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.

 
2012 |
ACLU of North Carolina v. Conti

While Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, Katy Parker represented the organization and its individual members in a lawsuit against the State of North Carolina, challenging the State’s new plan to offer a state-sponsored “Choose Life” license plate, without providing a countervailing pro-choice alternative, in contravention of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Katy won a preliminary injunction in the Eastern District of North Carolina, which was later converted into a permanent injunction, thereby ensuring that the State provide an open forum on a controversial issue, rather than offering only one side of the debate.

 
2012 |
Occupy Charlotte

Jake Sussman provided pro bono representation for individuals arrested by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department in January 2012 following the enforcement of the controversial “anti-camping” ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council in response to the Occupy Charlotte movement. Sussman recruited local law students to help construct legal defenses for each defendant, and ultimately secured four acquittals in two separate trials.

 
2012 |
Gibson v. City of Salisbury

Jake Sussman and Luke Largess represented Felicia Gibson in her lawsuit against the City of Salisbury in the aftermath of two false arrests by the same Salisbury Police officer. Ms. Gibson’s initial arrest, which generated significant media attention, occurred while she was standing on her front stoop and filming a police encounter over 40 feet away. Despite other people standing next to Ms. Gibson, she was the only person arrested — presumably because she was recording the officer. After challenging the officer’s arrest in court, Ms. Gibson was later re-arrested by the same officer for allegedly cursing at him in public (a fact she adamantly denied). All criminal charges were ultimately dismissed and the City of Salisbury paid Ms. Gibson a monetary settlement.

 
2012 |
Estate of Kluttz v. Town of Spencer

Jake Sussman represented the estate of Christopher Kluttz in a wrongful death lawsuit that was litigated in the Middle District of North Carolina. Mr. Kluttz, a former police officer and member of the United States military, was shot and killed in his Spencer, North Carolina home, after a police officer entered his home. The case was successfully resolved following mediation. In addition to a monetary settlement for the Kluttz family, the Town of Spencer agreed to place a plaque in its police department to honor Christopher’s service to the community and his country.

 
2011 |
United States v. S.L.

Missy Owen represented S.L., a defendant in a 50-million-dollar Ponzi scheme. After aggressive negotiations with the government that successfully limited the client’s exposure to prison, Owen was able to secure a six-month term of imprisonment.

 
2011 |
US Airways, Inc. v. US Airline Pilots Association

John Gresham represented the US Airline Pilots Association in a federal court dispute between the airline and the pilots union. Gresham continues to serve as North Carolina counsel for the U.S. Airline Pilots Association (USAPA) in federal and state court proceedings.

 
2011 |
United States v. J.W.

Matthew Pruden and Noell Tin represented a doctor during a multi-year investigation by the federal government into potential charges of Medicaid fraud. After the firm demonstrated that its client lacked criminal intent with respect to any unauthorized charges made by his office staff, the government declined to criminally prosecute.

 
2011 |
State v. Kagonyera

Noell Tin represented Kenneth Kagonyera in a successful effort to prove that Kagonyera was innocent of a murder for which he had been imprisoned for over a decade. The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, which investigates and evaluates post-conviction claims of factual innocence, had recommended a hearing for Kagonyera and his co-defendant Robert Wilcoxson after both men had served close to 11 years for the murder. The matter was tried before a 3-judge-panel in Buncombe County Superior Court. Evidence included testimony that DNA evidence, which had been withheld from prior defense counsel, implicated another individual in the murder. The panel also heard testimony that another man had confessed to the murder and that this confession had not been disclosed by the State. On September 22, 2011, the 3-judge-panel found Kagonyera and Wilcoxson, who was represented by Chris Fialko of Rudolf Widenhouse & Fialko, innocent of the murder and ordered that they be set free. The case received extensive media attention and was featured in USA Today, The News & Observer, and the Asheville-Citizen Times

 
2011 |
Joyner v. Forsyth County Board of Commissioners

As Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, Katy Parker represented two Forsyth County residents who challenged their County Board of Commissioners’ practice of opening meetings with sectarian prayer as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Katy won an injunction in federal court in the Middle District of North Carolina, blocking the County from continuing this practice. The injunction was affirmed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, thereby ensuring that religious minorities in Forsyth County can attend county board meetings without hearing a county-sponsored prayer that is specific to the majority religion.

