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Interview with Napoleon Barefoot, June 3, 2002 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Napoleon Barefoot, June 3, 2002
June 3, 2002
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Barefoot, Napoleon Interviewer:  Hayes, Sherman / Haas, Michael Date of Interview:  6/3/2002 Series:  Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length:  60 minutes


Greetings. We’re here interviewing in our lawyer program Napoleon Bonaparte Barefoot, in Wilmington, North Carolina. Interviewing today are Sherman Hayes, university librarian at UNCW and Mike Ha as, lawyer from Wilmington.

Haas: Okay, we’d like to get started today and thank you very much for talking with us and for talking to future generations about yourself and the law. Before we get into the law part, can you just give us a little sense some of your early life and how you came to end up in Wilmington before you started practicing law, just a little sense of your family and where you were coming from?

Barefoot: My father was one of 12 children actually growing up in Columbus County. He went to Wake Forest University and was one of the first in line to go there because there are four generations that have gone to Wake Forest.

Haas: Now who would that be? Who’s gone in the four generations?

Barefoot: I guess you could probably include John Burney, my first cousin, my father, my uncle who was my father’s brother, both physicians. They kind of, well my father told me I could go anywhere I wanted to to school just as long as I went to Wake Forest because he’d pay for it.

Haas: What was your father’s name?

Barefoot: Graham Barefoot.

Haas: Graham?

Barefoot: Graham, Graham A. Barefoot.

Haas: He was a doctor?

Barefoot: Yeah.

Haas: Physician, a medical doctor?

Barefoot: Yeah, how much more do you want?

Haas: That’s fine, just keep going, that’s great. Just give a sense of how you ended up here.

Barefoot: Well I could tell you in a minute, I went to law school. Well I got out of the Air Force, Korean conflict in 1950. Well I joined in 1950 and was released in 1954. I went back to Wake Forest and finished law degree, well I didn't finish, I went to the Korean deal and then when I got out of the service I went back to Wake Forest and completed, that was in 1954. At that time in the spring of ’54, Arnold Palmer and I went back at the same time to school at Wake Forest and became very close friends.

Haas: Now he wasn’t in the law school was he?

Barefoot: No, he was doing what he’s been doing for the last 50 years (laughter).

Haas: Playing golf, huh? So he was an undergraduate and you were in law?

Barefoot: He was an undergraduate, yeah. He needed two years to finish Wake Forest and that’s what he did.

Haas: Well that’s great. So over all these years, you’ve stayed in touch?

Barefoot: Yeah.

Haas: Are you a golfer yourself?

Barefoot: I’m a dubber.

Haas: But he still lets you play with him (laughter).

Barefoot: In 1954, I was married. I got married in December of ’54. He got married in December of ’54. He met his wife in 1954, he won the National Open, I mean the National Amateur. He met Gwennie at a golf tournament and they got married within about three months and stayed married this whole time. Great people. He would not be, in my mind, where he is if it hadn’t been for his wife. They were married for 40 years two days apart from when we were married. In fact Emily was at Wake Forest then too.

Haas: That’s your wife?

Barefoot: Yeah.

Haas: Remember someone in the future, we have to give them some of the details because we won’t be available to fill them in so bear with me as I ask you some of the questions. What is your wife’s maiden name? Emily…

Barefoot: Emily Weeks, isn’t that still Weeks, Emily?

Haas: No you’re fine, okay, great, so you went back to school.

Barefoot: Met Emily in ’54 and we were married in December.

Haas: You were always interested in…what was law school like back then, right? I mean that’s one of the questions we always ask. You were an older than average students or were lots of other folks coming back.

Barefoot: It took them a while to trickle down. When I graduated from Wake Forest Law School, there were 24 students in the class.

Haas: Are these people that you’ve kept in touch with then all these years? Was it close camaraderie?

Barefoot: Yeah, very close both in my class and the next one. We have a group of 12 Wake Foresters that we go fishing on the Outer Banks twice a year.

Haas: Oh, that’s great.

Barefoot: So we stick together.

Haas: But if 12 graduated, how many would be in a particular course then? 20 or 12?

