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Title: Oral History Interview with Naomi Elizabeth Morris, November 11 and 16, 1982, and March 29, 1983. Interview B-0050. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Morris, Naomi Elizabeth, interviewee
Interview conducted by Devine, Pat
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 256 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-05-19, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of sound recording: Oral History Interview with Naomi Elizabeth Morris, November 11 and 16, 1982, and March 29, 1983. Interview B-0050. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0050)
Author: Pat Devine
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Naomi Elizabeth Morris, November 11 and 16, 1982, and March 29, 1983. Interview B-0050. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0050)
Author: Naomi Elizabeth Morris
Description: 268 Mb
Description: 76 p.
Note: Interview conducted on November 11 and 16, 1982, and March 29, 1983, by Pat Devine; recorded in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Jean Houston.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series B. Individual Biographies, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Naomi Elizabeth Morris, November 11 and 16, 1982, and March 29, 1983.
Interview B-0050. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Morris, Naomi Elizabeth, interviewee


Interview Participants

    NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS, interviewee
    PAT DEVINE, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
PAT DEVINE:
Judge Morris, the first thing that I was thinking it would be interesting to talk about, as we sit here this afternoon three weeks before your birthday, are your father and your mother. You're the daughter of Blanche Beatrix Boyce, and I thought it would be interesting if you could just think for a little while out loud about her, the kind of woman that she was. I'm interested in how old she was when she had you, what kind of a person she is, if you think that you're like her in certain ways. Tell me about her.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mother was a schoolteacher, and she was twenty-nine years old when I was born. She was born in Edenton, North Carolina. Her father was a farmer, and she left Edenton in 1914, I believe it was, to go to college, and she only returned there for visits after that. She taught in the county for a while and then went to Spring Hope, North Carolina, to teach, and that's where she met my father. At that time, Spring Hope had a tobacco market, and my grandfather was in the tobacco business—he had two tobacco warehouses in Spring Hope—and my father was in business with my grandfather. Mother was teaching there, and they met and were married just before my father went across the waters to fight in the First World War. After he came back from France, the market in Spring Hope was closed a few years thereafter, and they moved to Wilson. I was born in 1921, and they moved to Wilson when I was less than a year old, so the market in Spring Hope was closed, apparently, in 1920 or '21. They moved to Wilson, and my father continued with the tobacco business. He was with Center Brick Warehouse for a while. Mother did not teach anymore after she was married. She felt that it was necessary for her to be at home with my sister and me, and we were very pleased that she didn't teach. But at the time of the Depression, things were

Page 3
friends and sat down, as though I were going to be a student, and was terribly disappointed when she had to come get me and take me out. She saw how disappointed I was, so she went to the principal, whom she of course knew, and they worked out a plan under which Mother was going to teach me and check with the teacher periodically, and if I was up with the class after Christmas I could go on in in January. She had regular times for me to have my lessons, and if I didn't come, which I didn't one time, I was punished, and it was the first punishment I got in school. I was playing in the sandbox with the little boy across the street and didn't want to come for my lesson, so she switched me, and I didn't do that any more.
PAT DEVINE:
Where would you have your lessons, at the kitchen table?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I don't remember that. In the living room, I guess. We had a big library table; I guess it was there. At any rate, she was an excellent teacher. Of course, I knew how to read. She had taught me to read before I was six. But we had a grand time, and I had sort of learned along with my sister, who was one year ahead of me in school. She taught me, and I entered school in the first grade in January, and at the end I was up with the class. In fact, I was a tad ahead of them, so Mother always told me. At any rate, at the end of the year they wanted me to skip a year, and my mother wouldn't let me, and I'm so grateful that she didn't, because I was small and the youngest one in the class anyhow. She felt that it would not be in my best interest to skip a grade, and she was absolutely right. I went on in the second grade, [unknown] though sometimes I had the advantage of knowing some of the material because I still learned along with my sister when she was working on her lessons. I got along

Page 4
fairly well; I had no problems. Mother then didn't do any teaching until. . . . I don't remember the year, but at a period of time, and I'm reasonably certain it was after the Depression had started to work itself out. At any rate, within a period of time back in those days, there was a program by the federal government to teach adults who had not had an opportunity to go to school. Mother volunteered for that program and taught. In Wilson there were many people, although we didn't know it, who could not write their name or couldn't read. She taught a group of men and women at night, and it was a real challenge for her, and she enjoyed it thoroughly and obviously was a good teacher, because her students would call her. They'd get involved in a simple arithmetic problem, whether eight and ten are eighteen or twenty-eight, and they'd get fussing and they'd call her to settle the argument. She taught many of them to read and to sign their name. The thing that I recall so vividly was how proud she said they were when they could finally write their name and when they could read a newspaper, even the headline. I'm convinced that she was an excellent teacher. She was an excellent teacher in many ways. She had a strong moral character, and I think that was taught her by her own parents. My grandmother was a strong moral character but had a lot of humor about her, too. My mother taught by precept and example, as well as from the printed page. She was a true lady in every sense of the word, in my opinion, and I think that's what everybody who knew her would say. She was ill for the last, possibly, fifteen or eighteen years of her life, not an invalid, but ill. She had a heart attack the year after I finished law school, a very severe heart attack, and, although she recovered from that, she from that point on began to have illnesses,

Page 5
heart problems and [unknown] a light stroke and then a more severe stroke, but recovered from all of them except the last stroke, and had to have somebody with her during the last years of her life, although she was never an invalid. She still could play bridge. She couldn't drive a car, but she had someone to drive it for her. She loved life; she was willing to accept most any challenge that came her way; she was just a really fine person. She expected a lot of her children, and as a result she got a lot. She was perfectly capable of saying no and standing by it. When I was a child, we were never allowed to sleep late on Saturdays. We got up on Saturdays and Sundays the same time we did any other day. Although we had help at the house, we had our jobs to do on Saturday. I know now that she had a difficult time finding things for us to do, to give us responsibility. It didn't make any difference who came or who came by for us or whatever; until we had done our little chores, we could not leave on Saturday morning. I remember one Saturday morning she had told me to wash my underwear, and I was doing it but complaining every step of the way, because some people had come by and were waiting for me. I said, "Well, Mother, why can't Nellie do this for me?" Nellie was the maid. She said, "Well, of course, Nellie could do it for you, but it wouldn't do you any good." And I thought, "Well, that's the silliest statement I've ever heard," but now I know exactly what she meant, and she was exactly right. It was her way of teaching us responsibility, and it worked. She was an unusual person but a very fine lady. She had a multitude of friends, and I never heard anybody say anything about her. If I had, I probably would have knocked them down. Even the nurses who were with her in the last days of her illness said that

Page 6
she would remain a lady until she drew her last breath, which I thought was a fine compliment, and she did.
PAT DEVINE:
You spent many years with her. That has so impressed me.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes. My father died in '43, very suddenly. He was only fifty years old. I had just finished college and had gone to Washington to work. My sister was working in Burlington. We thought that Mother was too old to stay by herself. She never, bless her heart, said a word. We conferred about which one would come home and stay with Mother, because she was getting along in years and couldn't stay by herself. She never fussed; she never chastised us for thinking that she was that old. She understood that we were young, and we thought she was old. We decided that I would come back, because my sister was getting ready to get married, and we figured it would be better for me to come on home and stay with Mother, so I did, and we had a wonderful relationship for the balance of her life.
PAT DEVINE:
Unusual, probably, in that it was over such a long period of time.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Possibly. I don't know. We saw things the same way.
PAT DEVINE:
Do you look like her?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
According to her family, I look as though she spit me out, and I think I do. When I go down to Edenton, I can walk along the street, and somebody'll stop me and say, "You're Blanche's daughter." In New York one time, I was down in Chinatown and went in a little shop, and I was coming out and a lady was coming in, and she looked at me rather strangely and then stopped me as I started out and said, "Pardon me, but do you by any chance know anybody named Blanche Boyce?"

Page 7
And I said, "Yes, I do. It's my mother." And she told me who she was, and they had been in school together. She said I looked so much like her, she knew I was bound to be kin to her. Apparently, I look just like her. On the other hand, when I go to Spring Hope, where they were married, people say that I look exactly like my Aunt Sally, my father's sister, who had dark hair and brown eyes, a very beautiful woman. I've never thought I looked the least bit like her. I would like to. My father's family say I look like his people, and my mother's family say I look like her people, so there you go.
PAT DEVINE:
What did your mother think about you going into law?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
She let me make the decision. She said, "If you think you'd be interested in it, if you think that's what you'd like to do, go ahead, but you have to recognize that it's a sizeable challenge. You haven't been to school for quite a while, and just be certain that that's what you want to do for the rest of your life." After I made up my mind, she was all for it, very cooperative and supportive.
PAT DEVINE:
Talk about your father.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
My father was a young man in a large family. He was the oldest in a family of seven children. All those children were reared at a time when my grandfather was affluent, and they were all reared not to work a great deal. I expect my father was reared to work more than any of the rest of them. A very attractive bunch of people. They took my mother in as though she were a member of the family.
PAT DEVINE:
Where did they meet?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
In Spring Hope.
PAT DEVINE:
How?

Page 8
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, I don't know how. Mother was teaching. She and her best friend roomed together and had for years. They taught together. Since they'd been teaching, they'd been rooming together and teaching in the same place. Her name was Nell. Nell was dating my father, and Mother was dating Bill Edwards. After a while they switched, and Mother married Daddy, and Nell married Bill Edwards. But I don't know how they met. I have no idea, never have been told. But my grandparents sort of let the children do about what they wanted to, and most of them didn't develop much of a sense of responsibility. Most attractive people, but my father and the brother next to him and then the next sister, I think the older ones developed more responsibility than the younger ones. At any rate, all of them loved my mother, and they called her "Sister Blanche." Now everybody in my father's family was "Sister Something," the girls. The oldest sister was "Big Sister"; the youngest sister was "Little Sister"; Mother was "Sister Blanche", and for some reason they called me "Sis".
PAT DEVINE:
They did. I remember hearing a story that your daddy called you "Sis".
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It was just the way that family did things. My father was a large man, a very handsome man, I think. He was in the tobacco business for years. He carried the clip.
PAT DEVINE:
What does that mean?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
You don't know anything about the selling of tobacco, but in the auction system of selling tobacco, the piles of tobacco are spread out in straight rows in the warehouse, and they're ticketed with the owner's name and the number of pounds of tobacco in that pile. Then the auctioneer goes along the row and sells those piles of tobacco.