 
2011 |
State v. B.D

Jake Sussman represented a public school teacher charged in Mecklenburg County with criminal assault against a student. Aggressive pre-trial investigation aided a successful not guilty verdict at trial. The charge was later expunged from the client’s record.

 
2011 |
Estate of Boone v. City of Gastonia

Jake Sussman represented the estate of a man in the Western District of North Carolina who was shot and killed by a Gastonia Police Officer. After the plaintiff successfully fended off the City’s motion for summary judgment, the case was successfully resolved prior to arguments before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

 
2010 |
Starnes v. Town of China Grove

Jake Sussman represented a mother and her son who were arrested in Rowan County following a traffic stop. After successfully defending his clients against the criminal charges, Sussman filed a civil lawsuit on his clients’ behalf. That civil action resulted in a successful jury verdict of false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution against one of the arresting officers.

 
2010 |
State v. C.H.

Matt Pruden represented a client charged with possessing crack cocaine. Because of his prior convictions, the client faced a significantly enhanced sentence as an habitual felon. Mr. Pruden moved to suppress the evidence that would be used at trial, arguing that law enforcement conducted an illegal stop and search. The trial court granted the motion to suppress, and the case was dismissed.

 
2010 |
State v. Elabanjo

Katy Parker successfully challenged North Carolina’s profanity statute on behalf of Samantha Elabanjo, who was arrested after loudly referring to a police officer as an “[a–hole].” Katy established that the profanity statute was unconstitutional under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 
2010 |
State v. T.B.

Matthew Pruden secured an acquittal at trial of his client, a public school employee, against a charge of criminal neglect of a disabled student.

 
2010 |
Rhinehart v. City of Gastonia

John Gresham represented a female police sergeant on a sex discrimination claim that her termination from employment was based on her gender. Ms. Rhinehart received a settlement of $390,000 after the federal district court denied the City’s summary judgment motion.

 
2010 |
Partee v. City of Salisbury

Jake Sussman represented Wayne Partee, who was injured by a Salisbury Police Officer following a routine traffic stop. The case was successfully resolved for a $60,000 settlement following mediation.

 
2009 |
United States v. T.K.

As co-counsel with legendary attorney James E. Ferguson, II, Jake Sussman represented an attorney who was charged in federal court with multiple counts of obstruction of justice and witness tampering. The defense successfully severed the six charges into three separate trials, as well as limited what evidence the prosecution would be able to use at trial. On the eve of jury selection in the first trial, the defense was able to successfully resolve the entire case and all charges were ultimately dismissed. Sussman continued representing T.K. in proceedings before the North Carolina State Bar.

 
2009 |
Jones v. Graham County Board of Education

In 2009, Luke Largess represented employees of the Graham County Board of Education in a challenge to the Board’s policy mandating the random, suspicionless drug and alcohol testing of all Board employees. The Court of Appeals held that the policy violated the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures.

 
2009 |
United States v. D.D.

Noell Tin and Matt Pruden represented a defendant convicted of federal firearms offenses. Over the government’s objection, they successfully argued that several of the felony convictions should be reduced to misdemeanor convictions. The court then reduced all but one conviction to misdemeanors. The government asked the court to sentence the defendant to 57 months in prison on the remaining felony conviction. After a contested sentencing hearing, the court sentenced the defendant to one year of probation.

 
2009 |
Paylor v. Town of Elon Police Department

While with the ACLU of North Carolina, Katy Parker successfully resolved a federal lawsuit on behalf of her client, John W. Paylor, who was repeatedly shot with a Taser by Elon Police officers while unarmed in his underwear and presenting no threat to the officers. Mr. Paylor was given a monetary settlement and the police department agreed to change its policies on Taser use.

