Two Judges from Mecklenburg Admit to Breaching Notary Regulations
On Friday, two judges from Mecklenburg County admitted to minor offenses related to notary public duties. District Court Judges Roderick Davis and Shanté Burke-Hayer faced these charges for actions that occurred prior to their election, specifically during a time in May 2022 when they shared office space, as stated by their attorneys in court. The North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State initiated an investigation following a complaint from one of Burke-Hayer's clients.
Judge Davis acknowledged his guilt for performing an oath without the presence of the principal involved and for two instances of acknowledging documents without the principal. Similarly, Judge Burke-Hayer admitted to assisting in the administration of an oath and acknowledging documents without the principal's presence, totaling two counts for each action. Her lawyer, Harold Cogdell Jr., mentioned in a press release that Burke-Hayer was involved in the notarization of three documents without the signatory being present.
In court, the attorneys for both judges conceded that their clients had breached state laws, although they emphasized that there was no malicious intent behind these actions. The case was prosecuted by Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather, who highlighted the potential impact of these actions on public trust in the North Carolina notary seal. He expressed these concerns to Judge Larry Wilson, a retired chief district court judge from outside the county, who oversaw the proceedings.
As a penalty for their misdemeanors, Judges Burke-Hayer and Davis were sentenced to 90 days of unsupervised probation. During this period, they are required to avoid any further legal infractions and to educate a notary class on the importance of strict adherence to legal statutes. They were granted conditional discharge, meaning their convictions will be dismissed upon successful completion of probation.
Additionally, Merriweather reported the matter to the North Carolina State Bar. Carmen Bannon, a representative for the Bar, stated that while they do not confirm ongoing investigations, disciplinary actions for notary violations have occurred in the past. However, she noted that criminal convictions alone rarely lead to immediate repercussions from the Bar, typically involving suspensions for more severe offenses. The Bar does not have the authority to decide whether a licensed attorney can continue serving as a judge.
Burke-Hayer's law firm commented that her actions were a result of haste and acknowledged her mistake. She expressed relief at reaching a resolution, accepting responsibility for her actions and emphasizing her dedication to her judicial duties. Davis' attorney, Norman Butler, chose not to comment on the matter.
This article was first published on January 5, 2024, at 3:04 PM.
For more details, visit the original source at [Charlotte Observer](https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/crime/article283881118.html).
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