The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled for the plaintiff in Adkins v. Stanley County Board of Education, a case in which we represented the North Carolina Advocates for Justice in an amicus brief filed with the Court. Reversing the trial judge, the Court of Appeals concluded that the judge had inappropriately overruled an earlier judge’s ruling on the core First Amendment issue in this employment retaliation case.
Although the two judge’s rulings were at different phases in the case, they both ruled on the same question of law. In such situations, a trial judge cannot overrule an earlier judge’s decision — that is the province of the appellate courts. The Court thus did not reach the state constitutional question presented in the NCAJ’s amicus brief.