On Tuesday, October 17, starting at 1 PM
, NC Court of Appeals Judges Chris Dillon '90, Mark Davis '91, and Lucy Inman '90 will be hearing oral argument on two cases in our courtroom. Following the oral argument, at around roughly 3 PM, we will have reception for the judges and students in the lobby outside of CDO.
N.C. Court of Appeals Visit (10/17): Case summaries
North Carolina State Bar v. Ely (COA17-546): Attorney Dawn Ely (defendant) was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1993. In 2005, she moved to Georgia, and in 2006 was admitted to its bar. She then formed a company called Palladium Legal Services, LLC, which she describes as a cross between a staffing agency and an attorney recruitment agency: it “locates and places attorneys in temporary part-time chief legal officer positions.”
In 2011, her North Carolina law license was suspended for failure to file her annual CLE report, and her Georgia law license was suspended for failure to pay dues. In 2012, she sent a round of emails to businesses advertising her services, including to people in North Carolina; as a result, she was brought before the N.C. Disciplinary Hearing Commission on charges of violating various Rules of Professional Conduct, including that she had represented herself as an attorney and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. In 2015, the Commission issued an Admonition, which she rejected; in 2016, after a hearing, the Commission found that her conduct violated numerous Rules and suspended her N.C. law license for five years.
Defendant now argues that the Commission erred in (1) various findings of fact and (2) conclusions of law, stating (among other things) that she did not hold herself out as able to provide legal services but, instead, was simply the president of Palladium. She also argues that (3) the factors upon which the Commission relied in its ruling do not apply and (4) the Commission’s conclusion that “a lesser sanction would not be adequate to protect the public” is not supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence.
State v. Gomola (COA17-438): A drunken bar fight amongst several men resulted in the death of one. Johnson, the victim, and his friend picked a fight with defendant Gomola and his friend, Jimmy. At the time the victim came at Jimmy to punch him, Jimmy was holding two drinks, one in each hand. The testimony of various witnesses varied from Johnson falling off the deck of his own accord all the way to Gomola punching him until he fell off. After a mistrial, Gomola was retried and convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced him to 16-29 months’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
On appeal, Gomola argues that the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on defense of another—specifically, that Gomola was defending Jimmy by engaging in the fight. He also argues that the trial court abused its discretion in overruling his objections to portions of the State’s closing argument that referred to defense counsel as having prepared a “rodeo clown defense”; misstated the jury’s role in the proceedings; and implying without factual basis that Gomola had intimidated a witness between the mistrial and retrial.