Phoebe Judge Interviews

Photo: Mark Martin
Mark Martin

 North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin has never hidden the fact that he is unhappy with the state of the court system in North Carolina. Chief Justice Martin is an outspoken critic of how budget constraints have negatively affected the courts.

Martin says one of the main issues plaguing the courts in antiquated technology, "The people of North Carolina- they shop online, they interact with myriad business, but when it comes to the court, we are hopelessly behind."

Bob Jones, leader of the N.C. KKK, April 1965
Bruce Roberts / The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

At one time North Carolina had more Ku Klux Klan members than all other the states combined, even though the state was seen as more racial progressive than others in the South.

The PBS documentary series American Experience explores this idea with its latest episode, Klansville U.S.A.

Callie Wiser is the film's director. She talked with Phoebe Judge about the rise and fall of the KKK in North Carolina:

Interview highlights:

Clemon H. Terrell enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1950 as a steward. He would make the officers' beds and shine their shoes, among other duties. Due to segregation, there were limited opportunities for advancement. This week, 34 years following his retirement from the service, Terrell was promoted to honorary Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer.

"I was ecstatic. Being promoted to Chief Petty Officer is a prestigious promotion," he said, adding that the the Chief Petty Officer has the respect of everyone "from the Admiral on down."

The bank robber is described as a light-skinned black male, approximately 20-35 years of age with a medium build.

The Charlotte Division of the FBI has been on the lookout for a bank robber who has operated in Wake, Nash, and Franklin Counties. The suspect is known as the "Eyes Only Bandit" because in each case, the robber wore a hooded jacket and gloves and covered his face with a mask, leaving only his eyes visible.

The "Eyes Only Bandit" struck these banks:

Duke University via Duke Today

This weekend there is a series of performances of Handel's Messiah at Duke Chapel in Durham, N.C. The tradition has been going on for 81 years. This year the performance will be recorded live and broadcast throughout the state and the world.

Dr. Rodney Wynkoop is the Director of Chapel Music at Duke University. He says that the text of the Messiah tells the entire story of the redemption of the world.

Ruins in Charleston, S.C., from the album Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign
George N. Barnard / David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Duke University recently acquired two stunning sets of photographs of the Civil War. Now, Duke Performances has commissioned a leading guitarist to set the images to music. The result is an intimate perspective on the cost of war.

Criminal's episode art is by Julienne Alexander
Julienne Alexander

Criminal is a new podcast that's gaining some buzz. In August, the Huffington Post called it the Best New Radio Show In America. A couple of months later, it was included in Buzzfeed's list of "12 Podcasts That Will Make You A Better Human."

Sean Haugh, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, 2014
Carol Jackson / WUNC

Next week voters across North Carolina will decide the next U.S. Senator from North Carolina.  Latest polls show the race basically tied between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, and Republican State Speaker of the House Thom Tillis. 

Hagan and Tillis have both called on political celebrities in this, the final full week of the campaign.

This is the Unity Monument at Bennett Place. The vulnerable tract of land is across the street from this monument.
NC Department of Cultural Resources

Update 10/23/14:

North Carolina has raised the more than $300,000 needed to protect land near Bennett Place Historic Site in Durham. The site witnessed the largest Confederate troop surrender of the Civil War.

The money will be used to buy 1.9 acres located near Bennett Place and the "Unity Monument" which symbolically marks the reunification of the country.

The state received two grants of $150,000 each. $13,000 more came in through smaller donations.

Original story:

The world renowned performance artist Taylor Mac is in North Carolina this week with the show 1910s - A 24 Decade History of Popular Music.  The performance is part of a larger project that involves 24 separate performances, each based on a single decade since 1770.

Mac says the 1910s were a critical decade of change in the history of America.

September 2, 2014, Leon Brown on exoneration day.
Jenny Warburg / Death Penalty Information Center

In 1984 Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were both charged with the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, Sabrina Buoy. 

McCollum was 19 years old at the time. Brown was 15. Prosecutors said that the two took Buoy into a soy bean field to rape her.

The half-brothers have intellectual disabilities. Both signed written confessions that they later recanted. Both were convicted.

A champion tiger shark at a fish rodeo in 1988
Joel Fodrie / UNC IMS

Over the past 30 years, the size of sharks in the Gulf of Mexico has been shrinking. Drastically. Some sharks are 70 percent smaller.

The findings come from the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina's Institute of Marine Sciences.

Researchers came up with a novel way of gathering the historical data. While there wasn't any academic database that collected such information, local newspapers in the Gulf region have been publishing the results of fishing competitions for years.

Larry Hester, at the WUNC studios, September 2014.
Eric Mennel

Larry Hester lost his sight at age 33. Last week, 66-year-old Hester had a computer chip inserted into his left eyeball which may help him gain some ability to better navigate his life.

The six-hour surgery – the first in North Carolina – was performed by Dr. Paul Hahn at the Duke Eye Center. 

When the device is turned on, Hester will wear a pair of glasses rigged with a camera. The glasses will be attached by wire to a computerized device that Hester will wear on his belt. 

