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Polymath in the Law - Janet Ward Black - Part 6

We are joined by attorney extraordinaire Janet Ward Black of the Ward Black Law Firm.

Law Talk is a non-partisan forum to discuss the law and legislation, developing legal issues, public policy, and practice tips for legal professionals and Lawyers in North Carolina.

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Then I had great a admiration for a number of the judges that I appeared in front of. We of course, drew judges from outside of Covas county and the one. The one that jumps readily to mind is Jules Russo, who came from up in the mountains and he was just legendary to, to get him, watch him handle people and lawyers and victims and defendants.

Also James Davis, who now still practices in Roanne county. His father was a district court judge starting as a district court judge when I was in the DA's office. And he was one of those people where his heart was so committed to trying to get people to do better. That you could just listen to the way he talked to everybody in the courtroom and see how he was trying to make the world a little bit of a better place, even if he was seeing the same criminal defendant every other month for a period of time.

And James, the son is like that. In fact, I know James' son as well. They both practice together and Colie you feel like you're royalty when you walk in a courtroom, he just stops and wants to sit down and tell you how much he appreciates you individually. And he's one of those ones that asks a question and wants to know the answer.

You heard me mention some of the metrics in the eighties, and I have a daughter who is in college and she's an athlete. She's had to work for things. And I don't think I fully understood the nature of that or how much of a struggle it can be. But what was it like in the eighties being one of the minority in, in, in your class?

I don't know if it was that way in college. You said a majority of the young men were, or students in CA Davidson were in and I don't know what Duke's metrics were. And when I, by the time I was in law school was roughly equal, but what was it like in schooling and professionally coming. well at Davidson they'd only had one graduating class that included women.

By the time I started there, who the dormitory, the women's dormitory had urinals on every floor. So there were a hundred of us, a hundred women. And 300 men in the freshman class. So that'll give you an idea of the dynamic at duke. There were, I can't remember what the percentage was, but it was, it may not have been quite as high as you mentioned from 1985 is when I graduated from law school.

I don't feel like it was as much as 38%. It was probably a little bit below that, but what was particularly interesting, even if women were in law school and even to this day, they often self-select against litigation as a career. So in the courthouse and in, in courtrooms, generally, you didn't often see women as the prosecutor or women as the judge or women as the defense attorney.

So I had a very crusty superior court judge in Roanne county, and everybody who knew him knew he was quite crusty and his name was Tom C. and everybody in the world was scared to death of judge C and they had good reason to be scared of judge C. He did not suffer fools lightly. And when I became a superior court assistant district attorney, I had to try to figure out how did judge, how do I get judge C where he thinks not only am I okay, but I'm a female and I'm okay.

I'm competent to do the work that I'm called upon to do. And it took a long while, but then there was one. When he invited me to go to lunch with the bailiffs and members of the judiciary. And I knew that I had arrived because if I was, if I had gotten invited to lunch with judge C, that was a pretty good sign that he had accepted me.

Now he was quite a character, very stern, but there was one thing. He was not stern about his pit. And I had assistant district attorney who's now a judge in Roanne county, Marshall Dicke and Marshall raised championship, Dobin, pinchers, and Marshall. Whenever he would have a litter of puppies, he'd bring him up to the DA's office.

He was much more casual. There was no security, it was a different time. And so I decided that one Friday afternoon, when we didn't have court, that I was gonna bring my mini, my miniature Schnauz. Up to the courthouse for Friday afternoon. My dog's name was Mr. Puppy, very dignified. So that afternoon, Mr.

Puppy disappears from the DA's office. Judge C's office is down the hall and I'm thinking I'm dead. Mr. Puppy has gone in to see judge C and I will, he's gonna put me in jail. So I ended up sticking my head very gently around do judge C's door. And I. Judge C have you seen my dog, Mr. Puppy? And he in this kind of Imperial way, waved his hand toward me and had me look under his desk and Mr.

Puppy was taking a nap under his feet and. To the end of his life in every and Mr. Puppy's life. Anytime I saw judge C the first phrase out of his mouth was how's Mr. Puppy. I knew he had a cat named miss kitty. And so they had a lot in common. So that was how judge C and I ended up bonding for a long period of time was over Mr.

Puppy escaping the DA's office in Rowan county. And you're still a dog lover. If I remember correctly, you have a younger puppy, but I thought he was a German shepherd or something. One of those is, am I right? She is indeed. And she is certainly not courthouse. Ready. fact. She had a cast on, I think I saw she was wearing a cast there for a while.

Yeah, you're a former president of Norkin advocates for justice. Some of the people we've named have been active with the organization. It's an organization that is very dear to both of our hearts. And I honestly don't know how I got involved. But do you remember how you got involved in NCA? I remember very distinctly.

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