Candidate Forum Photos

President-Elect James Kilbourne moderated a debate with candidates for District Attorney and Sheriff on April 19th, with many members of the Bar and the public in attendance. Photos of the candidates and crowd follow:


Harry Anderson Has Died

Harry Anderson has died.

The story was confirmed on Monday by the Asheville Police Department and was trending across social media.  For a time a few years ago, Harry Anderson was one of the most famous Judges in America (at least on television).

From 1984 to 1992, Anderson spent a term as Judge Harry T. Stone and presided over a fictional Manhattan criminal courtroom on the hit television show “Night Court.”  The show was nominated for 31 Emmys and won seven.  Anderson was nominated as the outstanding lead actor for three consecutive seasons.  For many people watching during those nine season and subsequent syndication, Harry Anderson was one of best known judges in a nation that struggles to name a single Supreme Court Justice.

In his role as Judge Stone, Anderson brought a humanity and compassion to the bench.  As he presided over a courtroom of colorful stereotypes, including a narcissistic prosecutor and a collection of bleeding heart public defenders, Anderson’s Judge Stone was anything but a stereotypical judge.  His portrayal was unlike other popular television judges like Judge Wapner on the People Court, who could be described as grandfatherly with a streak of condescension.  Anderson’s Judge Stone was young and good humored with a sincere belief that everyone has good in them.  Unlike other courtroom television shows, his trials dealt with everyday problems like vagrancy and petty misdemeanors.  Those who appeared before him were simply exaggerated versions of defendants you might see in any session of District Court.

Anderson put much of himself into the role of Harry T. Stone, as both the actor and his on screen persona donned colorful ties, were magicians at heart, and were superfans of the jazz great Mel Tormé.  Anderson was given the role after several episodes playing a swindler, Harry (the Hat) Gittes, on Cheers.  Likewise, Judge Harry T. Stone had not been placed on the bench after a long career of service.  The fictional judge’s selection was not a matter of personal merit but rather coincidence. (The outgoing Mayor of New York had to make a huge number of appointments on New Year’s Eve, and Harry was the only person on the list of prospective judges who was home and was able to receive the call for a nomination.)  While his portrayal of Judge Stone was occasionally flippant and irreverent, Anderson played a television Judge who was approachable and sincere, like the actor who played him.

After a successful career on several television programs, Mr. Anderson and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to New Orleans, in 2000, eager to return to his roots.  Six weeks before Hurricane Katrina, they opened the nightclub called Oswald’s Speakeasy, where he performed.  After Katrina in 2005, tourism declined precipitously, and they struggled to keep their businesses alive.  As he explained, “I’m glad we tried to stay, but I don’t want to be the person I will be if I stay here.”

Harry Anderson moved to Asheville in 2006.  He never made a big public performance in town and tried not to stand out as a celebrity.  As he explained to Tony Kiss, “Self-promoting to your friends isn’t appealing. You stand out too much among the people you are trying to get along with.”  An Asheville resident related talking to him years ago for two hours at a party.  After he left, she said, “that was somebody famous wasn’t it.”

Harry Anderson’s Judge Harry T. Stone had a positive effect on the public perception of the actual legal system.  Perhaps we would have soon recognized his contribution to our profession.  His name had been suggested several times as a potential speaker for the North Carolina Bar Association’s Annual Convention, which visits Asheville every other year.  As probably the best-known Jurist residing in Asheville, he could have been a candidate for honorary membership in the District Bar.  It is a shame that we took Harry Anderson for granted.  Court is adjourned.

James W. Kilbourne, Jr.
President-Elect, 28th Judicial District Bar
Asheville, NC
April 17, 2018

Justice Ervin Visits Asheville

Justice Sam Ervin IV spoke to the members of the 28th Judicial District Bar on Wednesday, April 11th at the monthly luncheon. He invited attorneys to sign up to become a speaker to help raise awareness about the role and importance of the Judicial Branch and the court system. To learn more, contact the Speakers Support Bureau Team at