 
2009 |
State v. C.G.

Matthew Pruden secured an acquittal of his client, a public school employee, against a charge of sexual battery of a student.

 
2008 |
State of Georgia v. Nichols

Brian Nichols was being tried for the rape of his former girlfriend on March 11, 2005 in the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia, when he escaped from custody. He shot and killed the judge presiding over his trial, a court reporter, a sheriff’s deputy, and, later that night, a federal law enforcement agent. After a large-scale manhunt, Nichols was captured and taken into custody 26 hours after his escape. He was charged with a 54-count indictment and faced multiple capital charges. Jake Sussman was appointed along with attorney Henderson Hill to represent Nichols. The pre-trial litigation involved hundreds of motions, scores of hearings, and multiple trips to the Georgia Supreme Court on issues related to the case. Media attention was extensive, and the case was closely followed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and featured in the New York Times and the New Yorker. Jury selection lasted approximately two months and trial lasted nearly three months. On December 13, 2008, against extraordinary odds, Nichols’ life was spared by the jury and he was sentenced to multiple life sentences without parole.

 
2008 |
United States v. Saxon

Missy Owen and Noell Tin represented Sallie Saxon, who ran what federal prosecutors called “the most successful prostitution business in the United States.” Nicknamed “the Southpark Madame” by the media, Saxon employed a high-end ring of call girls and maintained a confidential list of 1200 clients which included lawyers, doctors, and bank executives. Facing up to 20 years in federal prison, Saxon was ultimately sentenced to 2 years of incarceration. As Owen commented, “Sallie was very good to the women who worked for her. She did all she could to limit the harm they might face as prostitutes.”

 
2008 |
State v. Jones

Mark Kleinschmidt was part of the defense team for Levon “Bo” Jones, who was finally released from custody after 15 years — 13 of which were spent on death row — for a crime he did not commit. Mr. Jones came within weeks of execution in 1997, his life saved only after Kleinschmidt and co-counsel Ken Rose of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation intervened and rescued the case from counsel who missed a critical filing deadline. After the conviction and sentence were vacated, all charges were dropped against Mr. Jones after the Duplin County District Attorney’s Office concluded that there was no evidence to bring his case before a jury. Mr. Jones’ case was the 129th exoneration in the United States since the death penalty resumed in the late 1970s. The story of Levon “Bo” Jones was later featured in The Last Lawyer: The Fight to Save Death Row Inamtes by John Temple.

 
2007 |
State v. Leardini

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 District Court 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.”

 
2007 |
Ervin v. North Carolina Department of Revenue

Luke Largess and Jake Sussman represented a client in the Western District of North Carolina in a civil action alleging that the city police and N.C. Department of Revenue violated the client’s rights during and following a drug arrest, which included a civil seizure of the client’s property.

 
2006 |
State v. R.F.

Missy Owen and Noell Tin represented R.F., who was tried for rape before a Mecklenburg County Superior Court jury in 2006. Owen and Tin secured a not guilty verdict.

 
2006 |
United States v. S.C.

Jake Sussman represented a health care employee being investigated for bribery and extortion. Extensive pre-indictment investigation and negotiations resulted in a guilty plea to a single count of health care fraud with a binding agreement for a non-prison sentence, which was accepted by the U.S. District Court.

 
2006 |
Securities & Exchange Commission v. C.J.

Noell Tin represented C.J., whom the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged raised more than $50 million from more than 300,000 investors by convincing visitors to her website that they could earn a 44 percent return on their investments in 12 days by looking at Internet advertisements.

 
2005 |
State v. Hardy

Prior to joining Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, Jake Sussman and Mark Kleinschmidt, along with attorney Henderson Hill, successfully represented Melvin Jay Hardy, Jr., in state post-conviction proceedings. Mr. Hardy had been on death row following two separate murders in Mecklenburg County in 1995 and 1997. Following a four-day evidentiary hearing in 2005, Mr. Hardy’s death sentence was vacated. The North Carolina Supreme Court subsequently upheld the lower court’s decision and Mr. Hardy was taken off of North Carolina’s death row.