Alison Moyer poses with Dreadnoughtus' neck bone, which she uncovered.
Alison Moyer

Last week, researchers revealed one of the biggest discoveries ever in the dinosaur world. "Dreadnoughtus" is 85 feet long, two stories tall, and as big as a jumbo jet. It's estimated to weigh as much as seven T. rex dinosaurs put together, and experts believe it was not yet fully grown when it died. Alison Moyer spent several months on her knees in southern Argentina using picks, dust brushes, and tweezers to uncover parts of Dreadnoughtus' skeleton. Moyer is a Ph.D candidate at N.C. State University. This was her first dig.

What was your role?

Cast of 'The Womanless Wedding', 1890 Trinity College Drama Group
Duke University Archives

"Stranger than Fiction: True Stories Found in NCpedia" is a special event which will be held Saturday September 13 at the North Carolina Museum of History. A panel of experts will share lesser-known stories from North Carolina's history.

Here are five such stories from NCpedia, the online encyclopedia of all things North Carolina:

1. There's a tradition in the state for men to get dressed up and hold 'Womanless Weddings'

For decades, ten of thousands of workers walked in to the American Tobacco Company in Durham each day.  This is the story of one of those who stayed the longest.  Annie Lou Andrews is 92 years old. She is the second woman to work in a supervisory role at American Tobacco. She says her first day in leadership, you could feel the tension; the office was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. "I thought, 'uh-oh,'" she says. She spoke with Phoebe Judge.

Patricia Timmons-Goodson
Duke University Law School

This summer President Obama appointed former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  The Commission, an eight member panel, is charged with developing federal civil rights policy.  

Timmons-Goodson was the first African American female appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court.  She spoke with  Phoebe Judge about the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and changes in North Carolina's voting rights laws, among other topics.

Prison cell
DOliphant via Flickr

This November voters in North Carolina will decide whether people accused of felonies should have the opportunity to decide whether they want a judge or jury to decide their case. Jeff Welty, an associate professor in the School of Government at the University of North Carolina, has been studying the potential implications this constitutional amendment may have on the state.  He talked with Phoebe Judge.

Conversation highlights:

Why has it taken North Carolina so long to address the issue?

Ken Bosma / Flickr/Creative Commons

Last week voters in North Carolina chose Baptist minister Mark Walker over Phil Berger Jr. in the 6th District Republican primary runoff.  Walker was arguably the more conservative of the two candidates.   A new study in the Journal of Politics finds that political moderates are less likely to run for Congress. The study looked at state legislatures around the country.

This photo shows the head a figure that might be Alexander the Great. It is from a mosaic scene that is the first non-Biblical mosaic every uncovered in an Israeli synagogue.
James Haberman

Many archaeologists wait their entire career for one big find. UNC-Chapel Hill's Jodi Magness? Well, let's just say that she's having a spectacular time making discovery after discovery.

In 2011, Magness took a team to Israel to identify a dig location. They hoped to find an ancient synagogue.

On April 13, 2014, former KKK member Frazier Glenn Cross pulled into a Jewish Community Center and ambushed a grandfather and grandson, killing both. He then killed another woman a short distance away.

What does the family left behind do when they are thrust into a national spotlight? How do they figure out what to disclose and what should be private?

Will Corporon knows - he lost his father and nephew to the violence that day. Listen to his story:

Michelle Lewis

In the last few years, Chase Lewis has patented two life-saving inventions, been a finalist in five national science competitions, and earned the Presidential Volunteer Service Silver Award. Oh, and he’s only 14 years old.

Lewis, who is homeschooled, has long been interested in science and inventions.

“My grandfather was an aeronautical physicist who worked on the Apollo program,” Lewis said. “I’ve gotten to spend some time with him, and we talk about science and inventions all the time.”

Eric Oberstein / Duke Performances

Scott Lee grew up on the Gulf coast of Florida. Once in a while, on a clear night, at the right time of year, he could walk outside, look 150 miles to the East, and see the glow of a shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral.

"As they rise upwards, they kind of start to curve," Lee said. " And it's a really interesting phenomenon, because they're still just going straight up. But to you, it looks like they're coming back down. So you start to wonder... 'Is something wrong?' "

NC's first female judge, Mamie Dowd Walker
Milo Pyne

Judge Mamie Dowd Walker was a widow with two children when she was appointed the first female judge in North Carolina in 1934.  It was a first for North Carolina not only because Judge Walker was female, but also because she had no legal training.  But her grandson Milo Pyne says his grandmother "needed the money." 

Longleaf Pine stand, Forest, Trees,
USFWS/Jack Culpepper

Imagine that you've lived in North Carolina, near the South Carolina line, for generations. Maybe your grandfather worked the land, your father too, and now you. And one day, a state official comes to your door tell you that you actually live in South Carolina. You'll need to change your driver's license. Rather than Governor Pat McCrory, you will now be paying attention to what Governor Nikki Haley is proposing. You've become a Sandlapper, not a Tar Heel.

That's exactly what is happening now.