Page 9
It's a very rapid process. The person who carried a clip, the reason they call it that way is because on a clipboard they'd have this ticket. They would put down the number of pounds in the pile, the price per pound at which it sold, extend the total, and do that for all the piles of tobacco that that person had on the floor in that row, and sometimes it'd be fifteen or twenty. Then at the end of the ticket, they would very quickly add it all up, just like that. It was a process that was just very rapid, and my daddy and my Uncle Walter, his brother, both carried the clip. Daddy developed a carbuncle in his wrist and couldn't carry the clip any longer. He went as salesman for a wholesale food distributor, and people always tell me he could sell you the Brooklyn Bridge before you knew it, if you weren't careful. A very quiet salesman. I mean he wasn't a flighty thing. When I was little, I used to go with him. I always wondered how he sold anything, because all he did was he'd go and start talking to the people, and when he left he had a nice order, but he never asked them if they wanted to buy anything, but he always managed to sell. He enjoyed people. He was a rather gregarious sort of person. My sister is more like him than I am. I'm more like my mother. He was a good salesman, and he was good with us. He backed Mother up in everything that she wanted to do for us.
PAT DEVINE:
She was stricter?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Probably, although they sort of worked together. If we went to Daddy after Mother had said no, he would always say, "What did your mother say?" and he'd always back her up. He never spanked me; he did my sister one time. But, as I say, he was a large man; his hands were large. He and Mother were going to a movie one night,

Page 10
and we had a babysitter there with us, and Ruth wanted to go to the movie with them. The only time I've ever seen her do it, and I don't think she'd ever done it before, she got down on the floor and flung a fit. Daddy picked her up and put her on the bed and gave her a real spanking, and I begged him not to spank her any more, and he said, "If you don't hush, I'm going to spank you." But he said he realized that he was too heavy and too large to spank a little girl, so he never did it again. He never spanked me, and he never spanked her. But he didn't have to, because we knew when he said no, he meant no, and we didn't push him at all. We knew there was no need to. I went to Washington to work after I finished college and got one letter from my father. It's the only letter I ever got from him in my whole life. I don't care where I was, I never got them. He just didn't write letters. But he wrote me one letter, and he wrote it the same way that he wrote his orders. He abbreviated. If he was going to spell "mayonnaise", it'd be "my" and then a long line, and I had a difficult time reading the letter but was very proud of the fact that he had written to me, because he just didn't do that.
PAT DEVINE:
And that letter was shortly before he died, evidently.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Uh-huh. When he died, I was coming home that weekend. I was crazy about watermelon. He had gone out and gotten a watermelon and had taken it out to the icehouse to get it good and cool, so it'd be there cold when I came home. I never could eat that watermelon. I just couldn't quite make myself eat it. And for oh, I guess, a month after he died, I'd still put a place at the table for him, because it was so sudden and he was so young. But he was quite a guy. Both my parents were, in my opinion, special people.

Page 11
PAT DEVINE:
Talk a little bit about Ruth. She was the only sibling.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mm-hm, my only sister. Well, when we were growing up, she was thirteen months older than I, and she sort of looked after me. We'd fight like cats and dogs, but she'd look after me. I remember one time—or she tells me about it; I don't know that I remember it so much as her telling me about it—I went to school without my lunch money, and she ran all the way back home to get it for me. And I do remember this: I would go through the line at lunchtime, and I would have ice cream and cake. She'd be standing at the end of the line, and she'd say, "Take it right back." [Laughter] And I'd have to take it back and get what she told me that Mother would want me to have. So she did look after me; she was Mother's little helper. We're very close, much closer now than we've ever been. Growing up, thirteen months' difference in ages is a lot. And she tells me now, although I didn't remember it, that Mother used to make her take me wherever she went. I don't remember that. But anyhow, we're very close, and her children and I are very close. I just couldn't get along without my sister.
PAT DEVINE:
Did she also go to school at Atlantic Christian?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No, she went to work. She didn't want to go to school. She finished high school and took a job and didn't want to go to college. She could have gone if she'd wanted to, but she didn't want to.
PAT DEVINE:
Did she have ideas about what you were doing in school and afterwards with the law and so forth?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
What do you mean by that?
PAT DEVINE:
In other words, as things were happening in your life with

Page 12
school and then a decision to go to law school, was she real supportive and real interested in what was going on?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes. Yes, indeed, all the way.
PAT DEVINE:
In a certain kind of way, were you more ambitious than she?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I don't know. She was expert in her field. She did secretarial and bookkeeping work. She was quite, quite good and always has been at whatever she decided to do. She's very good. She now runs a little interior decorating business in Valdosta. She's always been able to do whatever she wanted to do. She just had different directions for her life. I think she knew that she was going to marry, and she didn't see any point in going to college. And it hasn't been necessary for her. She's gotten along splendidly without it. They were married right after the War. Her husband was drafted when he was in his second year of college. She joined him when they were married, in California. He stayed in the service after the War was over, because he had had only two years of college, and by that time he had a family. He knew he could, of course, come back and get [unknown] the job that he had with the tobacco market during the season on a permanent basis, but decided that he would do better to stay in service, and so he did and retired as a full colonel. They had some wonderful experiences, some marvelous trips and some experiences that she couldn't possibly have had otherwise. They've had a very happy life. They have had no problems, and they get along beautifully, so she hasn't missed not having a college education. She's kept herself educated. She reads widely and makes friends very easily and, I guess, inherited the administrative ability from my mother, because she is very capable at things of that sort.

Page 13
PAT DEVINE:
With her business.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
With her business, and she's been president of the wives' club at most every base they've been, so she apparently has superior administrative abilities. At any rate, I think whatever she does is fine.
PAT DEVINE:
I'm sure she says the same about you.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Probably.
PAT DEVINE:
Let's talk a little bit about when you were in school. You graduated from high school in 1939, I believe. That put you going through high school during the Depression. What about that?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Well, you know, I've talked about it with some of my friends since then. We didn't realize that we were in a poor financial situation, because everybody was in the same boat. I remember when we were children, we lived on the corner. The yard was very large, and all the children in the neighborhood would come down and play on our yard after dinner. Daddy would always give us money to go get ice cream. There was an ice cream parlor up the street, at which you could get a lot of ice cream for a nickel. He would always give us a quarter to go get ice cream, and that was a sufficient amount for all of us. One night I went to him to get the quarter to go get the ice cream, and he said, "How about a nickel, Sis?" I said, "Well, why?" He said, "Well, there's a Depression on," so I immediately learned that "Depression" meant when you asked for a quarter, you got a nickel, if you were lucky. But we were all in the same boat; everybody was in the same boat. A friend was telling me the other day that she remembered when they had lost their house, and they had gone to live with her grandparents in another section of town. She had gone to bed,

Page 14
and she said she remembered hearing her parents downstairs talking about if they could just get enough money to pay the milk bill. Her father had lost his job. So she went and got her little savings, which I think she said was sixteen dollars, and took it downstairs and gave it to them to pay the milk bill. But we all worked, and we got along fairly well. We didn't have to have a stereo; we didn't have to have an automobile when we were sixteen; we didn't have to have a television.
PAT DEVINE:
Could you walk to high school?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Of course I could, and did. I got carried when it was raining. My last year in high school and at least two years in college, we lived out sort of in the suburbs at that time. I guess it was possibly a good three or four or five miles to the college, and I walked. I didn't mind walking. I got the car when I needed it, but there was no problem; I walked to school. Everybody else did. Why not? But it would be unheard of now. I guess it would be called child abuse or something of that sort.
PAT DEVINE:
By some. Probably not by all.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I don't think it hurt me. In fact, I know it didn't.
PAT DEVINE:
All the time coming through high school, did you know you wanted to go to college?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, I knew I would go to college. I didn't have any choice, I think. That was it.
PAT DEVINE:
Why?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Because my parents would have wanted me to. It would not have occurred to me to say, "I'm not going."
PAT DEVINE:
But that wasn't true of Ruth.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No. Ruth has a good mind. Don't misunderstand me. She

Page 15
has a good mind, but she never cared anything about studying. At that time, we had to bring our report cards home and get them signed. I'd bring a report card home, and I'd have 95, 90, so forth. Ruth would bring one home, and she'd have 70, 75. Just making it. Good C's. Daddy would sign my report card, and he'd say, "Sis, don't they give hundreds up there?" I'd say, "I don't know, Daddy." He said, "If they do, you get them." He'd take Ruth's report card and sign it, and he'd say, "That's fine, honey." [Laughter]
PAT DEVINE:
And there were no bad feelings.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, no, not at all. He just knew his children.
PAT DEVINE:
And you each were comfortable with yourselves.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes. He knew if he told me to try for better, I'd do it, but he also knew that Ruth was going to do about what she could to get by, and that was it.
PAT DEVINE:
Did you always know that you would go to that school?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No, I had enrolled in Woman's College.
PAT DEVINE:
In Greensboro?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Uh-huh. And it wasn't till about two weeks before I was supposed to leave that Mother and I were sitting down talking about it one day, and she said, "Would you have any problem about going to Atlantic Christian?" I said, "No, of course not." She said, "Well, I just don't believe we can swing it financially for you to go to Woman's College this year. How about going over to Atlantic Christian and then transfer?" I said, "Fine. It's all right with me." So I went to Atlantic Christian, and I never wanted to leave. It never occurred to me to transfer.
PAT DEVINE:
I don't know much about that school, but I know that you

Page 16
must have loved it a great deal. You've still continued to work for it.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes, I'm on the Board of Trustees. Yes, it's a good school. It's a small school but a very good school. It has a good faculty, and, because it's small, the faculty has been able to take a personal interest in the students. It's a good school, a very good school.
PAT DEVINE:
Is it a religious-affiliated school?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes, it's a church-related school. It's affiliated with what we used to call the Christian Church. I'm not sure I know the name of it now. I think it's called the Disciples of Christ now.
PAT DEVINE:
Now that we're just sort of leaving high school and entering college, when you think back to either high school or college, are there teachers that to this day you remember because they made a difference for you . . .
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes, indeed.
PAT DEVINE:
. . . in how you thought about yourself or what you knew you might want to do or in whatever ways? What about high school?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
The teacher whom I remember most vividly from high school is Jessie Brooks. She's now Jessie Brooks Reade and lives in Vass, and I see her occasionally. She and an English teacher I had in Atlantic Christian are the two best teachers I've ever had, except for my mother. Marvelous teachers, both of them.
PAT DEVINE:
What did they teach?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
English. I guess Jessie Brooks was the best English teacher the state's ever had, in my opinion, for high school. At any rate, the students who went through her English courses did not have to take freshman English at Carolina. She had certain requirements, and if you didn't meet them, you didn't pass. It didn't make any

Page 17
difference to her whether you were the quarterback on the football team or the best forward on the basketball team; she required the same thing of everybody. We would have literature one month and grammar the next month. You had to make a certain grade on the grammar test, which she would give periodically, but until you made, I've forgotten whether it was 100 or 90, on that grammar test, you did not pass for the month. And everybody knew that; there was no question about it. But she was very good about helping the football boys to get tutoring, and she would let us stay in the afternoon and help sort of coach the boys for the test. She required them to make the grade, but she would let us stay in class a little later and coach them. And everybody had tremendous respect for her, and she was an excellent teacher. She was a graduate of Meredith. She's a teacher whom I remember as meaning more to me during my high school years. Several of them meant a lot to me, but she meant more to me than any of the others did.
PAT DEVINE:
Did you get to know her pretty well?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes. You see, teachers used to visit in the homes in those days. They came to see my mother regularly.
PAT DEVINE:
Your high school teachers.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes. Of course they did. They went to see everybody's mother and told them how we were doing. So they were friends, and we got to be good friends. She had no objection to our going by and seeing her after school or anytime we wanted to. She was very friendly with the students.
PAT DEVINE:
Was there anything in high school that you were not good at? I remember reading at one point that singing was . . .
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No, I can't sing. No, no, I can't sing.

