Judges Joke

Screen shot 2014-06-23 at 9.03.24 PMOpinions of the North Carolina Court of Appeals judges offer tongue-in-cheek humor, wisdom to live by between appeals, and an occasional bon mot.

Regrettably, the regular readers of the opinions hardly ever notice.

While the national media reprints just about every second word of Posner, our North Carolina judges get no recognition for the masterful turning a phrase, and this page aims to correct the imbalance.

Enjoy, and please send in for inclusion your favorite quotes. Crafting well-written opinions is hard work. It should not be wasted on the litigants, who naturally skip to the last three words, “reverse,” “remand,” “vacate.”


Plaintiff and the trial court may believe that defendant would have been wise not to remarry and that he and his second wife should not have had any children, and certainly not four, but North Carolina’s lawdoes not impose limitations on an individual’s right to marry or have children.

We cannot discern how defendant’s exercise of these fundamental rights to marry and procreate, in this particular situation, demonstrates a “disregard for his familial and legal obligations[.]”

Judge Stroud, Spears v. Spears CoA 14-1133


… there is simply no proper time and place to horse-whip your wife.

Judge Stroud, Dechkovskaia v. Dechkoskaia CoA 13-766


“HAPPY FAMILIES ARE ALL ALIKE; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina. The parties to this case are members of an unhappy family. Judge Stroud Tyll v. Willets CoA 13-105, agreeing with the old Russian classic and eschewing the American-Russian classic who suggested the opposite: “All happy families are more or less dissimilar; all unhappy ones are more or less alike.” Nabokov, Ada.


It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. Judge Stroud, quoting United States v. Dege, 364 U.S. 51 (1960)


[Lower court] states that “[George] has returned from visitation with his father with muddy shoes and dirty clothes.” We are unable to discern if this is a positive finding, as it may indicate that plaintiff has been engaging in healthy outdoor activities with his son, or if it is negative, as it may indicate that plaintiff has failed to properly address the child’s hygiene issues. Perhaps it is both.

This remand may be a Pyrrhic victory… Judge Stroud, Carpenter v. Carpenter, CoA12-820


This case appears to embody all of the flaws that could possibly create an abominable appeal of an equitable distribution judgment.

We acknowledge that our trial courts are overworked and understaffed. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the trial judge to insure that any judgment or order is properly drafted, and disposes of all issues presented to the court before the judge affixes his or her signature to the judgment or order. Judge Steelman, Hill v. Hill CoA 12-1155

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