North Carolina Newspapers

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Eye Witness to History
b> Dexter Brooks,
Senior Resident Superior Court Judye
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Following is my introduction to the court by my long time friend and
Jormer law partner, Arnold l.ocklear, senior member of the Pembroke law
firm; l.ocklear, Jacobs and Hunt. After his introduction on January 2
11V , the remarks I gave as I became Senior Resident Superior Court
Judge are reprinted:
Arnold l.ocklear: May h please the Court With great, great pleasure I sa\
to the Court that Judge Brooks comes to the legal profession the first of his
family His mother is with him today. Ms Lcla Brooks She is a hoiticmaker
and wasa public educator for many years His father was a teacher He taught
public school and was a farmer for many many year, the late John Brooks
And of course he comes from a Christian home He comes from a fa mils that
has a history of scholars and hard working folks
His background education includes being a graduate of the local schools
He obtained his B S degree from North Carolina State in 1965 with honors
and earned a double major in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics Afler
that he served his country in the United Slates Arms. 1966 through 1968 He
served in Vietnam in 1967-'68 with the First Calvary Division
He obtained his masters degree in mathematics and worked on his PhD
thereafter But for some compelling reason he came back to Robeson Countv
and taught school at Southeastern Communitv College During this timeframe
there was an issue on the campus of Pembroke Suite University. UNCP
now. hav ing to do with the restoration of Old Main and Judge Brooks got
involved in that
Perhaps from that experience it led him to the University of North
C arolma School ofLaw at Chapel Hill where he obtained his Juris Doctorate
degree in 1976 and returned to Robeson Countv w here he became involved
in the legal practice and in basic political and civil rights issues
At that time, in 1976. the issue of double voting existed in Robeson
County. as well as the issues of commissioners redistricting. school merger
and judicial redistricting Judge Brooks was inv olved in these issues as llicv
developed and his involvement was ongoingand lasted until the conclusion
In civil litigation he was basically involved in major cases In Superior
Court he has the distinction of not hav ing lost a single case
At the time of the death ofJulian Pierce in the county. the Stale Legislature
created a Superior Court Judgeship. And in January 1989 lie was appointed
by the Gov ernor to fill that slot which he served in until this day and without
opposition in 1996 in the primary general elections I would like to say to the
Court that Judge Brooks has been fair He has a very good legal background
and I present Judge Brooks to the Court
Following this introduction Judge Hurley Mitchell administered the
oath of office. Following a standing ovation from the audience, I made the
following comments:
Well, first of all I'd like to say that I'm really pleased and apprcciativ c of
this crowd here. And I shouldn't use the word crowd, let nic use the word
assembly of citizens here in this courtroom Apparcntlv we do not have
enough seats for everyone And that I think is great.... It really makes me
feel very honored As you probably know, we had some problems getting
notice out about this event Apparently a lot of folks called their neighbors
and this kind of thing and that is responsible for this assembly here today.
Now. I'd like to say to the assembly that you're looking at a person who
has been blessed. By that I mean that I was born to loving parents 1 grew
up in a family where the children and the parents loved each other. And 1
was instructed from the earliest age in the Christian faith and I was
instructed in the Golden Rule That Golden Rule being do unto others as you
would have them do unto you.
I can say that my parents were the most gentle of people I cannot recall
a single time that my father ever laid a hand upon me. He instructed me in
other manners as opposed to the use of the rod and 1 loved him for it. And
I can say that I went on to be encouraged by my parents to always excel in
And so during the course of my career, whatever school, whether it be
Pembroke Graded School or whether it be Pembroke High School or North
Carolina Stale, 1 always tried to please my parents. And in particular I
remember my father would always want to see my report card And if 1 camc(
home with anything less than straight A's. then he would register some
concern and tell me that 1 was capable of better work and that 1 should apply
myself accordingly in order to lift myself up in those categories (hat I was
And so I had that kind of a home And aftcrfinishing front Pembroke High
School, I went off to receive what I believe is the best education that the slate
could offer, that being that I have a degree in engineering from North
Carolina State University and 1 have a degree in law from UNC Chapel Hill
And I'm very grateful io both of those institutions for the instruction 1
received and of the type of education that 1 received
That education prepared nic for the trials that I confronted after 1 finished
school. After spending those two years in the Army, and I see a number of
veterans in the group And I'm most proud to say that 1 am a veteran of the
United Stales Army and 1 spent 12 months in the Republic of Vietnam And
I'm wearing the colors that as a veteran I'm entitled to wear by reason of the
medals that were awarded to me because of that service
But after my Army career. I came back after rccciv ing my law degree I
came back to Robeson County for one purpose only And that purpose was
that I wanted to address myself to the problems that I perceived in the county.