Page 18
PAT DEVINE:
But generally, athletics and writing and . . .
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes, I enjoyed all of that.
PAT DEVINE:
And you did a lot of it.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I like to try to sing, but I can't. It doesn't come out right.
PAT DEVINE:
And into college, what teacher there?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Her name was Dr. Hartsock; she's dead now. She was the head of the English Department, and she was a marvelous teacher. She taught you how to think. She knew her subject matter so well, you couldn't fool her. She knew what you were capable of doing. For all of her English majors, she was the sort of teacher who could make them come pretty close to doing what they were capable of doing. And they didn't realize they were being made to do it. They did it because they had such tremendous respect for her. She was a different sort of teacher. The strange thing is, I almost lost her to the college, because when she came to town, Dr. Hilley, who was then the President. . . . I was working for him, for twenty-five cents an hour, by the way.
PAT DEVINE:
How did you get that job? I wondered how you happened to get to work for the President.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
He asked me. When Mother went over to ask him, since it was so late, whether there was any possibility that I could get in school that late, he said, "Oh, yes, I'll be glad to take her." He turned around to me and said, "Do you want to work?" and I said, "Sure." He said, "What can you do?" I said, "Whatever you want me to do." He said, "Can you take shorthand?" I said, "Yes." He said,

Page 19
"Well, you can be my secretary" [Laughter] , and so that's what I did, for twenty-five cents an hour, for the four years that I was there. The last year I got a raise to thirty-five cents. He told me one day that a woman was coming in on the train who was to be interviewed to teach in the English Department, and would I go get her, and I said, "Surely." So I went down to pick her up, and I saw her come down off the train, and I thought, "We don't want that." She was scrawny, and she was redheaded, and she had this Midwestern twang in her voice. He had asked me to take her and show her around campus, so I did. I showed her around the worst possible places, because I didn't think we needed anybody like that. [Laughter] From the height of my sophomore wisdom, I reckon. Maybe it was freshman wisdom. Anyhow, she almost didn't come, because she didn't like the college any better than I liked her, because I showed her the worst places.
PAT DEVINE:
Oh, my goodness.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
But she did. She came, fortunately, and if she hadn't it would have been my fault that she didn't.
PAT DEVINE:
Your favorite teacher.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Turned out to be my favorite teacher.
PAT DEVINE:
When you were in college, at that point when one starts to think about graduating from college, what at that point were you thinking you would do next?
PAT DEVINE:
You see, that was during the War, and I went to Washington to work to help win the War. Several of us did, my sorority sisters, and we had an apartment up there. They went earlier than I. I came in June; they went up in December. We had planned that from the beginning of our senior year. We knew we were going up there. Had

Page 20
that not been available, I'm not sure what I would have done. My teaching certificate was for high school English, and I did not feel at that time that a person should teach high school English without at least a master's degree. I wasn't willing to continue to go to school for another year or two to get that master's degree, so I really don't know what I would have done. At any rate, I went to Washington.
PAT DEVINE:
And you were in a sorority.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes, sure.
PAT DEVINE:
Was that an important part of your college [unknown] ?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes. Yes, indeed. I loved my sorority. I still see my sorority sisters fairly regularly, some of them. One lives in California, but we correspond, and every once in a while she'll call me. We were a very close group.
PAT DEVINE:
What was the name of the sorority?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Delta Sigma.
PAT DEVINE:
That's interesting. And did you just want that sorority, or did you consider others?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
You got a bid, and I got a bid to two sororities, and I chose Delta Sigma. I liked the girls in it. It had a fun group in it, and the scholastic record was good, too. The other sorority into which I was invited had a higher scholastic record, but they didn't have as good a time.
PAT DEVINE:
And you were living at home while you were in college.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mm-hm. I'd stay over at the college most of the time, but I lived at home, supposedly. I studied, when I studied, in the dining room at the dining room table. Mother told my daddy one time

Page 21
when he went out to get a brighter bulb for the dining room. He said, "Why?" and she said, "Well"—she always called me Naomi—"Naomi studies in here." He said, "The only way it would do any good would be for her to put it in her pocket." But he got it.
PAT DEVINE:
What did that mean?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
That meant that I was never at home. The only way the lightbulb would do any good was to put it in my pocket and take it with me.
PAT DEVINE:
I think maybe what we'll do is stop with this, and what I'd like to do the next time is . . .
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I'll finish my cooking.
PAT DEVINE:
. . . start up with Washington, D.C. You were there for how many months? Not many.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mn-mm. From June until August, when my father died.
PAT DEVINE:
So basically a summer in Washington. That's where we'll pick up the next time.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
PAT DEVINE:
Judge Morris, we're taking these first couple of sessions to talk about those years of your life before you became a judge, and I figured out that those were forty-six years. We ended our last time just before you graduated from Atlantic Christian College in 1943, and we're going to begin today with that time when you left to go to Washington, D.C. But I realized before we leave Atlantic Christian that there are a couple of things I was interested in about your life there. I know that you majored in English, but I

Page 22
know also that you were so busy they hardly saw you at home, and I'm interested in the other things that you did in those undergraduate years. Tell me about some of the other things that took up your time and your energy while you were in undergraduate school.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
A lot of things. I was involved in athletics. I played tennis. I belonged to a sorority, and the sorority always had something going. The boy whom I dated belonged to a fraternity, and they always had a lot of parties. I was interested in student government and was on the student council.
PAT DEVINE:
Did you hold an office?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes, I think I was vice. . . . I'm not sure.
PAT DEVINE:
I think you were vice-president. That's what I read.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I ran for president of the student body at one time, and there was a tie vote, and it had to be run again. Howard Blake won that time. I spent a lot of time at the dormitory with some friends who lived in the dormitory. I was a [unknown] student living at home. There were just a lot of things that were going on in college life. I was just always busy doing something. I belonged to the Golden Knot Honor Society, and that had things that it did.
PAT DEVINE:
How many students were there?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
When I was there, I really don't know. Possibly five or six hundred, something like that.
PAT DEVINE:
A fairly small school.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes, it was very small. It's not but 1,600 now.
PAT DEVINE:
Is it true that while you were in college, or was it before college, that you had thought of going into journalism?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I think that was high school. I'm not sure, but I believe

Page 23
I thought about journalism in high school. I don't think it was college. I think I had changed my mind by then. I don't know what I wanted to do when I was in college.
PAT DEVINE:
What changed your mind from journalism?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Josephus Daniels.
PAT DEVINE:
How?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
He was Editor of the News and Observer, and I came up here and asked him for a job. He said he didn't think I ought to go into journalism, because he didn't think that the compensation was adequate, and he just didn't think I ought to have any interest in it. And I believed every word he said, so I just came home and thought, "Well, I won't go into journalism."
PAT DEVINE:
Interesting. You don't regret that.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No. He was right. At that time, journalism was not really the place for a young lady.
PAT DEVINE:
Tell me about this plan in college to go to Washington. You said last time that you and five sorority sisters decided you wanted to do that.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mm-hm. A lot of people did; it wasn't only our group. A good many of the girls in the senior class went to Washington to work. The boys were being drafted right out from college. Every week or two, three or four boys would leave the campus. When we were graduating, most of us already had jobs. One friend of mine went to Hampton, Virginia, to work in something having to do with aerospace design. I went to Washington, and five of my sorority sisters went with me. Two of them had already gone ahead of us. They finished in December at the end of the first semester, and they

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went on ahead and got the apartment, and then we joined them, and we knew others from the class who were there, so a good group was in Washington. We worked with the Signal Corps, coding and decoding messages.
PAT DEVINE:
That took a lot of training, to learn to do that?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Not a great deal. As was always true with the government, those who majored in Spanish were put not in the Spanish section but probably in the Italian section; those who majored in French were put in a section completely foreign to what they were trained to do. In fact, a French professor at the college went up there and worked, and she, I think, was in the Spanish section. I'm not sure, but anyway not the language with which she was trained. I was put in the Japanese section. Of course, I knew nothing about Japanese. I didn't need to, the way that we worked, the system that had been devised for breaking codes. We were successful. It was very interesting.
PAT DEVINE:
It must have been. And you were there for how long?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Just a few months. I went up there in June. My father died the last day of July. I went back up there and worked for a while and came home, I'm not sure when. It was sometime at the end of the summer when I resigned and came home, so I wans't up there but about three or four months.
PAT DEVINE:
Am I right that that was perhaps your first time to live away from home?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, indeed it was. I'd never lived away from home before.
PAT DEVINE:
Do you remember that as quite an adventure, to be in Washington with your sorority sisters?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes, I did, it was quite an adventure. None of us

Page 25
got any sleep; none of us knew how to cook. We didn't know anything about it, but we learned rather quickly. I think I lost about fifteen or twenty pounds while I was up there. We took turns cooking. Two of us cooked, and two cleaned, and so forth. We had it divided up. The cooking chores were given for a week, and the girl who had it with me knew less about cooking than I did. When we had the cooking detail, they usually got hot dogs, because that's all we knew how to cook. But the butcher told us one time he thought we ought to give them something else, so he suggested we give them pork chops. We didn't know how to cook them, so he told us how to cook them. But we got along all right. Everybody was doing the same thing.
PAT DEVINE:
What about the decision to leave Washington and go back home after your dad died?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It was a decision that my sister and I made. As I said, she was planning to be married. Her husband-to-be was in service, and as soon as he could get some time off, they would be married. They had planned to be married in September, but after my father died they called it off and delayed it. He was waiting for a time when he could get enough time away from them to be married. My sister and I talked the situation over, and we decided that Mother was simply too old to be left alone. She was fifty years old, but we thought she was very old, and we decided one of us needed to come home and stay with her for a while, at least until things calmed down. My father died very suddenly, and so it was a very severe shock to her, and she wouldn't be alone. Bless her heart, she never said a word to us about how stupid we were to feel that she was incapable of looking after herself at age fifty. We decided that I should come home, and

Page 26
I did and lived with Mother. She picked up her life beautifully and continued with her things that she'd always done, her charity work and her bridge, and she went to work and worked parttime, made a new life for herself and didn't need me at all. But she never let me know that she didn't need me.
PAT DEVINE:
And yet you stayed. It didn't occur to you that since she was all right, you might go back to Washington.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, I didn't want to go back to Washington. I was perfectly happy where I was.
PAT DEVINE:
What was the first job you got when you got back home to Wilson?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I went with Branch Banking and Trust Company as secretary to the vice-president and then left there and went to work for a lawyer and from there to the firm with which I later became associated and later became a partner.
PAT DEVINE:
How did you meet Mr. Lucas?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Another thing I did while I was at Atlantic Christian, I worked a good bit. Mr. Lucas was a leading lawyer there in Wilson, and he had a very important anti-trust case in which he needed some secretarial help. He called the college and asked Dr. Hilley, the President, if there was anybody he could send up there to help him, so Dr. Hilley asked me if I'd like to do that, and I told him I would. I went up to the law offices and helped him at night and on weekends with that case, clerical work, secretarial work, and became very interested in legal work. When I came back from Washington, I went there first to see if there was anything available, and they didn't have an opening at that time, but as soon as they did have one they

Page 27
let me know, and I went on up there and went to work.
PAT DEVINE:
Is Mr. Lucas still living?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No, he died the year I came on the courts. He died in December of that year. In fact, both my senior partners died that year.
PAT DEVINE:
What was it like to be a secretary with that firm? What were the things that you were involved with during those years?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, whatever a secretary is always involved with: taking dictation, filing, running the office, making appointments for Mr. Lucas, seeing that he got where he was supposed to be and had the papers with him that he was supposed to have, seeing that his letters got out letter-perfect and that the pleadings and court papers that were filed were letter-perfect. Sort of an executive secretary.
PAT DEVINE:
And yet somehow from his observation of you doing those duties, it became clear to him that you should go study law yourself?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
He allowed me a good bit of freedom and assigned me tasks that were probably more than an ordinary secretary did, but a good legal secretary does a lot of things that an ordinary secretary doesn't do. A lot of people think that a paralegal does things that a secretary can't do, but that isn't true; a good legal secretary does more than some paralegals can do. It depends on who's training the secretary and how much work they allow them to do on their own. I got so that I could prepare a deed without any assistance. So long as I knew the parties, it was an ordinary deed. And the same was true with a deed of trust, but they never went out of the office without his checking them very carefully. I closed loans, and things of that sort, what a good legal secretary would do.

