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Issue  94  Article  169
Published:  5/1/2003

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2003 Legislative Proposals
Chris Burti, Vice President and Legal Counsel

House Bill 972

This legislation will allow an internet‑based alternative to property tax certification procedures permitting attorneys to certify based upon an Internet search for taxes.

SECTION 1. G.S. 105‑361 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:

“(e) Internet. – If the taxing unit maintains an Internet web site on which current information on the amount of taxes, special assessments, penalties, interest, and costs due on any real or personal property is available, a person may rely on information obtained from the web site as if it were a certificate issued pursuant to this section as of the date stated on the web site. The web site must clearly state the date as of which the information is current. The tax collector shall be liable on the tax collector's bond for any loss to the taxing unit arising from an understatement of the tax and special assessment obligations contained in the information available on the web site.

SECTION 2. This act becomes effective July 1, 2003.”

House Bill 957

The General Statutes will be amended by adding a new Chapter, 84B, entitled.

“Paralegal Profession Act.” If adopted, the paralegal profession will be formally regulated. This legislation is the culmination of several years of work by professionals in this area as well as law and higher education. The Bill contains provision for a regulatory board with attorney members, qualification, registration and sanctions.

Ҥ 84B-1. Title; purpose.

(a) This Chapter may be cited as the 'Paralegal Profession Act'.

(b) The purpose of this Chapter is to protect the public by ensuring that those holding themselves out to the public as paralegals are qualified, properly trained, and regulated as set forth in this Chapter.

"§ 84B-2. Definitions.

The following definitions apply in this Chapter:

(1) Board. – The North Carolina Paralegal Regulation Board.

(2) Paralegal. – A person with legal skills who is not an attorney but who works under the supervision of a licensed attorney in performing various tasks relating to the practice of law or who is otherwise authorized by law to use those legal skills.(3) Paralegal registration. – A document issued by the Board evidencing that the person named therein has complied with requirements of registration established by the Board.

(4)      Qualified paralegal studies program. – A program of paralegal or legal assistant studies offered by a North Carolina community college or approved by the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association or a program that offers at least 18 semester credits of coursework in paralegal studies and is an institutional member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or other regional accrediting agency.

"§ 84B-3. North Carolina Paralegal Regulation Board; creation.

(a) The North Carolina Paralegal Regulation Board is created.

(b) Composition and Terms. – The Board shall consist of 19 members who shall serve staggered terms. Members shall be residents of this State and appointed or elected on or before January 1, 2004, as follows:

(1) Twelve members shall be individuals who are registered under this Chapter and shall be appointed by the Alliance for Paralegal Professional Standards. ...

(2) Three members shall be directors of paralegal education programs in this State. The appointments shall be made from a list of paralegal educators in this State by a majority vote of the paralegal members on the Board. …

(3) Two members shall be attorneys licensed to practice law in this State and appointed upon the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court pursuant to a list provided by the North Carolina State Bar. …

(4) Two members shall be members of the public appointed by the Governor. …

(procedural rules edited for space)

"§ 84B-4. Powers of the Board.

(a) The Board shall have the power and duty to:

(1) Administer this Chapter.

(2) Adopt, amend, or repeal rules as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Chapter.

(3) Develop or approve the form for application for registration under this Chapter and establish fees for application for registration, including initial, provisional, and renewal applications, for application for examination, and for any other services provided by the Board.

(4) Approve individual applicants to be regulated under this Chapter.

(5) Develop, administer, and require written or oral examination of applicants under this Chapter.

(6) Determine and approve minimum requirements for continuing education for individuals registered under this Chapter and approve providers of continuing education for individuals registered under this Chapter.

(7) Establish methods to monitor and enforce compliance with the provisions of this Chapter, including conducting investigations and holding hearings regarding alleged violations of this Chapter.

(8)      Require the submission of reports and information by individuals regulated under this Chapter.

(9) Take any action necessary for the collection, disbursement, and maintenance of funds to which the Board is entitled under the provisions of this Chapter.

(10) (edited for space)

"§ 84B-5. Custody and use of funds.

"§ 84B-6. Registration required.

(a) On or after January 1, 2004, no person shall practice or offer to practice as a paralegal, perform services of a paralegal, or use any card, title, or abbreviation to indicate that the person is a paralegal unless that person has currently registered with the Board to practice as a paralegal as provided by this Chapter.

(b) Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to authorize a paralegal to engage in conduct that constitutes practicing law as defined in G.S. 84‑2.1.

"§ 84B-7. Qualifications for registration.

(a) Upon application to the Board on a form provided by the Board and payment of the required fees as established by the Board, an applicant may become registered as a paralegal if the applicant has successfully completed postsecondary education and training that includes at least one of the following:

(1) An associates degree, bachelors degree, masters degree, or post‑baccalaureate certificate from a qualified paralegal studies program.

