Articles Posted in North Carolina Law Talk

Courts, Legislation, and the Law.  North Carolina Law Talk Policy and Legal Issues 2016

North Carolina Law Talk Host, Bill Powers, and Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer John Fanney, discuss legal policy and trends in the courts of North Carolina.

  • DWI Impaired Driving Laws
  • Upcoming Legislative Term
  • Trends in the North Carolina Judicial System

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See More:  DWI Sentencing in North Carolina


Transcript for Hearing Impaired


Modified Transcript of “North Carolina Law Talk Policy and Legal Issues 2016” for the Hearing Impaired


Bill: Hi, I’m Bill Powers. I’m the Host of North Carolina Law Talk, and I am joined with my friend and fellow Attorney, John Fanney.  How are you doing, John?
John: Bill, I’m doing great. Thanks for having me again today.
Bill: How are things in Raleigh?
John: Well, it is a lovely day. Business has been brisk. Justice has been served in some respect, so things are going very well. Thank you for asking.
Bill: Good, good. Well, as our viewers know, if you watch us regularly, North Carolina Law Talk is a policy format, I guess, to discuss trends in North Carolina law. They could be civil law. It could be criminal law. It could be general policies that we see the governor and the legislature enacting, and John, I appreciate you getting on the horn, and since I’ve got someone from Wake County, Raleigh, right down the street from the North Carolina General Assembly, let’s talk about that. I would think that Wake County, you kind of see things maybe a little bit more quickly than you do the rest of us in the hinterlands, away from the capitol.
John: Well, that’s probably true. I’ve been here for 25 years, practicing law, and I can say that practicing law in Wake County has always has a very political edge to it. Our judges tend to be more politically astute. They have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on, in terms of how the Legislature is doing things and it’s a tough place to practice law. What we see all the time, here in Wake County, is just the constant push to find some way to carve out some Constitutional protection, so we can get some more people convicted of DWIs. Don’t get me wrong. Judges are being fair, but you understand the pressure. It’s a very difficult subject matter.
Bill: Well I think it’d be interesting because Raleigh, to us, is a million miles away. When you talk about an appellate case in North Carolina Court of Appeals, or you talk about the Supreme Court in North Carolina, an opinion from Justice whomever, or you talk about opposing counsel being at the Attorney General’s office, it’s this somewhat nebulous, far away type of deal. Heck, you maybe go down the road, downtown Raleigh, and you see them all having lunch together, so I think it’s go to be a little bit more interesting, for lack of better term. You get to know them, a little bit more.
John: That’s exactly right. As a matter of fact, I was at lunch yesterday, at one of our famous longtime spots in Raleigh, and in walked about half the Court of Appeals, including one of our newest justices, Wendy Melton, who was a classmate of mine at Campbell University.
Bill: You don’t think about those things. There are elections coming up, and occasionally come down to Charlotte. I don’t know if people realize this, this a good policy discussion, because there’ve been some recent changes to the law in North Carolina, but our Judicial races, at least some of them, not all of them, are political, meaning that some of them have the R or the D, or I guess the I for Independent, next to them. In fact recently, there was a race where it was uncertain which was it was going to go. Let me ask you, that’s a good point. Everyone has a different opinion on this. I’ve gone back and forth myself. What is your view on Judicial elections? Let’s start in District Court, Superior Court, and then Appellate Court.
John: The unfortunate thing about Judicial elections is you don’t have voters who really understand who the candidates are and what they stand for. It’s a good thing that Judicial elections are supposedly nonpartisan, but …
Bill: Right
John: … in practice, that is not always the case. Yes, nonpartisan because you go in. You don’t know who’s associated with what party. There’s good and bad in looking at it two ways. We’ve talked a lot about retention elections in the past, where judges don’t have to run for their office so much, as they’re in, and they have to justify why they should stay. I certainly never want to take the right to vote away from anyone. I think it’s obviously the cornerstone of our Democratic process, and our Republican form of government, that you get to pick your leaders. The general public just does not know what goes on in court, on a day in/day out basis. I would really like to see maybe some type of hybrid system in place, where those who know the judges, IE lawyers, and maybe even the people who’ve had to appear in front of them, that they be given an opportunity to weigh in on that judge’s performance. For example, Superior Court Judge elections, you have Superior Court judges who travel all over the state, not just in Mecklenburg County. Gosh, we’ve got six or eight here in Raleigh. I don’t know how many you have in Mecklenburg County, but they all have their own little district and the only …
Bill: Go ahead, John.
John: The only people that …
Bill:  Sorry.  Connectivity Issue.  
John: … are the people in their district. Well, those people probably never get in front of that judge so the truth of it is in judging. Good judge or not so good judge, is how they deal with things, day in and day out, in court, how they treat the people in front of them, and how they apply the law, and how they’re willing to listen to the litigants, not some other party somewhere. That’s been a big topic of discussion with the whole School of Government thing. Maybe there should be some weight given to the people that actually are in front of these judges, and let them be the ones who make the decisions about whether they stay or whether they get replaced by someone.
Bill: For the record, all the judges that you and I appear in front of are considered the good ones, and the not so good ones are in areas where we’ve never practiced.
John: That’s right
Bill: I think you make a good point, because I go back and forth on this. I absolutely believe in the electoral process and the need for the community to speak up on things. I get worried when you have retention elections because that ends up being a, basically, a lifelong appointment, but for something very odd or unusual happening. I also worry that the average voter … I get calls all the time asking me about different judges and their philosophies, and I do my best to explain what I think. Judges are really supposed to be above the partisan fray. Judges aren’t supposed to be making rulings based on what’s popular with the Democratic movement, versus the Republican movement at all.
In fact, I think the best judges would be ones where it’s hard to say what party they belong to. They’re not interested in party, or necessarily policy, as much as they are about just doing the right thing, and enforcing the law, without bias towards towards one side or the other. That’s when I get concerned about … we had Citizens United,  We deal with these issues for dark money. We have forces outside of North Carolina coming in and putting in millions, literally, potentially millions of dollars in our elections, and it kind of shows the power that you have in the upper level courts, where people from other states are concerned about what happens in North Carolina, because North Carolina has issues like, well, we’re a purple state. We may have districts set for Congress and the Senate and we’ve got all these interesting, complicated social issues, like House Bill 2 HB2 and I think North Carolinians understand what they want. I worry sometimes the infusion of money from outside sources can subvert what I think an average North Carolinian would think would be right in the election process.
Now, District Court Judges, Superior Court Judges, presently do not have a party monicker. It’s just name and that can be even more difficult for people, because I’ve heard people say, “Well, if there’s a party affiliation,I know more generally what their philosophy is,” and in the past, we’ve done it both ways. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops. I think reasonable minds can differ. I think even you and I may be able to argue both points and say, “I don’t know, it’s a tough decision.” I do think it’s interesting, though, one of the issues I’m always talking about on North Carolina Law Talk is the under-funding of our courts.
People don’t realize it, that we have a system of government, not just on the federal level, which is United States Government, but the state level, where we have the Executive branch. Governor McCrory is the Governor. That’s the Executive branch. We’ve go the Legislative branch in North Carolina, where you’ve broke it up into two separate Houses. You have the North Carolina House and North Carolina Senate. You have the Judicial branch, and they’re said to be co-equal. Unfortunately, the Legislature is the one that doles out the money. “Here are my tax dollars.” I pay them the money, and then they kind of decide who gets the money, and I am perpetually, I guess, flummoxed, by the lack of proper funding in our courts. John, you have traveled a lot. I travel a lot around the state. You’re kind of the in-trenches law dogs, litigators. What do you see in the court? Where are we going on the cheap, or you just disagree with me and say, “Hey, we got plenty of money, we’re fine.”