Page 28
PAT DEVINE:
Was it a surprise to you, and did it come up just once or many times, that he thought perhaps you ought to try and go to law school yourself?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No, it was a surprise. That's the only time he ever mentioned it.
PAT DEVINE:
That one time.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mm-hm.
PAT DEVINE:
I know that perhaps some people who have read about you know that story, but I'd love you to tell it, about how you knew that it was in his mind.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
He called me in to give me dictation one morning, and after he'd finished the usual legal work and dictation, he started a letter to Albert Coates, who was a professor at Carolina at the time. He told him that he was sending me up for an interview, that he wanted me to go to law school and that Mr. Lucas thought Mr. Coates would find me an apt student, and that he would make an appointment, and I would bring the letter when I came. I told him I just couldn't afford to go to law school, and he said, "You can't afford not to go to law school." That was in the letter. So I went to law school.
PAT DEVINE:
And how were you able to afford to go? Did you have to work your way through?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I borrowed money and worked during the summertime and had a scholarship and worked on the Law Review and got paid for that. There are lots of ways. You don't have to have money to go to school. If you want to go to school, you can go.
PAT DEVINE:
That's true. I know that myself. I'm very interested in

Page 29
those three law school years, of course, because persons who are going to read what we do here are going to be women law students, and I'm still not finished myself. And so when I think of those three years in your life, you moved to Chapel Hill. Where did you live while you were in law school?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I lived in the dormitory. I went home most every weekend. I had my own car.
PAT DEVINE:
What dorm was that?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Kenan.
PAT DEVINE:
So your mother stayed in Wilson while you came here to school.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mm-hm.
PAT DEVINE:
Was it true then, as it is now, that you had no choice in your first year, you took what all the first-year students took?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I guess so. I don't really remember.
PAT DEVINE:
And you were the only woman in your class?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No, I started out with another woman in the class, but she dropped out. Then I think in my third year, I believe it was, Jean Owen, who had started out after I did, caught up with the class by taking heavier loads and going to summer school and so forth. I believe that she was with us for graduation. I'm not sure. She didn't start in our class, but I believe she ended with it. But the only woman who started in the class with me dropped out.
PAT DEVINE:
In your entering class in 1952, how many people were in there?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I don't have any idea.
PAT DEVINE:
You don't remember if it was a large group?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
At that time it probably was, but it would not be by today's standards. Now I just don't know how many people were in

Page 30
the class. The Yackety-Yack's over there; you can count them and find out. [Laughter] But I don't remember. We were a very close group. I know that.
PAT DEVINE:
In 1952, when you were the only woman in your class, you were thirty-one years old, starting school with these men.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mm-hm. I was about nine to ten years older than the rest of them, except for one man who had already retired. He was past sixty-five, Milton Loomis. He had been a dean at a school in New York. I don't know which school, but he had retired and come to law school.
PAT DEVINE:
Did he finish?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes, he finished. He came to Chapel Hill because the medical school was available. He had a heart problem. But he finished law school and did very well. He didn't take the bar, but worked in a bank in the trust department.
PAT DEVINE:
But your memories of those three years with those classmates are happy ones.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes, they were delightful.
PAT DEVINE:
In other words, as the only woman and older than so many of them, you didn't feel left out or that they had nothing to do with you?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, no, they included me in everything they did, except they didn't let me play football. They put me up as playing left out when they put up a football squad. But they were very fine. I enjoyed it. Every one of them were just as nice as they could be.
PAT DEVINE:
The other question that comes to my mind: you did so well in law school; you graduated fourth in your class. Would you say, as you look back, that those courses and the study of law just came naturally to you, or was it a real struggle?

Page 31
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I worked hard. I had not had to work hard in my prior educational experiences, not very hard. I had in some instances. At college I was graduated summa cum laude, but in those days you were exempt from exams if you made a certain grade, so I had never taken a great many exams and didn't know too much about them. When I started in law school, they gave trial exams.
PAT DEVINE:
They still do.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Which I think is very, very helpful, because you don't get but one grade, and that's what you get on the exam. The mid-semester trial exams were a revelation to me, because I got a C on Torts, and it was the first time I'd ever had a C in my life. So I decided I'd better go home, get back and buckle down and get to work. I did. I think probably I went to law school with the feeling that, having been in a law office for eight or nine years, I probably had a good background and wouldn't have to work too hard, but it was a different situation. Law school was teaching theory, and what I'd had was practice, so I had to get to work and did get to work and enjoyed it. I buckled down and studied harder than I'd ever studied in my life, but enjoyed it.
PAT DEVINE:
And at law school also, you had other activities besides your studies, because you had the Law Review?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mm-hm. At that time, you only wrote Law Review notes if you were asked to write them, and you were only asked to write them if your grade was a certain thing. I was asked to write a Law Review note at the end of my first year, and I came back early in the fall of my second year to work on that Law Review note, and then became an associate editor of the Law Review, so that took up a lot of time in the third year. There was always something going on other than law

Page 32
work. We had a good time. Worked hard, but had a good time.
PAT DEVINE:
The first woman associate editor of that Law Review.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Probably so. I just don't know about that.
PAT DEVINE:
Then that, also, could not have been something that anyone made you feel odd about, or that you had to prove something.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, heavens, no. I didn't even know there hadn't been another woman, if there hadn't been.
PAT DEVINE:
The first woman associate editor is what you are.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I didn't know that, but it didn't matter. I wasn't out trying to prove anything.
PAT DEVINE:
And you didn't have to feel that you had to at the time.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, heavens, no. No, indeed, which may be why the men accepted me. I don't know. I never thought about it. But I wasn't trying to prove anything. I didn't have any axe to grind, no banners that I was carrying and waving wildly. I was just studying law.
PAT DEVINE:
You hear much more about that today, about women in the law school classes and their awareness of the men or having to do as well as they and so forth. It just seems to be more of an issue, perhaps, between the years when you were there and when I've been there.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It's sort of ridiculous, isn't it?
PAT DEVINE:
The way you talk about it, yes, it seems like a waste of time.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It is.
PAT DEVINE:
Good energy that could have gone elsewhere.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
To doing what you're training yourself to do.
PAT DEVINE:
Yeah, exactly.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Do you remember, and are you in touch with, some of your classmates from your law school days?

Page 33
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes, indeed. We get together regularly. Some of them live here. Jack Horner, for example, lives here in Raleigh, and so does Kent Burns. Lots of them live here in Raleigh. Some work with the state, and some are in private practice. Some are in Greensboro; some are in Winston; one in Florida; one in Masscchusetts. But we correspond and get together occasionally.
PAT DEVINE:
How about the sorority sisters?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, we correspond.
PAT DEVINE:
The Washington, D.C. group.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
We talk to each other. One's in California. We talk by telephone occasionally.
PAT DEVINE:
1955: graduation and back home. What was your understanding with those people in Wilson about job prospects after you graduated?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, well, they told me that if I did well, I could come back to the firm, but if I didn't do well, I could go elsewhere.
PAT DEVINE:
So you did okay.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mm-hm.
PAT DEVINE:
And went right back. So that's fall of '55 you started with them.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Right. As soon as I finished the bar exam, I went to work.
PAT DEVINE:
And so that was your first time to do real lawyering.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mm-hm.
PAT DEVINE:
What about that? One thing that occurred to me was whether it was a difference that you were very aware of, to go back to that firm as an associate, having been their secretary, and if you were working with the same people but in such a different role, or was it

Page 34
not really that great a change?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I was working with the same people, but it was no problem. Not really. If there was any problem there, I wasn't aware of it.
PAT DEVINE:
I've heard many people tell me that I should do my best to get through law school, but that what I'm studying in my case books isn't really that. . . . In other words, I just have to do it when I get out to really understand what it's about. The relationship between what you'd studied and actually practicing law. Did you find that you . . .
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It wasn't as difficult for me, because I had known about the practice of law, you see, but I know it's difficult for people who haven't had that experience. As I say, the law school teaches theory, and I got very upset about that the first semester I was there. I went home one weekend, I remember, and I told Mr. Lucas that they weren't teaching the students the practical aspects of the law. He said, "Well, they're not supposed to. The law schools are for teaching theory, and you learn the practice after you get out. You go on back up there and learn everything they teach you about the theory of law, and when you get back here I'll teach you how to practice law," which he did. But a lot of people didn't have that privilege. I knew, for example, where you went to get revenue stamps. A lot of students, after they'd been graduated and had taken the bar, had no idea where to go to buy revenue stamps to put on a deed, and it was very embarrassing to them to have to ask. Now they have a practical skills course that people take, they won't have that problem. But I think it's correct, that law schools ought to teach the theory of the law and not the practice of it.

Page 35
PAT DEVINE:
What are your recollections about what you enjoyed most in practicing law?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I enjoyed all of it. I did not enjoy, particularly, domestic relations cases, but I had to do them. It would not be my choice. If I had my choice, I would exclude domestic relations cases, but they're there, and in a small town you do everything.
PAT DEVINE:
Did you have many opportunities for trial work?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes. Our firm did a lot of trial work.
PAT DEVINE:
And you enjoyed doing that.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes.
PAT DEVINE:
One story that I encountered which struck me with interest as something that I'd love to hear you talk more about was, you alluded to one experience you had in helping to do the legal background work for the founding of the first or only home for indigent blacks in Wilson.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Not indigent blacks. No, this was a nursing home for blacks. The office had had this woman as a client for many years. She ran a restaurant at one time. She was quite an aggressive, hardworking woman, and she came to me and said that the director of public welfare, Mr. Monroe Fordham, had asked her to open a nursing home for blacks. She had at that time taken in two or three aged people in her home to take care of, under the auspices of the welfare department, and Monroe Fordham had asked her if she would open a nursing home for blacks. She told him that she would if she could get the money, so she came to me to get the money. We went many places to borrow money, including from the black insurance company in Durham, and they would not let her have the money. Although she

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had sufficient property to secure the note, they would not let her have the money, and that made me perfectly furious. I came back to Wilson and called the Branch Bank and told them the situation. I said, "You will be missing a very good opportunity if you don't let this woman have the money," so they said they would. They required a lot of her that they might not have required of a white person in the same situation—I don't know—but this was something new and untried. The man who did the electrical work took her note for the electrical work without any security. We worked it out to the point that she had her financing, and she paid everybody back ahead of time. One way she did it, in the summer when the crops would be coming in and the people would have gotten their crops harvested from the field, she would get permission to go out to that field and get what was left [gleaning], the small potatoes that they didn't pick up, the beans on the bottom part of the vine. She would go get those, and that's the way she fed her people and was able to feed them cheaper than a lot of people could run a home. Extremely well run.
PAT DEVINE:
Is it still there?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes, it's still there. About five years after she borrowed the money, the Branch Bank called me and asked me if she would be interested in adding onto her home, that they would be glad to let her have the money. I always wanted to write the insurance company in Durham and say something to them, but I didn't.
PAT DEVINE:
That's hard to understand.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It is hard. It was very difficult for me to understand, because they always talk about looking after their own and the fact that white people don't do things they ought to for them.

