May I have the envelope please . . .

This word is just in from a source who spoke with the Governor's office. The new Superior Court Judge for Orange and Chatham counties will be . . .

District Attorney Carl Fox!

According to Gerry Cohen, an attorney for the North Carolina General Assembly (and who is not the source who spoke to the Governor's office), Article 4 section 18 of the North Carolina Constitution gives the Governor the power to appoint an interim District Attorney when there is a vacancy in the office, so the next question is who will the Governor appoint to replace Carl Fox?

Seems like the Governor would not create a vacancy unless he knew how he was going to fill it. We shall see . . .

Meanwhile, congratultions to Carl Fox!



I know some police officers that aren't going to be very happy about this...especially in Chapel Hill. Anyone else notice that the drug dealers in the Northside neighborhood seem to be becoming more prevalent again. I've had several C.H.P.D. officers say that it is because the DA's office isn't prosecuting to the fullest extent. One even told me that he has arrested several who would be considered habitual criminals and whose wrap sheets stretch to the floor and they are back on the streets with only a written promise to appear. Hopefully the DA the governor chooses to replace Carl Fox will do more to curb the drug traffic (both small and large scale) becoming more and more prevalent in Orange and Chatham counties.

Unfortunately the problem of street drug dealing will never be solved in the D.A.'s office. The solution has to happen right here on the streets of Northside. I'll be posting a rant about that on OP later...

The big questions in my mind are:
1. What Carl Fox will be like as a judge?
2. Who is in line to replace him?

What do others think? Who is your favorite local prosecutor? ;-)

This seems to have come out of the blue, I never contemplated a new D.A. It could be a very good thing!

Ruby, I agree that the street drug dealing won't be solved by the DA's office, but they are a necessary part of solving the problem. If the dealers know nothing will happen to them legally, there is little chance of being able to sove the problem. Calling the cops everytime you see drug activity only lessens the problem for as long as it takes for the dealers to be released.

I do think that any idea/methods of dealing with the problem will require a joint effort between the Northside and Lloyd St neighborhoods since general operating procedure seems to be to switch between those neighborhoods depending on how much heat the dealers are feeling.

The Lloyd St. Neighborhood Association raised money to purchase new play equipment for the park on broad street, and all I can wonder is why. I have never seen kids playing in the park...the only people that use it are the dealers and users (unless there is something else you think they may be doing down there in the middle of the night).

Yep, it's Carl alright. Just got his email with a copy of the press release.

I imagine he'll be a little more "judicious" with his letterhead while perched on the bench ...

The new DA will be Jim Woodall.


P.S. The "drug problem" will NEVER be solved by law enforcement; not by the cops, not by the DA, not by the Courts, and certainly not by Neighborhood Associations, however well intentioned.

It costs, to manufacture cocaine, the same thing it costs to manfacture aspirin. The engine that drives the "drug problem" is the obscene profit to be made in the distribution of controlled substances. That profit margin is artificially maintained by the criminal penalties attached to the activity. Remove the government subsidy, eliminate the artifically created profit, and NOBODY would be interested in being a drug dealer.

Use some of that energy convincing your elected representatives to stop wasting our tax dollars on the "war on drugs" and you will actually have an appreciable effect on the "drug problem."

I have known Carl Fox since 1977 when I first came to Chapel Hill as a UNC freshman. Congratulations to Carl and to this area. He will make an excellent Judge.

Over the years, and on two totally separate issues, I called the DA's office to ask about an interpretation of two local ordinances. On both occassions I was surprised that Carl took the call and and the time to discuss my question personally. I've always had a very favorable impression of him, based on that. I hope that is the extent of my professional relationship with him, if you get my drift.

Y'all who were hoping for Carl Fox's departure from the DA's office should be careful what you wish for.

Oops, too late. Jim Woodall. Bet you don't know anything about him.

I wonder what Jill Cheek is thinking right about now? I suppose you could argue both ways, but my guess is that the governor hasn't done her any favors if it's true she intends to run for DA next time around. Now she's going to have to run against a youngish, newly installed, sitting D.A., instead of running in the open race that would have been created had Carl Fox decided not to run again, as many suspected he would.

I wonder if that wasn't part of Carl Fox's thinking when he put his name in the hat for the Superior Court judgeship -- that is, to give someone else some experience in office so they'd be in a better position to fend off Cheek.

I'm sure my anti-fox bias is unfair. When things go right in his office it doesn't make the news. When things go wrong it's on the front page. Still, Why did he give his letter head to the Carrboro PD without asking any questions? That move resulted in a murder confession getting thrown out. In another case, Anthony Simpson shot Kristan Lodge Miller in broad day light. There's a plaque in her memory on just past the rape crisis center. Simpson is soon to be a free man.

I hope Fox makes a good judge.

A very interesting analysis of the Lodge-Miller case can be found at

Murder and the Media:
What the case of Kristin Lodge-Miller can teach us about how the news media cover crime

By Sylvia Colwell
Knight Copy Editing Fellow
Fall 1997

It's hard not to remember that many were outraged when the jury found Simpson guilty of second-degree (unpremeditated) murder.

Last year, when the great hue and cry arose because Anthony Simpson might be paroled, I submitted a piece to a local paper. They didn't print it. For your consideration (with apologies for the length of the post):

There was a recent renewal of the hubbub surrounding Anthony Simpson's trial for Kristin Lodge-Miller's murder ten years ago. Folks opined, in print, what a tragedy it was the verdict (and the state of the law at the time) required that Simpson be considered for parole now, after only ten years. This newspaper even devoted an editorial to the subject, blasting the jury for convicting Simpson of only second-degree murder. Writers referred to the outcome as a “miscarriage of justice.”