Barefoot: Yeah, 12. Then on up to 24.

Haas: By this time, you’re in the late 20’s, mid-20’s?

Barefoot: My birthday was September 11, 1930. I graduated when I was 28 years old.

Haas: Was that a pretty typical pattern with your classmates?

Barefoot: Yes.

Haas: Did lots of them get caught up in the Korean conflict?

Barefoot: Almost every one of them at one time or another.

Haas: Because we’ve talked to a slightly earlier group that were World War II and they definitely got swept into World War II. I just didn't know if Korea … so a lot of veterans in that group then.

Barefoot: Yeah.

Hayes: Now were you in undergraduate work and left to go to the Korean War?

Barefoot: To tell you the truth, the 12 of us from Wilmington joined the Air Force together in 1950, October 1950.

Haas: Wow, were friends? I mean were these people all…

Barefoot: Yeah, we were all friends.

Haas: And did you decide together too or was it just a coincidence?

Barefoot: We decided we’d do that before they called us.

Haas: And who were some of those folks?

Barefoot: Name?

Haas: Yeah, if you know any?

Barefoot: Ed Rusha, Donald Doxie who died about two years ago, can’t remember the names.

Haas: That’s alright if they come back we’ll get them.

Hayes: So you came back after the war and then you had probably some undergraduate work to finish up before law school?

Barefoot: We didn't have to serve for four years, we served for three. So I got out in October of 1953 and a number of us went back to school. I received that degree and then went to law school. While I’m thinking about that, the Coastline Railroad left Wilmington in 1955 I believe it was, and shut things down. I was told the best thing for me to do was to go to Pender County and practice law because Wilmington was going to die.

Haas: Really, but now you did live in Whiteville or Elizabethtown?

Barefoot: I was raised right here in New Hanover at James Walker Memorial Hospital. My father was head of the X-ray Department there.

Haas: X-ray, oh excellent, so even though the family had come from Columbus County, by this point your family had moved to Wilmington?

Barefoot: Yes, my father came in 1932, after being in Chadbourn in Columbus County for 10 years.

Haas: Now if he was medicine and your uncle was medicine, right?

Barefoot: I had an aunt, had two boys, they both went to med school.

Haas: So where did the law interest jump up? Did you ever ask yourself why you ended up in law?

Barefoot: Like I said, Coastline was leaving or planning to leave then. They said nothing for you to do here. So I decided I’d go to law school.

Haas: But the medicine wasn’t tempting?

Barefoot: It was, but not really. My father said medicine was changing at that period of time. He wouldn’t say one way or the other whether I ought to go to med school. I had five brothers and sisters.

Haas: So what was your high school then? Where did you graduate from high school?

Barefoot: New Hanover High School. I started grammar school at Forest Hills in first grade.

Haas: This is true Wilmington, tried and true the whole time.

Barefoot: Pretty much so.

Haas: So you might ask about his academic time at Wake.

Hayes: Right, talk about law school a little bit. Did they use the Socratic methods in classes? When classes are small like that, were they more informal or were they still rather formal classes?

Barefoot: They were formal classes.

Hayes: And do you remember any of the courses that you took? I’m sure you took contracts.

Barefoot: You mean in law school? Yeah, I had contracts, criminal law, constitutional law, two years of real property, estate planning, contracts, torts.

Haas: Now was there an assumption that you would come out and do general practice? Was that the pattern?

Barefoot: Yeah, there you would pick and choose.

Haas: Any professors there that stick in your mind that made a difference?

Barefoot: All of them (laughter). Most of them are gone. They were all very, very fine people.

Hayes: How about the students? Were most students from North Carolina like yourself or were there others from outside of North Carolina too?

Barefoot: They had some from out of state, but most were from North Carolina.

Haas: Probably most of them had a relative that went to Wake Forest (laughter).

Hayes: Did you do any work during law school for other attorneys or did you have any preceptorships or anything?

Barefoot: No.

Hayes: Any summer jobs that were interesting?