John: No, unfortunately our Judicial system is woefully underfunded. The disturbing trend in the legislature has been to make this kind of a user pay system. You have a lot of people who get the, “You’re the one who’s fingered with violating the law, in some respect, so you’re the one on whose back all the cost is going to be transferred.” I don’t agree with that. I don’t know how you remedy that, other than maybe you have a special fund allocated to the Judicial branch, guaranteed, and it’s reviewed by the Legislature and go, “Well, you need more money.” I will say this, there have been some good improvements in how the Judicial branch is operating. My good friend, Marion Warren, is the head of AOC now, the Administrative offices of the Courts, and he and Justice Mark Martin, Chief Justice Martin, have been looking at a lot of ways to improve things. There are some improvements. Apparently, the computer technology’s been upgraded. Heck, there’s even a time when some districts couldn’t even communicate with each other with computer technology, and that’s being worked out. It’s still underfunded.
Maybe one other way of fixing this … we talked about money and elections, is take the pressure off of the judges. Set a limit. Give them the money. Use public funds and go, “Here’s your money. You’re running for judge. Here’s what you can spend.” This is kind of funny. I was involved with campus politics when I was at Carolina, a lot, and that’s the way they did it. You got a certain amount of money from the school and that’s all you could spend. That would be a good way of removing some pressure from it. All in all, there are some improvements. There are some counties who aren’t getting the funds that they need. I see it in a lot of the more rural areas, where I go. I’ve been to 20 something counties, now, most of them in the Eastern part of the state. I know that you like to travel around the mountain areas or the Charlotte area. We could be doing a better job. We really could.
Bill: I worry, because sometimes I feel like our Legislature thinks we’re a cash register or a cash cow. The courts bring in a lot of fees. Now, it’s not justices.  The courts is expensive to run, but gracious … When I first started practicing law, and John, it may be a hyperbole. It may be me, just getting old. I want to say the court costs were, I don’t know, under $40, like $35, somewhere in that range.
John: I remember when $65.
Bill: When it went to $65 … That was a big deal, like, “Oh gracious,” from now, we’re pushing $200, just …
John: That’s for a simple speeding ticket.
Bill: Right and then that’s not including court costs or if you’re doing a improper equipment or something. You’re dealing with the fees with that and the average person, I don’t know if they get the ticket and they’re just like, “Are you kidding me? Just to take care of the ticket, the court costs and the fines and fees could cost me more than $200.” I think what happens is people think, “Well, I can’t pay for a lawyer on top of all that.” They try to take care of it themselves. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. I see people in Traffic Court that, they do a great job, and actually are people that … It’s sort of like giving yourself your own haircut or extracting your own tooth. It doesn’t go so well.
I also worry about the funding for the computers. You brought that up. I know we’re working on it, but we are so far behind on having a centralized database that can be … There are a hundred different counties in North Carolina. There aren’t that many Judicial districts, but there are a hundred different counties. Some of the Judicial districts are larger than others. For example, if you go west of Asheville, so you go to Waynesville, that district … and, they separate between District Court, Superior Court, and the different elected positions, but that Prosecutorial district, maybe that’s the best way to put it, goes from Waynesville to Georgia, goes to the edge of far western North Carolina, Cherokee County, in the mountains. Similarly in the Eastern part of the state, up towards where you’re from. You’re in, obviously, it’s Roanoke Rapids?
John: Roanoke Rapids
Bill: That northeastern part of the state, Lord that’s a big district, as well. You’ve got Pasquotank. Is it Persimmons? You know all the counties.
John: Persimmon is a fruit Bill, Pasquotank …
Bill: I always tease you about that, sorry.
John: Camden, Pasquotank. I’m trying to think out loud, but all the counties, Dare County, there’s about 5 counties in 1 district t
Bill: Man, one time we had the Judicial district that went from the edge of Thomasville, which was Lexington Davidson County, across the North Side of Mecklenburg County, so it included Iredell County and then Iredell included Alexander County and then it also included right out to the edge of the mountain, so it went from the top center portion of the state. I hope out Legislature looks at these different issues, maybe some consolidation of Judicial districts. It costs a lot to … as pretty as Marshall, North Carolina is, I’m not picking on them. They’ve got one of the prettiest courthouses in the state. It’s kind of expensive to keep that all up. The cost of court, if you ever look at the cost bill, I think people are surprised it goes to some retirement funds for the law enforcement. Some employees are county employees. Some employees are employees of the state, and it’s complicated. I think it’s fair to say, and you tell me if you disagree, that our courts are underfunded and a Legislature doesn’t always treat them like a coequal branch of the government.
John: I think you’re dead on in that assessment. When it comes time for the budget, they’ve all got their hands out, but if we’re going to pour money into a very important function of law enforcement, which admittedly we have to have in a civilized society, then we need to be putting the same amount of money into the administration of the law, what happens after the law is allegedly violated and enforced, when the law is actually carried out in court. We need to find a way to work through all these idiosyncrasies. We need to find a way to streamline a few things, not to the detriment of people charged with crimes, but in an effort to make it a very user friendly system. We need to get the pressure of politics out of the Judicial system, which is very difficult. One way of starting with that, get it to the point where there are dedicated funds.
You’re not going to get below X amount. There’s nothing a legislator can do about it. You could even consider a Constitutional amendment. Go ahead and put it in the North Carolina constitution, that the Legislature shall fund and fund it to the extent, of recommendations by the Chief Justice of whomever, so that these implementations can be carried out.
Bill: One of the other things, I think, is to make sure you get the best and brightest on the benches. Pay a salary commensurate with the level of importance of the position.
John: Oh, absolutely… You and I both joked if they would double the salary, we’d probably be judges, ourselves.
Bill: Assuming we could get elected.
John: Assuming we’d get elected, right.
Bill: I always like to tell people, “I’m a defense lawyer, but I always think that a good lawyer could take either side.” I’ve always thought that if I won the lottery, I could easily prosecute a case. I’d be more than willing to do that. I think you probably feel the same way, that we have jobs. We have roles, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have … We’re members of society and don’t have views on things I think there’re some things that maybe as defense lawyers, we may be a little tougher on.
John: The trend, really I’ve seen, you get lawyers who’ve been defense lawyers and they get on the bench, and they tend to be a little tougher than other folks. I don’t say that’s good or bad, but as lawyers we have to be subjective, what side we play. Judges should only have one side to play, and that’s the side of truth and justice. What right thing to do? What does the law require? Yes, you know, as defense lawyers, we have to play an unpopular role. Nobody likes defense lawyers. We’re always looking for an angle “to get someone out.” The angles that people talk about, these loop holes that you hear about, are really just bedrock Constitutional principles and rights.  We’re not only the defenders of individuals, we are in a sense … We’re defenders of the system, of the purposes of the system, to make sure it works like it’s supposed to work for everyone, not just one side.
Bill: Well, I like to say, I’m so conservative that I believe the government needs to be held to the same standards as the rest of us. I’m a true believer in the system. I believe in the jury system. I don’t like the fact that we’ve taken the power away from the jury, on civil cases. I think what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Well, John I really appreciate your gift of time. I don’t know if we solved any of the world’s issues, but it does bring up some points. People have been involved in the system for … Gosh, you and I are pushing, collectively, almost 50 years of practicing law. I think I just started my 25th year and you may have just started your 26th year.
John: 26th.
Bill: The system isn’t as bad as some think. It’s not as good as others suppose it may be. It’s something, a work in progress. I know I donate my time to the practice of law. I’m more than willing to go to high schools and different schools, churches, and talk about the courts. I assume you do the same thing. If people want to reach you and have you discuss how court works, or what to expect, you willing to do that?
John: Absolutely, I always enjoy opportunity to educate folks on the legal system. It is the, in my view, the most important branch of our government, because it really is what people come and interface with what decisions are being made, not just on a policy level, but on a very individual level. We all have possibilities as attorneys to educate the public, to give of our time, to tell them the ins and outs, and what you should know, and kind of dispel some myths about how things work, and I’m always available to do that, looking for-
Bill: Well, in our system of society, where we live with one another and have disputes, this is where disputes are settled, the courts. John, what’s your e-mail address, if someone has a question or would like you to speak somewhere?
John: Sure, the e-mail address is
Bill: If any of our viewers have topics of discussion, or general questions … We will not answer a specific legal inquiry on North Carolina Law Talk, but we will talk policy. Some would say we talk policy to death. You can e-mail me at Thanks again, John, and thanks again for watching us on yet another episode of North Carolina Law Talk.
John: Thank you, Bill.