(2) An associates degree or bachelors degree in any discipline from any institution of postsecondary education that is accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. Qualification under this subdivision shall also include successful completion of not less than 18 semester credits of coursework, including a legal ethics component, offered by a qualified paralegal studies program, any portion of which may be part of or in addition to the credits earned toward this degree in areas as prescribed by the American Bar Association Approval Guidelines for the Approval of Legal Assistant Education Programs.

(b) Coursework that is offered by an institution of postsecondary education as part of a Juris Doctorate program that is approved by the American Bar Association may substitute for the coursework specified in subsection (a) of this section if all of the following are satisfied:

(1) Not less than 18 semester credits of coursework is completed with a minimum grade of "C" in each course.

(2) The content of the coursework meets the categorical criteria specified in subsection (a) of this section.

(3) Any coursework or combination of coursework submitted in satisfaction of the litigation or substantive law criteria of subdivision (a)(2) of this section includes instruction in the proper drafting of legal documents used regularly in that area of the law.

"§ 84B-8. Registration renewal; continuing education.

A registration to practice under this Chapter shall be renewed every year pursuant to rules adopted by the Board. When renewing a registration, each registrant shall submit to the Board evidence of successful completion of at least six hours of continuing education in paralegal studies as approved by the Board.

"§ 84B-9. Reciprocity.

A registration may be issued to a qualified applicant holding a paralegal license, certification, or registration in another state if that state recognizes the registration of this State in the same manner and application for registration in this State is in accordance with any other rules established by the Board.

"§ 84B-10. Ineligibility; prohibited conduct.

(a) No person may identify himself or herself as a paralegal or apply to be registered under this Chapter if:

(1) The person's registration as a paralegal in any state is under suspension or revocation.

(2) The person's license to practice law in any state is under suspension or revocation.

(3) The person has been convicted of a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude.

(4) The person is not a legal resident of the United States.

(b) The Board may deny, suspend, revoke, or refuse to register a paralegal or applicant for any of the following:

(1) The employment of fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in obtaining or attempting to obtain a registration or the renewal of a registration.

(2) The use of drugs or intoxicating liquors to an extent that affects professional competency.

(3) Conviction of an offense under any municipal, State, or federal narcotic or controlled substance law until proof of rehabilitation can be established.

(4) An adjudication of insanity or incompetency until proof of recovery from the condition can be established.

(5) Engaging in any act or practice in violation of any of the provisions of this Chapter or of any of the rules adopted by the Board or aiding, abetting, or assisting any other person in the violation of these provisions or rules.

(6) Practicing as a paralegal under this Chapter without a valid registration or renewal.

(7) Engaging in conduct that could result in harm or injury to the public.

(8) The employment of fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation when communicating with the general public, health care professionals, or other business professionals.

"§ 84B-11. Violation a misdemeanor.

Any person who violates any provision of this Chapter shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

"§ 84B-12. Injunctions.

The Board may apply to the superior court for an order enjoining violations of this Chapter, and, upon a showing by the Board that any person has violated or is about to violate this Chapter, the court may grant an injunction or restraining order or take other appropriate action.

"§ 84B-13. Ethical guidelines.

A paralegal registered under this Chapter shall comply with the North Carolina Paralegal Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and the companion Rules for Enforcement of this Code, which shall be established and approved by the Board.

"§ 84B-14. Severability.

If any provision of this Chapter or the application thereof to any individual or circumstances is for any reason held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the section which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Chapter are declared to be severable."

SECTION 2. Any individual who makes application for registration as a paralegal within three years of the effective date of this act shall be registered as a paralegal without having to satisfy the qualifications under G.S. 84B‑7, as enacted by Section 1 of this act, if the applicant meets all of the following criteria:

(1) The individual has a high school diploma or equivalent education at the time of application.

(2) The individual has been engaged in work as a paralegal for not less than 4,800 hours at any time during the five years immediately preceding the time of application.

(3) The individual has completed at least three hours of approved continuing education in the area of legal ethics and professional responsibility during the 12 months preceding the time of application.

The work experience required in subdivision (2) of this section shall be documented by the certification of an attorney, law office, governmental agency, or other entity or by the records of regularly conducted activity. The Board shall prescribe the form and content of the certification or records.

An applicant who has the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA), PACE ‑ Registered Paralegal (RP), or other national paralegal credential approved by the Board may present evidence of good standing as compliance with the requirements of subdivisions (1) through (3) of this section.

All persons who do not make application to the Board within three years of the effective date of this act are required to complete all qualifications prescribed by the Board and to otherwise comply with the provisions of Chapter 84B, enacted by Section 1 of this act.

SECTION 3. This act is effective when it becomes law.”

House Bill 1006

This legislation is entitled; “An Act To Grant Greater Consumer Protection To Residents Of Manufactured Housing In North Carolina.” It is lengthy and makes extensive changes in the existing law. Due to space limitations, only certain sections are included in order to illustrate some of the significant changes.

SECTION 2 will amend G.S. 47‑20.6 by adding a new subsection to provide for real property treatment under a long term leasehold.

