2018-12-05 / Front Page

Augusta judges push for new courthouse name

DIANA ROYAL

He’s been a mentor to many, and because of the role he played in the courtroom, judges from the Augusta Judicial Circuit, as well as a number of Augusta attorneys, are requesting that Burke County name its new judicial center in his honor.

While many have expressed their desire to see the building named for Judge William M. Fleming Jr., a number of local residents have expressed disdain over the idea on social media.

Following a request from Superior Court Judge Carl C. Brown to name the judicial center for his friend and mentor, the county posed the question in a Facebook survey, asking for public input. “The Board of Commissioners is being asked by the Judges of the Augusta Judicial Circuit to name the Burke County Judicial Center for Judge William Fleming,” the post said. “What do you think?”

On Monday morning, 277 folks had weighed in, with 82 percent voting no.

In his letter, Judge Brown noted that Judge Fleming “has mentored, counseled and provided guidance for many judges, sheriffs, lawyers and public servants in the Augusta Judicial Circuit.” He listed himself as well as former Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey, the late Sheriff Charles Webster and the late Judge Jerry Daniel as some who have benefited from Judge Fleming’s kindness and counsel.

“Naming the Burke County Judicial Center in honor of William Fleming Jr. will inspire others to dedicated public service and greatness for years and years to come,” Judge Brown concluded, asking that the board put him on the Dec. 11 meeting agenda so they could discuss it in person. Others confirming their attendance for that meeting included Superior Court Judge James Blanchard and attorneys Jack Long and Thomas Tucker.

On the Facebook survey, those who shared their opinions were mostly unfavorable to the idea, not because they didn’t think the late judge was deserving but because many are deserving. Other names suggested included that of both Judge Daniel and Judge Blanchard, as well as Judge George Fryhofer, Dr. Lyman Hall (signer of the Declaration of Independence) and Anthony Wayne.

“If it is to carry a name,” wrote Josh Holland, “it defi- nitely needs to have a deep historical link to the county.”

Another writer, under the name of Sadie Maye, said, “Why not Burke County Courthouse? We paid for it; it’s a tradition around the country to name courthouses after the county. But how strange to think Augusta ‘anything’ should suggest any name.”

Chris Mann commented that there are too many great jurists from Burke County “to name it for a judge that has never done anything but hold Court in Burke County.”

Others questioned if their concerns would be heard. “I’ll be interested to see if the Board of Commissioners actually listens to their constituents,” said Laura Ward.

County administrator Merv Waldrop expressed concern that naming the entire center for Judge Fleming could cause an outcry amongst taxpayers, adding that until recently, the county has no history of naming buildings for members of the community. “We have such a long history and deep family roots; we would certainly leave out a deserving figure for a more current one.” Waldrop went on to say that his recommendation would be to not name the building after anyone but rather name the courtrooms after those who have served on the bench, whether it be Judge Fleming, Judge Daniel or Judge Preston B. Lewis Jr.

Judge Brown is scheduled to address the commissioners on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at their 6 p.m. meeting. All county commission meetings are open to the public and held in the commission meeting room on the second floor of the current courthouse.

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