On December 19, 2018, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued several amendments to the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure—which are set to take effect on January 1, 2019. The amendments mostly comprise a large-scale overhaul of the Appellate Rules pertaining to appeals involving juveniles. However, a few amendments are also made to provisions affecting civil litigants.

The first change the Supreme Court has made is the deletion of subsection (a)(4) of Rule 9 regarding the composition of the Record on Appeal. Previously, subsection (a)(4) instructed parties to an appeal to redact social security numbers in a document before including it in the Record on Appeal. Subsection (a)(4) has been deleted in its entirety; however, the mandate to redact personal information has been re-codified in a new rule—Rule 42.  Rule 42 is an entirely new rule devoted to protecting identities and personal information by outlining the procedure parties must follow when filing appellate documents that were sealed at the trial level and by listing categories of information that must be redacted from otherwise public documents. Specifically, Rule 42(e) replaces the social security number redaction language of Rule 9(a)(4) but broadens it by stating that driver license numbers, financial account numbers, social security numbers, and tax identification numbers must be excluded or redacted from filed documents.

The Court also made amendments to several rules pertaining to its fairly ubiquitous 3 copy rule. For instance, under the previous rules, a party was required to file 3 copies of any Rule 9(b)(5)(a) Supplement to the Printed Record on Appeal, Rule 9(d) Exhibit, Rule 11(c) Supplement, and Rule 18(d)(3) Supplement. Under the new amendments, a party is only required to file one copy each of any of the above mentioned supplements or exhibits.

Finally, and most significantly, the Court amended Rule 13, which addresses the filing and service of appellate briefs. Under the previous rule, an appellant’s 30-day deadline to file its brief was triggered when the clerk of the appellate court mailed the printed Record on Appeal to the parties. The Court amended Rule 13 so that now the 30-day deadline is triggered once the Record on Appeal is filed with the Court. This has the practical effect of speeding up the appeal process by shortening the amount of time between filing of the Record on Appeal and filing of briefs. Note that under Rule 26(a), the Record on Appeal is considered filed on the date of mailing. Therefore, an appellant mailing the Record on Appeal to the appellate court must remain cognizant of the fact that the deadline for filing the appellant brief is triggered immediately once the Record on Appeal is placed in the mail. This is particularly crucial because an appellant’s failure to timely serve its brief can result in dismissal of the appeal!

The full text of the amendments can be found in the North Carolina Reports and on the rules web page of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. The rules will take effect on January 1, 2019.