"(e) In the event that the owner of a manufactured home described in subsection (a) of this section is not the owner of the real property to which the manufactured home is affixed, the owner or the secured party having the first security interest in the manufactured home at the time of surrender, shall indicate in the affidavit the following:

(1) That the owner of the manufactured home is not the same as the owner of the real property to which the manufactured home is affixed.

(2)That the owner of the manufactured home has entered into a lease for the real property on which the manufactured home is affixed with a primary term of at least 20 years."

SECTION 3 amends G.S. 47‑20.7 to clarify some ambiguities with the existing statute and to deal with leasehold interests. Unfortunately, the revision removes the ability to deal with homes that have had the title canceled under prior law. Hopefully, this can be corrected prior to final adoption.

"§ 47‑20.7. Declaration of intent to affix manufactured home; transfer of real property with manufactured home attached.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, a person who owns or is purchasing a manufactured home that has never been titled (emphasis added) by the Division of Motor Vehicles and that is defined as real property in G.S. 105-273(13) or that will be so defined once it is affixed to real property, shall … a declaration of intent to affix the manufactured home to the real property and shall convey or encumber the real property, including the manufactured home, only by a deed, deed of trust, or other instrument recorded in the office of the register of deeds. …

SECTION 5 amends G.S. 42‑14 to provide a four-month notice requirement for mobile home lot evictions.

“§ 42‑14. Notice to quit in certain tenancies.

… where the tenancy involves only the rental of a space for a manufactured home as defined in G.S. 143‑143.9(6), a notice to quit must be given at least 120 days before the end of the current rental period, regardless of the term of the tenancy.”

SECTION 6 amends Chapter 42 of the General Statutes by adding a new section to provide for a one-year notice of sale or closure of manufactured home communities.

SECTION 12 makes the act effective July 1, 2003.

House Bill 393

This bill will provide for an attorney exemption for the certification of taxes where the closing attorney is responsible for payment of delinquent taxes from closing proceeds.

“SECTION 1. G.S. 161‑31 reads as rewritten:

…

(a1) Exception to Tax Certification. – If a board of county commissioners adopts a resolution pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, notwithstanding the resolution, the register of deeds shall accept without certification a deed submitted for recording under the supervision of a closing attorney and containing this statement on the deed: 'This instrument prepared by: ___________, a licensed North Carolina attorney. Delinquent taxes, if any, to be paid by the closing attorney to the county tax collector upon disbursement of closing proceeds.'

…

SECTION 2. This act is effective when it becomes law.”

House Bill 394

This legislation will eliminate the trap for the unwary caused by certain unfamiliar holidays voiding legal sale when they fall on days the Court House is open for business.

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED: AN ACT CLARIFYING THE LAW PERTAINING TO LEGAL DEADLINES FALLING ON A HOLIDAY.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. G.S. 103‑5(a) reads as rewritten:

"§ 103‑5. Acts to be done on Sunday or holidays.

(a) Where the day or the last day for doing any act required or permitted by law to be performed in a public office or courthouse falls on a day when the public office or courthouse is closed, the act may be performed on the next day that the public office or courthouse is open."

SECTION 2. Article 2A of Chapter 45 is amended by adding a new section to read:

"§ 45-21.27A. Sales on Sundays and holidays.

Where the last day for performing any act required under this Article falls on a day when the courthouse is closed, the act may be performed on the next succeeding day when the courthouse is open."

SECTION 3. This act becomes effective October 1, 2003, and applies to any act required or permitted by law to be done on or after that date.

Senate Bill 974,

The purported intention of this bill is require a private road notice to be filed, not only on the original transaction in the sale of subdivision lots, but also on every subsequent sale. The bill is questionable in achieving this purpose but certainly creates problematical ambiguities.

“SECTION 1. G.S. 136-102.6(f) reads as rewritten:

(f)Prior to entering any agreement or any conveyance with any prospective buyer, the developer and or seller shall prepare and sign, and the buyer of the subject real estate shall receive and sign an acknowledgment of receipt of a separate instrument known as the subdivision streets disclosure statement (hereinafter referred to as disclosure statement). Said disclosure statement shall fully and completely disclose the status (whether public or private) of the street upon which the house or lot fronts. If the street is designated by the developer and or seller as a public street, the developer and or seller shall certify that the right-of-way and design of the street has been approved by the Division of Highways, and that the street has been or will be constructed by the developer and or seller in accordance with the standards for subdivision streets adopted by the Board of Transportation for acceptance on the highway system. If the street is designated by the developer and or seller as a private street, the developer and or seller shall include in the disclosure statement an explanation of the consequences and responsibility as to maintenance of a private street, and shall fully and accurately disclose the party or parties upon whom responsibility for construction and maintenance of such the street or streets shall rest, and shall further disclose that the street or streets will not be constructed to minimum standards, sufficient to allow their inclusion on the State highway system for maintenance. The disclosure statement shall contain a duplicate original which that shall be given to the buyer. Written acknowledgment of receipt of the disclosure statement by the buyer shall be conclusive proof of the delivery thereof.

SECTION 2. This act becomes effective October 1, 2003.”


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