State News

Judge: Fellow judge berated her over day off

Posted September 10, 2009
Updated September 11, 2009

— A Mecklenburg County judge on Thursday testified that a fellow judge screamed at her and insulted her in February because she denied his request for a day off.

The state Judicial Standards Commission held a hearing on whether to discipline Mecklenburg County District Judge Bill Belk.

Standards panel hears case against judge Standards panel hears case against judge

Belk, who was elected to the bench in November, has been accused of making disparaging comments about state Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker and Mecklenburg County Chief District Judge Lisa Bell. He's also accused of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct for continuing to serve on a corporate board.

Bell testified that Belk wanted to get out of a scheduled day of criminal court in February so he could attend a board meeting of Sonic Automotive Inc., a Charlotte-based chain of car dealerships. She said she turned down the request, noting that the Judicial Standards Commission had advised against Belk's position as a Sonic Automotive director.

Belk confronted Bell about her decision and became enraged when she said she wouldn't change her mind, she testified.

"He said I was nothing but a media hound and a political hack," Bell said. "He screamed at me to leave him alone and said I should be ashamed of what I was doing."

Bell said she felt "physically threatened," but she said he apologized for the outburst three days later. He said he needed his director's job at Sonic Automotive because it provided him with insurance to cover health problems, she testified.

Steven Coss, general counsel for Sonic Automotive, testified that Belk was paid about $143,500 a year in cash and stock for serving as a director.

Belk has said the conduct code does not explicitly prohibit work on corporate boards and that the outside work has not violated the court's impartiality. He has denied making disparaging remarks about Parker.

"Judge Belk has done nothing – absolutely nothing – to warrant punishment," said his attorney, Marshall Basinger.

Belk started to testify shortly before the hearing ended Thursday. A date for the continuation of the hearing wasn't set.

If the commission disciplines Belk, the penalty could range from a public reprimand to suspension or removal from the bench.

20 Comments

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  • itsmyownopinion Sep 11, 2009

    If she feels threatened by another judge suffering health problems, which may contribute to his demeanor, how would she handle a murderer or rapist in her courtroom who may get out of control?

  • Phil in Wilson Sep 10, 2009

    Co Workers had a disagreement??? WOW!!!

  • MamaDummy Sep 10, 2009

    Sounds like you all judged him. He certainly does not need to lose his job. He needs to be a productive citizen so he can pay his own way in life.

  • The Fox Sep 10, 2009

    Sounds like a whole bunch of nothing. A shame to waste the boards time.

  • GWALLY Sep 10, 2009

    Sounds like "she" could work for Nancy Pe.!!!!

  • freddie cadetti 72 Sep 10, 2009

    This guy any kin to the Belk stores? Maybe he should be barred from the bench and get a job in the shoe dep't

  • Pharmboy Sep 10, 2009

    May he be disbarred and lose his judgeship. He obviously does not carry the ethics needed to be a judge if he threatens/yells at a higher authority due to personal gain and that he is calling the other judge a lier.

  • Raptor06 Sep 10, 2009

    Sounds like a person in need of improved health care.

  • whatelseisnew Sep 10, 2009

    I don't get the issue with him sitting on a board. So long as he does not have anyone from that company in his courtroom involved in a case, then that is a non-issue.
    as to his behavior towards the other Judges, that is completely unacceptable.

  • R_U_breakdance fighting Sep 10, 2009

    It's not about "feelings", it's about facts, don't confuse the two.

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