And I wanted to be able to be a part of constructive solutions to those
problems. Coming back not w ith the idea that 1 was going to be fighting any
major battles, but with the idea that I was going to be able to sit down and
reason with people with whom I had differences and try to resolve those
So during the course of the 12 years that I practiced law. I'm happy to say
that I had f> good relationship with all of my brother attorneys And 1 can say
that prior to coining into the courtroom, i always made a genuine effort to
sit down with the other side and to resolve the problems associated with any
litigation we were involved in
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So I carried that kind of attitude onto the bench when I was appointed by
Governor Martin in 1989 after the untimely death of Julian Pierce
As a judge I can say that in the eight years that I've been one, I've traveled
pretty well all over the state. I've held court in 44 counties. And as I've traveled
around the state as a judge I tried to do these things:
Number 1.1 tried to be fair And what I mean by that is regardless of who
came before me, regardless of their race, thefr wealth, their political connections
or whatever, I tried as best I could to be objective and to render the best
decision under the circumstances.
And Number 2. I tried to be courteous 1 believe that serious business is
conducted in the courtrooms of the state. And I believe that all public servants
and in particular judges should operate their courtrooms in a dignified manner
and should be courteous to the citizens who come before them
And thirdly, and probably in that order of importance. I tried to be a scholar
of the law I tried to always be in a position where as far as the case that I was
dealing with that I had done my homework And 1 wanted the attorneys to be
able to feel as though I knew more about the case and the law than the
And in that regard I had a very good school because here in Robeson
County we have and arc blessed to have one of the greatest Superior Court
judges of all time, that being the Honorable Henry McKinnon And I'm
pleased to see Judge McKinnon here today I can say that lie's a man I greatly
admire And Judge McKinnon. 1 always compared you?if you folks have seen
the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird." there was an attorney in that movie from
a small town by the name of Athens Finch And when I thought of Alliens
Finch, the person who is the image of that man came to mind it was Judge
McKinnon. And I can say that I've appeared in his courtroom on numerous
occasions and he was fair, courteous and knowledgeable of the law And I
don't mind telling anyone that 1 used him as a role model for myself as I've
gone about the state
But now, I'm shifting gears Now. wherein my earlier term of office I was
a Resident Superior Court Judge and as 1 went around the state, I only had to
answer for Dexter Brooks But now I'm shifting gears and my becoming the
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge. I not only have to think about the way
my own courtroom is conducted, but I am assuming new responsibilities
towards the court system as a whole And I have to think more about the court
system as a whole and the way it functions than I do as far as what I will be
doing a as an individual judge
And as I sec the role that I will play in that new. position of responsibility
that has been thrust upon me. I see it thusly:
I believe that I have an obligation to the citizens of this community and of
this county to assure you that the courts of this county arc conducted fairly
and efficiently I know that here in Robeson County in times past perhaps
some |?coplc didn't feel kindly disposed towards the court systems in the
And if I might digress for a moment, I remember when I told my mom that
I decided to go to law school and she looked at nic seriously and said "couldn't
1 find something better to be other dun a lawyer'"
So at one time >ou know a lot ol people have had negative perceptions of
lite court system
Well, the perception of an individual is that individual's real its And 1
think as a part of my job I have to deal with that perception So, I can assure
the citizens of this counts that I will do evers thing in mv power to assure that
the system does operate fairly and efficiently And that people when thev
come into the courts will have confidence in the business that is being
transacted here
And the way--one of the ways 1 intend to do that it just recently I was
talking w uh Tom Jones, the president of the Robeson Counts Black Caucus
And I told Tom that 1 wanted the Black Caucus to meet and to select a suitable
portrait of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King. Jr And once thc> selected
the portrait if tliev would present it to ins self that 1 would sec that portrait
was displayed in a prominent place somewhere in ihejudicial offices so that
w hen anyone comes in to interface w ith the superior court judges they would
see that portrait And by seeing that portrait, they would understand that the
dream of Dr King is being carried out in Robeson Counts
1 also am going to display a portrait of one of my favorite historical
personalities. Thontas Jefferson We all know Thomas Jefferson because he
