NCAJ Adopts Statement On Confederate Monuments
Part of NCAJ’s dedication to “building a diverse and inclusive community means ensuring that our courthouses and their grounds in North Carolina are such places where all feel they will be treated with fairness and neutrality.”
With this assertion, the NCAJ Board of Governors approved at its January meeting a Statement On Confederate Monuments drafted by the NCAJ Diversity and Inclusion Committee. A growing awareness informed by current events and historical and legal scholarship shows these monuments as “divisive symbols of prejudice, bias and inequality to many, including many NCAJ lawyers, their clients and potential jurors.”
The statement affirms NCAJ’s support of the efforts of NCAJ members and the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System’s (NC CRED) to remove Confederate courthouse monuments and other icons and symbols in courthouses that “impede our members’ efforts to protect people, prevent injustice, and promote fairness.”NCAJ President John McCabe said the statement reflects the organization’s core values.
“NCAJ is deeply committed to protecting people, preventing injustice, and promoting fairness, and our support of NC CRED’s efforts to remove Confederate monuments, which symbolize divisiveness, prejudice, and inequality, from our courthouses embodies that unwavering commitment,” McCabe said.
James Williams Jr., chair of the NC CRED Board of Directors, called the statement “powerful, meaningful and necessary.”
“While lawyers alone can’t achieve the removal of these monuments, lawyers can contribute significantly to the effort,” he said. “On behalf of NC CRED and other members of our working group, our sincere thanks to NCAJ for taking this step.”
Learn More at an Upcoming Free NCAJ Webinar
On Feb. 22, Elizabeth Hambourger, Senior Attorney and Public Information Liaison for the Center for Death Penalty Litigation and Dr. John Blackshear, Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Students at Duke University will lead a one-hour webinar discussion Confederate Monuments on Courthouse Grounds: Their Impact On Our Clients and How We Can Protect Them is free to all NCAJ members.
NCAJ’s Criminal Defense Section is further supporting the efforts of NC CRED by creating a document bank of motions that will serve as models for members to follow as they seek to have Confederate symbology removed in the jurisdictions where they practice. The first of these is a motion NCAJ member Hambourger filed in Superior Court in Vance County in 2021, “Motion To Remove Or Conceal Courthouse Images Honoring Zebulon Vance During Defendant’s Capital Trial.”
The section is also collecting information on Confederate displays, including portraits, plaques, statues, etc. in North Carolina courthouses. Fill out the survey linked here with information regarding displays.
Find more on the movement in an article by Hambourger and Ian Mance in the winter edition of “Trial Briefs,” Lawyers Must Challenge Racist Symbols in Courthouse Spaces.