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

False Claims Act Webinar on September 30

Federal False Claims Act (FCA) recoveries in Fiscal Year 2019 were just over $3 billion. More than 600 new qui tam suits were filed for the ninth year in a row, and government-initiated complaints rose from 123 to 146.

Speakers

For this session attendees can expect a brief overview of the FCA process, including a review of case law in the Western District of North Carolina and a detailed look at:

  • The types of FCA case most welcomed by the district’s U.S. Attorney Offices;
  • How Western District of North Carolina prosecutors work with Main Justice to investigate complaints and weigh intervention;
  • How Western District of North Carolina judges evaluate seal extensions and seal violations;
  • The local impact of the Supreme Court’s recent FCA decisions; and
  • Where Western District of North Carolina prosecutors fall in national debates over the viability of medical necessity cases, DOJ dismissal of relator-led cases, and other issues.

This webinar does not carry CLE creditRegistrants will receive Zoom login details on the day before the event

For more information and to register click the link: https://www.fedbar.org/event/qui-tam-section-virtual-false-claims-act-today-western-district-of-north-carolina/

You need not be an FBA member to attend.

Date: Thursday, September 30, 2021

Time: 12:00pm – 2:00pm (ET time zone)

Location:  Via Zoom – link provided upon reservation

Cost: Free to FBA members and $10 to non-members. Registration Required. 

Register at: 

https://www.fedbar.org/event/qui-tam-section-virtual-false-claims-act-today-western-district-of-north-carolina/

Buncombe County Courthouse Covid-19 Mask Requirements

The following administrative order was issued today, August 5, 2021:

This matter comes on before the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge and Chief District Court Judge of the 28th Judicial District, in exercise of their in-chambers jurisdiction, through the “inherent power the court [having] the authority to do all things that are reasonably necessary for the proper administration of justice” (Beard v. North Carolina State Bar, 320 N.C. 126, 129 (1987)) and pursuant to authority delegated by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. (This document is hereinafter referred to as this “Local Order of August 5, 2021”.)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now suggests that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in public spaces. Governor Cooper also urges everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear masks indoors. Buncombe County Public Health Director Stacie Saunders recommends that operators of indoor public spaces require face coverings regardless of vaccine status during this time of high transmission.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina in his May 10, 2021 Order recognized that “local courthouses are in the best position to address health and safety concerns.”

Given recent increases in positive COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related hospitalizations, the predominance of the highly-transmissible Delta variant and the efficacy of masks in lowering transmission rates of COVID-19, masks will be required for all employees and visitors entering Buncombe County Court facilities.

Pursuant to the inherent authority of this Court and the authority delegated by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, it is HEREBY ORDERED that:

I.

Each employee and visitor (unless exempt by reason of youth or medical status) entering any Buncombe County Court Facility shall be required to wear a face mask compliant with the specifications of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Exceptions to this mandate may be made by any judicial officer acting in her/his discretion presiding over an individual proceeding.

II.

All other mandates of this Court’s May 16, 2021 Order (attached hereto) will remain in effect, including guidelines for court operations and the continuation of certain provisions of the 28th Judicial District Jury Trial Resumption Plan.

This Order becomes effective immediately, this 5th day of August, 2021, and remains in effect until superseded by order of the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court or further order of the Court.

Honorable Alan Z. Thornburg, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge

Honorable J. Calvin Hill, Chief District Court Judge

Honorable Steven D. Cogburn, Clerk of Superior Court

NC Pro Bono Honor Society

The North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center (PBRC) is proud to announce the induction of 589 attorneys into the 2020 North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society. Society members reported providing 50 or more hours of pro bono legal services in 2020 to clients unable to pay without expectation of a fee, an aspirational threshold set by Rule 6.1 of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct.

Chief Justice Paul Newby called on North Carolina attorneys to report their pro bono hours to the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center.

“Many North Carolina attorneys recognized the needs brought about by COVID-19 and provided pro bono legal services to help ensure that ‘justice shall be administered without favor, denial, or delay,’ as is mandated by our state’s Constitution,” said Chief Justice Newby in his message to the state’s attorneys. “The Supreme Court of North Carolina looks forward to celebrating the sincere efforts of North Carolina lawyers in pursuit of equal justice for all.”

Each member of this year’s cohort of the Honor Society receives a certificate from the Supreme Court of North Carolina in recognition of their valuable contributions to the people of North Carolina. This group of attorneys provided nearly 55,000 hours of pro bono legal services in 2020 to North Carolinians living in poverty. In all, 1,648 attorneys, or more than 5.5% of active attorneys in North Carolina, shared information about their pro bono volunteerism, together providing more than 67,750 hours of pro bono legal services in 2020.

“Pro bono lawyers stepped up to assist North Carolinians in a time fraught with unprecedented challenges,” said PBRC Director Sylvia Novinsky. “I am inspired by the willingness of attorneys in our state to help those sharply affected by the pandemic’s economic and health impacts.”

Rule 6.1 encourages a variety of activities in addition to the pro bono legal services recognized by the Honor Society. Other encouraged activities include providing legal services at a substantially reduced fee; engaging in activities that improve the law, the legal system, or the legal profession; participating in non-legal community service; and contributing financially to North Carolina legal aid organizations. The reporting process, administered by the PBRC, collected basic information about all of these activities. The Honor Society celebrates the unique volunteerism that only lawyers can give.

About the North Carolina Pro Bono Center
The PBRC launched in April 2016 and began collecting responses from attorneys about pro bono involvement through the state’s first voluntary reporting process in January 2017. A program of the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission, the PBRC works to increase North Carolina attorneys’ pro bono legal service as a way to meet the legal needs of people of low-income and modest means in our state.