Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Judge Belk, leader of the circus

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 3:36 PM

Judge Bill Belk ran for the bench because he was disgruntled with the judicial system after a sticky divorce. He even complained on the evening news about how crappy the process is and how it's set up to screw people.

His ultimate response to that perceived wrongdoing was to jump into politics and run against the judge that presided over his case. Ever since, of course, he has been in the news for his willful ways.

And, frankly, that's why this spoiled son of Charlotte is on trial, defending his actions to the N.C. Judicial Standards Committee.

Since he became judge (this past January), he's thumbed his nose at the judicial system repeatedly. Rules? Ethics? Manners? No, thank you. Not for him.

So, it's no surprise that, a day before his trial in Raleigh -- where he's charged with "willful misconduct" -- his attorney has thrown up his hands in frustration.

In entertaining news, Belk says he's now going to represent himself. Since Belk is scheduled to continue his testimony this morning, it remains to be seen who will question the judge or if he'll run back and forth from the floor to the witness stand.

If nothing else, today's performance should certainly top his last appearance where he arrived with a circus of "supporters" -- including his wife, Georgia.

In case all of the drama erased your memory, Belk is in hot water because he refuses to step down from the board of Sonic Automotive and because he's accused of bullying his chief judge, Lisa Bell, who pointed out that Belk may be guilty of soliciting money for his wife Georgia's campaign for Charlotte City Council when he shouldn't have been doing anything of the sort, given his elected office and all.


"They tried to portray me as someone that had conflicts. They tried to portray me as someone that would be scary. That, to me, is the opposite of who I really am," Belk said.

Meanwhile, Belk's attorney has quit the case, claiming he wasn't paid travel expenses.

Belk's response: "I paid my case in full. In fact, I've already paid twice as much to my attorney as we originally agreed. I have never received an invoice regarding his travel expenses. A lawyer should never do this to a client."

Belk says he will represent himself Wednesday before the Judicial Standards Commission.


Attorney Marshall Basinger, who represented Belk on the first day of his hearing before the N.C. Judicial Standards Commission, has asked to withdraw.

He says Belk not only hasn't paid him for all his work but hasn't paid the travel expenses that he and three clerks incurred traveling to Raleigh for the start of the hearing three weeks ago.

And in an e-mail to the commission, Basinger described the scene Monday afternoon when Belk arrived at his office just as Basinger prepared to step out to notarize his withdrawal request.

"In the few minutes I was gone," he wrote, "Judge Belk removed our 'box' that contains virtually all of our materials and files used in this hearing and did so without my knowledge nor the consent of anyone in my office."

Belk could not be reached. If he doesn't consent to Basinger's request, there will be a hearing by the Judicial Standards Commission on the lawyer's withdrawal this morning before the start of Belk's own hearing.

"We were told we would be paid and we weren't," Basinger said Tuesday. "To me that was pretty egregious."

In his motion to withdraw, Basinger cited the missed payments as the main reason for his request. But not the only one.

Belk, he wrote, "incredibly listens to the advice of various lay persons he references as 'the girls,' rather than his counsel's advice."

Basinger said it was apparently a reference to a group of Belk's mostly female supporters who accompanied him.

After the Sept. 10 hearing, Belk told the Observer he thought Basinger was "a little too laid back" during the hearing.

Said Basinger: "I better not touch that one."

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