Former Mecklenburg County Superior Court Judge Chase Saunders has joined the McNair Law Firm’s Charlotte office, where he will engage in a civil litigation practice. A District Judge and a prosecutor prior to his 15-year Superior Court stint, Saunders was doing arbitration and mediation work when the McNair deal was struck….
After more than three years as an assistant DA, Heather Baker has left the prosecutor’s office to join the Sylva firm of Haire, Bridgers & Ridenour. A UNC law graduate, she will handle criminal, civil, social security, workers’ comp, real estate and domestic cases….
Morganton lawyer Bob Byrd was the speaker for the Burke County Historical Society recently, where his topic focused on the history of Burke County courthouses and the court systems they hosted. Drawing heavily on Sam J. Ervin’s book, Burke County Courthouses and Related Matters, Byrd outlined the history of the five courthouses that have served Burke County since its formation. The third courthouse, built on a square cut out of a 230 acre tract, was the magnet that drew the town first known as Morgansborough, then Morgan, and now Morganton to it. A fourth courthouse was built on the site in the 1830s, and continued to serve until the mid 1970s, when the current one was built a few blocks away. Byrd, a past president of the historical society, also recounted the trial of Frankie Silver, thought by many to be the inspiration for the blues song “Frankie and Johnny,” and told about the courthouse shooting of a Burnsville merchant by attorney William Waightstille Avery….
The North Carolina Symphony has elected Henry Mitchell vice-chair of its board of directors. He is a partner in the Raleigh firm of Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell and Jernigan….
Wood Lay has made partner at Hunton & Williams in Charlotte. With the firm since 1992, he is in the labor and employment group….
Charlie Horn of Shelby has taken the oath as the newest District Court judge in Cleveland and Lincoln counties. The son of a lawyer, Horn started out as a farmer, but when his agricultural career was cut short by the boll weevil, he went into the Army to refine his plans. Upon discharge, he enrolled at Wake Forest, where he earned both his bachelor’s and law degrees. Horn began practice in Shelby in 1961 and plied the legal profession for nearly four decades before donning the robes….
Asheville attorney Joseph McGuire has received the Distinguished Leadership Award from the National Association for Community Leadership at its national conference in Miami recently. He was one of the founders of the Asheville Buncombe Vision program, and is co-chair of Building Bridges, a community-wide diversity education project. McGuire is past president of the Leadership Asheville Forum, and was the 1999 recipient of that organization’s Circle of Excellence Award for outstanding community service….
Thomas H. Johnson Jr. has opened the Johnson Law Firm on East Arlington Boulevard in Greenville….
Former 6B District Attorney David H. Beard Jr. was feted at a retirement banquet honoring his 17-plus years of community service and prosecuting the dockets in Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties. Among the well-wishers filling the Chowan College dining hall in Murfreesboro were state Supreme Court associate justices Franklin Freeman and Sarah Parker, and former 6B assistant DAs, Cy Grant Sr. and Alfred Kwasikpui, now Superior Court and District Court judges, respectively. After graduating from UNC’s law school in 1972, Beard clerked for U.S. District Judge Franklin Dupree. From there he went with the Guilford County Public Defender’s office, then to the staff of District Attorney W.H.S. Burgwyn, where he continued to serve until he became top prosecutor. On the day Beard took his oath of office as DA, Jan. 1, 1983, Phyllis Rollins, the district’s first female assistant DA, and Grant, the first African-American assistant DA, were sworn in as his assistants. Another former Beard assistant, Tom Newbern, is also a District Court judge. One of Beard’s first volunteer efforts was to unite the community behind starting a “Big Brother” program, and “Volunteers to the Court,” both providing role models and mentors for youth. He also founded “Families of Murder Victims and Traumatic Death Support Group,” whose members assist each other addressing individual loss associated with their tragedies. In each of the 17 years of his tenure, Beard conducted an internship program allowing students to receive training and college credit while they worked. Many of them have become lawyers or hold other jobs serving the courts and criminal justice system. Beard’s former senior assistant Valerie Mitchell Pittman has been sworn in to fill his unexpired term….