§ 15A-1420. Motion for appropriate relief; procedure.
(a) Form, Service, Filing. -
(1) A motion for appropriate relief must:
a. Be made in writing unless it is made:
1. In open court;
2. Before the judge who presided at trial;
3. Before the end of the session if made in superior court; and
4. Within 10 days after entry of judgment;
b. State the grounds for the motion;
c. Set forth the relief sought;
c1. If the motion for appropriate relief is being made in superior court and is being made by an attorney, the attorney must certify in writing that there is a sound legal basis for the motion and that it is being made in good faith; and that the attorney has notified both the district attorney's office and the attorney who initially represented the defendant of the motion; and further, that the attorney has reviewed the trial transcript or made a good-faith determination that the nature of the relief sought in the motion does not require that the trial transcript be read in its entirety. In the event that the trial transcript is unavailable, instead of certifying that the attorney has read the trial transcript, the attorney shall set forth in writing what efforts were undertaken to locate the transcript; and
d. Be timely filed.
(2) A written motion for appropriate relief must be served in the manner provided in G.S. 15A-951(b). When a motion for appropriate relief is permitted to be made orally the court must determine whether the matter may be heard immediately or at a later time. If the opposing party, or his counsel if he is represented, is not present, the court must provide for the giving of adequate notice of the motion and the date of hearing to the opposing party, or his counsel if he is represented by counsel.
(3) A written motion for appropriate relief must be filed in the manner provided in G.S. 15A-951(c).
(4) An oral or written motion for appropriate relief may not be granted in district court without the signature of the district attorney, indicating that the State has had an opportunity to consent or object to the motion. However, the court may grant a motion for appropriate relief without the district attorney's signature 10 business days after the district attorney has been notified in open court of the motion, or served with the motion pursuant to G.S. 15A-951(c).
(5) An oral or written motion for appropriate relief made in superior court and made by an attorney may not be granted by the court unless the attorney has complied with the requirements of sub-subdivision c1. of subdivision (1) of this subsection.
(b) Supporting Affidavits. -
(1) A motion for appropriate relief made after the entry of judgment must be supported by affidavit or other documentary evidence if based upon the existence or occurrence of facts which are not ascertainable from the records and any transcript of the case or which are not within the knowledge of the judge who hears the motion.
(2) The opposing party may file affidavits or other documentary evidence.
(b1) Filing Motion With Clerk. -
(1) The proceeding shall be commenced by filing with the clerk of superior court of the district wherein the defendant was indicted a motion, with service on the district attorney in noncapital cases, and service on both the district attorney and Attorney General in capital cases.
(2) The clerk, upon receipt of the motion, shall place the motion on the criminal docket. When a motion is placed on the criminal docket, the clerk shall promptly bring the motion, or a copy of the motion, to the attention of the senior resident superior court judge or chief district court judge, as appropriate, for assignment to the appropriate judge pursuant to G.S. 15A-1413.
(b2) Noncapital Cases. - Assignment of Motion for Review; Initial Review of Motion; Time Frame for Hearings and Ruling on Motion. -
(1) In noncapital cases, the senior resident superior court judge or chief district court judge, as appropriate, shall, within 30 days of the filing of the motion, assign the motion for initial review to the appropriate judge as provided in G.S. 15A-1413.
(2) The assigned judge, no later than 30 working days after the assignment, shall review the motion and issue a written initial review order that concludes the initial review of the motion in one of the following manners: (i) by dismissing the motion for lack of merit on its face, (ii) by directing the State, if necessary, to file an answer within 30 days from the date on which the initial review order was issued, or (iii) by dispensing with the requirement that the State file an answer and instead order a hearing. Unless the motion is dismissed, the initial review order shall also indicate whether the defendant shall be allowed to proceed without the payment of costs; indicate whether counsel shall be appointed; and calendar a hearing on the motion within the appropriate time period as set out in subdivisions (3) and (4) of this subsection.
(3) Unless provided otherwise by this subsection, if the court determines that an evidentiary hearing is required, then the hearing must be held within 90 days from the date on which the initial review order was issued; if no evidentiary hearing is required, then the hearing must be held within 60 days from the date on which the initial review order was issued. If, in the initial review order, the court orders the State to file an answer and the court determines that an evidentiary hearing is required, then the evidentiary hearing must be held within 150 days from the date on which the initial review order was issued; if the court determines that the hearing is not an evidentiary hearing, then the hearing must be held within 120 days from the date on which the initial review order was issued.
