Former North Carolina chief justice earns highest honor from NCBA section
GREENSBORO, NC — Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP attorney and former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice James G. Exum, Jr. has been named the recipient of the 2009 John McNeill Smith, Jr., Award from the North Carolina Bar Association Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section. The award recognizes individuals who demonstrate extraordinary commitment to the ideals embodied in the Constitution of the United States and North Carolina.
"Justice Exum's life and career are marked by a deep respect and genuine affection for the American judicial system and the rule of the law," commented Judge Sidney Eagles, a former Chief Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals and current Smith Moore Leatherwood attorney in its Raleigh office, where he helps lead the firm's Appellate Practice Group. "One need look no further than his written words and court opinions to see his commitment to exploring and understanding constitutional law and to making the path to that understanding easier for others to follow."
Exum, who has worked on both sides of the bench during his 49-year legal career, helps lead the Appellate Practice Group in Smith Moore Leatherwood's Greensboro office. His service to the profession during a 28-year tenure as a Resident Superior Court Judge in Guilford County and member of North Carolina Supreme Court, along with his steadfast advocacy for the rights of individuals and as a leading figure in the state's capital punishment debate, beginning with his service as a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives (1967), have shaped his career.
During his career on the state supreme court, Exum wrote 402 opinions for the Court and 208 concurring or dissenting opinions. He played an instrumental role in ensuring the procedures for invoking the death penalty were scrupulously followed. At Smith Moore Leatherwood, Exum coordinates a team of lawyers who focus on state and federal appellate litigation, while also assisting attorneys in the formation of appellate briefs and moot courts. He occupies the post of Distinguished Jurist-in- Residence at the Elon University School of Law and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar, and the New York University School of Law, where he was awarded a Root Tilden Kerns Scholarship.
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