 
2005 |
Brown v. Hillcrest Foods

In 2005, Luke Largess secured a substantial jury verdict in federal court for a client following his employer’s unlawful retaliation. A federal jury awarded Mr. Brown $420,000 after it found that his employer unlawfully retaliated against him for filing a discrimination claim. The case was ultimately settled confidentially before the court’s ruling on attorneys’ fees.

 
2005 |
United State v. J.B.

Noell Tin represented Jimmy Bijoux at trial and then on appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Bijoux initially faced drug charges and charges of possessing a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. In a pretrial hearing, Tin won a suppression motion regarding the drugs and the Government dismissed the drug charges. Bijoux then pled guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. Over Tin’s objection, the trial judge enhanced Bijoux’ sentence to 20 years based upon evidence of drug quantity presented at the sentencing hearing, but for which Bijoux had not been tried. Tin challenged the sentence and the Fourth Circuit affirmed. But the U.S. Supreme Court summarily reversed the ruling, finding that the trial judge relied upon facts about drugs not proven beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. On remand, Bijoux received an 8-year sentence. The case was covered by the national media, including the Wall Street Journal.

 
2005 |
Vanderburg v. N.C. Dept. of Revenue

John Gresham successfully litigated a case of first impression before the North Carolina Court of Appeals concerning whether a probationary state employee could bring an action alleging that his termination was the result of his religious practices. After succeeding in the Court of Appeals, Gresham’s client was reinstated. The Department of Revenue ultimately settled both the wrongful termination claim and parallel discrimination claim brought with the EEOC for $100,000 in lost wages, compensatory damages, and lost benefits. The Department also paid $52,000 for attorney’s fees and costs.

 
2005 |
State v. S.B.

Noell Tin and Matthew Pruden represented a client charged with first-degree murder. After conducting an intensive investigation, Pruden and Tin demonstrated weaknesses in the State’s case, and S.B. pled guilty to aiding and abetting assault inflicting serious injury. He received a probationary sentence.

 
2005 |
Lytle v. Town of Bolton

Luke Largess and Jake Sussman represented a husband and wife in the Eastern District of North Carolina in a civil action alleging that a local Chief of Police assaulted and unlawfully arrested them after the couple sought to file a complaint against the Chief. The case was successfully resolved through a confidential settlement.

 
2004 |
United States v. Y.D.

Missy Owen represented defendant Y.D. at trial in the Western District of North Carolina in 2004 on charges that he engaged in immigration fraud by attempting to bribe an immigration officer. At the close of the Government’s evidence, Owen successfully moved for dismissal, arguing that the Government had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her client had the requisite criminal intent.

 
2004 |
State v. Parker

Noell Tin and Missy Owen successfully vacated their client’s three life sentences, which had been imposed in 1991 in Union County after multiple convictions for sexual assault.

 
2002 |
State v. J.G.

Noell Tin represented 19-year-old J.G. at trial in federal court on five counts of bank robbery and other related charges.

 
2001 |
Craig v. Asheville City Board of Education

Luke Largess prevailed in the North Carolina Court of Appeals after the court held that probationary teachers have a right to trial over the non-renewal of their contracts.

 
2001 |
Hunt v. Cromartie

Adam Stein was co-counsel at trial and successfully argued in the U.S. Supreme Court in Hunt v. Cromartie, which was argued and decided with Smallwood v. Cromartie. The continuation of ongoing litigation concerning the 12th Congressional District of North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the 12th Congressional District was deemed not to be an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. Stein’s former law partner Melvin Watt has been elected to represent the 12th Congressional District in each election since its creation in 1992.

