The Honorable William David Lee was posthumously awarded the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award on June 7, 2023, in Monroe, North Carolina. The ceremony was held in the courtroom of the historic Union County Courthouse. Past-President Darrin D. Jordan presented the award on behalf of the North Carolina State Bar. Bar Councilor H. Ligon Bundy also participated in the presentation.
Judge Lee received his undergraduate degree from Western Carolina University in 1972 and his law degree from the Wake Forest University School of Law in 1975.Judge Lee practiced law in Monroe for 27 years in a general civil practice. In 2003 he was appointed to the superior court bench. In 2004, Chief Justice Lake appointed him to the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission, which he later chaired. Judge Lee became the senior resident superior court judge in 2006 and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2016. Just months into his retirement, Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin asked Judge Lee to preside over the legendary Leandro v. State of North Carolina case.
During the time that he served on the bench, Judge Lee worked tirelessly to educate and improve the quality of the judiciary in North Carolina. His strong leadership in managing the ever-increasing caseloads of Union County enabled his judicial district to keep dockets current during a time when backlogs were on the rise statewide. Judge Lee served as a member and later co-chair of the Education Committee for the North Carolina Superior Court Judge’s Conference and served as a presenter at many judicial seminars, legal conferences, and judicial schools.
Judge Lee served his community through service on many boards. In recognition for his service to the community, he was declared the Young Man of the Year by the Monroe-Union County Jaycees, and he received the Distinguished Rotarian of the Year Award. In 2012 he received the Centennial Award for Community Service from the NCBA. In 2016, the governor awarded his highest honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, to Judge Lee for his contributions to his community and state.
Judge Lee’s exemplary attributes, and his admirable walk through life, are worthy of high recognition and he is a most deserving recipient of the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award.
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