North Carolina Law Talk – Summer 2016

Attorneys Mike Daisley and Bill Powers discuss developing trends and provide legal commentary on North Carolina Law issues.  If you have general questions about how the legal system works in North Carolina, please feel free to contact Mike and Bill at:

Mike Daisley:

  • Goodson Daisley Law, P.C.
  • 1419 East 7th Street
  • Charlotte, North Carolina 28204
  • 704-331-8014


Goodson Daisley Law Contact Info 2016



Bill Powers:

  • Powers Law Firm PA
  • 2412 Arty Avenue
  • Charlotte, North Carolina 28208
  • 704-342-4357


Powers Law Firm PA Contact Info 2016


Topics of Discussion:

  • Happiest Days of the Year, Saddest Days of the Year
  • What to Do After a Wreck
    • Exchange Information
    • Take Pictures / Videos
    • Seek Medical Treatment as necessary
  • Retaining an Attorney
    • When to Call a Lawyer?
    • Interviewing Attorneys
    • Background Credentials
    • Ask Questions
    • Get a Comfort Level
    • Seek a Personal Relationship


Powers Law Firm PA and Goodson Daisley Law, PC are in no way affiliated with one-another.  Mr. Powers and Mr. Daisley, together with other attorneys in North Carolina, discuss developing legal trends, law issues, and legislation, in North Carolina Law Talk.  The information contained therein is topical and intended to help explain a sometimes complicated legal system.

