Last edited: February 14, 2005

James Asks State To Probe ‘Felons’ Remark by Warren

Charlotte Observer, May 14, 1999
P. O. Box 2138, Charlotte, NC 28233
Fax: 704-358-5022

By Stephanie Gibbs, Raleigh Bureau

RALEIGH – Mecklenburg commissioner Bill James has asked for an investigation of Superior Court Judge Ray Warren for calling himself a felon and criticizing a political candidate.

James, a Republican, said he mailed complaints to the N.C. Judicial Standards Commission and Attorney General Mike Easley on Tuesday. An Easley spokesman said Easley doesn’t plan to investigate the case.

James’ complaints are based on a column Warren recently wrote in a newspaper geared toward gays. Warren, a longtime Republican and early James supporter, announced in December that he was homosexual. He resigned from the party last month.

James complained to the seven-member commission that Warren referred to himself and a friend in the column as "two class I felons with ‘gay agendas’ consisting of family, work, relationships, God and community."

Warren said that he was referring to the state’s anti-sodomy law, but that he wasn’t admitting he’d engaged in sodomy.

"Without saying whether I do or I don’t, I simply took Bill James’ assumption that I do and ran with it," Warren said Thursday.

James said that he doesn’t know which felony Warren was referring to, but that it doesn’t matter.

"Whatever the crime he is admitting to, I can think of no reason that a sitting judge should be able to (flout) the law by publicly stating that he is violating the law," James wrote to Easley.

James complained to the commission that Warren’s criticism of former Mayor Richard Vinroot in the same column amounted to participation in political activities, which he noted would violate the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct.

Warren wrote that Vinroot, the Republican former mayor of Charlotte who is running for governor, "has decided to join the lynch mob." Warren quoted Vinroot as saying a gay pride march in Charlotte "promoted a gay agenda . . . not good for the community."

Warren said he wasn’t telling people not to vote for Vinroot. "I just took a comment he made and took issue with what he said," Warren said.

Warren called James’ complaint "sort of silly on its face."

"It’s the equivalent of Jerry Falwell criticizing Tinky Winky," referring to the television cartoon character that Falwell suggested is gay, Warren said. James, he said, "is reveling in his public role as inquisitor and persecutor of gay people."

Warren was one of James’ earliest backers, supporting his run for the City Council in 1993. Both men have contributed to each other’s campaigns.

James said he filed the complaint because Warren’s column sounded "like he was sticking his finger in the eye of the law."

"If he was to keep it to himself, quietly and with some dignity say, ‘I’m gay,’ that’s one thing," James said. "But when he flouts the law, that requires a response from the law."

Easley’s spokesman said James should send his complaint to the Mecklenburg County district attorney.

"This does not fall under the jurisdiction of the attorney general’s office," Jay Rieff said. "It’s up to the local district attorney to decide whether an investigation of this nature is warranted."

Deborah Carrington, executive secretary of the Judicial Standards Commission, said she could not comment until the commission had reviewed James’ complaint. The commission can recommend to the state Supreme Court that a judge be censured or removed.

Reach Stephanie Gibbs at (919) 834-8471 or

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