On August 18th at 5:30 PM, attorneys Wade Smith, Faith Herndon, Joe Nanney, and UNC Law School Dean Martin Brinkley will join me for a panel discussion about music. We’ll discuss what music means to us, when and how we learned to play an instrument, where we play now, and how music helps balance the hectic schedule and stress of our lives. Our discussion will be interspersed with performances by each of us – so consider it a house concert, from our homes to yours.
About 75 people gathered at the home of Ann Robertson and Hans Linnartz in Raleigh to help launch the Styers for Court of Appeals campaign this week. In addition to the host committee, other guests included Deborah Ross, candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd District; Representative Joe John, NC House District 40; Sig Hutchinson, Wake County Commissioner in District 1; Matt Calabria, Wake County Commissioner in District 2; Rueben Young, Judge on the Court of Appeals; former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, Franklin Freeman and Martin Brinkley, Dean of the UNC Law School. Dean Brinkley introduced Gray (see video below.).
Remarks by Gray Styers
I commit to you that I will run a campaign that you
will be proud of, and that reflects the values that we share. The values
of the rule of law, as essential to our liberty,
of a fair and independent judiciary,
and of the role of our courts, as a co-equal branch of government
I assume that many of you, like me, worry about the
functioning of our democratic government in the 21st Century. The technology, the instantaneous
communications, and the rapid pace of chance would have been unfathomable to
the Founding Fathers. How does the law keep up?
I also am worried about the deep divisions and
polarization in our society. How can we
find common ground?
I look around and don’t want to sit on the sidelines any longer. I want to help tackle these hard questions.
Now, more than ever, we need independent judges
who will ensure that our rights are protected,
who are not captive to a particular ideology, and
who do not decide cases in a vacuum?
As Judge Sam Ervin used to tell his clerks in his
chambers, legal cases are “about real people, with real issues to be decided”
and those judicial decisions have real consequences.
To do that, we need judges who understand the contexts
of the disputes before them . . .
who understand our state, its rural
areas, its small towns, and its cities, and its diverse population;
who understand our state’s history and
who understand the challenges our state and its citizens face
as we move into the future.
As you know, I was born in North Carolina, educated in North Carolina, lived my entire life here. I believe that my experience over 30 years practicing law, in large firms and small, with clients and cases in all corners of the state, has prepared me to be that kind of judge.
A column I wrote in the spring 2014 issue of the Wake
County Bar Association Bar Flyer,
was entitled “A Call to Pubic Service”: I
concluded the column by writing.
I believe we, as lawyers should use our intellect, our experience, our skills to realize the dreams that first led us to law school – to serve not ourselves or our own personal gain — but to serve the public at large and to improve the communities in which we work and live.
That is why
I am running for the Court of Appeals.
You are the first contributors to my campaign. You are my nearest and dearest friends. You have known me for 20 or 30, and in two
instances, 50 years. I have leaned on
you before, and I’m leaning on you now again.
I have talked with several of you about my decision to
run. (Quite frankly, I don’t know
whether to thank you or blame you for your encouragement – Barbara will discuss
that with you later.) And we talked
about the challenges of how to get the word out – who I am, why am I qualified,
why am I running. Your support tonight enables us to begin that
When I am preparing for a jury trial, an administrative hearing, I tell my clients that I cannot guarantee the outcome. But I do commit to them that I will use all my experience, judgment, and skill, to present a good case, to uncover the facts, and see that the law is correctly applied. And I always go into the courtroom or the public hearing believing we can win.
Likewise, I commit to you, my friends, that I will do
everything in my power to run the very best campaign I can –
a campaign that is worthy of your support and the ideals that we share, and
a campaign that, together, we can win.
Thank you for your support. Thank you for coming out tonight. God bless you all.
Raleigh attorney and NC Bar leader Gray Styers
filed Monday as a candidate for the North Carolina Court of Appeals in the
March 3 Democratic primary. Styers is seeking a seat on the court currently
held by Chris Dillon. ”I
enjoy practicing law, but I have always felt a pull to public service. I
believe that my experience across the state has given me the breadth of
perspective, an understanding of people, and a knowledge of the law that
qualifies me to give back to North Carolina more directly as an appellate
judge,” Styers said.
A native of Hickory, Styers has lived his entire
life in North Carolina. He attended public schools and was valedictorian of
Hickory High School in 1981. Receiving a Carswell Scholarship, he attended
and graduated from Wake Forest University. He obtained his law degree and an
MBA degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In law school,
he was the Articles Editor of the North Carolina Law Review.
After graduating from law school, Gray served as
a law clerk to the Honorable Sam J. Ervin, III, Chief Judge of the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He has since practiced law in
Raleigh for almost three decades. Gray founded his own firm Styers,
Kemerait & Mitchell in 2010 and merged that firm into Smith Moore
Leatherwood (now part of the national law firm of Fox Rothschild) where he now
focuses his practice on regulatory law matters, economic development, renewable
energy, and infrastructure projects in both rural and urban areas throughout the
state. In addition, he also assists those less fortunate, pro bono, though the
“Lawyer on the Line” program of Legal Aid of North Carolina, a program that he
helped start as its founding co-chair at the North Carolina Bar Association.
“I first got to know Gray as an attorney in the community, then as a fellow local bar president, and more recently as my law partner. He is eminently well qualified to serve on the Court of Appeals, and I whole-heartedly support his candidacy,” said former chief judge of the NC Court of Appeals Judge, Sid Eagles.
Gray is known for his volunteer service to the
legal profession, to his community, and to the state for which he received a
“Citizen Lawyer” award from the NC Bar Association and was named a “Leader in
the Law” by Lawyers Weekly. He was elected by his peers to serve as President
of the Wake County Bar Association and as President of the 10th Judicial
District Bar. He served on the NC Bar Association Board of Governors and also
on its Litigation Section Council and as Chair of its Administrative Law
Section Council. Gray is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education
courses and has taught legal ethics and Professional Responsibility as an
adjunct professor at the UNC School of Law. He has been appointed as an
advisory member to committees of the North Carolina State Bar, and is a
certified mediator to help resolve cases in Superior Court. Gray has
served on the boards of the UNC School of Law Alumni Association, the North
Carolina Museum of History Associates, the North Carolina Symphony Society, the
Wake Forest University School of Divinity, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the
Gray was President of the Wake County Young
Democrats in the ‘90s and has served in the past as the campaign treasurer for
Justice Sam J. Ervin, IV, Judge Robert C. Hunter, Judge Alan Thornburg, Rep.
Deborah Ross, and most recently Raleigh Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin.
Styers and his wife, Barbara, are the parents of
two adult children.