If you have a non-specific question about Legal Policy, Laws, the North Carolina General Assembly, the Courts, or Lawyers, feel free to email Mr. Powers and Mr. Daisley individually.  We will attempt to explain the how’s and why things happen the way they do in court. . .in a general, conversational manner.

If you have a specific legal need or inquiry, please retain experienced legal counsel.


Transcript for Hearing Impaired

Modified Transcript of North Carolina Law Talk – Summer 2016” for the Hearing Transcript

Bill: Hi, I’m Bill Powers, one of the partners here at Powers McCartan PLLC in Charlotte. I’m joined by my good friend Mike Daisley. How are you doing Mike?


Mike: I’m doing well. Hope you’re staying cool.


Bill: I am. Thank you for joining us for the mid-summer edition of North Carolina law talk. This is a time of year when lawyers, as a whole, are busy. Mike, tell me what you’re doing right now. If there’s anything different during the summertime than the rest of the year?


Mike: I don’t know about you. I see you’re dressed a little casual, I am too. I don’t know about you, if I’m not in court, and if I don’t have clients, I am not in a coat and tie. It just stays a little bit warmer than usual at this office. Summertime is a time, I mean law doesn’t stop, it is time sort of gear back up. Just a few weeks ago we were actually at a convention together. Congratulations, by the way, on being president of NCAJ North Carolina Advocates for Justice NCAJ.COM, that’s a good thing. It’s a good time to sort of, again, regroup, reassess things. It’s also a busy time in the law practice because, for both you and for me, although for different reasons, people are outside more.


It’s no secret, they’re outdoors more, their days are longer. There’s more driving that goes on, and when there’s more driving, especially in the summertime when there’s more drinking, there’s a lot of careless driving and accidents do occur and injuries do occur. Folks will come see me about that, likewise on your end with the criminal defense you do with the DWI defense. I would imagine you see probably a little up-tick in terms of activity in your office as well.


Bill: Sure. It’s an interesting thing. You and I have kind of talked about this, we see the natural oscillations, the cycles in the law. I think both you and I have practiced long enough to see those and start to recognize them. I never used to believe in the full moon or the rainy-day theory, but it does seem to work for different reasons though, for different factors. I wouldn’t want to conflate it, but during the wintertime I thin we see, on your side, where there’s more injuries due to bad conditions. While there may be less people on the road you’ve got worse conditions. Stopping distances are more difficult, people get a little bit more nervous when its’s snowy or icy. During the summertime we have really optimal driving conditions and as such you have a lot more drivers, but then on a per capita basis you’re going to probably see more wrecks. People going to the beach in a hurry to get there, what I call got-to-get-there-itus.


Mike: One wonders, and I don’t know. I don’t know whether there is I-go-to-get-there-itus. I wonder whether there are more accidents per drivers, or is it just because there are more drivers there are more wrecks. I don’t know the answer to that question. I guess maybe the folks at the AAA or the National Transportation Safety Board might have those statistics. What I do know is that people are out driving more and therefore there are more car wrecks.


Bill: Actually there are some metrics on it, they’re interesting and to no small extent disturbing. Some of the most happy days of the years, the holidays, memorial day, 4th of July, are some of the most dangerous driving days of the year. Meaning that the highest incidents of fatalities are on the major holidays, this is also on top of more people driving, there’s more consumption of alcohol. Often times people are in unfamiliar surroundings, I call it lack of situational awareness, where they’re not necessarily familiar where they are, may drink a little bit more than they normally would, they’ve got family in the car, sometimes kids.


You mix that and it’s a dangerous combination between having a lot of people on the road, sometimes holidays, and this isn’t a holiday weekend, but the holidays we see more people drinking. I think you probably, correct me if I’m wrong because you’re the guy that handles a lot of different stuff, but I think the longer days … You have more work hours and more people working, maybe more workplace injuries whether it’s someone that’s roofing or maybe that drives for a living. In their more social interactions, people getting together for barbecues, do you find that injuries take place and then there’s a lag time maybe between when they call you and start getting legal representation?


Mike: There’s not fixed formula,  some people, for really good reasons. I had a phone call yesterday, somebody had tried to handle a case on their own, which is okay, but the insurance company wasn’t doing very much, wasn’t going anywhere. What happens in that sort of case, I’ll take a look at it, see where they are. It’s sometimes difficult for me to come in in the middle of a case, but what I’ll do is assess it, make an evaluation of the client, and on a case-by-case basis decide whether I can come in, and if so on what circumstances. They don’t always come, in fact, I don’t like it frankly when they come in the day after the wreck. Normally cases where somebody’s been more seriously injured, maybe in the hospital, it may be several weeks before they’re out and their family members can really asses, “Do we need legal representation?” There’s no fast formula. In terms of the summertime it’s, again, you do see a uptake, again, just me because I think there’s more driving and they’re are more wrecks.


You’re exactly right about some of the happiest times of the year will result in some of the saddest, most tragic situations. I guess if there’s one thing I want some of the viewers of this pod cast to just keep in mind is that summertime is happy time but it comes with, like anything in life, a series of risks. You’ve seen it through your practice, I’ve seen it through mine. Those risks are the heat, the heat takes a lot out of us, and again with more numbers on the road one needs to ratchet up your care. Even though the wreck may not be your fault, but on the other hand you’ve got to be extra careful watching out for the other guy, maybe you can avoid having to come in to see me in the first place. The other thing I’d like to address is the comments about the absorption of alcohol in the heat and whether or not … Again, you deal with that a lot. While that cold beer may taste really good on a hot day, there is something about alcohol consumption and heat and what that does sort-of dehydrates the body and accentuates the effects of the alcohol even more.


