Appeals court headed to Richmond County

Dawn M. Kurry Richmond County Daily Journal

September 14, 2013

Later this month, the Richmond County Judicial Center will host the NC Court of Appeals — a first for the Judicial District, according to Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Tanya T. Wallace.

There are two types of courts in North Carolina: Trial Courts and Appellant Courts. Trial Courts hear cases in the county courthouses throughout the state. Cases are called, juries are selected and decisions are made. The Appellant Courts review cases heard by the Trial Courts for error.

According to Chief District Court Judge Scott T. Brewer, this event, to be held on Sept. 26 at the Judicial Center in downtown Rockingham, is a rarity.

“It is rare for the court to hold a session in a county of our size,” said Brewer. “Usually these sessions are held at one of the state’s law schools, or one of the bigger counties. We are grateful that our lawyers, court personnel, and public will have an opportunity to see this court in action. The bulk of our case law that judges follow on a daily basis comes from the Court of Appeals. We are honored they are coming to Richmond County, and are pleased we can showcase our new Judicial Center, and let them have an opportunity to see the good things going on in Richmond County.”

Two cases will be heard during the Court of Appeals session in Richmond County.

The first case involves a matter of child support gone wrong, in which “Richard Dean McCrea elected an elaborate ‘scheme’ in which he purchased a Huntersville, North Carolina house and placed it in the name of a Chicago Trustee for the benefit of his three minor children, but hoped to control the use of the house by having his former wife sign a lease whereby he might have her and the children evicted from the house owned by the trust,” read the case brief.

The second case arises from a divorce during which the wife discovers that her husband may not have been divorced from his first wife. Octavia Scott and Maurice Murray were married in 2003, and separated in 2007. “In January 2009, (Scott) became suspicious as to whether (Murray) had been married before. She performed some online research and learned that (Murray) had been previously married to Alice Bowen. (Scott) then served (Murray) with a request to produce a copy of his divorce judgement for his marriage with Bowen. (Murray) did not produce a divorce judgement. During the trial of the equitable distribution claim in December 2011, (Scott) testified that she did not believe (Murray) had divorced Bowen and that (Scott’s) marriage to (Murray) was therefore invalid,” according to the case brief.

Three judges will come to Richmond County for the Court of Appeals; Judge Robert C. Hunter of Marion, Judge Sanford Steelman of Hickory and Judge Wanda Bryant of Southport. After their business is complete, the panel of judges will be guests of honor at a luncheon hosted by the District Bar of Judicial District 20A.

“We are grateful to Sheriff (James) Clemmons and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Clerk of Court Vickie Daniel and her staff for helping us in this endeavor. We hope this day will be memorable for all attending,” said Judge Wallace.

Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at