Monday, March 26, 2018

North Carolina Law Practice History

Archibald D. Murphey

North Carolina Law Practice History

The history of law practice in North Carolina probably should be divided into two periods: the "admission to practice" period and the "licensure" period. Before a unified bar was created in 1933, those wishing to enter the legal profession in North Carolina would study law and then request admission from the NC Supreme Court. Law could be studied by attenting a law school or by "reading" law with an established lawyer. The Court would orally examine the applicant and make a decision as to admission -- essentially being authorized to appear in the courts of the state and to represent clients.

In describing the period before the Civil War historial Bill Powell provides:

"Those who sought special training to enter one of the professions could find opportunities in the state. Lawyers and judges accepted young men into their offices so they could read law and prepare themselves to be examined before the local court for licensing. A few prominent lawyers conducted law schools -- among them, William H. Battle, Leonard Henderson, James Iredell, Jr., Archibald D. Murphey, Richmond M. Pearson, and John Louis Taylor."

Source: Powell, William S. North Carolina Through Four Centuries. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 1989, p. 318.

The University of North Carolina School of Law was founded in 1845.

The "license" as we know it today dates from 1933 when the unified North Carolina State Bar was established. However, before 1933, lawyers were "admitted" to practice law in North Carolina courts, and this "admission" generally was called being "licensed."

Due to its general social and economic backwardness, which was caused partially by the obsoleteness of the Fundamental Constitutions, North Carolina was extremely slow in developing a distinct legal profession. Of the earliest lawyers practically nothing is known, except that there were some people - presumably ill qualified - who acted as attorneys for others. These conditions were aptly described in The Life and Correspondence of James Iredell:

At this period too, in what was then called the 'back country,' the gentlemen of the Bar were objects of obloquy and denunciation to a generally poor and illiterate people, and frequently experienced at their hands the grossest outrages .... The people justly complained of the burden of their taxes - a burden augmented by the extortion of illegal fees by the officers of the Courts; but with a blind prejudice, many of them only saw in the profession, those who defended their oppressors .... Uncultivated settlers ... are apt to look with suspicion upon the proprietor of the soil ... and [upon] the attorneys employed to bring ejectments or sue for use, as the venial instruments of tyranny, bandits, hired by gold to dispoil them of the fruits of their honest

Subsequently, these practices brought about popular uprisings, known as
Regulations, which were put down in 1768 and, again, in 1771 when the
Regulators were crushed by punitive military expeditions to the "back

After the year 1702, the practice of law was officially recognized in
North Carolina, provided the practitioner had been licensed by the chief
justice and the two associate judges who constituted the General Court of
Judicature. The admission to practice was to be controlled by two English
statutes, namely, the Statute of Westminster the First, c. 29 (of 1275) and 3 James I, c. 7 (of 1605), which were considered to be in force in North Carolina. 62 The latter statute provided:

. . . .
. . . .

After the revision of the laws of North Carolina had been carried out in the year 1746, attornies were admitted (or appointed) by the Royal Governor, usually upon the recommendation of the court. This was done in order to retain a more efficient control over the gradually emerging legal profession. There existed, however, nothing resembling an organized bar. The first known English barrister in North Carolina was William Smith

In some colonies (Virginia, South Carolina, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina) the principle of centralized admission was observed, where either the highest court or the governor, usually upon recommendation by the bench, admitted the candidate to practice in any and all courts of the colony.

On the eve of the Amercan Revolution each of the colonies, with the exception perhaps of Georgia, North Carolina, and New Hampshire, had substantially developed a trained and capable native bar . . . .

Source: Chroust, Anton-Hermann. "Legal Profession in Colonial America," Notre Dame Law Review, Volume 34, Issue 1, 1 Deceeber 1958.

The North Carolina State Bar was created in 1933 by the North Carolina General Assembly as the government agency responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in North Carolina. The State Bar currently regulates over 28,000 licensed lawyers. Protection of the public and protection of our system of justice are the objectives of regulation.

The late William L. Storey, who served as executive vice president and secretary of the NCBA for 26 years, provided the following historical insight into the establishment of the N.C. State Bar and what is now known as the N.C. Board of Law Examiners:

“In 1903 the Association requested the General Assembly to grant to the lawyers of the State the responsibility for examining, licensing and disbarring members of the profession. By 1915 the Association was successful in securing from the General Assembly authorization to create a board of legal examiners which consisted of the Chief Justice and two Associate Justices of the Supreme Court – thus relieving the Association from the burden of attempting to handle the admission matters. By 1932, the Association had agreed that an incorporated bar established by legislative enactment was necessary to control the examination, licensing and disbarment of attorneys and to prevent the unauthorized practice of the law. A bill was drawn by the North Carolina Bar Association and the 1933 General Assembly enacted Chapter 210 of the public laws. It was ratified on April 3, 1933, creating the North Carolina State Bar.”

Courts in Caswell County, North Carolina: District Court

The North Carolina 9A Judicial District Court is one of fifty district courts in North Carolina. It has jurisdiction in the counties of Person and Caswell.

John Stultz III is a judge for the 9A Judicial District in North Carolina. He was elected in the general election on November 8, 2016.

Mark E. Galloway is the chief district court judge for the 9A Judicial District, which presides over Person and Caswell counties of North Carolina. Galloway was re-elected to the 9A Judicial District in 2014, winning a new term that expires on December 31, 2018.

District court judges are elected officials. Voters in the district court district in which the judge is to serve vote for district court judges in general election years. District court judges serve four-year terms, which begin on the first day in January following their election.

District Court judges are attorneys elected for each district for four-year terms and must reside in the district in which they are elected. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina designates one of the judges as Chief District Court Judge, and this judge has administrative duties, including assigning the judges to sessions of court.

Both civil and criminal cases are heard in District Court. The civil district court handles matters dealing with domestic issues such as custody, child support, equitable distribution and divorce actions. For the trial of all civil actions in which the amount in controversy is $25,000 or less district court would be the proper division. Domestic relations cases involving alimony, child support, child custody, divorce, equitable distribution, and juvenile matters are also heard in this court. In criminal cases, District Court has exclusive original jurisdiction over misdemeanor cases and most traffic offenses.

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