IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Justice Newby’s derogatory comments on other justices run against judicial standards, North Carolinians may never know if they were even investigated.

by RFNC Staff

Photo Credit: News & Observer
October 11, 2019
Contact: Daniel Gilligan
Executive Director, Real Facts NC
“Imagine seven AOCs on the State Supreme Court. Well folks, we’ve got six. It’s six to one.” -NC Supreme Court Associate Justice Paul Newby
In July, several NC news outlets reported on comments NC Supreme Court Associate Justice Paul Newby made at a Republican Party event. At the time, several legal experts weighed in, explaining that these comments were uncharacteristic and unbecoming of a sitting judge. Newby’s comments violate NC’s Code of Judicial Conduct by undermining the integrity and independence of the court and weakening the public’s confidence in the judicial system. Newby’s comments, including his attempts to raise money for other Republicans, demonstrated he is easily swayed by partisan interests, and he violated the Code’s prohibition against soliciting funds for other candidates.
At a Republican Party rally, Newby called his fellow Supreme Court justices “six AOCs” in reference to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a favorite villain of Republicans. Newby also suggested that the other justices on the court were part of President Obama’s “long-term strategy […] to stack the state supreme courts.”
Newby told the Republican crowd to financially support him and other Republican judicial candidates.
Newby also repeatedly told the crowd that his fellow judges would make biased rulings and overstep the constitutional bounds of the judicial branch. He said he “lose[s] sleep at night” over his colleagues’ behavior and predicted more bad things from the Supreme Court in future months. After attacking his bench mates, Newby told the crowd to financially support him and other Republican judicial candidates.
Newby continued, even saying people who did not agree with his political positions should “just leave” America, claiming he would “buy [them] a ticket to leave.” Notably, his comments came just one day before President Donald Trump’s racist jibe that Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and three other congresswomen of color should “go back” to the countries they came from.
Newby has clearly violated the NC Code of Judicial Conduct with his partisan comments.
These vitriolic and partisan comments are clear violations of the NC Code of Judicial Conduct, which, among other things, requires that a judge conduct himself “in a manner that promotes public confidence” and act in a dignified and professional manner. It prohibits judges from soliciting money for other judges or candidates and discourages the kind of behavior that Newby exhibited when he suggested his colleagues were biased and partial.
This is not the first time we’ve heard this kind of brazen political attack from Newby, and it is not the first time he’s spoken in a way that undermines public confidence in the judicial system. In 2016, Newby violated judicial ethics by appearing in support of HB2, North Carolina’s discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bill.
We should not tolerate Newby’s repeated efforts to undermine public confidence in the judicial system of our state. We should not allow him to continue to erode the integrity and independence of the judiciary, nor should we let his extreme partisan rhetoric ruin the collegiality necessary for the Supreme Court to function.
Under statutes maintained by the NC General Assembly, the Judicial Standards Commission keeps all judicial violations and complaints confidential unless the court orders public discipline.
Unfortunately, under state statutes maintained by the NC General Assembly, the public may never know whether the Judicial Standards Commission has received complaints about Newby’s deplorable behavior—or even if he has been disciplined for his statements—because the Commission’s proceedings are generally held as confidential. The statute of limitations for the clear violations Newby committed will expire this coming Sunday, Oct. 13th, 2019. According to the National Center for State Courts, North Carolina is one of only four states that holds the disciplinary action against judges confidential until court orders public discipline.
We urge Justice Newby’s friends in the North Carolina General Assembly to create more transparency in the system so that severe, public wrongdoing by judges is not shrouded from public view. Efforts to garner votes through fear and degradation of the judicial system must not become the norm in our judicial elections.