this very special event and share the Mystery of Masquerade,” says Alosha Anatoliy, owner of Fred Astaire Greensboro.

Carolyn and Alosha’s beloved choreographer, Taliat Tarsinov, who is sought after worldwide, is the event’s Artistic Director.

“It is such a privilege to be the Artistic Director of “Stellar Duo” and to be able to bring the world’s best ballroom dance couples together for one exciting evening in Moscow at the beautiful Kremlin Palace,” says Tarsinov.

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