From the Fayetteville Observer by Steve DeVane

One ceremony dedicates the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Cumberland County Courthouse, while a second celebrates the 240th anniversary of the North Carolina Superior Court.

When Glenn Adams was a clerk at the state Court of Appeals, one of the judges walked up and put his hand on Adams’ shoulder.

“We’re Fayetteville men,” the judge said. “We’re always here for each other.”

The judge was E. Maurice Braswell. Adams, chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, presided at a ceremony Wednesday to dedicate the Cumberland County Courthouse on Dick Street in Braswell’s honor.

Adams said he considered it fitting that the courthouse was dedicated to Braswell on the same day as a celebration honoring the 240th anniversary of the North Carolina Superior Court.

The Cumberland County Bar Association and 12th Judicial District Bar hosted a separate ceremony for the anniversary at the historic courthouse on Gillespie Street. That program included the presentation of a portrait of Sylvia X. Allen, the first female African-American assistant district attorney in Cumberland County. Judge Sammie Chess Jr., North Carolina’s first African-American Superior Court judge, was honored, and former state Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson and lawyer Rudolph Singleton each received the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award.

Braswell, who died Jan. 30 at the age of 94, had a long and distinguished judicial career in Cumberland County and was known throughout the Cape Fear region. He was elected in 1962 to the Superior Court bench and served there for 20 years. He then served on the Court of Appeals until he retired in 1998.

Braswell also was a decorated World War II veteran and was a prisoner of war.

A plaque that will be placed in the courthouse was unveiled at the ceremony.

“May his example inspire all who enter this building and motivate future generations of legal professionals and leaders,” the plaque reads in part.

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons said he considered Braswell a mentor.

“I think if Judge Braswell were here today, he would say that he did not deserve this honor,” Ammons said.

Braswell would likely say he was just doing his duty and make a convincing case for the courthouse to be named for three or four other people before grudgingly accepting the honor, Ammons said.

Cumberland County Register of Deeds Lee Warren said he felt at home during the ceremony because he grew up about a block from Braswell’s home.

“Growing up, I had no idea I was in the presence of such a great American hero,” Warren said.

Warren introduced members of Braswell’s family.

Edwin Maurice Braswell Jr. said the family was grateful for the honor.

“We thank you for the confidence you’ve had in our father and for your love and admiration of him,” he said.

Staff writer Steve DeVane can be reached at sdevane@fayobserver.com or 486-3572.

Court Categories: Superior Court