From Brunswick Beacon by Lindsay Kriz
BOLIVIA— The Brunswick County Courthouse served as the location for a special North Carolina Court of Appeals session Tuesday to commemorate the court’s 50th anniversary.
Among those who attended were students, lawyers and court personnel, in addition to the general public.
The North Carolina General Assembly established the Court of Appeals, which became operational Oct. 1, 1967, and the court heard its first appeals in January 1968. Today, the court is made up of 15 judges who have been elected to their place on the bench by citizens statewide.
The Court of Appeals representatives on Tuesday consisted of a three-member panel of Judges Lucy N. Inman, John M. Tyson and Wanda G. Bryant.
Bryant is the daughter of Christerbelle Randall Bryant of Supply and the late Dolphus Bryant, and is a member of Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Supply. With more than 16 years of service in the North Carolina Court of Appeals, she is the longest-serving African-American woman in the court’s history, and is second in seniority in the court.
Among her many awards, the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) selected Bryant to receive its highest award, saying “Judge Bryant’s long and exceptional record of service to the courts, the bar and the people of North Carolina set her apart for special recognition,” according to a news release.
Summary of the cases
The three-judge panel heard two local cases Tuesday afternoon: one from Columbus County and the other from New Hanover County.
The first case to be heard was State v. Kenneth Gore, Jr.
In 2011, Gore was charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in the November 2011 stabbing death of 77-year-old Jeanette Fowler in her Columbus County apartment. He was tried by a jury in Columbus County Superior Court and convicted.
When the jury verdict was announced, one of Gore’s relatives yelled profanities at jurors and was escorted out of the courtroom. After the outburst jurors were polled on their verdict, one juror said she changed her vote on the first-degree murder charge. Gore’s counsel moved for a mistrial, which was denied, and jurors were asked to continue deliberations.
After a few hours, the jury again returned a verdict finding Gore guilty of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and appealed.
Gore’s appeal lawyer, Kimberly Hoppin, argued the evidence against Gore was circumstantial at best. Marc Bernstein of the Attorney General’s Office said all evidence presented was enough to properly convict Gore.
The second case to be heard, Raymond Clifton Parker v. Michael DeSherbinin and wife, Elizabeth DeSherbinin.The DeSherbinins acquired their property by a deed dated Dec. 16, 2013 with the intent to build a home and hired a surveyor, Marc Glenn.
Parker filed an initial complaint June 23, 2015, and an amendment complaint Jan. 7, 2016, against the DeSherbinins about the property boundary line. He made claims for negligence, nuisance, declaratory judgment to identify the boundary line, adverse possession under color of title and adverse possession under 20 years of continuous possession.
The parties agreed to waive trial by jury and the trial court rules in favor of the DeSherbinins on Sept. 22, 2016.
Parker’s lawyer, Bradley A. Coxe, argued the court had reached an incorrect judgment. The DeSherbinins’ counsel, Kenneth Stephens II, said the decision should not be appealed.
After the panel heard the cases, Bryant said, it has up to 90 days to write and publish a judgment.