Some points that didn't make the paper from Mecklenburg Judge Bill Belk's hearing before the N.C. Judicial Standards Commission Wednesday:
-- Over two days of hearing, Belk had blasted Paul Ross, the commission's executive director. Wednesday he accused him of bullying, being the source of leaks and acting in a way that was "not civilized." He also seemed to imply Ross was involved in a cover-up. Ross had previously described a February confrontation in which Belk accused him "of being a liar."
During a break Wednesday, Belk walked up to Ross. "I hope someday we could have a good relationship," he said. Though I couldn't hear all of Ross's response, he told him he'd offered "a lot of misinformation." He didn't look ready to add the judge to his Christmas card list.
-- At some points, it was hard to tell who was hard to tell who was on trial: Belk or The Observer. He criticized the paper for publishing stories as far back as January about his apparent conflict in staying on the board of Sonic Automotive, and listing his annual compensation from Sonic ($143,502.)
He accused the paper of "character assassination" and trying to foment "class warfare."
-- He pointed to an editorial after his November election that suggested judges be appointed, not elected. "A lot of people have used me as the poster boy of why we should have appointment of of judges," he said.
-- Belk insisted serving on the board of Sonic is no conflict. If Sonic ever showed up in court, he said, he would simply recuse himself. "I recuse myself from cases of shoplifting at Belk's," he said, "because I would probably try to hang them."
-- Belk seemed very confident that Sonic, run by his friend Bruton Smith, would provide him with health insurance when his current policy with Monroe Hardware expires in May. A Sonic spokesman said while there have been discussions, the company doesn't offer insurance to directors. "It has not been established yet," Belk acknowledged. "Should not be a problem."
-- Despite three opinions -- including one from the state Supreme Court --- that the Code of Judicial Conduct bars service on corporate boards, Belk seemed confident that it doesn't really. "All the case law is in my favor," he told the commission.... Let's be realistic. I did the research.... All I did was do my homework. How can you penalize somebody for knowledge?"
-- Belk tried to turn a prosecution witness into a character witness. Supreme Court Clerk Christie Speir Cameron testified about a letter she sent Belk on behalf of the court. "How long have we known each other?" Belk began. Cameron said she had only seen him "three or four times" in college.
-- District Judge Rebecca Knight, who helped coach new judges at a workshop in December, said she couldn't uunderstand why Belk had so many questions at the time about his membership on the board of Sonic. "I couldn't figure out why he wanted to be on the board of a hamburger restaurant," she said.
-- Belk said he suspected early that Chief Judge Lisa Bell didn't like him. "A dog knows when somebody doesn't like them," he said. "So does a human being."