The purpose of the Judicial Response Committee is to respond to unwarranted attacks on judges by the media and public. The Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism asked a small group of well-known and respected judges and attorneys to join in this non-partisan effort to defend the members of our judiciary when they are wrongly attacked. The intent of the Committee is to respond to unwarranted attacks within the same media cycle.
The members of the Committee include:
- Former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, Burley B. Mitchell, Jr. - Chairman
- Former President of the North Carolina State Bar, E. Fitzgerald Parnell, III
- Greensboro Attorney Jeri L. Whitfield of Smith Moore
- Wrightsville Beach Attorney Stephen C. Baynard of Ennis, Baynard & Morton
- Former Secretary of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Linda Hayes
- Chief District Court Judge Athena Brooks
The members of this committee are offering their time and experience to assist judges, at their request. The response time to unwarranted attacks is critical. If an article appears in a newspaper making an unfounded and unwarranted attack against a member(s) of the judiciary, our committee believes a response should be made within forty-eight hours.
This committee will not respond to political issues or cases where the facts are in dispute. If a case is pending on appeal, a response may be premature. However, this committee is willing to define and defend the duty of a judge. For example, if a judge is obligated to and sets a bond for a defendant, and the defendant commits a crime while out on bail, the judge has simply done what (s)he is required to do. The judge should be defended from attacks on this basis.
This committee will not respond to all attacks on judges but does want the superior and district court judges to know that there is a group of lawyers and judges willing to stand up for their lawful actions and to support them in the media whenever necessary.
If you have any further questions regarding the role of this Committee, please contact the CJCP at (919) 890-1455.