NOTEWORTHY CASES

2016 |
Tully v. City of Wilmington

Katy Parker successfully argued on behalf of Kevin Tully, a Wilmington police officer, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Mr. Tully filed a complaint that the city’s promotion process violated his constitutional rights to substantive due process and equal protection under the North Carolina Constitution. The Court of Appeals held that he had alleged a valid property and liberty interest in requiring the city to comply with its own established promotional process.

 
2016 |
United States v. N.R.

Matthew Pruden successfully overturned the conviction of his client whose original trial lawyer slept during portions of his trial. In a case presenting an issue of first impression, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held “that a defendant is deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel when counsel sleeps during a substantial portion of the defendant’s trial.” The court vacated N.R.’s conviction and sentence, which had been 360 months in prison. Click here and here for media coverage about the case.

 
2015 |
NC State Bar v. G.E.

Lane Williamson helped secure a complete victory at the NC State Bar on behalf of a longtime and well respected capital defense attorney who was accused of professional misconduct in connection with her work on a historic Racial Justice Act case. Following a hearing on September 25, 2015, a three-member Disciplinary Hearing Committee found no wrongdoing and ruled in the attorney’s favor.

For more about the case, click here.

 
2015 |
Kagonyera v. Buncombe County

Following the exoneration of Kenneth Kagonyera by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, the law firm filed suit against Buncombe County and various current and former members of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office for their respective roles in the wrongful prosecution of Mr. Kagonyera. The lawsuit was ultimately resolved when the civil defendants agreed to pay Mr. Kagonyera $515,000. Click here for coverage of the civil lawsuit.

 
2015 |
United States v. Petraeus

On April 23, 2015, General David Petraeus, former military commander in the U.S. Army and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was sentenced to probation for the unauthorized removal and retention of classified information, a misdemeanor. Jake Sussman was a member of General David Petraeus’ defense team. Click here for media coverage of the case.

 
2015 |
Loy v. City of Salisbury

Jake Sussman and Salisbury attorney Randy Reamer brought an excessive force lawsuit on behalf of Rev. J.W. Loy against the Salisbury Police Department and one of its officers. Rev. Loy, who was 91 years old at the time, was injured after Officer C. Hamm tackled him to the floor during an encounter at an assisted living facility in Salisbury. The defendants agreed to pay Rev. Loy $180,000 to resolve the case.

 
2015 |
State v. J. R.

Noell Tin persuaded a Superior Court judge to dismiss all charges against J. R., including two counts of attempted first degree murder, due to J.R.’s severe mental illness which rendered him unable to stand trial for over seven years.

 
2015 |
United States v. Bernard von NotHaus

Mr. Von NotHaus, described by some as “the Rosa Parks of the constitutional currency movement,” hired Noell Tin to represent him at sentencing after a jury convicted him of various counterfeiting offenses based on his minting and distribution of the Liberty Dollar, an alternative currency which was backed by over 60 million US dollars’ worth of gold and silver. Mr. Von Nothaus faced over 20 years under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. He was sentenced to a term of probation with six months home detention. Included in the sentencing judge’s findings was the conclusion that a sentence of incarceration would promote disrespect for the law.
Photograph by Michal Czerwonka for The New York Times.

See below for media coverage of this case:
New York Times Website
Read full article here

Forbes Website
Read full article here

 
2014 |
General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Reisinger

In a landmark civil rights ruling, U.S. District Judge Max G. Cogburn, Jr. ruled in favor of Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and co-counsel at Arnold & Porter and struck down Amendment One, the ban against same-sex marriage in North Carolina. Judge Cogburn ruled that North Carolina’s ban on marriage equality violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Cogburn’s order was entered at 5:30 p.m. on October 10, 2014. In Raleigh, the Wake County Register of Deeds issued her first same-sex marriage license at 5:44 p.m. and a ceremony quickly followed.

Click here to read Judge Cogburn’s order.

See below for media coverage of this historic ruling:

The Charlotte Observer, Oct. 10, 2014
Federal Judge Overturns North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The News & Observer, Oct. 10, 2014
Gay Marriage Now Legal in North Carolina

The Charlotte Observer, Oct. 11, 2014
Charlotte Attorney For Same-Sex Couples Celebrates Anniversary — And Legal Win

 
2014 |
State v. M.S.

Noell Tin successfully challenged the City of Charlotte’s “dancehall” ordinance as being unconstitutionally overbroad and vague, resulting in the dismissal of criminal charges against M.S. Noell’s client was arrested and charged with operating a dancehall without a permit after he hosted a Sweet 16 birthday party. Under the city ordinance, every establishment that (1) has music; (2) has space available for dancing or permits dancing to occur (whether dancing actually takes place or not); and (3) allows admission by payment of a direct or indirect charge, would need a permit. At trial, Noell showed that the city ordinance’s definition of “dancehall” was too vague, and broad enough to include museums, exercise facilities, movie theaters, yoga studios and indoor playgrounds. Noell also established that the ordinance was being enforced in a discriminatory manner — such that nearly 87% of those persons charged with operating a “dancehall” without a permit by the arresting officer involved were African-American, and that 93% of those charged were a racial minority.