Bill: I don’t know if there’s any particular study on that. I will say that as a whole as it gets hotter people drink more, they get dehydrated, they get more thirsty, and they drink more. Mike, if we could, and we try to keep these segments relatively short, but if we could wrap up this segment. Maybe you give us 3, 5, 7 bullet-points of what to do. Let’s focus on your practice, legal representation for plaintiffs injury, personal injury, work cases. What would you recommend people do when they get hurt or are in an accident?
Bill: I would say what would recommenced to people? If you’re hurt, go see a doctor.  Things like that.


Mike: Yeah. One, at the wreck itself. If you’re capable and conscious just make sure you get as much information as you can. The good thing these days, what everybody needs to have, are these little things (mobile phone, mobile camera, video). You can take a ton of photographs and I would certainly recommend that right there at the scene. Obviously exchange information with the other driver. Most of the time the police officer will do that. Go get checked out. If you think you’re hurt go get checked out. I tell clients sometimes-


Bill: Don’t try to tough it out, right?


Mike: I admire that. I have a physical condition myself and I appreciate people who want to tough it out. I tell people and I say understand that when you do that you might as well be sitting down and writing a memo to the insurance company, they’re insurance company. I just want to let you know I’m feeling great today. It’s important at least go check it out, because you’re not a doctor, I’m not a doctor, we can’t tell people whether they’re okay. They need to get a doctors opinion for that. The other thing is to, I think, be careful in your selection of an attorney. People get tons of letters, usually, and of course there’s usually tons of TV advertising.


I’m not trying to disparage either one of those practices per se, but I will say that you need more than just a letter in the mail or just a commercial on TV to chose what your best bet is in terms of hiring an attorney. That would be get recommendations from people, when you call them ask what kind of experience they’ve had. I think you get a comfort level like you and I would with a doctor or a dentist of whatever, there’s a personal relationship that you develop and you have a gut feeling. If you feel like you like this attorney, you can deal with them, that’s always a good sign too.


Bill: I’m hearing 4 points. Exchange information, take lots of pictures, safely, don’t tough it out, go see a doctor, and interview your lawyer, and if you need a lawyer interview carefully until you have good bets on … Make sure someone you are comfortable with.


Mike: I think that’s good advice for the summer time, and frankly anytime. Let’s just enjoy the weather, enjoy the summer, and let’s do this again soon.


Bill: All right. We’ll end this segment of North Carolina Law Talk. Mike, I’m sure we’ll shoot another one here quickly. Thank you. If you have questions please call Mike Daisley. Mike, which telephone number now?


Mike: The new number actually. Remember, I’ve got a new law firm. I’m very happy about this, it’s Goodson Daisley Law. Paul Goodson does a lot of Veterans benefits and social security disability. I joined his practice. Goodson Daisley Law is 704-331-8014.


Bill: All right. Thank you much.




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Transcript for Hearing Impaired


Modified Transcript of “NC Law Talk – The Courts Law and Legislation 2016c” for the Hearing Impaired

Bill Powers: Hi, I’m Bill Powers. I am one of the partners at Powers Law Firm PA in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m joined with my friend Mike Daisley of Daisley Law. Mike, welcome!


Mike Daisley: Thank you, Bill, good to be here as always.


Bill Powers: Good to have you. We are doing the latest episode of North Carolina Law Talk. Mike used to be located in our office. We were two separate law firms but we shared some space. He’s moved on to better and greener pastures.


Mike Daisley: I don’t know about that, but I appreciate it.


Bill Powers: He’s working out of another lawyer’s and law firm’s office. They’re in the process of hopefully merging at the end of this month, which is April 2016. Mike, give us a little thumbnail sketch, what you’re doing, where you’re at and how things are going for you.


Mike Daisley: Sure. Paul Goodson and I have joined practices. Paul has been involved in the area of Veteran’s benefits and Social Security benefits for a long, long time. He also does a lot of the work that I do. Basically insurance injuries, plaintiff’s claims work in civil litigation. What he found was that he wasn’t getting into that type of work as much as he wanted. He wanted me to come over and help him with that type of work, bring my work with him and try to get into a situation where one plus one equals three. You get a lot of synergy.


We have offices here in Charlotte, and in Fayetteville, and in Myrtle Beach. That’s where a lot of veterans are. We are serving them not just with their veterans’ benefits but also with their basic civil litigation law. One thing I will mention in addition to that is one of the things we’re beginning to formulate, is what we call Carolina’s Veterans’ Legal Network, in which we get a network of good attorneys, like Bill Powers, to help Carolina’s veterans with the particular legal needs that they have. These veterans would call Goodson Daisley Law. We would take their information and match them with some of the good lawyers that we’ve gotten to know through the years both in North and South Carolina.

Bill Powers and Powers Law Firm PA are NOT affiliated with the Law Office of Paul Goodson, Daisley Law, PLLC, “Carolina’s Veterans’ Network” or any “Legal Network.”  


For instance, if a veteran who’s returned back has someone, a family member who was stopped for speeding or some traffic violation, or for drunk driving. We might say to them, “Gee, based on what you’re telling us, we think you would do well to speak with Bill Powers of Powers and Carten.” We would give that veteran family member’s information and work with your firm to make sure that client is taken care of. That’s part of what we’re going to do as well. We’re going to build that network up for referrals.


Bill Powers: Right. For the record, nothing’s been established yet. All separate law firms–


Mike Daisley: Absolutely.