 
1999 |
United States v. Rhynes

Noell Tin represented Will Rhynes and was lead counsel in this multi-defendant drug conspiracy appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. All of the defendants had been previously convicted at trial for participating in a 25-year conspiracy to distribute drugs and launder money; most of the defendants had received life sentences, including Rhynes. In 1999, the Fourth Circuit reversed the convictions and remanded the case back to the trial court because the jury instructions and verdict sheet did not specify the type and quantity of drugs that the conspiracy verdict was founded upon. On remand, Will Rhynes was subject to a 15-year cap on his sentence based upon the drug quantities found to be attributable to him.

 
1999 |
Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

Luke Largess, along with James Ferguson and others at Ferguson Stein Chambers Gresham & Sumter, represented the class of black families in the 1999 trial and later appeals in the historic Charlotte school desegregation case, originally known as Swann v. Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education, and later as Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.

The original Swann case, which was filed in 1965 in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, North Carolina, led to the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1971 that extensive busing was an acceptable means for desegregating Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. That ruling paved the way for busing in school districts across the nation where it was deemed necessary to bring about an end to segregated educational systems.

Sparked by a lawsuit filed in 1997 by a white parent, William Capacchione, who challenged the school board’s use of racial quotas to draw more African American students to magnet schools, a group of black families moved to reactivate the Swann case in what became known as Belk v Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. Mr. Capacchione and another group of white families intervened and the cases were consolidated.

The case was tried for two-months in federal district court before Judge Robert Potter in 1999. The case was then appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. After a hearing before an en banc panel, the 4th Circuit ruled that Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools had achieved unitary status in that prior vestiges of racial discrimination had been eliminated to the extent practicable; that the school board acted in good faith in implementing quotas to achieve racial balance in magnet schools; that the white parent-intervenors were not entitled to attorney fees; and that the injunction to eliminate the use of racial quotas was lifted against the school board, as there was no showing that the school board would not comply with a race neutral system in the future.

 
1999 |
United States v. L.M.

Noell Tin represented L.M., a local bondsman, who was charged with being part of a drug and money laundering conspiracy. Facing decades in prison, L.M. was found not guilty by a federal jury in Asheville, North Carolina.

 
1998 |
Worthy v. Biggers Brothers

Jon Wallas successfully represented Brown T. Worthy at trial in federal district court and later on appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling that Biggers Brothers, Inc., a wholesale food distribution company in Charlotte, had discriminated against Mr. Worthy, who was African American, by failing to promote him to a sales position. The Court of Appeals also affirmed a sizeable award of back wages and attorney fees for Mr. Worthy.

 
1998 |
Brewer v. Cabarrus Plastics, Inc.

John Gresham represented an African American client in a 42 U.S.C. § 1981 action and an action for wrongful discharge based on the public policy expressed in the state Equal Employment Practices Act alleging both race discrimination and retaliation resulting from the filing of an EEOC charge. This was the first appellate decision recognizing a wrongful discharge retaliation claim base on the public policy in the Equal employment Protection Act.

 
1997 |
United States v. Ghantt

Noell Tin represented David Ghantt, the armored car driver who stole 17 million dollars from the Charlotte regional office of Loomis Fargo & Company on the evening of October 4, 1997 and fled to Mexico. It was the third largest cash heist in United States history. An FBI criminal investigation, international in scope, ultimately resulted in the arrest and conviction of eight people directly involved in the heist. The Loomis Fargo Bank Robbery was depicted in an episode of Masterminds and was featured on the docudrama series The FBI Files in a two-part episode entitled “The Un-perfect Crime.” It was also the subject of the book Heist!: The $17 Million Loomis Fargo Theft published in 2002.

 
1996 |
Lassiter v. English

Nancy Walker defended Ms. English in a jury trial involving a motor vehicle accident. The jury ruled in Ms. English’s favor, but the trial judge granted judgment in favor of the plaintiff, notwithstanding the jury’s verdict. On appeal, Walker successfully argued that the evidence established that plaintiff’s injury could have been caused by his pre-existing arthritis or from an earlier car accident and not from her client’s negligence. The Court of Appeals agreed and reinstated the jury’s verdict in favor of Ms. English.