(4) If the court determines pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection that counsel shall be appointed, the time periods provided in subdivision (3) of this subsection shall be calculated from the date of the appointment of counsel rather than the date of the initial review order and shall be extended for an additional 60 days.
(5) The court shall provide notice of the date of the hearing to both the State and the defendant, or the defendant's counsel if defendant is represented by counsel, no less than five working days prior to the date of any hearing. The court, except for good cause shown as provided in subdivision (6) of this subsection, must rule on a motion within 60 days from the date that the hearing concludes.
(6) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, the court may, upon request of a party to the motion, grant an extension of time to comply with any deadline under this subsection, not to exceed 30 days. No subsequent request by the party to extend this deadline shall be granted unless the court enters a written order containing detailed findings of fact of extraordinary circumstances. Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, the senior resident superior court judge or chief district court judge, as appropriate, may, upon request of a judge assigned to review a motion for appropriate relief, grant to the assigned judge an extension of time to comply with any deadline under this subsection, not to exceed 30 days. No subsequent request by the assigned judge to extend this deadline shall be granted unless the senior resident superior court judge or the chief district court judge, as appropriate, enters a written order containing detailed findings of fact of extraordinary circumstances. The failure of the court to comply with the deadlines under this subsection is grounds for any party to petition the senior resident superior court judge or the chief district court judge, as appropriate, to reassign the motion of appropriate relief to a different judge empowered to act upon a motion for appropriate relief. The failure of the court to comply with the deadlines under this subsection also entitles any party to the motion for appropriate relief to seek a writ of mandamus to obtain compliance with the deadline.
(7) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, failure to meet a deadline under this subsection is not a ground for the summary granting of a motion for appropriate relief or other summary relief, including without limitation, ordering the release of the prisoner.
(b3) Capital Cases. - Review and Calendaring of Motion. - In capital cases, the judge shall review the motion and enter an order directing the State to file its answer within 60 days of the date of the order. If a hearing is necessary, the judge shall calendar the case for hearing without unnecessary delay.
(c) Hearings, Showing of Prejudice; Findings. -
(1) Any party is entitled to a hearing on questions of law or fact arising from the motion and any supporting or opposing information presented unless the court determines that the motion is without merit. The court must determine, on the basis of these materials and the requirements of this subsection, whether an evidentiary hearing is required to resolve questions of fact. Upon the motion of either party, the judge may direct the attorneys for the parties to appear before him for a conference on any prehearing matter in the case.
(2) An evidentiary hearing is not required when the motion is made in the trial court pursuant to G.S. 15A-1414, but the court may hold an evidentiary hearing if it is appropriate to resolve questions of fact.
(3) The court must determine the motion without an evidentiary hearing when the motion and supporting and opposing information present only questions of law. The defendant has no right to be present at such a hearing where only questions of law are to be argued.
(4) If the court cannot rule upon the motion without the hearing of evidence, it must conduct a hearing for the taking of evidence, and must make findings of fact. The defendant has a right to be present at the evidentiary hearing and to be represented by counsel. A waiver of the right to be present must be in writing.
(5) If an evidentiary hearing is held, the moving party has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence every fact essential to support the motion.
(6) A defendant who seeks relief by motion for appropriate relief must show the existence of the asserted ground for relief. Relief must be denied unless prejudice appears, in accordance with G.S. 15A-1443.
(7) The court must rule upon the motion and enter its order accordingly. When the motion is based upon an asserted violation of the rights of the defendant under the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States, the court must make and enter conclusions of law and a statement of the reasons for its determination to the extent required, when taken with other records and transcripts in the case, to indicate whether the defendant has had a full and fair hearing on the merits of the grounds so asserted.
(d) Action on Court's Own Motion. - At any time that a defendant would be entitled to relief by motion for appropriate relief, the court may grant such relief upon its own motion. The court must cause appropriate notice to be given to the parties.
(e) Nothing in this section shall prevent the parties to the action from entering into an agreement for appropriate relief, including an agreement as to any aspect, procedural or otherwise, of a motion for appropriate relief. (1965, c. 352, s. 1; 1973, c. 47, s. 2; 1977, c. 711, s. 1; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 719, ss. 3, 4; 2006-253, s. 30; 2009-517, s. 1; 2012-168, s. 2(b).)