Your Wellness Matters! Update from Wellness Committee

From Gill Beck, Wellness Committee Chair & Bar President-Elect:

Research and experience demonstrate that the legal profession’s unique stresses  require that attorneys take affirmative steps to promote their wellness and improved attorney wellness translates directly into enhanced  effectiveness as an attorney and a healthier work-life balance. Buncombe County Bar President Carter Webb and the Bar’s Executive Committee are committed to promoting wellness within the Buncombe County Bar and have taken the following steps to promote wellness by offering:

  • Resiliency CLE — The Bar is hosting free virtual CLE with Laura Mahr to promote resiliency. The seminar is called “Wiring Your Brain for Optimal Resilience in an Evolving Legal Landscape,” and will take place on Zoom on Thursdays from 10am-11am on October 7, 14, 21, 28 and November 4, 2021. For more information and to sign up go to https://buncombebar.com/upcoming-events/.
  • Resources CLE — During the October 13, 2021 Bar Luncheon we will feature a panel of speakers including Judge Kepple and Ron Harris who will discuss resources available to our clients regarding a wide range of issues including treatment courts, drug and alcohol addiction, and mental health resources. To sign up go to https://buncombebar.com/events/bar-luncheon-october-2021/.
  • The Impact of COVID on Lawyer Wellbeing CLE – On November 10th during our monthly meeting, Robynn Moriates of the State Bar will present a CLE on The Impact of COVID on Lawyer Wellbeing.
  • Bar Cares Program – BarCARES is a short-term professional intervention program offered cost-free to members of the Buncombe County Bar. Each attorney may receive up to three free visits per year to address substance abuse, crisis intervention, depression/anxiety issues, and other professional stressors. To learn more about BarCARES visit https://www.ncbar.org/members/barcares/  To request a referral to a provider please contact the BarCARES coordinator at 919-929-1227 or 1-800-640-0735. For urgent concerns: to speak to someone immediately, call 919- 929-1227 or 1-800-640-0735.
  • Mentorship Program — The Buncombe County Bar mentoring program provides experienced practitioners an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with their mentees and to provide a guiding and supportive hand as young attorneys traverse the reality of practicing law. Finally, the mentees will learn the importance of becoming a citizen lawyer.
  • Webpage –  The Buncombe County Bar webpage provides wellness resources — https://buncombebar.com/wellness.
  • Dealing with Adversity CLE — In the spring we will conduct a CLE focused on wellness similar to last year’s CLE where experienced attorneys will discuss how to deal with adversity in the practice of law.
  • Wellness Week — Next May we are considering expanding out Wellness Day to a Wellness week where we bring in meditation, yoga, and other practices to help us deal with the pressures of practicing law.
  • Wellness Committee Welcomes Your Ideas  — President Carter Webb has appointed a Wellness Committee to look for ways to enhance wellness for our Bar members, which includes President-elect Gill Beck as Chair of our Wellness Committee, Past President Sonya Rikhye, Hayley Wells, Becca Eden, and Elizabeth Oxley.  Please reach out to them regarding your ideas of how we can promote wellness for our Bar members.

 

Administrative Order for District Court Jury Trials

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA – IN THE GENERAL COURT OF JUSTICE-COUNTY OF BUNCOMBE-  DISTRICT COURT DIVISION-TWENTY-EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT

ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER
October 5, 2021
Re: Jury Trial Resumption in the District Courts of Buncombe County

Consistent with 7A-146, the Chief District Court Judge has the authority to the administrative and operational direction of the District Courts.

While the Courts are allowed to resume jury trials under the Chief Justice’s Order, on this matter he has expressly indicated that each jurisdiction would need to make the determination on specifically when jury trials could be resumed efficiently and safely.

Buncombe County under the guidance of our local health officials have redesigned the Historic 5th floor Courtroom to be compliant with safety protocols for holding jury trials. We have limited courtroom space, at this time, to hold jury trials in compliance with safety protocols. While the 5th floor Courtroom is a “Superior Court” Courtroom, Judge Thornburg has graciously agreed to allow the District Courts to use it when the Superior Courts are not using it for Superior Court matters.

The Superior Courts resumed jury trials in the reconfigured 5th floor courtroom in February and continue to resolve matters by way of jury. We still have limited courtrooms consistent with safety protocols for holding jury trials in this Covid atmosphere. While jury trials do happen in District Court and litigants can request them in limited situations, they do not make up a large part of our trials in District Court.

The large part of trials in District Court are still “bench trials” or trial by Judge. District Court, on average, will do one or two jury trials a year. For this reason, we do not believe the administration of justice will be hampered to any substantial degree by further postponement of jury trials in the District Courts.

We will continue to monitor this situation related to Covid and will resume jury trials in the District Courts as soon as it can be done safely.

