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Who is calling the shots in Justice Brady’s chambers?

A few weeks ago I fretted that law clerk Steven Walker could ride his favorable ballot placement and right wing ties to a seat on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Walker won his primary battle and now faces only incumbent Judge Rick Elmore.

Again, Walker recently graduated from Campbell law school and has no legal experience other than serving as a research assistant. That Walker would run shows complete disregard for the Court of Appeals as an institution. It’s as if he is saying that serving as a judge is so easy an intern could do it.

Why does Walker think he is qualified?

Here’s what he told WRAL:

I’m doing what I would be doing there. You read the law. You look at the facts of the case. You apply the facts of the case to the law. Then you come to the conclusion that you have.

Right, except that’s not what a clerk is supposed to be doing. A clerk conducts research and gives an experienced judge a briefing on the facts and what previous courts have said about similar cases. A judge or justice then uses the clerk’s research along with personal knowledge and experience and the arguments from other chambers to reach a considered decision.

So this begs the question: who is making decisions in Justice Brady’s chambers? If Justice Brady is making his own decisions, then it’s far from true that Walker is doing the work of a judge now. If Walker is telling the truth, then it raises some serious ethical questions. Justice Brady should never simply delegate decision making authority to a research assistant fresh out of school.

So, Justice Brady, who is calling the shots for you at the Supreme Court?

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