I hope all of you are doing well in dealing with the Covid - 19 pandemic and the bombardment of election commercials, the latter of which has a light at the end of the tunnel. Depending on your party affiliation, the light may be sunshine or a locomotive headed at you full speed! The good news is that election season is almost over . . . for this year.
We cannot help you with the election, but the NCADA is focusing on how it can help its members, their firms, and their practices. We want to hear from you! Please let us know what the NCADA can do to increase the value of your member experience. Traditionally, we have provided excellent continuing education and networking opportunities. We are doing our best to continue this tradition in the present virtual world, and we are open to suggestions and increased membership participation. Please contact Lynette Pitt, Jennifer Edwards or Allen Smith and let us know what we can do to make your NCADA experience even better.
At our annual Fall Seminar, we had an excellent panel of for managing partners who discussed how firms are coping with the pandemic. The association has also hosted many webinars for CLE credit, several of which have been complimentary to members due to the generosity of our sponsors.
Which leads to my next topic: sponsors. Bar organizations depend on sponsors, and NCADA is fortunate to have so many loyal and generous sponsors. Please remember to use our sponsors and thank them.
Our Sponsorship Committee is looking for members to join the committee. This presents an excellent opportunity for members to get involved. If you are interested, please contact the committee chair, Melissa Walker or Lynette Pitt.
The NCADA has a history of encouraging and promoting diversity and inclusion. In 2019, we won the DRI Rudolph A. Janata Award for the second time. But we do not want to rest on our laurels. The committee continues to be an important focus of the NCADA, and it welcomes additional members. This also presents an excellent opportunity for members to get involved. If you are interested, please contact the Diversity Committee Chair, Denaa Griffin or Lynette Pitt.
When I next write you, we will be approaching Thanksgiving. I wish you well between now and then.
A Note from NCADA President, Allen Smith
I can think of reasons to love purple: football (think Minnesota Vikings, ECU Pirates, and TCU Horned Frogs), music (Jimi Hendrix’s classic, “Purple Haze,” and the band Deep Purple), Easter, lollipops, rainbows, Crayola Crayons, Rockies, and leisure suits. I probably lost you with the leisure suits, as purple ones were particularly ugly.
BUT purple is not a good color for a state during election years. Sure, we North Carolinians get lots of attention, but we get too much attention. About the only good thing about COVID-19 has been no national political convention in my hometown of Charlotte, USA. One is enough, if not too many, for a lifetime.
We the people who live in the purple states like North Carolina get force fed the commercials and commercials and commercials and still even more commercials for the race for president. If one candidate wins, the country will fall apart at its seams. If another candidate wins, the country will experience its greatest moments in history. If the other candidate wins, riots and looting will never end. If one candidate wins, the country will be safe. Or at least all the TV commercials have said so - and I have seen plenty by both sides. Many have been back to back! As of the day I write this, we will get pummeled with commercials for another six weeks. And with the talking heads on TV predicting days to count all the votes, the commercials may continue past election day--or new types of commercials will appear.
How does my rant about seeing way, way too many ads for the presidential election apply to the practice of law? You learn what not to do. Do not call your opponent names. That may work (or it may not) in a political race, but it will come back to bite you in the practice of law. Do not denigrate the other side; show the opposing counsel and party respect in person. You do not have to be friends, but you have to work together to get through the litigation process. Do not mislead the court. When you are before the court, have facts and law to support your arguments. Only promise jurors or the court what you can deliver. Politicians lose credibility and win all the time. If a lawyer loses credibility with jurors, the lawyer is likely to lose the case. If a lawyer loses credibility with the court, the lawyer hurts the current client and possibly future clients.
I conclude by urging you to vote. The members of our organization have a wide array of opinions and political beliefs. However, I think that everyone agrees on the importance of casting a vote.
By Allen Smith, NCADA President
NCADA and President Allen Smith are pleased to introduce a series of columns to be included in The Resource over the next year on “What it means to be a defense attorney.”
We are very fortunate that some of the recent winners of the Elster Award and Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy graciously agreed to share their impressions over the remainder of the 2020-21 NCADA a year.
In writing the first column on the subject, I feel like a Double-A baseball player batting leadoff in a Major League Baseball All-Star Game. (Not knowing whether we will have a college football season, and I sure hope that we do, I am reticent to use a football analogy like kick-off.)
Over the past 24 hours, the eastern Piedmont and Coastal areas of our state were hit with devastating rain, wind, and in some areas, tornadoes. The impacts of Hurricane Isaias will be long lasting, and while property can be replaced, the lives lost cannot.
