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Wynn, Students Honored On Law Day

Wynn, Students Honored On Law Day

Judge James A. Wynn Jr. receives the Liberty Bell Award from YLD Liberty Bell Award Committee Co-chair Kimberly Murrell.

Students from across the state gathered in Raleigh on Friday, May 4, as the North Carolina Bar Association observed Law Day 2018. Joining the students who were honored for their efforts in the annual Law Week competitions were Judge James A. Wynn Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit who received the Liberty Bell Award.

The students were recognized for their efforts in essay writing, poster art, moot court and speech writing. The finals of the moot court competition were conducted in the morning as were presentation of the top four speeches by contestants in the inaugural McIntyre Youth Challenge.

Judge Wynn was recognized during the awards luncheon along with the following students:

Essay Contest Winners:
Junior High (Grades 6-8)
1st Place: Mason Evans, Wilmington Academy of Arts and Sciences, Wilmington
2nd Place: Sophia Johnson, Wilmington Academy of Arts and Sciences, Wilmington

Essay Contest Winners
High School (Grades 9-12)
1st Place: Caitlyn Mahoney, David W. Butler High School, Matthews
2nd Place: Jessica Noble Gross, Junius H. Rose High School, Greenville

Poster Art Contest Winners
Elementary School (Grades 3-5)
1st Place: Rosalind Hollar, Fred A. Olds Elementary School, Raleigh
2nd Place: Bryce Holland, Fred A. Olds Elementary School, Raleigh

The Moot Court Finals were contested between two teams from Highland School of Technology in Gastonia, front from left, champions Joseph Buckner and Julia Murrow and runners-up Sara Jane Heavner and Patience Foster. Comprising the judging panel were Judges Lucy Inman and John Tyson from the N.C. Court of Appeals, Justices Barbara Jackson and Paul Newby from the N.C. Supreme Court, and Judges Robert Hunter, N.C. Court of John Arrowood from the N.C. Court of Appeals.

Moot Court Competition (Grades 9-12)
Champions: Joseph Buckner and Julia Murrow, Highland School of Technology, Gastonia
Runner-up: Patience Foster and Sara Jane Heavner, Highland School of Technology, Gastonia
Note: Both teams were coached by Anna Ballard

McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge (Grades 6-12)
Champion: Avery Thatcher, Wake Forest Middle School, Wake Forest
Runner-up: Robert Fensom, Village Christian Academy, Fayetteville
Finalist: Annie Russell, Highland School of Technology, Gastonia
Finalist: Marianna Zellmer, Wake Forest Middle School, Wake Forest

The Liberty Bell award is presented annually by the NCBA’s Young Lawyers Division, which organizes Law Week festivities, in recognition of an individual “who has strengthened the American System of freedom under law.”

Judge Wynn has served on the Fourth Circuit bench since 2010, and previously served on the N.C. Court of Appeals from 1990-98 and 1999-2010 and on the N.C. Supreme Court in 1998. He practiced law in Wilson and Greenville from 1984-90, and served as a vice president on the NCBA Board of Governors in 2000-01.

McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge finalists, front from left, were Robert Fensom, Marianna Zellmer, Avery Thatcher and Annie Russell. The judging panel from the N.C. Court of Appeals was composed of Judge Chris Dillon, Chief Judge Linda McGee and Judge Hunter Murphy.

Wynn grew up on a farm near Robersonville and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A. 1975), Marquette University Law School (J.D. 1979) and the University of Virginia School of Law (LL.M. 1995). He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and the Navy Reserve with a combined military service of 30 years, during which he served in the JAG Corps, as a military judge, and retired with the rank of captain in 2009.    

“I am so very happy to receive this year’s Liberty Bell Award from the North Carolina Bar Association,” Wynn said. “The award reminds me that I have now been a judge for over 27 years. And it calls on me to reflect, in light of my judicial experience, on the role of judges in our society.

“Unlike other political actors, our role as judges encompasses the duty to not only uphold the law as enacted by the Legislative Branch and enforced by the Executive Branch, but also to uphold the sovereign will of the people as memorialized in the United States Constitution. Our job is not to satisfy popular will or to respond to political pressure; rather, the judge’s duty is to the law.”

Previous winners of the Liberty Bell Award are Chief Judge Linda McGee, Judge Beth Keever, Judge Sammie Chess Jr., Maj. Gen. (retired) James B. Mallory III, Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, Judge Earl Britt, Chief Justice Burley Mitchell, Justice Harry C. Martin, U.S. Attorney Janice McKenzie Cole, Stacy C. Eggers Jr., Judge E. Maurice Braswell, Judge Herbert L. Richardson, William Joslin, Chief Justice Henry Frye, Judge Robert R. Browning, Judge Lacy Thornburg, Gov. James B. Hunt Jr., William C. Friday, Judge Sam J. Ervin III, Gov. Terry Sanford, Herbert H. Taylor Jr., Judge James Dickson Phillips Jr., Wade E. Brown, Judge Hiram H. Ward, Kathrine Everett, Rep. L. Richardson Preyer, Justice J. Frank Huskins, McNeill Smith, Judge Franklin T. Dupree Jr., Sec. of State Thad Eure, Chief Justice Joseph Branch, Dr. Robert E. Lee, William B. Aycock, Chief Justice Susie Sharp and Sen. Sam Ervin Jr.

The national observance of Law Day was first proclaimed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on February 3, 1958, and is celebrated annually by the NCBA on the first Friday in May.

Law Week 2018 events were made possible by generous sponsors Anderson Jones, PLLC; Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC; Nichols, Choi & Lee, PLLC; Williams Mullen; and funding from the Beverly C. Moore Justice Fund of the North Carolina Bar Foundation Endowment in cooperation with the NCBA Young Lawyers Division.

Josephine Tetteh and Caroline Trautman co-chaired the YLD Law Week Committee.