Easley Names Creed New Judge
Gov. Mike Easley has chosen a local attorney to fill one of 17 new District Court judgeships created by the General Assembly in a budget agreement last year.
Don W. "Skipper" Creed has been with the Roland and Yauger law firm in Carthage. He will take the seat allocated to 19B, the judicial district that serves Moore County. Like others, he wrote the governor and asked for the job last fall.
"I asked the governor to appoint me to the new District Court judge spot just created," Creed said. "I had been a prosecutor, a civil litigator and a defense attorney. Those were experiences in our court system that would make me a fair and reasonable judge.
"I practice in criminal Superior Court, criminal and civil District Courts, juvenile courts, DSS (Department of Social Services) courts involving abuse and neglect and dependency cases, child support court and domestic violence court."
Creed will be sworn in Thursday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m., by Superior Court Judge Judge James M. Webb. When Creed will actually open a District Court for the first time will be up to Chief District Court Judge William Neely.
"My mom says she's not old enough to have a judge for a son," he said. "She is very excited, Mom and Dad both."
Creed is busy wrapping up his cases, getting ready for the new job.
"I had warned them all, sent letters," he said. "The ones that are court-appointed will be appointed new lawyers. I do have some motions to withdraw on my desk, and I will be handing some forms up to the judges. Friday is my last day here. I have no plans for a party -- I'm an old man and just like watching TV."
He hasn't ordered his black robe.
"Choir robes work sometimes," he said, laughing. "Under the robe I will probably stick to the usual coat and tie. I'm used to wearing that."
Creed's life in the law has put him on both sides of the fence. He was a prosecutor, did civil litigation, and worked as a defense attorney.
He is the grandson of a family doctor and the son of a doctor who still practices in Elizabethtown.
After college at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Creed did an internship with the district attorney in Bladen County, his home county. It is a single-county district, as Moore County now is.
"After that, I went to law school at Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, Mississippi," he said. "That is where I met my wife, Laura. She is from Gainesville, Fla., and went to college at Auburn. After law school, I accepted a job at District 16A as an assistant DA -- that district is Hoke and Scotland Counties."
Midway through his three years of intensive courtroom experiences in District, Superior and juvenile courts as an assistant district attorney, he and Laura Santangini married. They made their home to Southern Pines.
At that time, she had left her position as clerk to the chief judge of Alabama Supreme Court to work as an associate attorney with Van Camp, Meacham and Newman of Pinehurst, where she currently practices.
The Creeds have one child, Benjamin Creed, who is 3. His father likes taking him hunting. He told Benjamin he was going to be a judge. Ben looked a little disappointed.
"I want you to be an elephant," he told his father.
While he won't be joining the ranks of the pachyderms (though he is a Republican), Creed said he looks forward to his new job, one he means to take very seriously.
"I am pretty excited, looking forward to serving the people," Creed said in a telephone interview. "As a judge, I want to treat reasonably every member of the public fairly, within the law.
"I have no agenda but to apply the law fairly. I will show no deference to the accused or their accusers, but will treat all with respect. That is what a judge should be doing."
He planned his approach to the bench in detail, working out for himself rules of the game based on years of courtroom experience before many a judge.
"In civil matters, listen carefully to facts, consider the credibility of witnesses and apply the law in a fair and meaningful way," he said. "Stay in court as long as it takes to finish the calendar and conclude the cases.
"Don't work the clerks past their allotted time. Be decisive, even though my rulings may be burdensome to one side, but do not retreat from my duties and what the law provides. Do everything I can to use the public's time efficiently as well as the time of the respective parties."
Creed will run for election to the bench in 2008. In the meantime, he will be looking down from the bench at other lawyers, some of them unsuccessful contenders for his position.
At least one, Vass lawyer Marcelle "Marci" Quist, has already made it clear that her name will be on that ballot.
"I will run in 2008, either as a sitting judge, as a challenger," she said. "I've made that commitment."
John Chappell can be reached at 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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