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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

january Meeting Synopsis 

Recognition of New Councilors

The following new councilors were recognized and welcomed:

Kevin Joseph Kiernan, Clinton - District 5

Charles S. Rountree III, Tarboro - District 8

Fred M. Morelock, Raleigh - District 10

James Thomas Burnette, Oxford - District 11

Harold Lee Boughman Jr., Fayetteville - District 14

William C. Fields Jr., Raeford - District 19

Judge Patrice Hinnant-Greensboro - District 24

Gena Graham Morris, Charlotte - District 26

Jennifer Davis Hammond, Salisbury - District 27

George Cleland IV, Winston-Salem - District 31


The council made the following appointments:

Lawyer Assistance Program Board – Gerald Collins Jr. of Murphy and Reid Acree of Salisbury were reappointed to three-year terms. Michael E. McGuire of Greensboro was appointed to serve a three-year term as a clinician-member of the board. John A. Bowman of Durham was reappointed as chair and Theodore C. Edwards II of Raleigh was appointed as vice-chair, both for one-year terms in these leadership positions.  

Disciplinary Hearing Commission – Fred M. Morelock of Raleigh, chair, resigned from the Disciplinary Hearing Commission upon his election as a State Bar Councilor. Donald C. Prentiss of Elizabeth City, vice-chair, was appointed to serve as chair for the remainder of Mr. Morelock’s term. R. Lee Farmer of Yanceyville was appointed to serve as vice-chair for the remainder of Mr. Prentiss’s term. Margaret M. Hunt of Brevard was appointed to complete the unexpired term of Mr. Morelock as a member of the commission.

Board of Law Examiners – Calvin E. Murphy was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Wanda G. Bryant.

ABA Delegates­ – Appointments to complete the terms of Ronald G. Baker Sr. of Kitty Hawk, Shelby Benton of Goldsboro, and Margaret M. Hunt of Brevard as ABA delegates were deferred.  Mr. Baker, Ms. Benton, and Ms. Hunt resigned as ABA delegates.

Recommendations for Appointments Sought

The council and the president will make the following appointments at the council meeting in April 2019. Anyone wishing to be considered or to nominate someone should contact Alice Neece Mine at the State Bar office: 919-828-4620,, PO Box 25908, Raleigh, NC 27611.

American Bar Association Delegates (two-year terms) – There are five appointments to be made. Three appointments will be to the unexpired terms of Ronald G. Baker Sr., Shelby Benton, and Margaret M. Hunt. Mark W. Merritt is eligible for reappointment.

NC General Statutes Commission (two-year terms) – There is one presidential appointment to be made. Starkey Sharp is eligible for reappointment.

Grievance Resolution Board (four-year terms) – There is one appointment to be made by the governor. Robert Campbell is eligible for reappointment. The council makes recommendations to the governor.

Disciplinary Hearing Commission (three-year terms) – There are four appointments to be made by the council.  Allison C. Tomberlin and Margaret M. Hunt are eligible for reappointment.  Donald C. Prentiss is eligible for one additional 3-year term if appointed chair.  Beverly T. Beal is not eligible for reappointment.  There are three public member appointments to be made by the Governor, President Pro Tem, or Speaker of the House.

Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) (three-years terms) – There is one appointment to be made. Jane P. Gray is not eligible for reappointment.

Random Audits

Lawyers selected for audit are randomly drawn from a list generated from the State Bar’s membership database based upon judicial district membership designations. The randomly selected judicial districts used to generate the lists for the first quarter of 2019 are District 1, composed of Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Pasquotank, and Perquimans Counties, and District 30 (formerly District 20B), composed of Union County. 

Ethics Committee

At its meeting on January 17, 2019, the Ethics Committee voted to send or return five inquiries to subcommittees for further study, including Proposed 2018 FEO 8, Advertising Membership in Marketing Company with Misleading Title, and four inquires on the following subjects: informal communications with a judge; whether a lawyer may receive Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in connection with a law practice; participation in “lawyer’s eyes only” discovery agreements; and whether a lawyer may access the social media presence of represented and unrepresented persons.  The committee voted to publish three proposed opinions for comment.

