Local News

N.C. Chief Justice Removes Wake County Judge From Bench

Posted December 1, 2005

— A state judge already censured twice for her behavior and facing a third complaint was relieved of duty Thursday by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

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  • Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake took the unusual step of suspending Wake Superior Court Judge Evelyn Hill with an order that was posted on the

    state courts' Web site

    .

    "The immediate suspension of Judge Hill is necessary for the proper administration of justice in that it appears her persistent intemperance demonstrates a continuous, habitual pattern of misconduct in office," Lake wrote in the order. "This suspension serves to maintain the honor and dignity of the judiciary and the proper administration of justice."

    Hill, a former prosecutor, has been the subject of three complaints filed with the N.C. Judicial Standards Commission since she became a judge in 2001. They describe her berating and belittling lawyers, shoving a law firm's employee in an elevator, mocking a witness and making racially questionable remarks. She has denied some allegations and apologized for others.

    The newest complaint, filed Nov. 22 and released Monday, accuses her of willful misconduct based on a pattern of misbehavior.

    Hill was elected to an eight-year term on the Superior Court bench in 2000.

    She was not in her offices at the Wake County courthouse on Thursday. At the courthouse, her lawyer, Joe Zeszotarski, said he had not yet talked to his client and could not comment on her removal from the bench.

    Zeszotarski did say, however, that he has 20 days from when the complaints were filed to submit a response. After that, the judicial ethics board will set a hearing date.

    Many friends and colleagues of Hill, at the courthouse, said they like and respect her and are concerned about that lies ahead for her career as a result of the latest complaints.

    Lake told WRAL that while it was a drastic step to suspend a judge, it was even worse for the public to hear that a judge was not doing his or her job professionally.

    "It's unfortunate for the entire court system because it builds on the public's distrust and lack of confidence in the judicial system, in the system of justice," Lake said.

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