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PAT DEVINE:
What is this woman's name?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Geneva Dew.
PAT DEVINE:
Is she alive?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes, she's alive and doing well. I hear from her at least twice a year. She attended my swearing-in ceremony and the party that was given afterward. I'm very fond of her. She's a very fine person.
PAT DEVINE:
I wanted to hear more about that story. After two years with that firm, you became a partner.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Was it two years? I'd forgotten. It wasn't long, I know.
PAT DEVINE:
It wasn't long. It was two years. Was that a surprise? That's a very short time.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes, I was elated but quite surprised. I didn't turn it down.
PAT DEVINE:
Good. The next thing that interests me, in talking about your years with the firm, now as a partner, is what I guess were the first seven years of the sixties, really. In 1967, Governor Moore asked you to serve on the first Court of Appeals, but in those seven years prior to that you were practicing law in Wilson, and am I correct that those were perhaps your most politically active years?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I was never active in politics until Governor Moore offered himself as a candidate for governor, and I didn't know him personally. But I knew of him, and I liked what I read about him, and I called Judge [Susie] Sharp. I knew that she knew him, and she recommended him highly, so I decided to vote for him. I had not

Page 38
decided to do anything except vote for him. I didn't know there was anything else to be done, until Mr. Lucas called me in one day and asked me if I'd be willing to be chairman of his Wilson County campaign. He first asked me, "For whom do you plan to vote for governor?" I said, "Well, I'm going to vote for Dan Moore. I don't know anything about him, but I like what I hear." He said, "Are you enough sold on him so that you'd be chairman of his Wilson County campaign?" I said, "Well, I'm that sold on him, but I don't know anything about being a chairman of a campaign." So we talked for a while, and finally I agreed to do it as co-chairman with Roy Holford. But that's the first time I had been actively involved in anybody's campaign except doing a radio announcement for a candidate or something of that sort.
PAT DEVINE:
Was it at that time that you were a vice-president of the Wilson County Democratic Party?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Probably. I'm not sure. I was never really active, but I did what people asked me to do.
PAT DEVINE:
What was that experience like, to be so active all of a sudden, in a gubernatorial campaign?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It was a very revealing experience and a very enjoyable one. I knew so many people in the county that it was not very difficult, and Governor Moore was such a good candidate to sell that it wasn't very difficult. He inspired confidence, and he came to Wilson. We travelled over the county. People got to know him, and so it wasn't as hard as it would have been if it had been another candidate, I don't suppose. I don't know, because I'd never done it before, as I say. But I enjoyed every minute of it, and I practically had to give up my law practice. But the men in the office

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were very understanding, and they just took over for me, in fact helped me.
PAT DEVINE:
Did you have to give many talks of your own on behalf of Mr. Moore?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I don't recall that I did. The talking that I did was primarily one-on-one, going around the county and visiting people.
PAT DEVINE:
Were those exciting times, anyway, the early sixties down there in Wilson? There was so much going on, I guess, politically to be involved in with the campaign.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I guess. Betty McCain was chairman for Richardson Preyer, whom I liked. I liked Richardson Preyer very much, but just liked Dan Moore better as a candidate. I think Betty thought she had Wilson County pretty well sewed up. She didn't.
PAT DEVINE:
It sounds, just from what I'm hearing, that it would never have entered your mind then or now that you would want to do something politically yourself in politics.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No. I was asked to run for the legislature, and might have had I not been involved in law practice. But I don't know; I don't exclude that from the future. I might run for the legislature when I get back. And I will have the opportunity to become active in some political campaigns, and I probably will. Maybe not so much getting some people elected as trying to keep some others from being elected.
PAT DEVINE:
That'd be interesting. At some point down the road, it would be wonderful to hear about the judiciary versus politics and you in it.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Of course, the judiciary is supposed to be completely

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away from politics.
PAT DEVINE:
That's my point. As a way to spend yourself and your energies, on the bench as opposed to politically, what you would have to say down the road as far as which challenged you more, which was more satisfying, which frustrated you more, where you thought you might accomplish the most. Do you know what I'm saying?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, I don't think there's any question of that. I think service on the bench is infinitely preferable to politics.
PAT DEVINE:
Why?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Why?
PAT DEVINE:
Yes.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Well, because service on the bench is a service to the state. Politics is a service to oneself. A person gets into politics these days not because he wants to serve his state, but for his own personal advancement, in most instances. There are very few people who go to the legislature because they want to serve the state, not any more. It used to be that the person who went to the legislature from any county was the outstanding citizen of that county.
PAT DEVINE:
Yes.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
And a person who could afford to go to the legislature and who could afford to accept the measly six hundred dollars a session that they got, and so you had outstanding people in the legislature. But that's not true now. People go to the legislature because they have a gripe about one issue or because it's a means of income for them. A legislator now makes, I guess, about twenty thousand dollars a year, which is a good bit of money to a lot of people in the legislature. Now that's not to say they're all that

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way, but I think the majority of the people who go to the legislature today go for that reason.
PAT DEVINE:
But those would not be reasons you would do it.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, heavens, no. No, indeed, because I don't think it's the right reason. I don't think the legislature requires the time that it takes to run the state business. [Interruption]
PAT DEVINE:
About the legislature, as we're talking, it would seem that if you made a decision to give yourself to that, it would be because you knew that what you had done so far had given you something that you still had to share over there.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Well, either that or there are a lot of issues that come before the legislature now which need a person with legal training to interpret. There used to be a lot of lawyers in the legislature who understood the legal problems and who understood the business of the state. There are very few lawyers in the legislature now, and, unfortunately, the majority of the people in the legislature are opposed to lawyers.
PAT DEVINE:
Why?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
They call them liars. They look down on lawyers. That's just the makeup of the legislature. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is. There are a lot of retired schoolteachers in there and a lot of preachers. A lot of them are there because they have one issue; a schoolteacher wants more money.
PAT DEVINE:
There's something else that I want to talk to you about before our last ten or twelve minutes runs out. For about twenty-five years, every week, you taught Sunday school, and what intrigues me, because of my own background and just because it is

Page 42
intriguing, is, in the course of those years before and since you've been on the bench, I wonder if you would say a little bit about, if you can, religion and how that has been in your life and how it has kind of spilled over into your lawyering, your judging.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Well, I hope it's spilled over. I don't know that it has, but I hope it has. I don't know exactly what you have in mind.
PAT DEVINE:
I don't have anything in mind. I just want you to talk about that. Why would you do that for twenty-five years, every week? It must have been terribly important to you.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Why would you not do it? Everything you have comes from the Lord, you know. I was born with certain abilities, but they're God-given. I didn't reach out and pick them up somewhere. The ability to earn money is God-given, and I owe a certain part of that back. It's really simple, very simple. I was reared in a Christian home, and my parents before me were reared in Christian homes. It never occurred to me not to go to Sunday school. My parents went to Sunday school and church. I went to what we called the BYPU on Sunday evenings. That was the Baptist Young People's Union, and unless I went there I couldn't have a date on Sunday night. If I wasn't able to go to BYPU, I wasn't able to have a date. And it never occurred to me to say I didn't want to go to Sunday school. It wouldn't have made any difference whether I wanted to; I would have gone anyhow.
PAT DEVINE:
Were your friends the same way, or were you different in that way?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I supposed they were the same way. We all went to Sunday school. I never asked whether they wanted to or didn't want to;

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we just went. But if I hadn't wanted to, my mother and father would have made me go, and I think parents are wrong in not making their children go to Sunday school and church now. They say that if they make them, they won't want to go when they get older. If they don't go when they're younger, they don't have anything to which to turn. They don't know anything about whether to go. If you let a child sleep late every Sunday morning, they're not going to want to get up and go to Sunday school and church, and certainly if their parents don't do it, they're not going to want to. But anyhow, it just seems to me that you don't live in a community and be a part of that community without giving something to the community. And you don't live in this world without giving something of yourself back to the Creator who made it all possible, and the only way you can do that is through the church. I taught Sunday school because I felt capable of teaching Sunday school, and I enjoyed it. I taught the high school children. It was delightful.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I met a law student who was one of your Sunday school students.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, really. Well, I won't ask you what he said about it.
PAT DEVINE:
It was a she [unknown] very fond of you.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I think it's a very important part of a person's life, and I feel sorry for people who don't have that. I really do, because I think they're missing something. I think they have missed something. I think they've missed a stability that you can't get anywhere else.
PAT DEVINE:
Is it something that you're conscious of, that when you're on the bench or whether you were preparing your trial, when you were

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putting your mind to work on things, that those sorts of religious considerations or moral things that you think about in those Sundays are brought right to bear on those issues? Do you see what I mean?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I don't know that you'd think of it consciously, but I think subconsciously you would have to, because you develop a feeling for right and wrong. You recognize in many instances it's a gray area, but you know what's right, and you know what's wrong. You have certain moral values, and they're bound to overflow into your business life and your professional life. If they don't, you don't have them.
PAT DEVINE:
What interests me is that wouldn't you say that at this point, your colleagues on the bench, shall we say, and persons you've served with through the years pretty much share that. I'm thinking down the road perhaps five, ten, fifteen [years], another generation away. I wonder if there will be differences, because persons who sit there with that authority don't have that same orientation that you had.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, there will be differences if they don't have it. Oh, yes, indeed. There'll be differences in attitude, differences in the philosophies. Yes, indeed, there'll be sizeable differences.
PAT DEVINE:
It just seems inevitable that we're going to find out about that, because the persons who are coming out of school now and who will sit there will not bring to that experience what you have there.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
They ought to bring to it that experience, if they're the right sort of people. If the right sort of people are appointed and elected to the bench—but primarily appointed—then that sort of person will be on the bench. But if care is not taken in selecting people for the bench, then you will have the problem about which you just spoke. But if the right sort of person is put there, you won't

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have any problem. We've had some really embarrassing things happen to the bench and the bar by reason of less than proper attitudes, obviously.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
PAT DEVINE:
Judge Morris, this is our third meeting. The first two times that we were together, we talked about your life before being a lawyer, going to law school, your practice with the firm in Wilson, and we ended agreeing that this time we would talk about the years that you spent on the Court of Appeals doing judging. You were named to that court in 1967 by then Governor Moore. You had been practicing with your firm in Wilson for twelve years, two years right out of law school and then the next ten as a partner. Now you have fifteen years behind you as judge on that court. Today what we want to talk about is just simply Naomi Elizabeth Morris, Judge.
I thought that a way to begin to get into that would be for you to reminisce a bit about the time in 1967 when you first learned that Governor Moore wished you to do this. Do you recall exactly how you got wind that this was in his mind?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes, I got a telephone call from Rachel Speers, who was Governor Moore's girl Friday, telling me that the Governor wanted to see me the next morning at eleven o'clock. I had no idea what he wanted to see me about. I went down to the office the next morning and rearranged my schedule and told my senior partner that the Governor wanted to see me at eleven o'clock. I thought that he wanted to see me about a young man in Wilson who, I knew, wanted to be

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on the Superior Court then, but I did not feel that this particular young man was qualified to be on the bench. My problem at that point was how to tell Governor Moore that I felt that this would not be a good appointment. I asked my senior partner, "Shall I tell Governor Moore exactly how I feel, or exactly what should I do, because I feel that's what he wants to see me for." Mr. Lucas said, "Well, I don't think that's what he wants to see you about, but if he does, you must be honest with him and tell him exactly what you think." I said, "Why don't you think that's what he wants to talk about?" He said, "Well, I think he wants to talk to you about a judicial appointment." I said, "Oh, no, because I've already sent word that I wouldn't be interested in a Superior Court appointment." So I went on to Raleigh, and when I went in the Governor's office we chatted for a while, and he said that he wanted me to join the Court of Appeals as one of its first members. I told him that I had no idea that's what he had in mind, that it never entered my mind that that's what he would want, and I would certainly have to think about that because I didn't think that I was qualified to do the job, and he said he thought I was. I asked him if I could have some time, and he said yes, and I said, "Well, when do you need to know something?" He said, "I'll give you twenty-four hours." I left his office and went straight to Judge Sharp's office, and she said, "I've been expecting you. I thought maybe you'd be here before now." I said, "No. Do you know what I want to talk to you about?" She said, "Yes, I hope that Dan Moore has asked you to be on the Court of Appeals." I said, "Well, he has. What do you think I ought to do?" She said, "I think you ought to do it." I said, "Well, I just don't know that I'm competent for that," and she