Barefoot: Yeah, the first summer job I had was with Babcock & Wilcox out here on South Third Street, Shipyard Blvd., back up there. I worked there during the summer along with my cousin, Louis Burney, who was at that time a year behind me in law school. My brother David, he’s the youngest son, he graduated from Wake Forest after I left.

Haas: And he was an attorney also?

Barefoot: Yes.

Haas: Still is?

Barefoot: Yes.

Haas: I think he’s on our list as is Louis.

Hayes: You obviously took the North Carolina bar. What was the bar like? How did you take the bar exam in those days?

Barefoot: We were prepared for the bar with the bar review which was put on by professors. Then it was three days, mornings and afternoons.

Hayes: Written essays?

Barefoot: Yeah I was fortunate enough. In the Air Force, they wanted to send me to France to _____ Air Force Base to learn how to type (laughter). I was there for 90 days and then went back to Biloxi, Mississippi to finish my schooling.

Haas: So that typing made a difference? Do you think learning to type helped or not?

Barefoot: Don I think? I typed my exam.

Haas: Oh, you could type your exam?

Barefoot: Yeah. We had cubby holes where you could study and you could go anywhere you wanted to with the exam. So we’d been prepared enough.

Haas: That’s terrific.

Haas: But this was a preparation course right from Wake Forest? It wasn’t another company that did it? Sometimes there were other companies that did these.

Barefoot: No, well Wake Forest had moved to Winston-Salem by then, by my third year which we didn't like at all anyway.

Haas: Why not? Just didn’t like Winston-Salem?

Barefoot: Well we hadn’t had a chance really to live in Winston. We were there for two years before they moved the whole school to Winston-Salem.

Haas: As far as you were concerned when you got done, coming back home was the only option? Wasn’t Raleigh kind of a draw too?

Barefoot: Yes, I had an offer from one of the Supreme Court justices as an assistant and I was ready to getting set up where I was so I didn't take it.

Haas: The pull of home, huh?

Barefoot: Yeah.

Haas: So you came back to Pender, was that where you started?

Barefoot: No, in New Hanover.

Haas: Oh, you had said that they told you that you ought to go to Pender.

Barefoot: That’s right.

Haas: But you came right here.

Barefoot: Came right home.

Hayes: Tell us about your early practice. How did you set it up or what did you do?

Barefoot: I started practicing in the building across from the courthouse downtown right now. It was a new courthouse. I set up an office on the second floor with one room and had some help from some old lawyers that I’ll never forget, Cicero_______ and his brother Ed who later developed Topsail Beach. They acquired the property. Right after the war, they bought it.

Haas: And they were both lawyers?

Barefoot: Yeah and then later on, Ed’s son, Lionel, came back from law school and worked there.

Haas: Now why did they help you? Was this just a tradition that young lawyers would come and somebody would take you under their wing?

Barefoot: There was a door from my room into their secretary so he said they would be glad for me to use her in any way I needed to. So I typed deeds and stuff for a while. I helped them as they helped me.

Haas: And they were quite aways along in their career by this point?

Barefoot: Oh yes, Cicero had been in the second war. Mr. Ed was too old for it.

Hayes: So you were in practice by yourself at that point?

Barefoot: By myself. She would do any work that I needed typed in an emergency situation.

Hayes: And what sort of cases did you wind up taking at the beginning, anything that walked in the door or did you specialize at all?

Barefoot: You almost had to specialize in criminal law if you could.

Haas: Now why was that?

Barefoot: There was a lot more of it than there was civil.

Haas: And tell us what would be the kinds of cases? When you say criminal law, we all think of big important cases, but what are the kinds of things that are criminal law?

Barefoot: Well they called it criminal, but it really was traffic and that kind of thing.

Haas: Would your domestic divorce, that’s not criminal.

Barefoot: No, no, that’s civil.

Haas: So you didn't do much divorce work?

Barefoot: As much as I could (laughter).

Haas: Not that you encouraged it, but just if it came to you. So you really, I mean we’re kind of intrigued as to how one would get business when you just are young, you’re in town, you put a shingle up.

Barefoot: You just hope they come through your door and then referrals.

