By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
October 30, 2020
Four decades of legal experience, 16 years on the state’s High Court and a lifetime of community service are just a few of the qualifications that Paul Newby brings to the race for Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, says his respect for the senior associate justice has grown even stronger since he first took his place on the bench in 2004.
“We have witnessed firsthand the integrity, the expertise and the deep sense of responsibility and stewardship that Justice Newby has brought to his office,” Creech said. “There is no question that he is the person to lead the N.C. Supreme Court.”
A native of Asheboro, Newby grew up in Jamestown and earned his bachelor’s degree in public policy studies from Duke University and his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law. After internships at the United States Supreme Court and in the 18th Judicial District Public Defenders Office, he practiced civil and real estate law before being appointed an assistant U.S. Attorney in Raleigh. Since his election to the N.C. Supreme Court, he has written more than 300 opinions.
In addition to his work on the Court, he serves as an adjunct law professor at Campbell Law School and teaches continuing legal education courses to attorneys. He also travels across the Tar Heel State educating students, civic groups and others about history and the role of government.
“Justice Newby stands out for his Christian faith, his community service and the fact that he has been a true ambassador of our nation’s legal system,” Creech said.
Newby’s legal career has been marked by his immense appreciation for the nation’s founding documents and his commitment to the rule of law.
“The rule of law means everybody is treated the same — rich, poor, powerful, not powerful. The symbol of justice is Lady Justice. She is blindfolded. She can’t see who comes before her. She treats everyone the same,” Newby explained during a televised candidate event in late August.
“Who protects our fundamental rights and freedoms, the right to life and liberty and pursuit of happiness? It is up to the courts to protect those rights. It is up to those of us who understand that the rule of law is vital for public trust and confidence in our system, for everyone to be treated the same. … The innocent deserve to be protected and the guilty found guilty and properly punished.”
The only Republican on the seven-member state Supreme Court, Newby emphasized the importance of having justices who appreciate judicial self-restraint, “who keep the judicial branch in the judicial lane” and do not try to legislate from the bench.
“I’ve had opportunities to speak with judges from around the world about our legal system and the rule of law. Are we perfect? Of course not. We don’t have perfect judges, perfect lawyers, or perfect jurors. None of us are perfect,” Newby said. “But a fair trial, free from prejudicial error is what everybody deserves.”
A co-author of a book on the NC Constitution, the North Carolina Constitution with History and Commentary (2nd Edition 2013), Newby has served on various legal commissions and committees evaluating the provision of legal services and the challenges in the justice system.
He has said that if he is elected Chief Justice, he will push to keep the courts open and to let local court officials make their own decisions about how best to safely serve citizens during the age of Covid-19.
“I believe in local control. I don’t believe Raleigh ought to dictate to the 100 counties out there the way that they need to be reacting,” Newby said. “I believe folks take very seriously the pandemic that is going on and they will make the right choices, but keeping in mind that delaying jury trials creates a backlog that also creates serious problems with regard to our criminal justice system.”
“It is vital that our courts be open, because justice delayed is justice denied,” he added.