Bill Powers: I appreciate you sharing that. It’s good to know what we’re doing, personally.


North Carolina Law Talk is primarily focused on policy issues, courtroom procedures, what’s going on in Legislature. We take a point – counterpoint perspective on these things. I tend to be more Libertarian, maybe, a little more Conservative, Independent at times. Mike, I think you’re starting the Communist Party here in North Carolina, is that it?


Mike Daisley: Not hardly, not hardly! I’m a raging moderate Democrat. Given some of the changes that are happening right now, it seems like the Democratic Party is stressing more of local rule now and more of business interests now with some of the things happening in the Legislature. There’s been discussion of things like House Bill 2, with the Legislature taking over and voting down local ordinances. Things along those lines. Going into redrawing district lines with local area. It’s not necessarily a Democratic/Republican sort of thing. These days, it’s tough to tell which Party is the “activist” Party. Once again, the Republicans are. Insofar as the law that we’re working with, one of the things that is interesting to see is–


Bill Powers: Let’s refer to law that we’re speaking with now because that’s what we do is talk–


Mike Daisley: Right, exactly.


Bill Powers: –is House Bill number 2.


Mike Daisley: Right.


Bill Powers: I don’t know what House Bill number 1 was. It was a special session called by the Speaker of the North Carolina House. It cost the taxpayers about forty-thousand dollars to get everybody up in Raleigh. The Bill was introduced, it passed the House. It was sent over to the Senate, it passed the Senate. Then Governor McCrory signed off on it on the same day, within a matter of hours.


To discuss it from a historical standpoint, it was meant to address a Mecklenburg County ordinance. People refer to it as, “The Bathroom Bill.” That was predicated on a concept of equal use of bathrooms by LGBT people. The legislature picked up the issue, passed House Bill 2 which amended in no small part the statute of North Carolina regarding filing lawsuits, litigation and restitution for harassment, whether it be sexual or, better said, employment discrimination.


Did I get it right? We have our political perspectives. I think it’s important to tell people that. We come to North Carolina Law Talk with the idea of discussing laws. Although we may have opinions on why or where or how things get passed. So, did I get it right?


Mike Daisley: Yeah, in a nutshell. The Charlotte ordinance was simply stating local businesses could not discriminate against someone who wanted to come in. A transgender person who identified as male could use the men’s bathroom. A transgender person who identified as female could use the women’s bathroom. The State Legislature didn’t like that. They called this special session to change or overrule that ordinance which the State Legislature can do. All city and town ordinances are subject to the State Legislature’s jurisdiction. The State Legislature can overrule any of them. The thing about the State law though, Bill, is that it, of course went much further than just Charlotte’s bathroom ordinance.


Bill Powers: It was a hot button issue down here. It was a lightening rod of sorts. There was some consternation and concern, locally. I’m not aware on a national basis any other jurisdiction that passed that expansive of a bill.


Mike Daisley: On a statewide level, there are a number of jurisdictions and cities and towns across the country that have the anti-discrimination ordinance.


Bill Powers: Oh, sure. Albeit, with the particular ordinance of the “Bathroom Bill,” I think it’s unfortunate because of –and this is where I may cross-over to some of my more conservative brethren– It’s more than a bit mean-spirited and that’s disconcerting. The point of the matter is we’re discussing a bathroom issue that passed in a local jurisdiction. There may be some national protocols defining LGBT community as a protected class.


Mike Daisley: Right.


Bill Powers: Reasonable minds can differ as to whether that’s necessary or appropriate. I think it is. I differ from many conservatives on that point. As a response, it was used as a banner or a lightening rod of sorts with the more Conservative faction to say, “Oh, we’re going to have these people using the bathrooms,” and all that. We got tied up in the more inappropriate aspects of a statute –I should say, for a statute. Really not the main issue. There was some anger in Raleigh. It was projected that this was going to take place. Rather than address a narrow focus, a very much more broad law was passed.


Since the mid to late ’70’s, we’ve had a policy in North Carolina. We have laws on the books that say, “You cannot discriminate as a basis of employment for certain protected classes.” Traditionally, that’s been for age, race, sex, disability. If someone fired you because they didn’t like hiring Republican white males over the age of fifty, or I don’t like the car you drive, or you eat too much fish, whatever.


There was a remedy. The remedy had a period of time. It’s what’s referred to the Statute of Limitations to bring a Cause of Action. There was concurrent jurisdiction on some issues in Federal Court.  Indeed, many state law claims would be grabbed under Title VII of United States Code up to Federal Court. When we passed this bill, I don’t know if it was intentional or not. We just completely gutted the remedy. The law on discrimination in North Carolina is more a suggestion because there’s no remedy. We got rid of that law. I seriously hope that if nothing else, we go back and instead of using a shotgun, use a rifle to address some of these different issues.


Mike, help people understand where I’m coming from a more general perspective. I want to make sure I’m getting it right. Do you agree with me that we have gutted that law and now we’re going to Federal Court and have changed the process, fundamentally, in North Carolina?


Mike Daisley: Right. It’s taken away the right of state remedies. I think it’s fair to say that neither one of us are a supporter of HB2 at all. If we had a supporter of the Bill here, they would say, “Oh, Mike and Bill, you’re over-dramatizing things. A worker who suffers discrimination still has a remedy. They can go to Federal Court.” Well, that’s true. That person would have to admit if they had any sense of genuineness or intellectual honesty, that that road is much, much tougher for a worker than the normal State remedy.


Bill Powers: To be fair, Mike, I think it’s more difficult for employers. In fact, in years past you and as separate law firms have represented employers–


Mike Daisley: Right.


Bill Powers: –On a discrimination suit for someone who hired other employees. We know the burdens and the costs associated with something once that train leaves the station, if you will.


Mike Daisley: Right. Right.