Haas: But there was no advertising at that time, right?

Barefoot: None.

Haas: I guess you could be in the phonebook right? Is that about all you could do?

Barefoot: Yeah.

Haas: And do you think maybe the Barefoot name was well known that somebody might just feel that’s okay because there were lots of you in town? It just always intrigues us of how you get started.

Barefoot: It’s a hard way to get started. I practiced by myself for five years. Then I joined the partnership of Colonel Ross McLennan who was across the street on Third Street. I don’t know whether you want me to keep going.

Haas: Sure, keep going, we want to hear what you have to say.

Barefoot: I stayed with the Colonel until we moved to Fourth and Market, the Savings and Loan building there. Then I was appointed District Court judge by the governor, at that time Bob Scott, and that’s where my entrance to the bench came in.

Haas: Before we go into that, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the Colonel. I mean who was he?

Barefoot: He was a general when he ended up here. He was once major of Wilmington. He was in the Reserves really, but he was a staunch colonel, I’ll tell you that. John Burney was a partner of his before John was on…

Haas: Then John went on to somewhere else?

Barefoot: John went to the DA’s office.

Haas: And then you came in fairly quickly after that, you became his partner then?

Barefoot: The colonel?

Haas: Yes.

Barefoot: Within about five or six years.

Haas: And his pattern is that he had a big enough practice that he wanted to have two or three people? That was kind of the growing trend.

Barefoot: He needed one.

Haas: Did you see a pattern then, this must have been in the early 60’s, right?

Barefoot: Yeah.

Haas: Did you start to see a pattern where the solo lawyer was starting to disappear? That everybody was getting together?

Barefoot: Not at that time, later perhaps.

Hayes: Can you tell us a little about the bar itself and the other attorneys? Did you have any women in the bar at that point here in town?

Barefoot: No, we did not, not at that time. Through law school, there were two girls. Then I guess, in ’62 or ’63, they started in the bar. John Burney was the district attorney, probably the best in the state at that time. I believe that you said that you interviewed him.

Haas: Right, we did John.

Barefoot: I told you he and I are first cousins.

Haas: Well you can say whatever you like about him (laughter).

Barefoot: (Laughter) We’re close friends and cousins too.

Haas: So you just mentioned that you were appointed to this district judge, but what is the process there? Was this a political appointment or is there an election?

Barefoot: Political.

Haas: So obviously at that point, it was the Democratic party that was in charge.

Barefoot: Yep.

Haas: And who was the governor?

Barefoot: At that time, it was Bob Scott.

Haas: So you just knew him or were you a friend of his?

Barefoot: John Burney was more a friend to him than he was mine. He worked with him and he handled the appointment. Then I was a district court judge for nine years.

Haas: Okay now tell us so people understand those levels, what’s a district court judge?

Barefoot: A district court judge was anything below $10,000 civilly, then it would go to the district court. Over $10,000, it went to the superior court.

Haas: Okay, that’s on the civil side?

Barefoot: Yeah.

Haas: How about the criminal side?

Barefoot: The criminal side was felonies. The district side handled all misdemeanors. Anything over $5000 at that time as I recall it, went to civil superior court.

Haas: So you were by definition handling a smaller claim kind of approach even on the civil side and the criminal side.

Barefoot: Yeah.

Haas: But then probably much bigger volume, right? I mean that is where most of it…very busy court?

Barefoot: Yeah, mainly I guess you’d say, the domestic matters were the largest thing in the district court. At that time I handled all the domestic matters like divorce, child support, child custody, all of that.

Haas: I’m just curious that here you were probably about 10 years into your career, almost 40, why would you, what was the attraction of shifting over to the other side of the bench so to speak? I mean not everybody likes to be a judge.

Barefoot: Retirement. See I was in the Air Force for three years and I got credit for that towards retirement. That’s about all unless you can think of something.

Haas: No, I mean it must have been a pretty big choice to decide should you get out of the day to day…or could you continue to practice as a district court judge?

Barefoot: Before the district court system came into being, you could practice. It came into being in 1960 I believe.

