Monthly Archives: December 2015

Socialized milk and whiskey in Tarboro


Jimmy Emerson, Flickr

Tarboro’s municipal milk plant is getting attention. First from the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. More recently, in the January issue of Our State magazine.

At the time, I never thought it odd that a government agency delivered milk to our door. When I went to other places and they had to go buy milk at a grocery store, I thought that was odd.

Later, I moved to France and found whiskey at the grocery store. And, sheeps’ brains once a week at the student restaurant.

In Tarboro, we had socialized milk, socialized whiskey. Free-market sheeps’ brains.


Ross’s Goose sojourns at Guilford College

Ross's Goose among the Canadiens @ Guilford College

Ross’s Goose among the Canadians @ Guilford College

A Ross’s Goose has appeared at Guilford College. It has taken to hanging out with the usual crowd of interloping Canada Geese.

He is not supposed to be there. Ross’s Geese usually go to California or Mexico this time of year.

This one may have heard about Guilford’s unusual — practical liberal arts — field biology curriculum; or there may be some Quaker thing working here. Fabled Guilford ornithologist Lynn Mosley is on the case.

Guilford and Greensboro seem to be greeting the event with more aplomb than similarly situated Mainiacs .

Anyway, this visit is rare, surely auspicious. And, I’ve got to say, I like the cut of the little fellow’s jib.

Henry Frye’s portrait at Supreme Court alongside Thomas Ruffin’s


Brooks Pierce photograph of Henry Frye

Henry Frye’s portrait was unveiled at the North Carolina Supreme Court last Tuesday afternoon. It will be hung in the courtroom, as portraits of every other North Carolina Chief Justice have been since Chief Justice Ruffin’s was put up in 1858.

Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin was among the most distinguished North Carolinians of his day. He was a jurist of the first rank. Authorities such as Chief Justice William Howard Taft and Justice Felix Frankfurter ranked him as a pioneer in adapting the English common law to the quasi-frontier conditions in the United States.His decisions were followed more than any others by the southern and western courts. Roscoe Pound rated him one of the ten foremost jurists in the United States.

Mathew Brady photograph of Thomas Ruffin

Mathew Brady photograph of Thomas Ruffin

Today though, Justice Ruffin is most often remembered for his opinion in State v. Mann (1829), on the incidents of slavery. In short, he concluded that a slaveholder was not liable for abusing an enslaved person and was within his rights to beat a slave savagely without cause. Contemporary scholars have concluded that Ruffin, himself a slaveholder and at one time a slave trader, was actively seeking to protect the institution of slavery in State v. Mann and other opinions, and was, in his personal life, a cruel slave master.

Justice Ruffin’s is the earliest portrait in the courtroom. Justice Frye’s will become the latest.

Speakers last Tuesday (Chief Justice Martin, Governor Hunt, US Court of Appeals Judge Wynn, and Brooks Pierce partner, Jim Williams), celebrated Chief Justice Frye as one of the most distinguished North Carolinians of his day, and also a first rank jurist.

Henry Frye is North Carolina’s first African American Chief Justice. He was the first African American member elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in the 20th Century. He is a champion of voting rights for African Americans and disenfranchised people; and Tuesday’s speakers universally affirmed that, in his person, Henry Frye is a gentle man.

Esse quam videri. Ruffin and Frye.


Supreme Court of North Carolina


Sir Thomas More and the mid size law firm

HThomas-Moree was the great lawyer of the English common law. He stood at the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of what came next. A lawyer who was canonized.

Thomas More’s 1998 biographer, Peter Ackroyd, says that

For most of his life, More was a lawyer and a public administrator; he was not a visionary or a scholarly humanist. … [H]e believed that experience in the practical business of the world led to prudent deliberation and good judgement [sic].

“Experience in the practical business of the world leads to prudent deliberation and good judgment.”

Experience, deliberation, judgment. That is the core franchise of the mid size law firm. It is the promise that mid size firms make to beginning lawyers; and the product they deliver to clients.

The same thing is at the core of “the practical liberal arts,” which President Jane Fernandes is defining at Guilford College. Practical experience married with structured study of tradition and learning.