Please keep our members, their family members, and the communities impacted by the storm in your thoughts and prayers. The North Carolina Coast is still in the process of recovering from Hurricane Florence, and this latest storm will only add to the struggles faced by the residents of these areas.
Please reach out to your friends, family members, and fellow NCADA members in the impacted areas of our great state and let them know they have our support, attention, and prayers.
NCADA President 2020-2021
RALEIGH – Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has issued new emergency directives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that require the wearing of face coverings inside county courthouses and planning for the resumption of jury trials.
“I have issued several emergency directives calculated to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina's communities,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “Consistent with the Governor’s recommendations and the clear guidance of public health experts, requiring face coverings in courthouses is necessary to keep our courts open while protecting court personnel and the public.”
Chief Justice Beasley announced that jury trials in North Carolina courts will be delayed through at least September, and has directed senior resident superior court judges to develop comprehensive plans for the eventual safe resumption of jury trials in their districts. Each Jury Trial Resumption Plan must ensure that all court operations are in compliance with each of the Chief Justice’s emergency directives and must be informed by the Best Safety Practices distributed by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.
Each Jury Trial Resumption Plan must include:
Each Jury Trial Resumption Plan must be approved by the following officials in the county:
N.C. Defense Fund Endorses Judicial Candidates for 2020 Appellate Races
Raleigh, NC, July 13, 2020 --- The N.C. Defense Fund, the political action committee of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, endorses the following candidates seeking seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals:
For Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the N.C. Defense Fund endorses both
Cherie L. Beasley and Paul M. Newby for re-election to the Court.
For Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the N.C. Defense Fund endorses
For Seat 2: Lucy N. Inman for election to the Court.
For Seat 3: Mark A. Davis for election to the Court.
For Associate Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the N.C. Defense Fund endorses:
For Seat 4: Patricia P. Shields for election to the Court.
For Seat 5: No Endorsement
For Seat 6: R. Christopher Dillon for re-election to the Court.
For Seat 7: Reuben F. Young for election to the Court.
For Seat 8: Jefferson G. Griffin for election to the Court.
The NC Defense Fund made the decision to endorse each judicial candidate based on the following criteria:
•Substantial legal experience in and demonstrated understanding of civil litigation and issues recurrent in defense of claims;
•A willingness to impartially apply the statutory law and rules as written and the common law, including the application of affirmative defenses, and the granting of dispositive motions when warranted;
•A recognition of the legislature's exclusive role to enact statutes and the Court’s role in interpreting existing common law and statutes in a fair, consistent and predictable manner with respect for prior court rulings as compelled by stare decisis;
•Exemplifying a high level of independence and integrity in applying the law impartially and in compliance with judicial standards and the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The N.C. Defense Fund is the political action committee of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys. The North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys [NCADA] is a professional association for lawyers and paralegals defending the interests of individuals and businesses in civil litigation. Current membership stands at over 850 attorneys and paralegals from across the State.
The North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (NCADA) held its Virtual 43rd Annual Meeting the week of June 9-12, 2020, in Asheville, NC, swearing in a new slate of Officers and Directors at the close of the meeting.
Allen C. Smith assumes the position of President. Smith is a partner with Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garafalo, LLP in Charlotte. He is the leader of the Trucking and Transportation Practice Group and devotes much of his time to defending serious personal injury and wrongful death claims associated with truck accidents and major vehicle negligence. He also defends product liability, construction defect, and premises liability claims. Smith obtained his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1992. He previously served a three-year term on the Board of Directors and one year as Secretary.
F. Lach Zemp is immediate Past President of the Association. Zemp, a partner of Roberts & Stevens, P.A., has over 25 years of experience trying cases and representing a variety of professional, outdoor-recreation, industry, and business interests in state and federal courts. He obtained his J.D. from Franklin Pierce Law Center in 1990.
Sara R. Lincoln is President-Elect. Lincoln is a partner with Lincoln Derr, PLLC in Charlotte. She has an active trial practice ranging from medical malpractice defense to complex business litigation. Lincoln obtained her J.D. in 1993 from the University of Akron School of Law, magna cum laude. She has previously served a three-year term on the Board of Directors , and was chair of the Association’s Women Litigators Committee and the Medical Malpractice Group.
Lincoln was instrumental in securing engaging and informative content and speakers for NCADA’s first Virtual Annual Meeting, including Michael Reddington of InQuasive and Jennifer Schenk, the Physician Counsel. Other panelists and speakers discussed and shared what made their defense practices successful. The change from a traditional in-person annual meeting to a virtual meeting was a challenge Sara met head-on, ensuring the meeting and the transition were successful and seamless.
