Off to NCDOJ

After 12 years at the School of Government, I have accepted a position at the North Carolina Department of Justice. I’ll be leading the Special Prosecutions and Law Enforcement Section within the Criminal Division. I am looking forward to a new challenge and to the opportunity to work with wonderful new colleagues. At the same time, I am profoundly grateful for my time at the School of Government. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some parts of my work here that I have especially cherished.

The faculty and staff of the School. The mission of the School is “to improve the lives of North Carolinians by engaging in practical scholarship that helps public officials and citizens understand and improve state and local government.” The people that work here are brilliant, delightful, and deeply committed to that mission. I have learned so much from them. I count many of my colleagues as close friends and have great respect for the work that each of them does. I will miss everyone sorely, and intend to call on the School’s expertise frequently in my new role.

The public officials we serve. When I first came to the School, I worked mainly with prosecutors, trying to fill the large shoes of our former colleague Bob Farb. Bob had been a prosecutor, had worked with prosecutors for decades, and was a wealth of knowledge. I was brand new, had been a defense attorney, and hadn’t built up anything even remotely approaching Bob’s expertise. Yet many prosecutors warmly welcomed me, and most of the rest came around eventually. I loved working with prosecutors and particularly enjoyed working in partnership with the Conference of District Attorneys.

Over the last four years, I have served as the director of the North Carolina Judicial College and so have worked mostly with neutral judicial officials. That has been wonderful too. I’ve had the chance to interact with judges at all levels, with terrific people at the Administrative Office of the Courts, and with judicial educators across the country. I have great respect for the work of each group and am inspired by how seriously our court officials take their complex and important responsibilities.

Because the School didn’t have anyone dedicated specifically to working with magistrates on criminal law issues, I ended up spending a considerable amount of time working them. I really enjoyed it. I was consistently impressed with the ability and commitment of the magistrates. They would often show up for training after pulling a night shift, armed with an enormous cup of coffee and a keen interest in the law. I also appreciated their good humor, willingness to ask hard questions, and candor. Plus, they gave me a wonderful gift – a numbered print called The Magistrate that shows a magistrate’s desk, complete with several well-used School of Government publications sitting upon it. It’s the nicest professional gift I have ever received and it is definitely coming with me.

The work itself. I have heard it said that being a law professor is like finding a loophole in life, and that is a fair description of being a faculty member at the School. The lawyers here get paid to think about the law, write about it, teach it to audiences who care deeply about it, and consult on interesting and difficult legal questions. We have enormous freedom to pursue our interests and the steadfast support of our administration. It’s not easy, and the pace of the work is not what I imagined that academia would be like. But overall it is a wonderful job, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work here.

The blog. I’ll close with a few thoughts about this blog. Launching it was one of my first big ideas as a faculty member. In the early days, readership was in the single digits. When we broke 100 page views in a day, I thought we had hit the big time. Today, thousands of users access the blog each day. It has become a valued source for new information and interesting perspectives. None of that would have been possible without the contributions of many parties. From its earliest days, writing for the blog has been a collaborative effort and I have loved working with my colleagues to keep the blog supplied with fresh content. The blog is also much better because of the readers and commenters who bring it to life. I am particularly grateful for those who take the time to post detailed and substantive comments, including critical ones. Many of your comments have influenced how I think about the law.

I have written more than 1,000 posts over the years. That is probably enough for anyone, and I hope that my departure will leave more room for others’ voices. In any case, I appreciate everyone who has supported the blog – and the work of the School more generally. I hope to cross paths with many of you again.

13 comments on “Off to NCDOJ

  1. Professor Welty:
    Thank you so much for all your presentations at our continuing education and other conferences. You have always been so helpful whenever I have contacted you with any question. We will miss you tremendously but wish you all the best in your new endeavors.
    Susan Bray

  2. Thank you for your time, support, and knowledge as well as your kind words about Magistrates across the State. I wish you the best in your adventures ahead.

  3. Thank you sir for your contributions. Best of luck to you in your new endeavors!

  4. This is huge! Mr. Welty, I’ve been reading your work for years. While I truly am saddened to see you go, I don’t know that there’s anywhere better that the deserves to have you than its justice department. It couldn’t be better timing, either. Farewell! We’ll be in touch. =D

  5. We’ll miss you here but it sounds like you’ll still be in the arena, so to speak, so not so far away. Thank you for the illuminating posts over the years and the quick response to any of my questions. The Law Blog continues to shine but will be maybe a shade dimmer with your absence.
    That said, I expect there may be a guest post or two in your future.

  6. you have always returned calls and answered emails which sets you apart from a lot of the staff!! thank you for that. you have also made your presentations at magistrate conferences and other continuing ed seminars compelling. good luck to you sir.

    • As an emergency judge, who holds court infrequently, I have depended on your blog to keep me up to date on criminal law. I will definitely miss you and your insightful posts. I wish you the very best in your new endeavor.

  7. Congratulations on your new journey, thank you for all you have done for us across this great state. May God continue to bless you.

  8. Professor Welty:

    It has been an honor and privilege for this attorney and magistrate to have had the opportunity to listen to you speak at CLEs and conferences. Thank you for the many times you took out of your busy schedule to speak with me one on one. I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the blog and it has been a big part of my life! I have learned so much from you and am very grateful for that. Thank you for all that you have done for the profession. NCDOJ is lucky to have you. Best wishes for the future.

  9. Thank you for everything you have done. Your thoughtful analysis of law and exemplary work ethic was duly noted.

  10. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us. Saddens me to see you go, but excited for you at the same time. Wish you well and Happy New Year!!!

  11. Thank you for your time, support, and knowledge as well as your kind words about Magistrates across the State.

  12. Than you for everything. May god bless you and your family!