The District Courts will not be starting to do jury trials at this time because of the limited amenities to do so safely. We will however continue to do our non jury matters. We will again review the progress of Superior Court jury trials after December 15, 2021 to determine the availability of the 5th floor Courtroom for District Court jury trials.

The District Courts will resume jury trials as soon as practically possible.

This Order becomes effective immediately, this 5th day of October, 2021.

Chief District Court Judge Buncombe County

Honorable J. Calvin Hill

Halloween Event at Rabbit Rabbit

Join us for some Halloween fun at Rabbit Rabbit, 75 Coxe Avenue, on Monday, October 25th! We’ll have candy for the kids, and we’ll watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” and “Hocus Pocus” on the big screen. We’ll also collect food for Manna Food Bank, so please bring a can or box of food, or even a donation for us to pass along.

This big outdoor venue will allow us to gather and have a good time safely. There will be a food truck with tacos, burritos and nachos for sale, as well as a cash bar with tasty brews, cocktails and non-alcoholic options. All attorneys and their families are invited to this private event, and face coverings are required. Click here to see menus and other information.

Pro Bono Help Need for WNC Neighbors Impacted by Hurricane Fred

The Buncombe County Bar Pro Bono Committee is asking Bar members to assist with the North Carolina Disaster Legal Services (DLS) effort to help those impacted by Hurricane Fred in WNC. The DLS pro bono program provides disaster-related resources and services to the public and attorneys with the support of FEMA, Legal Aid of North Carolina, the North Carolina Bar Foundation, the NCBA Young Lawyers Division, and the NC Pro Bono Resource Center. DLS attorney volunteers will assist clients with filing FEMA claims, as well as other legal needs. Training will be provided.

There is an immediate need for attorney volunteers; most volunteer work can be done remotely.

Volunteer Registration | https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSflyVDHiFtXwVG2D9GoCCbX86hVzol1orZOfmpd0FC3Fx5PfQ/viewform

 Email | dls@ncbar.org

Update from State Bar Councilor Anna Hamrick

Dear Friends and Colleagues –

I hope you are well.  The NCSB Council recently had its Summer quarterly meeting in Asheville.  In the past after these meetings, I have sent out an update to you about the major points of interest.  However, the NCSB recently reinstated its efforts to provide a state-wide summary, and you should receive it directly from them.  The one from the July meeting can be found below if you did not get it:

https://ncbar.us17.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c8f565c89cc1996a150dc1259&id=242c6bbbfe&e=0442fdb1b9

Given the above, I will not recreate the wheel with a summary of my own.  However, please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.

The synopsis covers the big points, but I did want to note the Preamble amendment on discriminatory conduct was approved for transmission to the Supreme Court.

Another topic not addressed in the quarterly update or the synopsis is the decision of the executive committee to instruct the officers to appoint an ad hoc committee to study the feasibility of creating a license for legal paraprofessionals who can assist with addressing the unmet legal needs identified in the Equal Access to Justice Commission’s 2021 Legal Needs Assessment.   Here is a link to the assessment:  https://ncequaljusticealliance.org/assessment/.

Our state Bar councilors had a wonderful time in Asheville.  I would like to especially thank Bill Wolcott, Bill Christy, Jason Gast and Bob Deutsch for their kind and generous help.  Each of them volunteered to guide a local hike for Bar councilors who wanted to see the area.  Everyone had a great time visiting new places.  Many of the non-local lawyers treated to the hikes praised Bill, Bill, Jason and Bob as wonderful ambassadors and hosts.  I really appreciate their hard work.

One last thing I would like to mention that may save some of you worry and heartburn:  After each quarterly meeting, the NCSB asks the Bar councilors to call all members in the councilor’s local bar who may be owing any or all of the following to the Bar:  NCSB dues, local Bar dues, CLE forms, CLE fees, CLE hours and/or the annual IOLTA certification.  The idea is for us to give a gentle reminder to you of anything missing which perhaps fell through the cracks.  The Bar is hoping with the call, you can then take care of the matter, and they can avoid the time and expense of a Notice to Show Cause.

When I make these calls, if I have to leave a message for you, please do not worry.  As someone who can teach a masterclass in the art of the kneejerk panic reaction, I get it.  The problem sometimes comes when I can’t get through to the lawyer’s voicemail (where I feel comfortable leaving a message of the exact issue), and so I have to be somewhat vague and cryptic with the person who answers the phone for the number you have given to the NCSB.  Some lawyers do not want the person answering the phone to know the issue, and I have tried to tread a fine line between giving out just enough information, without getting into actual matter.  Please just know if you get a message from “Anna Hamrick, local Bar councilor,” especially in the months of January, April, July or October, this is likely why I am calling.  Any serious Bar issues would not be presented to you in the form of a phone call from me.

Our next meeting will be in Raleigh in October.  Thank you, and take care!

Sincerely, Anna Hamrick