Serious allegations being made by a custody case lawyer against Orange County Chief District Court Judge Joe Buckner raise harrowing questions about whether just such a perversion of justice occurred. An opinion in an N.C. Court of Appeals ruling overturning Buckner's decision in a custody case grimly scolded that the judge's order contained "patently false" information and that Buckner's handling of the case was an "entire charade." At stake here is the court's integrity, the judge's reputation and a vastly diminished public trust. The ponderous question is what happens now?
I can answer that question: 15B Chief District Court Judge Joe Buckner must be removed from the bench.
In her 1996 book, Still Unequal, Lorraine Dusky highlights another Orange County "perversion of justice" child custody case involving Judge Joe Buckner and former attorney, Lunsford Long.
Dusky writes that in 1994, Long represented James Dale Williams, a former tenured UNC professor who admitted to having sex with more than 200 women, including the UNC student he left his wife for, in a child custody proceeding. At one of the child custody hearings before Judge Buckner, Long attempted to have Williams' ex-wife declared as suffering from a "mental breakdown." Long also argued that boys should be raised by their fathers.
Despite testimony that Williams was physically abusive and controlling, Judge Buckner awarded primary physical custody of the parties' seven-year old son to Williams. During the legal proceedings, Williams' ex-wife was arrested twice by the Orange County Sheriff's Office on trumped up criminal charges the day before important court hearings.
When Dusky asked Williams' ex-wife's attorney, Terry Harn, how Williams could have so much influence with judges and the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Harn said, "I wish I knew. But don't forget, there are a bunch of people around here who like to party with young girls." Two years after Dusky published Still Unequal, Judge Buckner was sued for sexually harassing his employee in Riley v. Buckner. Ms. Riley also asked that Judge Buckner be removed from the bench but he settled with her out of court in 2002.
As in the McManaway case recently decided by the NC Court of Appeals, Judge Buckner refused to recuse himself in the Williams case and he also refused to set aside his custody order, though he had clearly abused his discretion in awarding Williams primary physical custody.
After UNC Chancelor Michael Hooker began dismissal proceedings against Williams, he abruptly moved to Illinois with his son and the UNC student he had sex with, in violation of Buckner's custody order which gave Williams' ex-wife weekend visitation.
In 2008, I ran for 15B District Court judge after witnessing numerous perversions of justice and legal charades in Judge Buckner's courtroom. Long was opposing counsel in many of the cases. During the election, Buckner and Long filed anonymous grievances against me with the State Bar. Based on their allegations, the State Bar filed a complaint against me alleging I was mentally ill. That claim was later dismissed after I obtained a psychological evaluation.
After I lost the election, Governor Bev Perdue, an Orange County resident, appointed Long to the judicial seat I ran for. In July of 2008, I was disbarred after Buckner, Long, and the two attorneys involved in the McManaway case testified against me while I was home recuperating from bronchitis.
According to the State Bar, I pose a danger to the public because I attempt to convince the public that 15B District Court is corrupt. The State Bar clearly has a short memory or it has chosen to forget the Williams child custody case, which mirrors the perverted justice in the McManaway child custody case. I recently filed a motion to have my disbarment order vacated on the grounds that the State Bar's witnesses committed perjury.
Fifteen years of perverted justice and institutionalized misogyny in 15B District Court have understandably diminished the public's trust in that court. The solution is crystal clear and should be implemented without further delay: 15B Chief District Court Judge Joe Buckner must be removed from the bench.