March 30, 2005: Headlines: COS - Dominican Republic: Jurisprudence: Law: News & Record: Dominican Republic RPCV Melzer "Pat" Morgan retires as Superior Court judge

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Dominican Republic: Peace Corps Dominican Republic : The Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic: March 30, 2005: Headlines: COS - Dominican Republic: Jurisprudence: Law: News & Record: Dominican Republic RPCV Melzer "Pat" Morgan retires as Superior Court judge

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Dominican Republic RPCV Melzer "Pat" Morgan retires as Superior Court judge

Dominican Republic RPCV Melzer Pat Morgan  retires as Superior Court judge

Dominican Republic RPCV Melzer "Pat" Morgan retires as Superior Court judge

Big shoes to Fill
Judge Retires After 23 Years
Judge Melzer Morgan Has A Reputation For Being Fair

By Kory Dodd
News & Record
Greensboro, N.C.
March 30, 2005

It started with a paperback biography of Clarence Darrow four decades ago.

And now, after more than 23 years on the bench, Rockingham County's chief resident Superior Court judge will retire on Thursday.

At 65, Melzer "Pat" Morgan said he is ready to move on.

"It's time for me to start having some fun," Morgan said.

His career began in 1963 while he was working in the Dominican Republic for the Peace Corps. The group of volunteers had been given a chest of paperback books for entertainment, and Morgan pulled out a biography of Darrow, a defense attorney made famous by the 1925 Scopes "monkey" trial.

"I read that and thought, 'That's what I want to be. That's what I want to do.' It inspired my life," Morgan said.

After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, Morgan moved to Reidsville in 1967 and began practicing law.

Later appointed to the Superior Court as a judge for Rockingham and Caswell counties, Morgan said his goal was to ensure that people felt they were treated fairly, whether they had won or lost.

Vernon Cardwell, a Madison defense attorney, said he will remember Morgan's determination to be fair, regardless of the case or people involved.

"He always bent over backwards to be fair and reasonable to whoever came in front of him whether it be defendants or police officers," Cardwell said. "He's been a great asset to this county and they'll be some very big shoes to fill."

Rockingham County District Attorney Belinda Foster called Morgan an icon.

"A lot of things he's set into place will go on long after he's left here," she said.

Morgan's detailed rules for scheduling cases forced attorneys to move their cases along steadily and reduced the court's case load to a manageable size, Foster said.

Morgan hired many of the county's magistrates and put them on a shift schedule so there was always one available. Before 1981, if a magistrate was needed late at night, he would have to be called at home.

"He's always been the voice of wisdom in this courthouse," Foster said.

Rockingham County Clerk of Superior Court, J. Mark Pegram said Morgan was always willing to help whenever he approached the judge for his opinion on an issue.

Described as a "workaholic," Morgan said he's looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren and traveling abroad.

He's already volunteered to serve on the Reidsville Human Relations Commission.

Though several of Morgan's plans have yet to come to fruition -- such as building a new courthouse and hiring a court interpreter -- Foster said there are many others who will continue to fight for them.

It will be up to Gov. Mike Easley to appoint someone to Morgan's position.

The appointee will finish out Morgan's term and can run for election in 2006.

To his replacement, Morgan has a some advice:

"Get up every morning and take a big dose of patience, and remember that everyone's case is important to them."

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Story Source: News & Record

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Dominican Republic; Jurisprudence; Law


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