of course, penned the Declaration of Independence And he put pen to paper
and expressed eloquently the basic underpinnings of our system of gos eminent
and the fairness of that system
And I want people who come into those judicial offices to sec that portrait
and be reminded that this country through the sacrifices of Dr Martin Luther
King has improved sonic He pricked the conscious of the country And he
caused the country to look back at what had been penned by Thontas Jefferson
and the other founders of this rcpublic. and it calls to our country's collective
conscious to try to live up to the those great principles It caused the country
to get on the road to treating all people the same, regardless of race or
economic status The man that set us on the road in the modern era to me is
exemplified by the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr
And there's a further portrait that I'm going to have hung in a prominent
place, and that is the portrait of Henry Berry Lowrie And I do it for the
follow ing reason
He is a local person who had a dream The dream that Henry Berry had
was that thcjusticc system would be fair and would treat all people the same
If y ou arc familiar with the story of Henry Berry. you will know that Henry
Berry was fighting for the rights of all people and he of course was Native
American But I think you should know that the members of his group or his
followers included African Americans and included European Americans
So he was not fighting a cause just for Indian people, but he was fighting a
cause for individual rights in Robeson County.
And Henry Berry didn't live to sec his dream fulfilled, although he gave
it his best shot, so to speak. He was a man of great convictions and he was
willing to give the criminal justice system a chance to treat him fairly. On 41
least two different occasions Henry Berry w illingly surrendered himself to
the criminal authority ofthe day and said," I've been promised that I am going
to be treated fairly by this system. You've not been able to capture me and
you've not been able to kill me," even though federal troops were brought into
the county for that purpose
Each time he was disappointed and each time he then made spectacular
escapes from the custody of supposedly impregnable jails at the time.
But the reason and what set off the bloodiest fury in Robeson County's
history was that during the Civil War the Confederate Home Guard came
upon the home of Alan Lowrie Mr. Lowrie was an elder of the Indian
community at that time, a well respected man. He was accused of crimes that
he denied But he was denied a trial and he was shot by the Confederate Home
Guard. Not only Mr Lowrie, but also his oldest son, William, without the
benefit of ordinary due process or anything. This was why Henry Berry... one
of the reasons w hy we had thcbloodicst times in Robeson County as they were
Well, Henry Berry was the brother of Sinclair Lowrie and both were the
sons, as I said earlier, of Alan Lowrie, My grandfather. Sandy Brooks, was
reared by Sinclair Lowrie I am related and the Brookscs are related to the
Lowries in that respect. When Alan Lowrie and William Lowrie were killed
by the Confederate Home Guard without a trial, the women and children were
locked injj smoke house. Included in the people who were locked in the smoke
house was a child about the age of eight whose name was Sandy Brooks. And
Sandy Brooks was my grandfather. He was the man 1 said earlier was reared
by the brother of Henry Berry.
Well, my grandfather liv ed to sec me born, and I was named after him.
1 was named Sandy Brooks?really Sandy Dexter Brooks in his honor. So 1
think it is fitting that I should tell you this story because... what Henry Berry
fought for was simply that people of color be treated equally by the criminal
justice system. .1 say that has come to pass in Robeson County. If a person
of color can rise to the level of the Chief District Court Judge of this county,
that being Honorable Herbert Richardson and if a Native American, such as
myself, can rise to the post of the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge. I
would say that changes have occurred in Robeson County and those changes
have been positive. They've been supported bv the majority of the people in
the county.
Although 1 was very active in the voting rights efforts that brought about
this change, I can honestly say and believe that I've always had friends of all
three races And I count among the people, my close associates, people I have
tried to work with to bring about this change.
For example, the first litigation brought under the Voting Rights Act in
Robeson County was filed by myself It was filed to protect the voting rights
of Black people in the town of Maxton. I did so with my good friend. Mr
George Ziegler, who is here today
Later on I can honestly say that when the issue of the school merger was
being hotly debated, and of course the schools have been an issue in this
county for a number of years . Fortunately, things now arc improving
substantially But there were a number of people, Black, white and Indian
who were interested in the improvement of education. It was along about that
time that I met a person whom 1 admire very much and that's Eric Prevatte.
