North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby, bottom right, and Court Clerk Chris Fann, bottom left, shared a few moments with courthouse staff.

Emily M. Williams | Independent Sampson

CLINTON – Words of wisdom and gratitude reached the Sampson County clerks office on Wednesday afternoon, with a special visit to the downtown Clinton courthouse.

North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby referred to one of that country’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, as he addressed courthouse officials, staff and to others involved in the justice system.

“All of these truths are taken for granted … all are created equal … by their creator,” he said. “Life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.”

Newby mentioned the dignity of work and the importance of responding to the call, of God’s call on our lives.

“These are our fundamental rights,” he said. “As Martin Luther King said, this is our promissory note.”

Justice is administered without favoritism and the need for all of the different roles in the justice system, even on time.

“I am so grateful for all of you,” he told the group gathered in the courtroom.

He also mentioned the pressure to designate courthouse staff as essential frontline workers. Newby said balancing everything in the pandemic has been a big challenge for everyone across the state, and they’ve focused on “justice without delay.”

“Because that’s what they are,” he said. “Justice is not a luxury, it is a constitutional mandate. If our courts are not open, people will resort to self-help. “

“My main goal being in Clinton today, and in the courthouse today, was to thank all of these unsung heroes,” he said.

Newby burst out laughing when he referred to a visit to one of the schools where he spoke about Lady Justice being blindfolded and a student asking him a question.

“He said ‘Hey Justice Newby, what’s it like to wear a mask all day with a blindfold?’ Newby said. “He understands is that everyone is treated the same.”

“Only 10% of the world have jury systems and 90% have trials with judges,” he said. “And guess where the corruption is, it’s in the 90% range.”

He said we are fortunate to have a history of a jury trial. The people involved in the process, the magistrates, the clerks, the bailiffs, he said, are “the real faces of justice for most people”.

“They are the unsung heroes of the courts,” he said.

“It’s just a wonderful day to have the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court here,” said Sampson County Clerk Chris Fann.

Fann said that his coming to personally thank these employees says “volumes about him and the way he runs the office.”

“The whole staff… have been so supportive and they are getting us where we need to be as quickly as possible,” said Fann.

Newby was accompanied by his wife, Macon, and Liz Henderson, his general counsel and chief of staff.

Contact Emily M. Williams at 910-590-9488. Follow her on Twitter at @NCNewsWriter. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.