Haas: So you were making a conscious decision that you weren’t going to be practicing anymore. You were going to be doing this and you were paid a salary, right?

Barefoot: Yes.

Haas: And can a judge really…I mean in the end can’t make the same kind of money that some lawyers do, right?

Barefoot: Absolutely not.

Hayes: But there are benefits to being a judge too, as he said. I mean you know what your salary is going to be, you have retirement benefits, hospitalization and all those things that you’re not paying on your own anymore.

Barefoot: That’s right.

Haas: But I think you must, you’re being modest, you must have enjoyed the idea of making the decision on these cases because even though the implication is that they’re a small case, to the people there, they’re the most important thing in their life at the time.

Barefoot: That’s right.

Haas: So you enjoyed doing that.

Barefoot: I did, I enjoyed doing that.

Haas: So give me a sense of…we’re in the 1960’s and you’ve got two people that are trying to get a divorce. Was it real different than today? Is it the same kind of process?

Barefoot: Same thing.

Haas: So what would happen, how would you come into the scene?

Barefoot: Well back then, they filed a complaint which was one page, three or four questions on it on that one page. You waited 30 days before you could go to court. You had 30 days to answer the complaint if they didn't agree with it. Six months was the amount of time you had to wait before you could go into court and actually get the divorce.

Haas: Now was it an adversarial system? You had to prove…?

Barefoot: Yeah, there was an answer on the other side. In other words, a complaint could set the facts and the causes for the divorce. Then if the defendant did not agree with it, then it would be up to him to get an attorney if he wanted to to contest it. Then he would have 30 days to file an answer to that complaint. Then six months before they could get a divorce.

Haas: Well I just wondered if it had changed because I know today it’s just, it seems very straightforward. But I, I mean if you wanted child support, did they have to prove that there was infidelity or running around or drinking?

Barefoot: That’s what they would allege in the complaint.

Haas: So then when did you come into the process?

Barefoot: The day they walked into court to get a divorce.

Haas: And you had to decide.

Barefoot: Right, in the district court.

Haas: And were you finding fault in essence as the judge? Were you agreeing with one side or the other.

Barefoot: I had the complaint filed against the person in district court. I forgot what I was gonna say. It must not have been important, it’ll come to me in a minute.

Haas: Well all I’m saying, what would be a typical response? I hold for the complainer, what is the judge’s resolution of these cases?

Barefoot: There are three questions you have to ask to acquire jurisdiction, one is have you lived in North Carolina for 30 days, two – I can’t remember, but anyway you had to ask if everything complied. It would probably be better to try to explain it through a case that I had one time. It came before me the lawyer said that she was indigent and therefore she was entitled to the divorce with getting paid what I allowed her. I found that she was working in a bank right down the street. So I called the lawyer and said “You didn't mean to do this, did you”. He said, “Yes sir”. Well evidence showed that she was working in the bank. So I did not grant her the divorce until she went out and filed a new complaint.

Haas: Were you also then having to set the alimony and all that kind of business?

Barefoot: Yeah.

Haas: Was that pretty cut and dry or was there a lot of conflict?

Barefoot: Well the evidence, it would depend on the evidence, the amount and so forth.

Hayes: How well did the attorneys get along? Was there good civility between lawyers?

Barefoot: Our bar was a very, very fine bar up to a point (laughter). I don’t think I probably better explain the rest of it.

Hayes: Between counsel and judges also respect?

Barefoot: Very much respect.

Haas: Now you were in New Hanover County practicing for that first 10 years? Was that your district?

Barefoot: New Hanover, yeah and Pender County. So the district court changed to a new system in ’69 and it did a very fine job up to that point.

Haas: Now you must have had a whole lot of people that work for you. Who was the team? The few times I’ve been to court, there seems to be a whole lot of folks around the judge. What would be a typical team? Did you have a transcriber to take the…while you’re in court, you had somebody taking the…

Barefoot: The court reporter.

Haas: Then did you have an assistant who prepared a lot of this ahead of time?

Barefoot: The clerk.

Haas: It’s called a clerk. Just one?

