Friday, February 13, 2009

Judge, it's time for a decision

Let's see. Judges are supposed to render decisions. But newly elected District Court Judge Bill Belk doesn't seem to want to do that.

Judge Belk has known since at least December that the N.C. Code of Judicial Conduct bars state judges from serving on corporate boards, because it could be a conflict of interest. Yet Belk still hasn't resigned from the board of Sonic Automotive.

Not only is he thumbing his nose at the Judicial Commission rules, recently Belk tried to get permission from the chief district court judge to be excused from court Wednesday so he could attend a Sonic board meeting.

When Chief District Judge Lisa Bell said no, Belk reportedly raised his voice in a confrontation outside the judges' offices.

The Judicial Standards Commission, which investigates allegations of ethical violations by judges, meets today. Executive director Paul Ross is aware Belk sits on the Sonic board. What can Belk be thinking?

To be sure, there'd be some financial advantage to staying on the Sonic board. In 2008, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Sonic awarded Belk nearly 3,000 shares of restricted stock, redeemable if he stays on the board until the annual meeting in April. The stock was worth $60,000 when awarded but now is worth only about $5,100.

Further, his pay from Sonic – $150,765 in stock and fees last year – is better than his beginning judge's pay of $106,445.

But come on. Belk is a wealthy man, an heir in the Belk department store family. The Sonic money has to be pocket change for him.

The only conclusion we can draw is that Judge Belk thinks rules shouldn't apply to him. That's not a comforting thought for those who must appear before him in court.

Or maybe he can't decide which post to resign. If he can't – or won't – decide, the Judicial Standards Commission needs to decide for him. A judge who knowingly flouts judicial ethics rules has no place in our state's justice system.


Don P said...

Belk should step down as a judge. Make no mistake he has his own agenda. He should take the silver spoon out of his mouth and his head out of his butt. To willfully disregard the law as if does not apply to him, is what irkes the regular guy on the street trying to do the right thing. What I want to know is when does the Board of Review start proceedings against his flagrant behavior?

Anonymous said...

He makes a habit of not following the rules. This should suprise noone...

Anonymous said...

Judge Belk has made his point. He unseated the judge who failed to acknowledge his status as a member of the Belk dynasty by awarding his ex-wife a portion of their property. The consequence of this is that he now has to work a real job. I believe that he is begging to be removed from the bench and the onerous task of going to work.