History reveals that for more than three centuries after the Lord Proprietors of the Carolina territory appointed John Willoughby the first Chief Justice in 1670 judges in North Carolina have not been sanctioned for misconduct in office by the traditional methods of impeachment and recall. The first public censure came in 1975, and the first removal from office came in 1978. However, it would be a grave mistake to assume that the judges in this State for three centuries were above reproach or that they were regarded with awe-struck reverence. Recall was never used. Impeachment proceedings were instituted but never resulted in removal. There were methods other than the traditional methods of impeachment and recall, however, which were used to correct abuses by the judiciary. We will examine in this article some of the complaints and charges against judges in North Carolina, and the methods used in imposing or attempting to impose sanctions for misconduct in office before and after the creation of the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission in 1973.
The Hon. Edward B. Clark, The Discipline and Removal of Judges in North Carolina, 4 Campbell L. Rev. 1 (1981).