The most recent episode of All Things Judicial podcast celebrates Constitution Day (September 17) with a visit to the North Carolina State Archives and a viewing of some of North Carolina's most precious historic documents. Division of Archives and Records Director Sarah Koonts led the tour where she shared original colonial court records. Koonts then opened the State Archive's vault for the inspection of some of North Carolina's national treasures, including an original copy of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights. Later in the episode, Chief Justice Paul Newby detailed an account of the theft of this copy of the Bill of Rights from the North Carolina State Capitol during the American Civil War, and his participation in an FBI sting operation that recovered it in 2003.
"The Bill of Rights is so beautiful and has such a great story about its theft and recovery," said Sarah Koonts. "I always feel special when I look at that document."
Sarah Koonts, Director of the Division of Archives and Records, is North Carolina's state archivist and deputy secretary at the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. She became North Carolina's State Archivist in 2012. Working with a staff of nearly 70, Koonts is responsible for the statewide archives and records management programs operated by the division.
Chief Justice Paul Newby, the 30th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, first was elected to the Supreme Court as Associate Justice in 2004 and was elevated to the highest judicial office in North Carolina in the 2020 election.
In 1985, Chief Justice Newby was appointed as an assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina in Raleigh, where he served for over 19 years. During this time, he played an integral role in conducting the undercover sting operation that recovered North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights, stolen in the aftermath of the Civil War.