On Friday, January 5, 2024, The Charlotte Observer reported that two Mecklenburg County District Court judges pleaded guilty to notary crimes.
Roderick Davis and Shanté Burke-Hayer committed the violations prior to being elected judges in May 2022 when they shared office space. An investigation was launched by the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State after a complaint was filed by one of Burke-Hayer’s clients.
Davis pleaded guilty to administering an oath without the person being present and taking an acknowledgment without the person being present twice. Burke-Hayer pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Davis in administering an oath without the person being present and taking an acknowledgment without the person being present twice. Their lawyers said there was no ill intent, but state statutes were violated.
Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather prosecuted the case, saying the violations could diminish confidence in the notary process. Retired Chief District Judge Larry Wilson presided over the case and imposed 90 days of unsupervised probation on each judge. They must also attend a notary class. If they complete probation successfully, the convictions will be dismissed.
The State Bar of North Carolina has not commented on any potential investigations. Experts noted lawyers can be disciplined for notary violations, but criminal convictions don’t always result in immediate consequences from the State Bar. Burke-Hayer expressed regret over her actions but said she remains committed to serving the community as a fair and impartial jurist.
Source: The Charlotte Observer