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said she thought that I was, and she thought I had a duty to do it, and she certainly wanted to insist that I do it. I left her and went home to my mother and asked her what she thought about it, and she said, "Do what you think is best," as she always did. I said, "Well, you know that would mean my being in Raleigh a good part of the time." She said, "That'd be all right, if you think that's the thing you ought to do. I think if Governor Moore has that much confidence in you, I think probably you should go ahead and accept it." Then I went and talked to my senior partner, and he said, "I thought that's what he wanted with you." I thought about it and I thought about it all night, and finally I called Governor Moore the next morning and told mim if he thought that I could do it and he had confidence in me, I was willing to give it a try. We talked about swearing-in ceremonies and things of that sort, and I said, "Well, if you need to get in touch with me, just call me." He said, "Wait a minute. Don't you want to know what the job pays?" I said, "No, it doesn't matter. I know it's less than what I'm getting now." He said, "That's right." I took a cut in pay and came on the Court of Appeals.
PAT DEVINE:
You learned in July, I believe, and then you were going to being that following October.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes. Of course, he told me before July that he wanted me to do it. The announcement was made public in July. Then I had to begin closing out my part of the law practice and dishing out cases and things to other members of the firm. We started really settling down to work in late September or early October. I was sworn in in early July.
PAT DEVINE:
At that point, did you have plans to bring your mother with

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you to Raleigh?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No, indeed. I knew Mother wouldn't want to come to Raleigh. No, I planned to commute.
PAT DEVINE:
Also at that time, is it true that at that point in time there were two other women jurists in North Carolina? In one article that I read, it named you as the third, and I was curious. Who were the others?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I don't know. Susie Sharp was the only one that I knew anything about. If there's ever been another one at that time, I don't know who it was.
PAT DEVINE:
The thing that comes to my mind naturally to ask you next, after all of this happened and you made the decision to go ahead with it, is if we could talk a little bit about the process, as I call it, of just learning to be a judge. In other words, you left one sort of a life in Wilson as a lawyer, and you came to Raleigh, and of course part of your learning to be a judge was happening simultaneously with a court being formed. Is that correct?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
That's correct. Of course, any time a person goes on the appellate bench, it's a learning process. I don't think anybody ever goes on the appellate bench and is immediately a good appellate court judge. I remember Justice Higgins told me that it took him a good long while to feel that he was competent to do the job, and of course Justice Higgins was a very competent Supreme Court justice. I would be very much afraid of any person who went on the Appellate Court bench feeling that they could immediately do a good job and who, after they'd been on there even two or three months, felt that they were doing a good job. I'd be very much afraid of them, because it's a constant learning process. The fifteen years that I was on the

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Appellate Court bench were learning processes, all the way. I was still learning when I retired. If I were there, I'd still be learning. At least, I would hope that I would be; if I weren't, I shouldn't be there. It's a day-by-day learning experience.
PAT DEVINE:
Were you the only person among the first group of judges who had never judged before?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No. David Britt had never judged before. Judge Mallard had been a Superior Court judge. Judge Campbell had been a Superior Court judge. Judge Brock had, and Judge Farthing had. But neither Judge Britt nor I had ever been a judge.
PAT DEVINE:
Describe the process a bit of doing the judging, including the routine. That interests me also, when you first got there how you organized so that the record on appeal would reach you and so forth.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
The first thing we had to do was set up some rules for the practicing attorneys. The making of rules for the court is the prerogative of the Supreme Court, regardless of what the legislature thinks. The Supreme Court has the right and duty to make the appellate rules, and so we set about getting up some rules for the Court of Appeals and submitted them to the Supreme Court, and they were adopted. Then those rules were sent out to all the lawyers, and we began getting appeals filed in, I guess, November or December, but we didn't have any hearings until early in the next year. All of the lawyers had to have the time to give their notice of appeal and get their records in to the court. Although we became a court as such in July, we didn't hear any appeals until the next year, because it took all that time to get the rules done and to notify the lawyers, to get the rules out and let them know what the time frame was within

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which they had to work. The time within which, after they gave notice of appeal, they had to have their record docketed, and the time within which, after the record was docketed and filed, they had to have their briefs in, so it took months to get that done. Then after all the lawyers were notified and the appeals started coming in, we started holding hearings early in 1968.
PAT DEVINE:
In the very first times, after you would have heard a case. . . . You would have sat on a panel of three, is that correct?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mm-hm.
PAT DEVINE:
After you would hear the arguments, has it always been true since the beginning that you would immediately confer together as a panel of three?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes, just as soon as the oral arguments were concluded, the judges sat together and considered. At the very beginning there were only two panels. The Chief Judge of the Court presided over one panel, and the next in seniority was Judge Campbell, who presided over the other panel. It was only at the end of the year, when they sat with each other, that there was another presiding judge for either one of the panels. The statute requires that the judges sit with each other one time during the year, which was no problem as long as there were only six judges, but it is a problem with twelve judges. But from the very beginning, after the arguments were heard the judges conferred and discussed the cases that were argued and came to some conclusion as to what the outcome should be, at least a preliminary conclusion. Then the matter was assigned to one of the members of the panel to write, and after the person to whom it was assigned had finished at least a draft opinion, it was circulated to the other two

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members of the panel. They read it and studied it, and if they conferred and agreed with it they would sign it as concurring. If they didn't, the person who didn't agree would write a dissenting opinion. If both of the other two members of the panel disagreed, then the person who originally had been assigned the opinion to write would be the person who wrote the dissenting opinion, and the senior member of the two who did not agree would become the person who wrote the majority opinion. Frequently, as long as we were only six members, the opinions would be discussed among all the members of the court, and that was a very good thing because you got fresh input, you got ideas, and you got the opportunity to discuss principles of law and points of law and their application to the facts in that case with all the members of the court. At that time, we all knew what everybody else was working on, and we all discussed them. It was a very congenial group. We were a very close group, the original court.
PAT DEVINE:
Why don't you name those people?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
The original court was Judge Raymond Mallard from Tabor City, who was appointed Chief Judge by then Chief Justice R. Hunt Parker; the next in seniority was Judge Hugh B. Campbell from Charlotte, who had been a member of the Superior Court for several years; and then Walter Brock, who was a Superior Court judge; then Judge James Farthing from Lenoir, who was also a Superior Court judge. He died, however, in December of the first year of the court and never sat with us as a rule. He was replaced by Judge Frank Parker from Asheville, who did sit with us originally, so for all practical purposes we've always considered him a member of the original court. Judge David Britt from Fairmont had not been a Superior Court judge but was Speaker of the

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House of Representatives.
PAT DEVINE:
So he was the only legislator among you.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
He was the only real politician [unknown] . Frank Parker from Asheville became, in my opinion, the best judge on the court.
PAT DEVINE:
Could you say a little more about that? What did you admire about him?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
He was thorough; his research was accurate; he wrote clearly and concisely; he was not satisfied with an opinion until he had researched it absolutely completely; he read all of the records and briefs closely; he was always prepared at oral argument(?). That's not to say that all of the original court was not—they were—but Judge Parker seemed to be one of those people who was just meant to be an appellate court judge. He enjoyed it; he worked tirelessly; his opinions were good opinions, correct opinions. I always did use them an example for new people coming on the court. I gave them some of his opinions to read, as being an example of what a good opinion ought to be. He set out his facts correctly and concisely. His opinions were not long, but he spent a lot of time keeping them from being long. It was much more difficult to write a short opinion than it was a long opinion, and do it well. Frank Parker should have been on the Supreme Court. It was a loss to the state that he was not, but he was not a politician.
PAT DEVINE:
For how many years did you serve with him?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
From 1968, when he came on the court, until he retired three years ago, I guess.
PAT DEVINE:
That recently.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes. He retired about two years before I did.

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PAT DEVINE:
In your early recollections of those conferences, is your memory of yourself that you did a lot of listening and learning in those early days?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
You see, I was the youngest member of the court and the only woman in it. The Superior Court people had had a lot more experience in litigation, listening to arguments, and yes, I did a lot of listening. Of course, if I felt strongly, I always spoke up. Whenever I felt that it was necessary for me to talk, I did, but I also did a lot of listening. It was a give-and-take situation. We'd discuss cases quite thoroughly.
PAT DEVINE:
Is there any particular difficulty or help in serving on a panel of three? Is there something that always has to happen with each case where you have a meeting of minds or a coming together, and does the ease with which that happens depend in each case on who the three are, so that in some cases decisions would come more easily or naturally and in others people were a bit more at odds? Is that something that just takes getting used to, this threesome business?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Of course, people think differently and they view things differently, but a panel of three good judges generally has no difficulty in reaching a conclusion. A case may be very close, and before the opinion is written there may be some disagreement with respect to the law, but if the panel is composed of three good judges, that person writing it will research the law, and most of the time the other two will be convinced, after they check into the cited cases, that that's a correct application of the law. Occasionally, although it shouldn't be, you'll have a member of the panel who, for personal reasons, doesn't want the case to come out that way.

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That shouldn't be, but occasionally it does happen because of friendship with one of the attorneys involved or some other personal interest, but fortunately that's been very rare.
PAT DEVINE:
Is it your memory of your time on these various panels that a dissent from you was rare?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I didn't dissent very much.
PAT DEVINE:
It seems as if it would have to be rare, by definition. If the three of you were working together on something and you found yourself simply diametrically opposed to the way the other two wanted to go, it sounds like a rare and a big thing.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It would be rare for me to dissent, certainly with the original court, because we worked so closely together. I did dissent in the workman's compensation case, the brown lung case, because it seemed to me that all of the damages suffered could not be attributable to the person's employment, and that it should be apportioned [unknown] if the person smoked or had other habits which would be conducive to respiratory infections like bronchitis. It didn't seem to me that all of the damages should have to be paid by the employer, and so I dissented in the first of those byssinosis cases.
PAT DEVINE:
Your colleagues disagreed, the other two.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
The two did, but then that went across the street to the Supreme Court, of course, and the Supreme Court agreed with the dissent. There are instances like that where a dissent is helpful. To dissent because you don't like the way the opinion is written is not really the way to do it. In some cases, in addition to the byssinosis case, a judge has dissented because it's a case which should be reviewed by the Supreme Court. There may be a situation where the Supreme Court has, over a period of years, handed down decisions which go in a certain

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way, and because of sociological changes that may not be an appropriate application of the law. It's not within the province of the Court of Appeals to overrule the Supreme Court, and so one way of getting a review by the Supreme Court of their former decisions is to have one of the members of the Court of Appeals dissent, so that it would have to go to the Supreme Court for further review.
PAT DEVINE:
By definition, where there is a dissent, it must go to the Supreme Court.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It doesn't have to go, but the parties have a right to go to the Supreme Court. They may be satisfied with the result and not take it, but where there's a dissent, then the parties have a right to take it to the Supreme Court. And in one or two instances, maybe more than that, the Supreme Court has reviewed its past decisions and overruled themselves, not because they were wrong but because there's been a sociological change that required a different application of the law. That purpose for idssent is a good one, a very good one. Then there are cases where the members of the panel honestly disagree on how the law should be applied to those facts. There are not too many dissents, and I should say at least seventy-five percent of the time when there is a dissent, it's for a good reason.
PAT DEVINE:
Earlier, when you referred to if you have a panel of good judges in reaching a decision, and that connects in my mind with your very first reference to the person who wanted to be a judge and you felt just would not be a good choice. It's emerging in everything that you say, but when you say "a good judge," what I think I'm hearing is that you're talking about a person who is terribly careful and comprehensive in his study.

