Judge Bill Belk fires back at critics
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Days before he appears before the Judicial Standards Commission, facing possible removal from the bench, Mecklenburg County Judge Bill Belk is firing back at his critics.
In an interview with the I-Team's Dave Wagner, Belk fired back at the Chief Judge who accuses him of being "threatening and abusive" toward her. Belk is accused of calling Mecklenburg County Chief Judge Lisa Bell a "political hack" and "media hound."
When asked about his relationship with Bell, Judge Belk responded, "Zero. I don't see her. She's written herself off the schedule. She comes in when she wants to. I mean, she's working less than Mary Easley at N.C. State."
Chief Judge Lisa Bell told the I-Team, "Other than vacation or other court business, I'm here every single day. The only time I'm not in court is when I'm performing administrative duties in my role as Chief District Judge."
Judge Belk maintains relationships and money influence the outcome of some cases. He questions whether judges should be the ones deciding if they should recuse themselves.
His concern for an incestuous court system was the central theme of his campaign last fall. He ousted incumbent Judge Ben Thalheimer. Thalheimer presided over Belk's slander suit and divorce case and once worked for the law firm of high-profile attorney Bill Diehl.
Diehl represented Belk's wife in the divorce. Of Diehl, Judge Belk said, "He tries to have relationships with all the judges, except for one, me. He's a heavy contributor. I think that if you go down the record you'll see that he's contributed to almost every judge except for me."
The I-Team examined campaign finance records and discovered Bill Diehl has been a contributor to the campaigns of dozens of judges.
In an interview with the I-Team, Diehl responded, "You hear this kind of crap from Bill Belk all the time. He has as much business being a judge as he does being Santa Claus. He is immune to the fact that he is a buffoon and the laughing stock of Mecklenburg County's judicial system."
Belk said, "I've had nothing but hostility from, I call it an 'insiders club' that doesn't want me to be successful."
Belk faces the Judicial Standards Commission in Raleigh on Thursday. He maintains the commission is set up improperly with the executive director picking and choosing which complaints are considered.
"He is kind of like a dictator," said Belk.
When asked about his portrayal, by some, as a crazy man, Belk responded, "Well, they want to do that. See, you got to realize the people I'm going up against. They do it for a profession of character assassination. That's what they do every day in court. You could have Mother Theresa or the Pope in there. They're going to assassinate you because that's what they're paid to do. They're professionals at that. I'm not."