August 28, 2007
Censure For Ex Parte Order
A county district judge was censured for vacating another judge's order of contempt for failure to pay child support without the knowledge or presence of the party that had obtained the order. "It is well established that one...judge may not ordinarily modify, overrule, or change the judgment or order of another...judge previously entered in the same case."
The censured judge had granted the motion to strike the contempt despite the fact that the motion had not been served. The North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the contention that the judge acted in good faith because he believed that the contemnor did not have notice of the contempt proceedings: "the issue here concerns [the judge's] conduct, not his motives...[h]is action in setting aside [the prior judge's] order in an ex parte proceeding enabled Mr. Moore to evade his child support obligations. Mr. Moore subsequently vanished, causing problems to the other party, who had obtained a court order in her favor." The judge's supposed good faith was no defense to the charges of misconduct. (Mike Frisch)
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