Page 56
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Right, and willing to devote the time that it requires to do that. Over the years, there have been on my court one or two people who feel that they must have their work finished and all opinions written before the next hearing date. Now that, to me, is absolutely impossible; if you are a good judge, you cannot do that. There's too much work to be done to manage to get all of your opinions written before you have the next hearing date. But there have been a few people on the court who felt that they had to do that and have done it, [unknown] in my opinion sacrificing quality in order to do that.
PAT DEVINE:
That's interesting. It's a question of expediency, I guess, in their minds, as opposed to . . .
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Well, I guess. I've discussed it with one of those who does it, and he said he was so accustomed to getting work out and getting a bill out in the practice of law that he couldn't get over it now, and I suppose that's true.
PAT DEVINE:
That's also interesting because the next little bit of time that I had in mind to talk with you is about the basic differences in the routine, the daily life's work routine, between judges and lawyers.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Are we talking about an appellate court judge?
PAT DEVINE:
Yes. For you, it was twelve years of the one and fifteen years of the other, almost exactly the same amount of time, and I began to think about some profound differences in just the way you spent your working hours each day, as a lawyer dealing so much more with the clients themselves.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
There's all the difference in the world. In the practice of law, you do deal with the clients daily, and with other members of

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the general public. As an appellate court judge, you don't deal with clients nor with the general public; you deal with lawyers, and you hear lawyers, and you see judges, and that's about all.
PAT DEVINE:
It would seem to me you would become a bit homesick for the clients and the courtroom.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
You do, and I didn't realize how much I missed it until I started back practicing law. It's an entirely different field. It's a different sort of challenge. Both are challenging, but each is a different type of challenge. In the practice of law, you're challenged differently several times a day. In the appellate court work, if you're lucky and you're not the chief judge, you start working on an opinion in the morning, and you work on that opinion all day. If you're practicing law, you don't have any idea what you may be working on by twelve o'clock when you go to the office at eight-thirty. It's a rapidly moving situation. This morning, I spent the morning choosing a jury in the trial of a case in Superior Court.
PAT DEVINE:
Would you say that, in terms of satisfaction, in terms of what one gets, in terms of personal gratification or a feeling of "well done," that the lawyering would give you more tangible and quicker results?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Where did you get this word "lawyering"?
PAT DEVINE:
I've read it.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
"The practice of law".
PAT DEVINE:
Excuse me, I must say that there's a course at our law school entitled "The Lawyering Process".
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I know that. I may not approve of it, though.
PAT DEVINE:
I won't say it any more.

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NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
You don't call it "the doctoring process", do you? It's "the practice of medicine".
PAT DEVINE:
"Judging".
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Judges don't practice; they're supposed to already be. . . . [Laughter] I interrupted you.
PAT DEVINE:
That's okay. I'm thinking in terms of, as a judge, dealing with paper and records and only other lawyers and only one another, as opposed to the clients off the street or the people in the courtroom, and what I'm really getting at is if a judge can become more disheartened or disconcerted or the current term "burnout", weary, if that process can occur more naturally for a judge than for a lawyer because there's less of a sense of success or accomplishment. Does that make any sense?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes. There have been articles written about judges, as you say, burning themselves out. During the fifteen years that I was on the appellate bench, with the exception of the first few months, I would guess that during the course of a twelve-months period there were very, very few nights and weekends that I didn't work for at least a part of the time. Some weekends I worked all day, both Saturday and Sunday. Many nights I went back to the office and worked until almost midnight. Now of course when I was practicing law, I worked occasionally like that, but not steadily. But on the Court of Appeals I worked steadily like that. I well remember the first weekend I spent reading records and briefs, I saw Judge Sharp somewhere the next week. She asked me about the weekend, and I said, "Well, I spent the weekend reading records and briefs." She said, "I wondered how long it would be before you got to that." She said she knew it had to come. But I did it, because I was one of the judges who felt that you should not go into the courtroom to hear an argument if you hadn't read the records and briefs.

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PAT DEVINE:
Yourself.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes. And I still think that. We did, however, have a pre-hearing staff which gave us a summary of the records and briefs which got you into them and made it a little bit easier to read. But I am a firm believer in the judge reading the records and briefs.
PAT DEVINE:
Is it also a function of the large volume of cases? If you were going to do it the way you think it needs to be done, you just had to do it at night.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
That's the only time I could do it.
PAT DEVINE:
Because of being chief?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I did that even before I became chief, but when I became chief I did it even more.
PAT DEVINE:
Do you think there should be more judges on the court?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No. I think that's one of the problems now. There are too many judges. I voted against adding a panel, and I'm glad I did. I think most of the judges thought that if they had to vote again, the ones who voted at that time, at any rate, would not have voted for the addition of a panel.
PAT DEVINE:
Say a little more about that. Why would three more be too many more?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
We had six to begin with. It was a beautifully working relationship. We could very easily work with each other and know what was going on. Then we had three more. A court of nine is not too difficult to work with if there's congeniality and if everybody on the court is capable and able and wants to work. It's rather easy to keep up with what everybody's doing. With a court of twelve people, you lose congeniality; you lose knowledge of what's going on on the court, of what's being written, of what questions are being presented to the court, and there's a real risk of one panel overruling another panel. In order to prevent that, we began to have every judge file in the library a sheet which would give, when an opinion was filed, what the opinion was about, what case, what questions were involved, and so forth, so that subsequently judges working on the cases could check that to determine whether what they were working on had already been decided. Occasionally we caught ourselves almost getting ready to overrule an opinion.

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PAT DEVINE:
Amazing.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Well, to have more than twelve would be absolutely impossible. I feel that a better quality of work would be done by a lesser number of judges, and I feel that there are ways of controlling the case load other than by adding people.
PAT DEVINE:
Such as?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Such as allowing matters to come up by certiorari rather than direct appeal as a matter of right, such as what we were doing at the time I left, and I assume they're still doing: I don't know. Working through a settlement conference procedure and a summary disposition. That is, taking cases that have little or no precedential value and little merit and disposing of them summarily, and that reduces the case load. Of course, the judge has to write the opinion, but it's usually a very short summary sort of opinion.
PAT DEVINE:
Is one judge authorized to do that summary disposition, or must a panel of three agree?

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NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
A panel of three has to agree on it. It would be very bad to let one judge take that.
PAT DEVINE:
Was it during your time as chief that each of these procedures, the settlement and the summary disposition, began?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Right. But whether that'll continue, I don't know.
PAT DEVINE:
In the fifteen years that you were on the court, there were a few years of the sixties, all of the seventies, and the first two-and-a-half or whatever of the eighties. Can you say that over the course of those three decades there were certain changes that became clear to you in certain ways? For example, I'm wondering for starters, the quality of argument that would appear before you.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
More pronounced than the quality of the argument was the quality of the written material. The quality of the briefs has declined measurably. The lawyers, particularly the younger ones, do not know how to express themselves. They know little or no grammar and apparently don't care. That manifests itself not only in the written arguments but in the oral arguments. They don't know the meaning of words; they don't know how to put a sentence together properly; their demeanor is not what it ought to be.
PAT DEVINE:
What do you mean by that?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
They don't have the respect for the court that they should have.
PAT DEVINE:
How do you know?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
They slouch up to the podium, and they don't address the court with dignity. It's just as though they are in a gymnasium. They pay no attention to decorum. I'll take that back. Ninety percent of the students who are being graduated from Campbell are taught

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courtroom deportment, and they do a good job.
PAT DEVINE:
That is my next question. This is certainly a statement about whatever we're doing at our law school and perhaps at other local law schools. What has happened? Have they stopped teaching this, or did they ever, or how can they, and what's going on at Campbell?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes. They started when I was there. This course that you call "Lawyering" ought to have something in it, but I doubt that it does. I think one of the problems is, so many of the professors in the law schools have never practiced law. At Campbell Law School, for the most part it's composed of people who have been in active practice and have retired, so they know whereof they speak. And some of it is the fault of the judges for letting these young people get by with that sort of thing. The older judges don't let them get by with it; some of the newer judges do, which would indicate a lessening of quality on the bench.
PAT DEVINE:
So it's sort of perpetuating itself. It's a bit of a vicious circle.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I'm afraid so.
PAT DEVINE:
But these are the young attorneys who'll become the judges.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
That's right. And say what you will, the young people are not being taught in public schools grammar.
PAT DEVINE:
I know.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
They don't have the advantage of having Latin, and if they had it and they didn't want to take it, they wouldn't be made to take it. A good part of the blame is on the public schools, and a good part of it on the law schools.
PAT DEVINE:
Definitely. At Campbell, what specifically are they doing that you're aware of in terms of this kind of training?

Page 63
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
For example, at Campbell they have their moot court arguments, they have the trial court, and they have the appellate court [unknown] . After each of those, the job that those students do is critiqued by a judge.
PAT DEVINE:
A real practicing judge.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Well, a retired judge. I will critique the appellate work that they're going to do this spring.
PAT DEVINE:
In other words, they've brought you in to help them with their moot court program.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Right. I will tell them what they're doing wrong and when they don't have the proper respect for the court, and I won't hesitate to tell them.
PAT DEVINE:
Of course.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
And they know that. But that's one of the things that they're doing, and they're teaching these young people respect for the court system. I'm afraid that my alma mater and yours is not teaching that.
PAT DEVINE:
I think you're right.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It's unfortunate, but I'm afraid they're not. They have a lot of courses . . .
PAT DEVINE:
With interesting titles.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It's a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, I'm afraid.
PAT DEVINE:
But that doesn't mean that they couldn't.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, no, no, no. It doesn't mean that they couldn't at all.
PAT DEVINE:
This is just a bit of a digression, but they're at a bit of

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a juncture over there in structuring their research and writing and moot court programs.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I hope that they will go in the right direction. They have put back in a legal bibliography course, which is good. But we didn't come here to talk about this.
PAT DEVINE:
No, but it's good to have this down, I believe, for persons who will read this who are interested in legal education. It's very good. Another question about fifteen years on the court and changes. I came across a quotation from Chief Justice Rose Byrd out in California about the role of the judge in the eighties, and I wanted to ask you about that. She said that "Courts in the past few years have been forced to resolve issues that politicians in the executive and legislative branches do not want to face." In other words, she was, I think, implying that there was going to have to be much more of a judicial activism just because no one else would do it.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It doesn't have to be. The courts can refuse to do it, and then the people who are responsible for it will have to do it. The courts don't have to decide political questions unless they want to. If they want to take an activist role in politics, then they can and will, and some do.
PAT DEVINE:
Have you had that experience, where a case would be before you when it was fairly clear that the legislature . . .
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes, and we have said very clearly that this is a question for the legislature and not for the courts.
PAT DEVINE:
And so you just simply will not . . .
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Well, we haven't. Now what the present court's going to do, I don't know, but we haven't in the past decided legislative questions.

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PAT DEVINE:
So you simply are saying you don't have to be put into that position.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, no, you don't have to be
PAT DEVINE:
You don't have to be forced into it.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Certainly not.
PAT DEVINE:
This is a very nice lead-in. I'm going to turn this tape over, because there's another whole section I want to get into. [Interruption] Judge Morris, this is a perfect lead-in into some questions that I would like to ask you about the course that you're going to teach this summer at Chapel Hill. You're going to offer summer school students a course in the judicial process, and I'm terribly interested at this point in how you're going to go about that.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
So am I. I haven't gotten that far along.
PAT DEVINE:
Maybe we could think out loud about it for a few minutes. Off the top of your head then, if you are going to help young emerging lawyers to understand the role of the judge in 1983, are there certain issues that they just have to deal with, perhaps one being this judicial activism?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Possibly. That would be certainly one of the things that we will talk about in the class. My guess is that it's going to sort of go and flow in the way that the students develop it by their response. We will follow a case book, but it's my plan to use as many Supreme Court and Court of Appeals decisions from North Carolina as in the case book. Now whether I'll be able to develop that, I don't know. It's pretty close to here, and I have not a great deal of time to do that. But that's what I plan to do if I can work it out. I think it's going to be a rather interesting course.

