Court of Appeals of North Carolina
625 S.E.2d 869 (N.C. App. 2006)
Hawk Littlejohn, a Native American, performed the marriage of Carl Glenn Pickard (plaintiff) and Jane Edwards Pickard (defendant) in the tradition of Native Americans. Prior to doing so, Littlejohn obtained a certificate ordaining himself as a minister in the Universal Life Church. Additionally, Carl and Jane applied for and received a North Carolina marriage license. For approximately 11 years, Carl and Jane lived and held themselves out as husband and wife. During that time, Carl initiated proceedings to adopt Jane’s adult biological daughter. Throughout the adoption process and subsequent legal proceedings, Carl listed himself as married to Jane. Afterward, the Pickards’ relationship deteriorated, and Carl and Jane separated. Carl filed a petition for an annulment. After a hearing, Jane moved for a directed verdict. The trial court denied Jane’s motion and held that the marriage ceremony had not been properly solemnized, because Littlejohn was not qualified to perform the ceremony. However, the court held that Carl was judicially estopped from claiming that his 11-year marriage was voidable under state annulment law, because Carl had previously affirmed, under oath, that he was lawfully married to Jane. Carl appealed. Jane cross-appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Hudson, J.)
Dissent (Tyson, J.)
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