Bill Powers: Federal litigation which involves the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, often referred to as the EEOC, the right to sue letter. It’s a lot more expensive for both sides, I think it’s fair to say.


Mike Daisley: What I like to quote is that left-wing Liberal Hugh McColl. Ha ha. He’s revered for lots of reasons, a solid, very wise businessman. He came out a week ago thereabouts looking at that.  It’s just unnecessary litigation. An unnecessary legislation. It was a great overreach by the General Assembly that wasn’t needed. If in fact, the ordinance in Charlotte regarding transgender people using a bathroom that the state legislature didn’t like, that arrangement, then address that! Address that ordinance, and address that ordinance merrily. Don’t go shoving in and undoing decades of employment law in the process. It’s just not necessary.


It can work for employment lawyers. Again, that’s not how you and I, you and I don’t have that as our main focus of practice. It may be great work for an employment lawyer, but it’s not particularly good policy. Again, what the proponents would say is, “Oh, Gosh. Workers are still protected.” That’s what Governor McCrory is saying, “Oh, workers are still protected.” They’re protected on a much more difficult avenue. As you just said, employers are not that much better off either. It makes it complicated for everybody. That’s what we have.


Bill Powers: My concerns as a professional and someone that wants the best for the state, is the methodology. I like to give people the opportunity to talk about things. It looks bad to rush through something without giving people an opportunity to discuss the merits. As we’ve seen in some of the vitriol that’s taken place in media since then, it’s possible -indeed, likely- a good portion of our good folks up on Jones Street don’t really understand what they signed off on. There’s an old saying: Don’t just stand there, do something. My granddad used to say, “Don’t just do something; Stand there.”


Mike Daisley: Stand there for a little bit. Not a bad idea.


Bill Powers: Whatever side you come down on -you don’t need to come down a side, you may be in the middle- without attacking the motivations, it just was a bad process. It left a bad taste in many, many people’s mouths on both sides. That’s not really what I think North Carolina is all about. I’ve already stated I differ with many Conservatives on this particular issues.  Frankly, I haven’t heard too many transgender bathroom issues in the criminal law sector. I understand the desire to protect children and families, but there’s so many other things out there that I wish we’d be focusing on. I’m not quite sure I liked almost anything about the process. I’m probably ticking off everybody.


Mike Daisley: Bill, we’ve known each other for a long time. The reason why this bothers you is because to me, you’ve always been a Conservative in the true sense of that word. Conservative, meaning move slow. Move carefully. Move prudently. Don’t upset and turn upside-down the status quo, imprudently.


Bill Powers: I don’t like wide-reaching laws being hijacked by a political concern.


Mike Daisley: Right!


Bill Powers: –Political concerns. Hot button issues don’t work well with me.


Mike Daisley: Or, people in Raleigh reaching out to people in Charlotte, in this case.  There have been other instances in Asheville and Greensboro and other places where Raleigh has overridden the local ordinance. It reminds me, in my area of the law, what happens a lot. The General Assembly has before now, in the last couple of years, imposed damages. They’ve imposed damage limits in certain areas of the law, particularly in medical negligence cases.


This is literally true: A jury that is picked in Anson County or Montgomery County or Orange County, anyplace. What we’re referring to here is tort reform. What happened in that case is a jury that’s duly impaneled panel. A local jury, local citizens. They sit and they listen to all the evidence. It’s argued in front of a local judge by both a plaintiff’s attorney and a defense attorney. A jury sits there and they deliberate. They decide that the harm done to a particular person who was in a catastrophic, bad wreck. Or, a family member who lost a beloved child or parent due to medical negligence. They decide the harm done in that instance was, say, five million dollars, or seven million dollars, or seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The judge thanks the jury, the jury foreperson and sends them home. Then he’s required under law to reduce those damages.


Bill Powers: It goes the other direction, too. You hear of juries giving one dollar. Yeah, I’ve got to agree with you, Mike. I’ve never understood this from my Conservative sisters and brothers who call themselves strict Constitutionalists. Justice Scalia was an Originalist, if I am remembering correctly.


Mike Daisley: God rest his soul, yes.


Bill Powers: I did get to meet him. It was interesting talking to him for a short period.


Mike Daisley: Interesting guy, no question about it.


Bill Powers: Whatever way you agree with his politics. He was a very nice man.


Mike Daisley: Fun guy to have a meal with, I would think.


Bill Powers: Yeah. I’ve never understood this logic. We have the three branches of government. We have the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights to not be intruded upon, our privacy, our right to cross-examine and confront witnesses, in order to have a jury of our peers and really balance out society. Whether it’s Jefferson, or John Adams, or Franklin, even Washington. Maybe even Hamilton, who no one liked, maybe except for George Washington. It was an important point of our society to have that balancing of twelve people in a box who heard the facts and said, “This is who we are.”


Mike Daisley: Right.


Bill Powers: It is really disconcerting to me that we have any law in place. We talk about these runaways juries, they a movie about that. That truth of the matter is that jurors are you and me. The most important people in that courtroom, in my mind -I mean no disrespect to the judges- are jurors. There is one courtroom- I’ve been to many in North Carolina; but I’ve been to more than some and less than a few. The one courtroom in Carolina that gets it right just from how the courtroom is set up is out in Greenville, North Carolina. You walk in the courtroom, and on a raised and elevated level is the judge. Then you got the clerk of court and the court reporter, I forget what side they sit on. The table for the plaintiff or, in a criminal case, the prosecution is to the judge’s right. The table for the defendant or the plaintiff’s (defendant’s) lawyer is to the left. It doesn’t much matter which one we sit at. The jury is smack across from the judge.


Mike Daisley: Wow.


Bill Powers: So, judge here. Jury here. The litigants or participants on the side. There’s no jockeying for who gets to sit closer to the jury. In criminal cases, we always complain the State gets to sit closest to the jury. Although, clear in the law anywhere.