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I hope so. I think I'm going to enjoy it. I hope the students will. But as far as the format for it, I haven't worked that out. I know I'm going to have them write a paper. I know that, because I think that that's absolutely essential in a course of this sort to see how they write and what their philosophy is.
PAT DEVINE:
Their philosophy of the judicial process?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Mm-hm.
PAT DEVINE:
What's yours?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Well, I don't know. I think you can tell from our interviews thus far that it's my honest and sincere feeling that only the most qualified persons should either seek or get judicial positions. We have had, I'm afraid, some people who were not well qualified who have sought the positions. Some of them have been elected; many of them have been appointed. I think it's absolutely essential that the appointive power seek the most qualified persons for the appointment, regardless of their political activity. Some of our governors have forgotten, if ever they knew, that judges are not supposed to be politically active and cannot be politically active if they are doing what they are supposed to do. The code of judicial conduct absolutely prohibits a judge from being active in politics, and the governors should know that, particularly those governors who have been lawyers, and most of them have recognized that. We've been extremely fortunate in this state with governors who have been very concerned about the judiciary in government. I think one of the highlights of Dan Moore's stay in the governor's office was his quality appointments to the judiciary, and I'm excluding myself. But his appointments to the judiciary, by and

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large, were very, very good.
PAT DEVINE:
Who were others?
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
" . . . about the quality of the judges he appointed. In one or two instances, he didn't feel that there was a Republican qualified for the position, and he'd appoint a Democrat. That's the kind of concern for judicial appointments that a governor should have. Politics should not be the primary consideration. Of course, in a situation where there are two qualified people seeking the job or available for the job and one of them has been politically active, then that certainly would enter into the governor's thinking, but what I'm saying is that a judge should not have been politically active, just isn't supposed to be. When a person gets on the bench, his political activities should cease the minute he puts on the robe.
PAT DEVINE:
What sort of political activities are you referring to?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Support of candidates. Of course, a judge can support judicial candidates.
PAT DEVINE:
Do you have any comment to make on Governor Hunt's concern and appointment for qualified persons?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I suppose whatever I say would be used against me. He has made some good appointments. He has also made some appointments which are not good, in my opinion, not as qualified as the people ought to be. I suppose, numerically, they would outweigh those who are really qualified appointments.
PAT DEVINE:
You keep using the word "qualified." Tell me more about

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"qualified."
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
If you're going to put a person on the bench, if they've never been a judge, they should be a very good lawyer, a very well recognized lawyer, one with years of experience and who is dignified, whose character is absolutely above reproach, who is well respected by the legal profession, and who is rated high by those who rate lawyers, and one who has practiced long enough to get a rating.
PAT DEVINE:
What is your opinion about the decision of an individual to run for a judgeship?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
It depends on the individual. It's not all bad. We've had some good people who ran for judgeships. For example, Judge Harry Martin on my court ran for it, and he's very good. It was my intention to run for the Supreme Court, until Governor Hunt and Judge Copeland decided that I wouldn't have that opportunity. There's nothing wrong with running for a court if you're a qualified person. Sometimes that's the only way you can get there, because if you're not politically attuned to the appointive person, you won't have an opportunity to become a judge. There are lots of people out there who are well qualified. Unfortunately, so many of the really good lawyers are not interested in it because of the expense of running and because of the relative positions of income from a good practicing lawyer and a judge. A good practicing lawyer's income is always higher than he would get if he were a judge. It's a matter of public service, and you don't find too many people who are willing to take money out of their pockets and run to do a public service. You'll find lots of lawyers who aren't doing too well financially who would be willing to run.

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PAT DEVINE:
Do you mind saying a bit what you mean? I don't understand what you mean when you say you had intended and would have liked to run for the Supreme Court.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
That was all in the News and Observer. You take the News and Observer?
PAT DEVINE:
No.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I had said that I would run for the Supreme Court if Justice Copeland retired.
PAT DEVINE:
When was this?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
This was last year, when they were getting ready to. . . . If I had stayed on the bench, I would have had to run in 1982, you see. I had said publicly that if Justice Copeland decided not to run and was going to retire, I would run for his seat. He had indicated that he would not run, that he was going to retire. He had told some of the members of his family that he wasn't going to. Then, on the Monday before the filing deadline, he and Governor Hunt had lunch, and Justice Copeland said that he had changed his mind, and he would not retire. The News and Observer had an article which indicated that Governor Hunt had done that to prevent my getting on the Supreme Court. Whether he did I have no idea, but of course it did prevent my running, because I had said that I would not run against Justice Copeland if he decided not to retire. So that's what I was talking about. I assumed that you had read it in the News and Observer. It was in the paper for about a week daily, so I thought surely you'd read it.
PAT DEVINE:
I was buried in my carrel.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
[Laughter] Well, you see some interesting things in the

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paper. You ought to read it more often, especially about the time people are getting ready to run for office.
PAT DEVINE:
Was that very painful?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No. You take things as they come. You get disappointed in people, which I did, but. . . .
PAT DEVINE:
A couple of more words on this idea of judicial activism. I knew since last summer, when I did a little reading on this myself about Justice O'Connor, that I would love to have the chance to ask you the question that I was trying to explore about her. Justice O'Connor said before she took her seat on the Supreme Court, "I know well the difference between a legislator and a judge, and the role of the judge is to interpret the law, not make it."
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
That's right.
PAT DEVINE:
The problematic thing is that a number of judges, Cardozo and others that we encountered in our judicial process case book, the Oldisert book. . . . I don't know if you will use that same one. But in any event, it seems problematic because, for example, one of the persons in that book says, "Few appellate judges talk that way," namely the way that I just quoted, "today. It used to be fashionable for judges to say they never made the law, but only found pre-existent law and applied it to new facts." The point, I guess, that they were making is that the truth is that in certain circumstances a judge must, in some kind of ways, break new ground. The law just simply isn't there to be applied.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes. You get cases of first impression, and in those cases you have to say what the law is for this jurisdiction . . .
PAT DEVINE:
For the first time.

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NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
. . . as applied to those facts. To that extent the courts make law, but that should be the only instance in which the court makes law. And they aren't really making it at that point; they are simply taking old precedents and analogizing to the present fact situation and determining what should be the law applicable to these facts. They don't just reach out and make some law. They do it by taking the existing law and applying it the best way they can and then taking by analogy other fact situations and laws and applying them. That is, of course, court-made law, but it isn't the type of law that the legislature makes, nor should the courts take over the province and jurisdiction of the legislature.
PAT DEVINE:
In your own experience in your fifteen years on the court, did you many times or at any time encounter those sorts of junctures where you had to clarify what the legislature had said?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes. You'll find many opinions in our books and the Supreme Court books where we said the legislature meant so-and-so, and that's simply saying what we think the legislature meant, and to that extent I guess you could say that courts make law, but that's interpreting the law in a straighter sense.
PAT DEVINE:
I suppose the difficult thing or the challenge would be for you to ascertain as carefully as you could what you think they meant, even if it was what you really didn't believe was the best thing.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
That's right. The intention of the legislature is sometimes difficult to perceive, but you have to do your best to find out, and you go back to committee reports and committee hearings and see if you can come . . .
PAT DEVINE:
And have you personally experienced that sort of conflict

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where it became clear to you what the legislative intent was, and you found it unfortunate?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes. But you wrote the opinion applying what the legislative intent, as you found it to be, was, or I did.
PAT DEVINE:
And you abstained from any sort of personal comment or . . .
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Well, there have been one or two instances that I felt that a comment was necessary, but I followed that with "If there is to be a change made, it's up to the legislature to make it."
PAT DEVINE:
Yes. You mentioned Judge Parker. In looking back over your years on the court, are there any other persons on your court, on the Supreme Court, or just in general that you could say now in retrospect were definitely role models?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Judge Mallard was an excellent judge. Judge Brock was. He went to the Supreme Court. Judge Whichard on the current court is an excellent judge. So is Judge Becton. I think Judge Sharp was a very, very fine Supreme Court justice. So was Judge Bobbitt. I think sometimes the opinions were too long, but that was their problem. But both the courts have some very fine, capable, able jurists on them.
PAT DEVINE:
A natural final question, I think, is, unless you or we could think of some more aspects of this that we want to be sure to include as we think about your life as a judge, now that you are not a judge, how you would best want to be remembered as a judge?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
As a good judge, fair, impartial, competent, with clarity of expression and knowledge of the law.
PAT DEVINE:
If you could articulate the contribution that such a judge, a good judge, makes, I suppose it's more a contribution, isn't it, to

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the law as opposed to individuals?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Probably a contribution to the state in the written opinions that go out all over the country, and in other instances outside of the United States. These opinions that the judges write are published, as you know.
PAT DEVINE:
You do not believe, do you, that they should stop publishing the Court of Appeals opinions?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
No. I don't even know that there's a movement afoot to do that. Quite frankly, some lawyers feel that the Court of Appeals opinions are not of the quality they ought to be. I'm afraid I have to agree with them. Perhaps they think that because of that, they shouldn't be published, but I don't think that's true. I think there's some quality work coming from the court. I'd like to think that even the court doesn't think the work is of the quality it ought to be. There's a time limitation on the judges which restricts their ability to do the kind of work that they'd like to do, at least I hope they'd like to do and think they'd like to do. All people aren't willing to spend nights and weekends working. Maybe they shouldn't be required to.
PAT DEVINE:
Judge Morris, in that same book The Judicial Process, Judge Jerome Frank once wrote that "In the last push, a judge's decisions are the outcome of his entire life's history."
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
. . . If in saying that he means that the result of the entire life's history is a result of his educational qualifications, his ability to take a problem and work through it, his abilities that he has developed over the years with respect to his articulation, his expression, then I'd agree with him. If he's saying that the

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decisions are the result of his life experiences as far as his philosophy is concerned and as far as his feeling toward certain things are concerned, then I don't agree with him. The way a judge feels about how a case should come out should have nothing to do with it at all.
PAT DEVINE:
What about a judge's upbringing in terms of morals, religion?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Now that probably has something to do with the way that he feels the law should be applied to a situation. And there are those of us who are conservative and those of us who are liberal. I happen to be very conservative. I've tried not to let that show in my opinions. I guess it does, because I do feel that way. And maybe it isn't all bad. I just don't know. It's something to think about. For example, I went before the Nominating Committee for the Federal Court of Appeals, and about the only question that was asked me was, "What have you done for the civil rights movement lately?" And my answer was, "Nothing. It's not my province to do anything for the civil rights movement." But better than half of the members of that commission felt that that was what I was supposed to be doing.
PAT DEVINE:
As a judge on the Court of Appeals.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
As a judge on the Court of Appeals. That, in my opinion, is absolutely wrong.
PAT DEVINE:
And this was a nominating committee to consider you for membership on the other court?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Up for appointment on the federal court. As Justice O'Connor said in her hearing before the Senate, "How I feel about something has nothing to do with the way I apply the law. I apply the law as it's written to the facts as they are before me. And

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my feeling personally might be entirely different and just as far apart as two poles. My personal philosophy has nothing at all to do with whether I would be a good judge." She said that, and she was absolutely correct.
PAT DEVINE:
I thought that's what you would say.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I don't see how it can be any other way.
PAT DEVINE:
How would another person—I don't know who—have answered the question, "What have you done for the civil rights movement lately?" Would the person have referred to specific opinions?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Yes, I expect that's what they wanted. I don't know how anybody would have answered it. I know how I answered it and felt very strongly about it.
PAT DEVINE:
These are the sorts of things, I would imagine, that will enliven a course on the judicial process, these very sorts of things.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Possibly.
PAT DEVINE:
These very sorts of things [unknown] concern. You have many law students over there whose study of the law is almost totally colored with their political life and who are at law school because they will use that. You know what I mean.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
To go into politics.
PAT DEVINE:
And I know that they will be. . . . Or on behalf of certain . . .
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Which is not the reason for a legal education. If you want to go in politics, take political science.
PAT DEVINE:
Although I suppose a study of the law would be a very good tool to take to the legislature.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes, except we have very few lawyers in the legislature now.

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PAT DEVINE:
Do you think there should be more?
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Oh, yes. Yes, indeed. It's very difficult for me to understand how people without any legal background can make laws. But the legislature generally doesn't like lawyers.
PAT DEVINE:
Perhaps this could be another chapter in your life, and we could end on that note.
NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
[Laughter]
END OF INTERVIEW