North Carolina recently lost another of its retired appellate judges. K. Edward Greene served on the Court of Appeals for sixteen years following eight years as a district court judge. After his retirement from the bench, he was practicing with Wyrick Robbins when he was brought down by a stroke, passing away last week.
In preparing these comments, I spoke with retired Justice Bob Orr, Eddie’s long-time friend and competitive foil. Like almost everyone who knew and worked with Eddie, Orr described him as “a real character.” With his bow tie and deerstalker hat, Eddie was regularly spotted striding around Capitol Square. Over the years, he taught many clerks, and not a few newly minted Court of Appeals judges, the art of appellate writing. And he just LOVED writing dissents.
But one of his greatest skills—one sorely missed these days—was his ability to limit his fierce competitiveness to his professional life so that it never seeped into his personal world. He reached the Court of Appeals by successfully running against then-Judge Orr (who was promptly reappointed to that bench by Governor Martin), but they soon became fast friends. Later they organized softball tournaments between the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, where short-term, heavily muscled “clerks” would mysteriously put in a brief appearance. In one election year, Eddie successfully campaigned to keep his seat by bicycling around North Carolina.
It’s ironic that, for all his erudition and expertise, Eddie may be most remembered for the opinion he authored finding that mooning did not constitute indecent exposure. That opinion was later reversed, but for several months the scenery around Raleigh could be somewhat startling as the adventurous took advantage of the holding. In fact, Eddie was an expert in family law and his fellow judges routinely turned to him for suggestions and advice. That’s what we should remember him for.
Like all my colleagues, I greatly enjoyed my time serving with Eddie. He was one of a kind who brought a pinch of spice to the Court of Appeals. Well done, my friend.