Grievance Committee

During the quarter, the Grievance Committee considered 270 cases. Four lawyers were referred to the Trust Account Compliance Program, six lawyers received letters of caution, 15 lawyers received letters of warning, 11 lawyers received admonitions, five lawyers received reprimands, four lawyers received censures, and seven lawyers were referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for trial.

Rule Amendments

Amendments Pending Approval by the Supreme Court 

At its meeting on January 18, 2019, the council did not adopt any rule amendments for transmission to the Supreme Court for approval. However, amendments approved by the council at its meeting on October 26, 2018, are still pending approval of the Court.   

Proposed Amendments Published For Comment

At its meeting on January 18, 2019, the council voted to publish the following proposed rule amendments for comment from the members of the bar: 

A)  27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .0700, Standing Committees and Boards of the State Bar

.0701 Standing Committees and Boards

The proposed amendment eliminates the requirement that the Grievance Committee establish and implement a disaster response plan to assist victims of disasters in obtaining legal representation and to prevent the improper solicitation of victims by lawyers. 

B)  27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .1000, Model Bylaws for Use by Judicial District Bars

.1010 Committees

The proposed amendments reflect the elimination of judicial district bar fee dispute programs. 

C)  27 N.C.A.C. 1B, Section .0100, Discipline and Disability of Attorneys

.0106 Grievance Committee: Powers and Duties

The proposed amendments reflect the Grievance Committee’s authority to operate the Attorney Client Assistance Program and the Fee Dispute Resolution Program.

D)  27 N.C.A.C. 1B, Section .0200, Rules Governing Judicial District Grievance Committees

.0202 Jurisdiction and Authority of District Grievance Committees

The proposed amendment reflects the elimination of judicial district fee dispute programs.

E)  27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .0700, Procedures for Fee Dispute Resolution

.0701 Purpose and Implementation

.0702 Jurisdiction

.0704 Confidentiality

.0706 Powers and Duties of the Vice-Chairperson

.0707 Processing Requests for Fee Dispute Resolution

.0708 Settlement Conference Proceedings

.0709 Record Keeping

.0710 District Bar Fee Dispute Resolution

.0711 District Bar Settlement Conference Proceedings

The proposed amendments to multiple rules governing the State Bar’s fee dispute resolution program eliminate judicial district bar fee dispute programs; eliminate language that would allow a third-party payor of legal fees or expenses to file a fee dispute petition; state that the fee dispute program does not have jurisdiction over disputes regarding fees or expenses that are the subject of a pending Client Security Fund (CSF) claim or CSF claim that has been paid in full; provide that, ordinarily, a fee dispute will be processed before a companion grievance; and modernize existing language of this section. The proposed amendments were recommended by the Attorney/Client Assistance Program/Fee Dispute Program Review Committee of the State Bar Council.

E)  27 N.C.A.C. 2, Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule 1.5, Fees

The proposed amendment expands the information a lawyer must communicate to a client before the lawyer may initiate legal proceedings to collect a disputed fee

F)  27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .0400, Election Succession and Duties of Officers

.0409 President

.0412 Emergency Authority [new rule]

The proposed amendments expressly authorize the president to act in the name of the State Bar under emergent circumstances when it is not practicable or reasonable to convene a meeting of the council. Actions taken pursuant to this authority are subject to ratification at the next meeting of the council.     

G)  27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1500, Rules Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program; Section .1600, Regulations Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program

.1501 Scope, Purpose, and Definitions

.1512 Source of Funds

.1517 Exemptions

.1518 Continuing Legal Education Program

.1519 Accreditation Standards

.1520 Registration of Sponsors and Program Approval

.1521 Credit Hours

.1524 Reinstatement

.1601 General Requirements for Course Approval

.1602 Course Content Requirements

.1603 Registered Sponsors

.1604 Accreditation of Prerecorded, Simultaneous Broadcast, and Computer-Based Programs

.1605 Computation of Credit

.1606 Fees.

The proposed amendments to the two sections of rules that govern the administration of the CLE program eliminate the annual 6.0 cap on online CLE credit hours. In addition, there are numerous non-substantive proposed amendments that improve the clarity and consistency of the rules by, for example, the utilization of standardized terms (e.g., “program” in lieu of “class,” “session,” “presentation,” and “activity”). 


Filed Under: General News

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