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The Honorable I. Beverly Lake, former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, passed away on September 12, 2019. He was 85.

His distinguished career spanned five decades and included vast public service.  Justice Lake served two terms in the North Carolina Senate, as Assistant and Deputy Attorney General for the Department of Justice, as Legislative Liaison for Governor Jim Martin, as a Special Superior Court Judge and as an Intelligence Staff officer for the United States Army.

While a State Senator, the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research ranked him as one of the ten most effective in the General Assembly.  Justice Lake was the state Republican Party's nominee for Governor in 1980 and he led the Tarheel delegation to the the GOP's National Convention that year.

He was a devoted servant of the legal profession and of the people of North Carolina.  As one of the nation's leaders on criminal justice reform, Justice Lake founded the North Carolina’s Innocence Inquiry Commission, a state agency that has won the exonerations of 15 people convicted of crimes they did not commit.

Through his work, North Carolina has been a leader in criminal justice reform in the United States. 

Community & Professional

  • Senate Judiciary II Committee, Chairman
  • Public Utilities and Energy Committee, Chairman
  • North Carolina State Bar
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • Wake County Bar Association, Vice-Chair, Executive Committee
  • Association of Interstate Commerce Practitioners
  • North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers
  • Raleigh Junior Chamber of Commerce
  • Weswyn Club of Raleigh, President
  • Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
  • Scabbard and Blade National Honorary Military Association
  • York Rite Masonic Order
  • State Judicial Council, Chairman
  • Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism, Chairman
  • North Carolina Actual Innocence Commission, Founder & Chairman
  • National Conference of Chief Justices, Board of Directors
  • Wake Forest University, Board of Visitors of the School of Law
  • Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Board of Visitors
  • Boy Scouts of America, Occoneechee Council
  • Hayes Barton Baptist Church, Raleigh
  • Lambda Chi Alpha
  • Phi Alpha Delta


Bev's Career Highlights include:

  • North Carolina Supreme Court - Chief Justice, 2001-2006; Associate Justice, 1992-1993 & 1995-2000
  • North Carolina Superior Court - Judge, 1985-1990
  • Governor's Legislative Liaison and Chief Lobbyist, 1985
  • Deputy Attorney General, 1974-1976
  • Assistant Attorney General, 1969-1974
  • North Carolina Senate, 1976-1980
  • N.C. State Militia - State Staff Judge Advocate, 1989-1992
  • U.S. Army Reserve, 1958-1968
  • United States Army - Military Intelligence Staff Officer, 1956-1958


In Remembrance

Bev's commitment to public service has been recognized with numerous honors and awards, including:

  • Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, Campbell University
  • Herbert Harley Award, American Judicature Society
  • Charles R. Jonas Award for Outstanding Service by Elected Official
  • Order of the Long Leaf Pine
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Wake Forest University
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Wake Forest University School of law
  • Citation for Distinguished Public Service, N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry
  • Distinguished Eagle Scout, National Eagle Scout Association


These represent a portion of Justice Lake's significant cases.

State v. Garner, 417 S.E.2d 502 (N.C. 1992)

State v. Gaines, 421 S.E.2d 569 (N.C. 1992)

State ex rel. Utilities Com'n v. Public Staff-North Carolina Utilities Com'n, 424 S.E.2d 133 (N.C. 1993)

Bailey et al v. State of N.C. Dept. of Revenue, Dept of Treasury, 348 N.C. 130 (1998)

Stephenson et al v. Bartlett et al (Easley, Basnight, Black, Cooper), 355 N.C. 354 (2002)

His published works include:

State's Civil Nuisance Anti-Pornography Law, Legislation, 1977-1980

Public Utility Reform Laws, Legislation, 1977-1980

Private School Law, Legislation, 1977-1980

Criminal Justice Reform Law, Legislation, 1977-1980


  • North Carolina
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