Mike Daisley: It’s like a box.


Bill Powers: It’s like the perfect box. The jury is elevated to the level they should be. They’re the ones that determine the facts in a case.


We did amend the Constitution last year. I understand the logic for it. Again, I don’t think it’s going to do what people in Raleigh thought it was going to do. In criminal cases, we now allow a superior court judge to serve as a jury like they do in district court and be the finder of law.


In fact, we had a case or two come out last couple weeks where that actually was done on a rather serious case. It took a Constitutional amendment. I think the logic was to allow the mechanics of a legal issue to not take up jury time. It would be able to be appealed at the Court of Appeals. As a practical manner, I don’t know how many lawyers are going to agree to that on either side. The case I heard about was a pro se litigant, Latin for, “for himself.” For the record, I don’t know the facts of the case but he was found guilty whether you find that surprising or unsurprising.


It goes back to this overall perspective that you have gone over and this is where you have one opinion about something from a different perspective. I may be entirely different, and yet come to the same conclusion. That conclusion is, what’s fair? Has everyone had a chance to be collaborative in the process?


Mike Daisley: Right.


Bill Powers: I hate this Partisanship, this division we have both nationally but also locally, where it’s us versus them. I understand we may have our differences, and maybe I’m going on a little bit long, but this is something that really irritates both of us. Anyone who practices. Clearly, you have views on the tort reform. What are your views from the criminal side? Tell me what you think about that.


Mike Daisley: I forget what law professor it was that told me. It’s a statement I remember and I have quoted it often. It’s, “Justice is a process. It’s not a result.” I’m a ‘words matter’ kind of guy. I get ticked off with journalists sometimes when they are fast and lose. For instance, in a news cast they’ll say, “So-and-so at such-and-such a jury had declared John Smith innocent today!” No. They’re not innocent, it’s not guilty.


The reason that’s an important term is because you’re not declared innocent of a crime. When a jury comes back saying, “Not guilty,” what it says is North Carolina did not carry it’s high burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that John Smith was guilty of a crime. It doesn’t mean that John Smith was innocent. It just means the State was not able to carry it’s burden.


The reason I’m saying that justice is a process and not a result and why that’s important, is that we all know of big cases that we’ve seen in the news. You’ve been in the news on a number of cases, defending big cases. We have good friends that have been both on the prosecution side, and on the defense attorney side, prosecuting big criminal cases. Talk show hosts and reporters will rush just as soon as the verdict comes in. “Was this a fair verdict? Was justice done? Was justice done?  Was justice done?” As if somebody’s going to take a poll that will “I agree with the verdict, I don’t agree with the verdict.” Justice failed, or justice was upheld. No. If you have a duly impaneled fair jury in front of a competent judge, two sets of juries–


Bill Powers: A competent. Not an incompetent, “A” competent.


Mike Daisley: A competent. Excuse me, thank you. I want to articulate that properly. A competent judge. In front of a competent judge. You have two attorneys who zealously advocate their position: One for the State, one in defending a client. You have a jury that struggles with all of the evidence. Not just what’s heard in a three minute sound bite or story on the news. They come back with a verdict. I will tell you in that case, regardless of what the verdict is, justice was served.


Bill Powers: I agree. That’s where occasionally the law and the policy in North Carolina gets hijacked.


Mike Daisley: Right.


Bill Powers: Salacious sells newspapers.


Mike Daisley: Sure.


Bill Powers: Our culture of instant -these darn things. You want an instant response, you want the most terse-fully condense packed language with a good infographic and maybe a meme or a GIF.  That’s not good law. That’s not how good law should be.


Well, Mike, I’m excited about this. This is kind of our season, if you will. We’re about to start a long-term of the North Carolina General Assembly.


Mike Daisley: That will be great.


Bill Powers: We go through seasons where the Spring, Summer and the Fall during a long session I think begins April 22nd, 2016.

A SHORT SESSION for the North Carolina General Assembly begins in April 2016.  


Mike Daisley: I do need to mention one more thing before I forget about this season. April is Distracted Driving Month. That doesn’t mean you go out and practice distracted driving, no. What that means is–


Bill Powers: Stop doing this while you’re driving.


Mike Daisley: Exactly. If you’re actually concerned about distracted driving and really, really… Just stop. It’s hard to do, but you’ve got to break the habit.


Bill Powers: Frankly, I’ve personally heard Governor McCrory talk about this. This is something that applies to both civil cases and–


Mike Daisley: Right.


Bill Powers: –Could be the subject of some legislation. It wouldn’t surprise me, where the penalties for texting while driving, which is hard to prove, the penalties can be increased. I’ve heard Governor McCrory talk about it. He now, as the Governor, rides up in an SUV. I think a Tahoe. He’s sitting there looking down and he says, “You won’t believe the number of people that are texting while driving, or calling somebody. Gracious, I think some studies now are even saying texting while driving is more distracting than being impaired.


Mike Daisley: In a lot of cases, I do the civil side of that and I can tell you that those studies absolutely show that. While it turns off your brain, it could be a future Law Talk. That would be a good thing to do.


Bill Powers: I know it turns off your brain. At least it does for my fourteen-year-old daughter.


Mike, thank you again.. of legislation. We do encourage people if you have questions, please give Mike Daisley at Daisley Law an e-mail or a call. Or, you can call me at Powers Law Firm PA. We are more than willing to talk about these different issues. The purpose of North Carolina Law Talk is to discuss trends, policies, laws and help people understand who want to take time to listen on different perspectives on the law.


Mike, thanks again and I’ll look forward to hopefully meeting with you next week. We’ll go over our next issues. Thanks, my friend.


Mike Daisley: Let’s do it soon. Thanks.


Bill Powers: Bye-Bye





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