Barefoot: Most of the time just one.

Haas: Did you have somebody the whole time or did they come and go?

Barefoot: The clerk is there the whole time the court is in session.

Haas: No, I mean through your whole career, did they stay…

Barefoot: In the courtroom.

Haas: No, I meant do you they go year after year? Do you have the same clerk for your tenure period?

Barefoot: You could have. Depends on whether you wanted that clerk. There might be some reason you wouldn’t want him.

Haas: But they worked for you? You got to pick that person?

Barefoot: The clerk of courts did that. I didn't like to get into the clerk business unless I had to.

Haas: And then would you have…did you do bankruptcies through the same time period or not?

Barefoot: No.

Haas: That was a separate court.

Barefoot: Bankruptcy was a thing that was unheard of.

Haas: Really? It’s big business now.

Barefoot: It sure is.

Haas: They have a whole separate court. So it was pretty unusual for somebody to try for bankruptcy?

Barefoot: Just wasn’t there, a change in the system.

Haas: So for 10 years you were at district, that’s what you said I think.

Barefoot: I believe that’s right.

Haas: And then you switched to another court?

Barefoot: Yeah.

Haas: You went to the superior court?

Barefoot: I went to the superior district court. Then I went to the superior court.

Haas: Still based in New Hanover County or is that a bigger jurisdiction?

Barefoot: I was assigned anywhere in the state. In New Hanover County for example, there are two superior court judges, on the bench, the Superior court bench. I’ve done lost track again, what was your question?

Haas: Well we were just trying to get a sense of what the difference between a district and superior court.

Barefoot: District court for this district, it’s exactly a district, that’s what it is, in our district New Hanover County and Pender. The district my son is in has four counties. Superior Court, there’s a calendar for all judges for a year to what court we will be in if it’s in our district. If it isn’t, then…

Haas: So you could go way out of town? You could be assigned way out of town?

Barefoot: I’ve held court in about 70 of the counties in North Carolina.

Haas: Wow, so what would you do? Did you have to drive there back and forth or stay for a while?

Barefoot: Go for the week.

Haas: Oh, I didn't realize that. So you’re not really then just assigned? You’re based here.

Barefoot: Well at the time that we’re talking about back then, there were about I guess 40 superior court judges all up the state. As I said, the calendar was there for a year and it would tell you about where you’d be. So then it might turn up when you get to the city or the port that you’d take care of all the cases. The reason they’d be able to do that is because they’d done their homework so then you’re through in that district. You come home and talk with Raleigh and tell them you’re ready if they want to send you somewhere else depending on what day it was of t he week. Early in the week, they’d send you somewhere else if they had an opening and you wanted to go.

Haas: I think you’d said before that the superior court then was handling a much more expensive part of the law, bigger civil. Would major criminal …

Barefoot: Yes.

Haas: Did you see one of your goals as a judge to try to settle it before it got to a trial then?

Barefoot: No, I didn't say a word and let the lawyers do whatever they do unless they came to me and wanted me to do something.

Haas: Now was yours jury based on the criminal side or was it a non-jury? Had to be a jury right?

Barefoot: It would be a jury week or a non-jury week.

Haas: Non-jury week, so the civil cases were just your decision.

Barefoot: If the attorney settled the cases, then you, as I say, were through until the next Monday.

Haas: So give a sense without the names of the people, but what are some of the criminal cases that you’ve tried then?

Barefoot: I tried probably 10 first degree cases and sentenced them to death.

Haas: Sentenced them to death? And then they would be automatically appealed to…

Barefoot: Supreme Court.

Haas: Of those then, ten were appealed?

Barefoot: All of them were appealed. They never did go to the gas chamber.

Haas: They didn't?

Barefoot: No. After trial is over, usually they try to work it out and they would have to appeal to the Supreme Court and they would sit back and wait until the time came to convince the Supreme Court that it’s not a capital case.

Haas: So for all of the death penalty, there weren’t a whole lot of people going to death then from the court system?

Barefoot: That’s right.

Haas: How many years were you on the bench at the superior level, 20 years?

