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Wake County Judge Responds to Complaint

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RALEIGH (AP) — June 4, 1996 - 11:17 a.m. EDT

Fighting to keep her job, a Wake County judge said that a complaint against her is a political effort to destroy her.

District Court Judge Susan Renfer filed her official response to a complaint before the state's Judicial Standards Commission shortly before noon Monday.

The complaint accuses Renfer of misapplying the law, overstepping her authority and making slurs against blacks working for the courts and battered women.

Renfer answered the complaint with a blanket denial, an indication that she plans to fight each charge during a commission hearing.

In the written response filed by Renfer, she denied that she made any statements or acts that show misconduct in office. She said she had carried out her duties ethically and in a dignified manner.

``Truth is on my side,'' Renfer said. ``I will rise above all these efforts to tear me down professionally and personally.''

According to the complaint, Renfer has said that women in domestic violence cases most often provoke the attacks.

Other allegations in the complaint include:
  • that Renfer told a court clerk that the Wake County Clerk of Superior Court office was poorly run because of black workers.
  • that Renfer acted as a legal counsel in July 1995, when she accompanied an Illinois couple who wanted to adopt a North Carolina child. The Code of Judicial Conduct states a judge should not practice law.
  • a charge by a Louisburg woman that Renfer chastised her for wearing a short dress to court.
  • that Renfer assaulted a lawyer in her office by grabbing the lawyer's lapels.
  • Renfer, the first Republican elected to the district court, has irritated courthouse regulars with her style since her election in 1994. Lawyers say she cuts them off in mid-sentence, refuses to hear cases if women lawyers are wearing pants, and tells bailiffs how to do their jobs.

    Her supporters say the charges against Renfer are political and that the complaint is part of a deliberate campaign to overturn her election.

    The Judicial Standards Commission is expected to schedule a public hearing on the complaint against Renfer as early as September. The seven-member commission can recommend that the state Supreme Court take no action, issue a written reprimand or remove Renfer from the bench.

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