 
2014 |
State v. A.L.

Jake Sussman represented a critical care nurse who was falsely accused of possessing controlled substances allegedly taken from the hospital where she was employed. Following a vigorous investigation and extensive negotiations with the prosecuting authorities, Sussman was able to secure the voluntary dismissal of all charges. He also represented A.L. before the Board of Nursing, which ultimately declined to pursue its complaint and permitted A.L. to return to work without restriction.

 
2014 |
United States v. M.M.

Matt Pruden represented a client who was seeking post-conviction relief after being sentenced to life in prison in 1998 for a federal drug conspiracy conviction. Mr. Pruden convinced the government to file a Rule 35 motion to reduce his client’s sentence. The government sought to reduce the sentence from life to 30 years. Following a contested re-sentencing hearing, however, the court reduced the client’s sentence to time-served and he was ordered to be released from federal prison.

 
2013 |
In re Wilmington Star-News & N.C. Press Association

Representing the Wilmington Star-News and the N.C Press Association, Katy Parker successfully persuaded Superior Court Judge Jack Jenkins in New Hanover County to order the release of a dash cam video showing a Wilmington Police Department canine officer releasing his dog on a suspect following a police chase on Halloween night. The police department had previously refused to release the video to the public.

 
2013 |
Barber v. City of Charlotte

After Clarence Barber complained about being wrongfully arrested for carrying a concealed weapon — his lawfully owned gun was in plain view when he was approached by law enforcement — his criminal charge was increased to a felony. Luke Largess successfully litigated a federal lawsuit on Mr. Barber’s behalf in which he alleged federal constitutional claims under the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as state tort claims of false arrest, malicious prosecution, and obstruction of justice. The matter was resolved with a pretrial settlement of $99,000.

 
2013 |
State v. S.H.

Noell Tin and Sarah Bennett secured not guilty verdicts in Rutherford County on behalf of their client, a former public works director for the Town of Forest City who was charged with 12 felony counts of embezzlement from the town.

 
2012 |
United States v. R.M.

Matt Pruden represented a client charged in a federal indictment alleging conspiracy to commit fraud and counterfeiting. After negotiations with the government, the client was allowed to enter into a pretrial diversion program and the case was dismissed.

 
2012 |
State v. Clontz

Casi Clontz was 15-years-old in 1993 when she and her mother were charged with hiring another teenager to kill Casi’s abusive step-father. The State charged both Casi and her mother with First Degree Murder, cut a deal with the shooter, and tried both mom and daughter before a death-qualified jury in Stanly County. Both were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. The shooter was released from prison in 2009.

Jake Sussman was appointed by North Carolina’s Indigent Defense Services to investigate whether recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court about sentencing teenagers to life imprisonment provided an avenue for relief for Casi. After extensive investigation, which included hiring a psychologist and legal expert, Sussman filed a Motion for Appropriate Relief in Stanly County. Following a hearing on December 19, 2012, the Honorable Theodore Royster ordered Casi’s immediate release. At the time of her release, Casi had spent 18 years in North Carolina’s Department of Corrections, almost all of it separated from her mother.

 
2012 |
Leardini v. Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

Jeff Leardini, a middle school teacher, was charged with improperly touching students. He was terminated by Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and faced criminal charges. Noell Tin represented Leardini and secured a not guilty verdict on all charges in Mecklenburg County Superior Court in June 2007.

Luke Largess subsequently represented Leardini in a civil action against CMS, alleging that CMS violated his right to due process when they terminated him. On February 24, 2012, a federal jury ruled in Leardini’s favor and awarded him over $1.1 million. Leardini said he never thought about giving up and putting the episode behind him, telling the Charlotte Observer: “My good name is worth it, even if it takes five years to get there.” Largess observed that the jury’s verdict should help “the school system to appreciate the personal pressure that people are under when they’re accused,” stressing that teachers “should be supported and not just treated as the enemy.” The case was later settled on appeal for $680,000. P.J. Roth of Asheville was co-counsel.

 
2012 |
Gaddy v. Yelton et al.

Jake Sussman and Luke Largess sued the City of Asheville and four of its police officers after Robert Gaddy was assaulted during a wrongful arrest. Law enforcement alleged that Gaddy resisted and then fought the officers during an encounter. In response, law enforcement used batons and pepper spray while taking Gaddy into custody. After Gaddy was acquitted on all criminal charges in Buncombe County District Court, a federal lawsuit was filed in the Western District of North Carolina. After the officers’ motions for summary judgment failed, the City of Asheville agreed to pay Mr. Gaddy a favorable settlement.

 
2012 |
Hall v. Spence

John Gresham represented a former assistant clerk of court on a First Amendment claim that her termination from employment was motivated by her religious beliefs. Ms. Hall received a $300,000 settlement on the eve of trial.