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Chief Justice Martin Presents Three Professionalism Awards
News imageOn Wednesday, January 25, at the joint dinner of the N.C. State Bar and the N.C. Bar Association at the Embassy Suites in Cary, Chief Justice Mark Martin presented the 2016 Chief Justice's Professionalism Award to the following recipients: H. Grady Barnhill (posthumous) received by his wife Carolyn Barnhill, former Chief Justice Rhoda B. Billings, and former Chief Justice Henry E. Frye. They were presented with this annual award for their dedication and commitment to the principles of professionalism and public service in North Carolina.

Originally from Buena Vista, Ga., and brought up in Whitakers, N.C., Grady Barnhill served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, received his law degree from Wake Forest University, and joined Womble Carlyle as an associate in 1958. He devoted his career as a litigator in both state and federal court, and was an active member of the Bar both nationally and locally in Forsyth County. Widely regarded as a gentleman and mentor to many Forsyth County and North Carolina lawyers and judges, Grady instilled the highest values of professionalism in every aspect of his life.

Chief Justice Rhoda Billings is originally from Wilkesboro, N.C., and graduated first in her class from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1966. Serving first as a Forsyth County District Court Judge in the newly formed District Court system in 1968 and as a law professor at Wake Forest School of Law, she was later appointed as associate justice to the Supreme Court in 1985 and then chief justice in 1986, making her the second woman to hold this position. A very active member of the Bar, she was the first woman to serve as president of the N.C. Bar Association in addition to her many efforts chairing committees to improve the legal profession and Bar at large. Since her retirement, Chief Justice Billings continues to be involved in the Bar and in higher education.

Chief Justice Henry Frye is originally from Ellerbe, N.C., and graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1959 after serving as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. Serving first as a U.S. attorney and then as State representative in the N.C. General Assembly, he was the first African-American elected as a state legislator in the 20th century. He was the first African-American appointed as associate justice to the Supreme Court, and in 1999, he became the first African-American chief justice. Since leaving the bench in 2001, Chief Justice Frye has been in private practice in Greensboro. He continues to be involved in community service and in higher education.

For information about the Chief Justice's Professionalism Award or the Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism, please contact the Commission office at 919 890-1455.

The primary charge of the Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism (CJCP), chaired by Chief Justice Mark Martin, is to enhance professionalism among North Carolina judges, lawyers and law students. In carrying out this charge, the CJCP is responsible for providing ongoing attention and assistance through a variety of programs, projects and publications, in order to ensure that the practice of law remains a high calling, dedicated to the service of clients and the public good.

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Photo credit: N.C. Bar Association
Left to right: Melvin F. Wright Jr., Carolyn Barnhill (on behalf of H. Grady Barnhill), Chief Justice Henry E. Frye, Chief Justice Rhoda B. Billings, and Chief Justice Mark Martin.
Publish Date: 01/26/2017
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