Robinson Bradshaw Secures Two Victories in the North Carolina Supreme Court for Judicial Standards Commission



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Dec. 23, 2020

Robinson Bradshaw recently represented the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission in two cases before the North Carolina Supreme Court. The Commission reviews and investigates allegations of misconduct or disability made against judges and justices of the North Carolina General Court of Justice and commissioners and deputy commissioners of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. When there is clear and convincing evidence of judicial misconduct, the Commission recommends disciplinary action to the North Carolina Supreme Court.

John Wester represented the Commission in a case against Judge Hunter Murphy of the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The NC Supreme Court ordered that Judge Murphy be censured for contributing to a "toxic work environment." This is the strictest disciplinary action besides suspension and removal from office. Robinson Bradshaw attorneys Mark Merritt, Matt Sawchak and Lexi Fleming also represented the Commission in this case.

Wester was quoted in The Charlotte Observer: "Our citizens must have confidence in the highest standards of professionalism and integrity in our judicial system. Today's opinion reflects the Supreme Court's determination to protect those standards." Click here to read the full article, "NC judge receives rare censure for allowing harassment and threats in his office."

The case was also featured in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, where Wester noted the case "goes to the nervous system of our jurisprudence." That article is available in full here.

Mark Hiller represented the Commission in another case against District Court Judge Edwin Clontz. The NC Supreme Court ordered that Judge Clontz be publicly reprimanded after he held a probable-cause hearing without a criminal defendant's court-appointed counsel present. The NC Supreme Court agreed with the Commission's conclusion that Judge Clontz knowingly proceeded with the hearing to "make a point" about the lawyer's failure to appear in court at the time Judge Clontz had directed. The NC Supreme Court stated that Judge Clontz's conduct "demonstrated a disregard for the defendant's statutory and constitutional rights, and that disregard undermines public faith and confidence in the judiciary." Robinson Bradshaw attorneys John Wester and Matt Sawchak also represented the Commission in this case.

North Carolina Lawyers Weekly also featured an article about this case. "Buncombe Co. judge Clontz reprimanded," is available here.

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