Ashley K. Brathwaite was elected Executive Vice President. Brathwaite practices with Ellis & Winters, LLP. Her practice is divided between the representation of health care providers, product manufacturers and distributors, and others facing allegations of liability for a catastrophic personal injury. She obtained her J.D. from Campbell University School of Law in 2005. Brathwaite has served on the Board since 2015 and previously chaired and co-chaired the Women Litigators Committee.
JD Keister was elected Treasurer. Keister Practices with McAngus Goudelock & Courie, LLP in their Raleigh office. He routinely engages in the representation of parties in construction, professional liability, coverage and bad faith, real estate litigation, catastrophic loss, transportation and automobile litigation and commercial litigation, as well as first party defense for insurance carriers. JD’s construction practice includes the representation of contractors, subcontractors, designers, developers and their insurance companies. His professional liability experience includes the regular representation of architects and engineers, attorneys, real estate brokers and agents, insurance brokers and matters that stem from director and officer liability. JD obtained his juris doctorate from Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law (JD). He also serves as NCADA’s Chair of the Construction CLE Committee.
Chris Kiger was re-elected Secretary. Chris practices with Smith Anderson, LLP. His focus is in the areas of products liability, mass tort, and commercial litigation. He has significant experience representing manufacturers, insurers, and other corporate clients in both state and federal courts, as well as in multi-district litigation. He has successfully handled the defense of litigation involving a broad array of automotive, industrial, consumer, and medical products.
The NCADA welcomed the following new members to the Board of Directors to serve a three-year term ending in 2022:
About the NCADA: North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (NCADA) is a professional organization of nearly 800 attorneys and paralegals who devote a majority of their time representing the interests of business and individuals in civil litigation. For more information about the NCADA, please contact (919)239-4463 or visit www.ncada.org.
NCADA is pleased to announce the recipients for the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence and the Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy for 2020.
Patricia P. Shields is this year’s recipient of the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence, which recognizes contributions to the organized Bar as a whole and to their community. Shields is a partner with Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo, LLP practicing in the firm’s Raleigh office. Shields has earned a reputation as a highly-experienced trial attorney who represents her clients with the highest level of competence and skill, honors the system of justice through outstanding preparation and the keenest of intellects, and maintains professional and courteous behavior toward all. Her litigation practice includes complex commercial, malpractice and professional responsibility, products liability, and civil rights claims.
David N. Allen will receive this year’s Award for Trial Advocacy and is the third recipient of this Award recognizing members who are eminently qualified to advocate for clients in state and federal courtrooms. Recipients of this Award are considered by the NCADA as among the finest trial lawyers in the state. Allen is a partner with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough practicing in the firm’s Charlotte office. Allen represents a broad variety of clients in his trial practice. He has been trying lawsuits for more than 30 years with close to 100 juries empaneled during that time. Allen is a recognized leader for his outstanding commitment and contributions to trial and appellate advocacy – a true courtroom lawyer.
The Awards will presented at a later date this year. Please join us in congratulating Patricia Shields and David Allen as we recognize both as leaders in the NCADA and the civil trial bar.
For the past week, we’ve been home with our families trying to absorb and explain the graphically violent and inexplicable death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer while other officers stood by. Whether locally, nationally, or internationally, the resulting expressions of horror, anger, despair, and anguish have been real, genuine, and strong. The acts of the former police officers with the Minneapolis Police Department require universal condemnation. These issues demand the attention of all of us, and that we not remain silent in the face of such horrific conduct and acts.
The NCADA recognizes and embraces our place as a role model in the legal community. We are proud of our history of inclusion of all members of the civil defense community, regardless of race, gender identification, religion, sexual orientation, skin color, or ethnicity. The diversity of our members and our profession is at the heart of what makes the NCADA the wonderful organization it is. Supporting and embracing that diversity benefits all of us. And although we don’t always understand what other people are feeling or experiencing, we as individuals should always seek a way to try. The NCADA denounces implicit bias, sexism, homophobia, and racism in all forms. The NCADA also supports peaceful protests and the rule of law; these are important rights in civilized society. We encourage our members to begin the sometimes difficult conversation of our how we can each work to improve our society as a whole.
Please consider what you, your colleagues, and your firm can do to further a positive and constructive dialog.
F. Lach Zemp, Jr.
North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys
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