Eric of course is of European descent and we're not related at all. I asked
him that question when he appeared in one of my cases. He responded not to
his knowledge. I think Eric is a man of his word so I'll assume we're not related
to each other 1
However, Eric and I became the best of friends and we tackled a problem '
that a lot of people had tackled before. Through the help of ourselves, Dr. Joy
Johnson, and many others, the schools of this county were merged. And I
remember telling Eric one time that before I met him I had been told by a
number of people that Eric was the worst of rednecks and that he hated
Indians and Blacks with a passion. Then Eric had said well you know I was
told the same thing about you. He said people told me that you hated every
single white person you ever met So we had a good chuckle out of that. And
w e proceeded to solve a problem that we fell confronted the county as a whole.
I say all of that and say to everyone here that I pledge that I will use my
best efforts to cooperate with all duly constituted authority, the district
attorney, the sheriff, the public defender, the clerk of court, the county
commissioners, the board of education. Any time the court system interfaces
with any of those officials, scrupulously I'll observe and respect the prerogatives
of thcirofficc and I will try to sit down and try to make the court system
of this county a model that the whole state can be proud of Thank you very
Following my remarks, the lliyh Sheriff of Robeson County, Glenn
Mavnor, closed the court. -
Indian Voice.1
To subscribe \
The Regular Monthly Meeting of the Robeson County
Board of Commissioners scheduled for April 7, 1997 has
been cancelled
A special meeting of the Robeson County Board of
Commissioners will beheld Thursday, April 10, 1997 at 6:00
PM at the O P Owens Building (Cooperative Extension
Service) located off NC Highway 72-West of Lumberton
NC The purpose of the Special Meeting is the E-911 project
for Robcsao-County and any other matters which may come
before the Board
l.intla A. Hedgpeth
Clerk to the Hoard
Maynor-Bowen To Wed
u irauc tnuynor oj Shannon announces the engagement of her
daughter, Delia May nor to Ronnie Bowen of Shannon.
The groom-elect is the son of Florence Bowen of Shannon.
Their wedding is planned for April 5 at South Hoke School (formerly)
Hawkeye School.
Hoke County Native Paw-Wow is 11 a.m. until 5p.m.
Traditional Native American Wedding at 5 p.m. Everyone welcome.
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for one
5. Scorch
9. Done Xor
10. Cavities
12. Beetle
13. Conform
14. Misplaced
15. Mr. and ?
16. Land
17. Half an em
18. At a
20. Hawk parrot
21. Affected
22. Half a quart
23. It was
signed at
26. Frozen
27. French
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28 . River
29. Let it stand
30. Bone
32. Close to
33. Owns
34. Elllpltlcal
36. TV's George
38. Ascended
39. Harden
40. Crazy
41. Blunders
42. Malt
1. Pythias'
2. Java tree
3. Draperies
4. Greek
5. Small-scale
trout (var.)
6. Trays for
7. Wing8.
9. Variety of
cabbage *
11. Layers, as
of rock
15. Good luck
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19. Friar's
20. Employ
21. Matured
22. Rural
23. Desert
24. Any
25. Hasten
29. Auctions
30. Malt kilns
31. Weaver's
33. Mister
35. Ballot
37. Rough
envelope of
38. Arab
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An Ivanlng Your Child Will Ntvf forgetl
Under A Canvas Arena LARGER . K2
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4 30 & 7 30 DAILY
s?*? (G#n Aorri?w(ij* I On Showdays. Tickets I
i *wa.ts(*9? ij?ii Itioo 11000 I On Sale At The White I
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Notice of Sale
of Xerographic Copier Machines
Notice is hereby given that the Robeson County Board of Commissioners
at a regular meeting held on March 17, 1997, at the Robeson
County Administration Building, 701 North Elm Street, Lumbcrton,
North Carolina, Accepted the Proposal submitted by C O M Inc. of
Lumbcrton, North Carolina, to furnish xerographic copy service and to
purchase 57 copy machines for the bid price of $34,475.00 These
machines were offered under sealed proposals and opened on February
12,1997 at 2.00 PM And said sale shall be consummated by the Robeson
County Manager no sooner than 10 days after publication of this
V /

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