I disagree. Can we agree the accounts of the crime sounded very much like an unprovoked execution-style killing of a much loved and promising young woman? Surely. Can we agree that Anthony Simpson's attitudes and behaviors seem little improved by ten years in prison? Probably. Can we agree that, if it were left to us, such a man would spend the rest of his life in prison and never even be considered for parole? Undoubtedly.

Fortunately, it's not left to us. That's why we have The System. I happen to think it's a terrible system but you know what? Of all the legal systems in operation on the planet, it's the best one there is. I've been trying for more than forty years to devise a better one, without success. That doesn't mean it can't be done, just that I haven't been able to do it. Neither have all its critics over the last two hundred plus years.

Our Criminal Justice System, reduced to its essence, has four moving parts: the District Attorney, the Defense, the Judge, and the Jury. Long ago we adopted what's called an Adversarial System. If it's to operate properly, the Adversarial System requires each of the four parts to do its job correctly (and not attempt, under any circumstances, to do the job of any of the other three parts.)

At trial, the District Attorney appears on behalf of “the State.” He calls and questions witnesses whose cumulative testimony, he believes, demonstrates the guilt of the accused. The accused's advocate then has the chance to ask questions of the State's witnesses, questions designed to challenge or refute that testimony. The Defense also has an opportunity to put on evidence of its own, if it wishes. The Judge (think Referee) monitors those exchanges and applies rules created to encourage an orderly process. At the appropriate time he explains to the Jury the applicable law, for example, the meaning of “premeditation and deliberation.” The Jury takes all this in and, when directed by the Judge, goes to the Jury Room, discusses all they've heard, and attempts to reach a unanimous verdict declaring the accused either Guilty or Not Guilty. The verdict must be unanimous. (Verdict, by the way, to show you the optimism of those who designed this system, is from Latin and means “to speak the truth.”)

People don't always do what's required, of course. (If they did, we wouldn't need a Criminal Justice System.) Sometimes the Judge thinks the DA isn't being vigorous enough and he tries to help the prosecution along. Justice gets trammeled and the accused gets the shaft. Or a juror decides the investigating officer forgot to make a crucial measurement and goes out after supper with his own tape measure; a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Or the advocate for the accused becomes so convinced of the client's innocence he believes he's justified in breaking the rules trying to win an acquittal; then the whole system loses.

But do any of these examples justify scrapping the System? I think not. Can we agree the System, so long as it is dependent on humans, will be subject to human error? Absolutely.

I did not sit through the Simpson trial and did not, therefore, hear the evidence the Jury heard day after day; nor, I suspect, did the author of the editorial which so glibly second-guessed the Jury's deliberations. I do know this much: it was a murder trial and the Judge had to provide the jurors with the legal definitions of “premeditation” and “deliberation”. If the jurors couldn't unanimously agree, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Simpson conducted himself in a fashion that exactly met the stringent requirements of those definitions, they were forbidden to return a verdict of Guilty of First Degree Murder. Under North Carolina law, not much time need elapse for a person to have gone through the mental processes necessary to “premeditate” and “deliberate”, but it requires some cognitive process. By all media accounts of the time, it was clear the crucial events of that day took place in little more than the blink of an eye. Might the Jury have been unable to agree, unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt, that the very strict legal definitions had been met? I didn't hear the evidence and, more importantly, I didn't participate in the Jury's deliberations, so I don't know. And neither do you. And that's just one example of how twelve perfectly reasonable and conscientious people might have returned a verdict of Guilty of Second Degree Murder.

As long as we keep the System we've got, you don't get to pick which verdicts should stand and which ones shouldn't. (No, not even O.J.'s.) If you don't like the System, design a better one and see it through the Legislature. But leave the Jury alone.

I don't believe for a minute that Carl handed over his letterhead with no questions asked. That would be out of character for him and for CPD as well.

Orange County DA, Carl Fox is - at least - partly culpable for botching procedures in the arrest of Andrew Dalzell. Fox' actions - frankly his inertia and sudden amnesia - lead to Dalzell's confession in the murder of Deborah Key to be tossed out by Judge Wade Barber (don't tell this was all Carrboro Police's doing, Fox shares the blame)

So what's Fox' reprimand?

Governor Easley makes him a superior court judge.

And what's Wade Barber's reaction?

"[Fox is] an outstanding choice... he cares about the welfare of people in our district..."

Yes... so much so that he let a confessed murderer walk back into that district.

Thanks Carl, now can I ask you to come by and patrol my street at night?

I am thankful to Governor Easley that he chose a man with rare innate qualities that mix courage of conviction, sense of justice, human compassion and consistency for Superior Court Judge. I have known Judge Fox as a defendent, a court team advisor, and a social worker representing clients of the court. Judge Fox is a man who is not learned of integrity, decency and honor because these characteristics are simply a part of his character.

For those of you who might like to witness a piece of Orange County history in the making, Carl is being sworn in this afternoon (3/23/05) at 2pm in the Courthouse in Hillsboro.


I hope I was not the only person saddened by the "good ole boy" appointment of Carl Fox to superior court judge. The front page coverage of Carl Fox bent over the desk, hysterical in laughter when he was sworn in by a political crony, was pathetic at best. I wonder if the family of Deborah Keys thinks it's funny that this same man let a murderer walk free.


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.