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NCAJ Adopts Statement On Confederate Monuments

February 12, 2022   |   Amber Nimocks

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.”

NCAJ’s Criminal Defense Section is collecting information on Confederate displays, including portraits, plaques, statues, etc. in North Carolina courthouses. Fill out the survey linked here with information regarding displays.

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.

About the Author

Amber Nimocks

Marketing & Communications Manager

Amber Nimocks

Marketing & Communications Manager

Amber Nimocks joined the NCAJ team in 2019. Before her time in the world of legal organizations, she spent two decades as a journalist. Her experience includes reporting, editing, radio production, media analysis, digital media strategy and print and video project management. Her byline has appeared in USA Today, The Washington Post, The News & Observer of Raleigh, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Our State magazine and Edible Piedmont. Nimocks is the former editor of North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, and prior to NCAJ, she worked in communications and outreach for the North Carolina Bar Association, where she edited the award-winning North Carolina Lawyer magazine. 

Nimocks serves on the board of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, where she uses her professional experience with nonprofits to help guide UUFR’s efforts to build a strong and welcoming congregation that empowers its members to serve the world.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she holds a bachelor of arts in religious studies and is a proud veteran of The Daily Tar Heel.  

Nimocks lives in downtown Raleigh with her husband, Josh Shaffer, their son Sam, one dog and one cat.