Barefoot: About 18.

Haas: There’s a recent fight about the death penalty, but you’re saying even in the 70’s and 80’s, you had the death penalty, but nobody, not many were going.

Barefoot: Same way it is right now.

Haas: But you were bound by the law. If they were found guilty and it was at a certain level…

Barefoot: Right, right. First case I ever tried in my life was in Goldsboro, no it was in Wilmington. Had this black man that, this was a witness, a white girl was coming down the street and she went into a grocery store and this black man coming and got behind the door on the outside. Another witness saw him go in the trunk of his car before this and come out with a knife, a big one that long. When she came back through that door, he near about cut her head off. He went back to his car, put the knife in the trunk, left and was gone for 10 years, found him in New York.

He wouldn’t take an attorney when they found him. So we tried him, had an attorney on each side of him so he could use them if he needed to, but he didn't. That one never did reach the gas chamber. That was the worst case in the world.

Haas: Did you ever know why he did that? It never came out why he did it?

Barefoot: The only way it would have happened to find out would have been to use one of those witnesses, but couldn't very well do that. Couldn't do that.

Haas: So he’s sitting in jail somewhere right now?

Barefoot: I’m not sure whether he is or not. That was about 10-15 years ago. Mean people in this world.

Hayes: Are there changes in the practice of law or in the bar that you saw through your career that you would like to talk about a little bit?

Barefoot: If you’ll ask me some questions, I’ll try to answer them.

Hayes: Did you find towards the end of your practice…did the attorneys and the judges get along as well then as they did in the beginning?

Barefoot: Yeah.

Haas: Did you think, you know, there’s a sense that there’s a lawyer behind every tree and that the courts are overloaded. Did you see caseloads going up or was it about the same level?

Barefoot: About the same level.

Haas: So some of that is just media.

Barefoot: Absolutely.

Haas: Do you have a sense that the plea bargain is a much…

Barefoot: You’ve got to have plea bargains, got to have plea bargain.

Haas: You know lately judges have been accused that their hands are tied because of all this sentencing requirements. Did you have those kind of restrictions?

Barefoot: Yes I did.

Haas: Did you feel that your hands were tied with the mandatory sentencing?

Barefoot: They were tied. Not nearly enough time in jail. If they plea they’re guilty, they’d be out before I could get out of the courthouse. It seemed to be that.

Haas: Because they got time off and that kind of stuff, good behavior and all of that.

Barefoot: Yeah. Some of them will not serve any time for a certain offense. Your hands are tied.

Haas: What about the other end, had the drug trafficking started to explode at the end of your career yet?

Barefoot: Yeah, it had.

Haas: Now you had to spend time in jail with those or not?

Barefoot: As long as the legislature made it, you could not send them to jail. They thought they could. I tried a case one time, I couldn't stand it. I knew they probably needed five years in jail. They were confined to the county jail for three years. He said to the sheriff, “Where we going?” He said he was going to jail. He said, “No, you can’t put me in jail.” I should have left part of it out, but I didn't. He said, “No, I’m not going to jail. They can’t put me in jail.” I said, “Sheriff, take this man up and lock him up until I decide what I’m going to do with him”.

He said, “You can’t do that either”. I said, “Sheriff, put him in jail”. That was the only way you could get them there, second attempt at drugs, third offense. They’d fix it so you couldn't do anything. I was kind of happy to leave.

Hayes: When did you actually retire? When were your last cases?


Haas: Well we’ve got just a couple of minutes left. If someone from your family, I guess your son, said he wanted to go into the law, did you say “good field, good profession”. What was your advice to…

Barefoot: He probably was going to do that anyway. I didn't really have to encourage him. It was only after these telephone books that the college students go around and tried to get ads for phone books, that was 1968. He was putting those ads up. At that time nobody was subscribing to any ads. The gas war was on. (Laughter) He found out how hard it was to work. There were about 15 of them in Goldsboro the same time I was up there in court. He said, “Daddy, I think I’ll see if I can’t go to law school” (laughter). So that’s what he did.

Haas: Well thank you very much.

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