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North Carolina judge suspended for violating conduct code

A North Carolina District Court judge was suspended without pay for 30 days on Friday for violating judicial rules by serving as executor for the estates of two former family friends, receiving nearly $90,000 in commissions.

The state Supreme Court issued the suspension for Judge William Brooks, who holds court for four northwestern counties. The state Judicial Standards Commission recommended to the justices that Brooks be censured. The Supreme Court, however, decided the unpaid suspension was appropriate given the circumstances.

The justices agreed Brooks violated four portions of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Sitting judges are barred from serving as executors of estates except for those of family members. The standards commission and Brooks’ lawyer also agreed that he failed at the time to identify the “extra-judicial income” on economic disclosure forms for 2016, the year in which he received the commissions.

Brooks accepted responsibility for his actions at a commission meeting last September and apologized, Friday’s order reads. But the order points out the judicial code explicitly prohibits the activity that produced the non-reported income.

Brooks’ “conduct here was a willful violation that was prejudicial to the administration of justice and brought the judicial office into disrepute,” the order read.

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