One of the challenges of covering the North Carolina Court of Appeals is keeping track of the Robert Hunters, for there are two—Robert C. Hunter and Robert N. Hunter—on the 15-member court.
It turns of that appellate attorneys often use a handy device to distinguish between the two: One is “Beach Bob” and the other is “Mountain Bob.”
For obvious reasons, none of the attorneys were willing to admit publicly to using those nicknames, but they seem logical enough: Robert C. Hunter is from mountainous Marion, and Robert N. Hunter lives in coastal Morehead City. (But if you prefer mnemonic devices, you’re out of luck: “Beach” has a “C” and “Mountain” has an “N,” but Robert C. is Mountain Bob and Robert N. is Beach Bob.)
We asked both judges about their nicknames, and each said that they’re actually quite fine with them, which apparently were created by fellow Court of Appeals Judge Linda Stephens. Naturally, people get them confused frequently, but the judges say it’s a source of amusement and taken in good fun. They frequently get mail intended for the other—including, on at least one occasion, a check—but it always gets straightened out.
When asked if the similarity has ever caused any real problems, they both cited the same difficulty: When they’re both attending an event, the hosts will often only have one nametag for “Judge Robert Hunter” – meaning that whoever got there second went without a nametag. But Mountain Bob (who usually styles himself as “Marion Bob,” by the way) said that after four years of serving on the court together, people are better about remembering to make two nametags.