 
1996 |
Shaw v. Hunt

Adam Stein was co-counsel at trial and in the U.S. Supreme Court in a Shaw v. Hunt, which involved voters who intervened in two cases to defend North Carolina’s congressional redistricting plans after the 1990 Census. The plans included two districts that enabled black voters to elect candidates of their choice to Congress for the first time in the 20th Century. In Shaw, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the 12th Congressional District was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, reversing the U.S. District Court which had approved the districting plan.

Litigation continued and in Hunt v. Cromartie II, 532 U.S. 234 (2001), which Stein argued in the U.S. Supreme Court, the 12th Congressional District was deemed not to be an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. Stein’s former law partner Melvin Watt has been elected to represent the 12th Congressional District in each election since its creation in 1992.

 
1992 |
Crump v. Board of Education

John Gresham successfully litigated this case from trial to the North Carolina Supreme Court, which affirmed a school teacher’s jury verdict of $76,000 in a case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for being forced to endure a dismissal hearing before a school board containing one member who was biased against him.

 
1992 |
Corum v. University of North Carolina

John Gresham represented a university professor in a free speech claim against the University of North Carolina and some of its officials. At issue was whether the professor had standing to bring a constitutional claim when there was no specific statute authorizing such a cause of action. In a groundbreaking 1992 decision, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of the professor, holding that in the absence of an adequate state remedy, a person whose constitutional rights have been abridged has a direct claim against the State and its officials under the North Carolina Constitution.

 
1989 |
Reed v. United Transportation Union

John Gresham successfully argued this case in the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that Union members were not barred from suing their Union for violating their right to free speech, because their claim, under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, was governed by a three-year state statute of limitations rather than a shorter federal statute.

 
1988 |
West v. Atkins

Adam Stein briefed and argued West v. Atkins in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court ruled in favor of Stein’s client, reversing the en banc Fourth Circuit and holding that a doctor under contract with the State to provide part time medical services to prisoners acts “under color of state law” and thus may be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating a prisoner’s constitutional rights. The Court prevented the State from denying prisoners access to federal courts when the State contracts out its authority and its constitutional obligation to provided medical care. The Supreme Court also repudiated the doctrine fashioned by the Court of Appeals that professionals do not act under color of state law when acting within their professional capacities.

 
1988 |
State v. Hunt

Adam Stein played a pivotal role in securing reversals of Darryl Hunt’s original convictions for crimes he did not commit: State v. Hunt, 91 N.C. App. 574, 372 S.E.2d 744 (1988) (the Arthur Wilson case) and State v. Hunt, 324 N.C. 343, 378 S.E.2d 754 (1989) (the Deborah Sykes case). Following these initial appeals, Stein continued representing Hunt during his retrial along with James E. Ferguson, II and Mark Rabil. After DNA results proved Hunt’s innocence in 1994, it still took 10 years of legal appeals to exonerate him. Hunt’s ordeal has been chronicled extensively in the media and through award-winning documentaries. Hunt was ultimately granted a pardon by the State of North Carolina and received a significant monetary payment from the City of Winston-Salem.

 
1985 |
Anderson v. City of Bessemer

Jon Wallas represented Ms. Anderson, who was passed over for the position of Director of Recreational Facilities and Programs of Bessemer City, North Carolina in favor of a man with less experience and qualifications. Wallas brought suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act claiming that Ms. Anderson had been denied the position on account of her sex. The district court found sex discrimination but was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the appellate court and reinstated the district court’s vindication of Ms. Anderson’s claim.

 
1972 |
Cotton v. Scotland Neck City Board of Education

Adam Stein was lead counsel at trial, on appeal, and briefed and argued the case in the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the North Carolina legislature’s creation of a predominantly white Scotland Neck school system in the midst of a majority black county school district, which was in the process of dismantling its dual school system, was an unconstitutional impediment to the disestablishment of the dual school system.

 
1971 |
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

Adam Stein was co-counsel at trial, on appeal, and in the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Court held that extensive busing was an acceptable means for desegregating Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. The ruling paved the way for busing in school districts across the nation where it was deemed necessary to bring about an end to segregated educational systems.