RALEIGH — The most recent episode of All Things Judicial features excerpts from an interview with former Chief Justice Rhoda Billings. The interview was conducted in 2016 by former president of the North Carolina Bar Association, John R. “Buddy” Wester, as part of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism’s Historical Video Series. During her career, Chief Justice Billings served as a district court judge, associate justice, and the 22nd chief justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. She was the second woman associate justice and second woman to serve as chief justice. In addition, she is the only person to have served as president of the North Carolina Bar Association and chief justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.
“A justice is not supposed to, and should never, pre-judge issues,” former Chief Justice Billings said on the podcast. “Those are things to be determined after legal arguments, study, and discussion and collaboration with the other members of the court.”
INTERVIEWER AND GUEST
Former Chief Justice Rhoda Billings is a native of Wilkesboro and was the only woman in the class of 1966 at Wake Forest University School of Law, where she graduated first in her class. She practiced law with her husband, Don Billings, from 1966 to 1968, and served as a U.S. Bankruptcy Chapter 13 Trustee from 1966 to 1967. When the district court system was established in North Carolina, Chief Justice Billings was one of five successful candidates and the only woman elected to serve in Forsyth County. She joined the law school faculty at Wake Forest in 1973, serving one year as an assistant professor of law and as an associate professor of law from 1974 to 1979. She attained the rank of professor in 1980.
While on leave from the law school from August 1984 to January 1987, Chief Justice Billings practiced with Billings, Burns and Wells, chaired the North Carolina Parole Commission, and served on the Supreme Court in 1985 to 1986. She also served as a member of the State Judicial Council, an advisory and oversight body for the North Carolina Judicial Branch that helps to study and monitor the operations of the court system and identify areas for improvement.
Chief Justice Billings also served extensively with the North Carolina Bar Association throughout her distinguished career. She became the first woman to serve as its president and is the second woman to receive the Judge John J. Parker Award.
John R. “Buddy” Wester is a litigator at the Charlotte law firm of Robinson Bradshaw. Mr. Wester has also served as president of the North Carolina Bar Association and as a member of the North Carolina Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism.
All Things Judicial is a podcast about the important role of the North Carolina Judicial Branch in state government. The podcast follows a bi-monthly release schedule with each new episode available for download every other Wednesday and can be found on all podcast apps and on NCcourts.gov.
About North Carolina Judicial Branch
The North Carolina Judicial Branch is an equal and distinctively separate branch and core function of government. More than 6,400 Judicial Branch employees statewide administer justice in courthouses in North Carolina’s 100 counties. The Judicial Branch budget for FY 2019–20 was $578.4M, nearly 88.4% of which is used to pay salaries and the remaining 11.6% is used for operations. The Judicial Branch receives only 2.37% of the overall State budget.
About North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts
The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) is the administrative agency for the North Carolina Judicial Branch, providing administrative services to help the North Carolina court system operate more efficiently and effectively, taking into account each courthouse’s diverse needs, caseloads, and available resources.