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An op-ed by John Levi, chair of the Board of Directors of the national Legal Services Corporation, is highlighted in today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer.  In it, Levi makes plain just how dire the situation has become for the nation’s legal aid community as it struggles to cope with the combination of funding cuts and the crushing demand that has resulted from the country’s rising poverty.

As he notes: Read More

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Here is the kind of thing that was being referenced when we reported recently that the North Carolina General Assembly was starting to resemble the U.S. Congress.

According to this report, opponents of President Obama are so set on blocking consideration of any judicial appointees during the fourth year of his term that they’re even filibustering a judge with overwhelming conservative support!   

As you might recall, leaders of the General Assembly have stymied several of the Governor’s appointments to the state Board of Education (and other important state panels) in a similar and wholly political fashion.

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If you want to get a glimpse of just how crazy and extreme things are getting at the General Assembly during the session’s hectic waning days, check out the debate surrounding this bill from the bail bonds industry that has been sliding through under the radar. It is premised on the truly cockamamie notion that publicly-supported pretrial release programs somehow constitute “unfair competition” for bail bondsmen. We are not making this up.

Over the weekend, the Wilmington Star News had a solid editorial on the topic that ought to be a “must read” for anyone following the subject.

North Carolina taxpayers don’t owe bail bondsmen a living, but a bill that’s making its way through the General Assembly would fatten their wallets at the expense of a pretrial release program that is well regarded by judges and court officials. The Honorables should lock up this legislation in a safe place and throw away the key. Read More

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Hooray for Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen. Yesterday, this rather obscure public official had the guts to file a lawsuit against a goodly part of the American banking industry.  Here’s a link to the press release (also reproduced below) and other relevant documents.

Guilford County Sues To Clean Up Banks’ “Mess” at the Register of Deeds

Guilford County, ex rel. Jeff L. Thigpen, Guilford County Register of Deeds, filed suit today against LPS/DocX, MERSCORP, MERS, Inc., and numerous banks, loan servicers, and foreclosure specialists seeking to clean up the “mess” Defendants created in the County’s property records registry.   

“Our office uncovered an abundance of falsified, forged, and fraudulently executed mortgage documents,” said Thigpen.  “But our investigation only found the tip of the iceberg.  We need the banks to clean up their mess.”    Read More

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The U.S. Department of Justice has informed the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts that North Carolina’s failure to provide court interpreters Title VI of the U.S. Code.

This is from a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice to the state that was released this afternoon:

“We write to report the findings of the Civil Rights Division’s investigation of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), an office within the North Carolina Judicial Department. As the enclosed findings report explains, we have determined after a comprehensive investigation that the AOC’s policies and practices discriminate on the basis of national origin, in violation of federal law, by failing to provide limited English proficient (LEP) individuals with meaningful access to state court proceedings and operations.”

The letter also informs the state that the cost of meeting its obligations in this area would be relatively small (about $1.4 million) and gives North Carolina three weeks to get about the business of complying.

More information shortly.