1 THE HONORABLE DAVID B. SENTELLE First Interview July 7, 2003 This interview is being conducted on behalf of the Oral History Project of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. The interviewee is the Honorable David B. Sentelle, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The interviewer is David Frederick. The interview took place on July 7, 2003. This is the first interview. MR. FREDERICK: This is David Frederick here to do the oral history of Judge David Sentelle. I’m with the Judge in Chambers. It is July 7, 2003, at about 10:20 in the morning. Good morning, Judge. JUDGE SENTELLE: Good morning, David. MR. FREDERICK: Thank you for doing your oral history for the D.C. Circuit Historical Society. Why don’t we begin by you telling us your full name and your date of birth? JUDGE SENTELLE: David Bryan Sentelle, February 12, 1943. MR. FREDERICK: Where were you born? JUDGE SENTELLE: Canton, North Carolina. MR. FREDERICK: Now I think I read that you were not born in hospital? JUDGE SENTELLE: That’s correct. I run into people occasionally who tell me I couldn’t have been born in Canton because there is no hospital there. I tell them that I was neither sick nor in need of an operation and, therefore, it’s not necessary that you get to a hospital. It’s only necessary that you be near your mother at the time and she didn’t go to the hospital so I didn’t either. MR. FREDERICK: Was it common for children of that era to be born at home? 2 JUDGE SENTELLE: It was transitional, really, in that part of the country. My brother, who is older than me, was actually born in a hospital. But during World War II, gas was hard to come by and they didn’t – it was easier for folks to let one doctor spend his increased allotment of gas than it was for a family to use that gas going to the hospital, so the doctors went where the mamas were and I was born in Canton and there is no hospital in Canton. I was born in Canton. MR. FREDERICK: How much older is your brother than you? JUDGE SENTELLE: Two-and-a-half years and there’s just the two of us. He was 63 on July 5th – last Saturday. MR. FREDERICK: Now tell me about your parents. JUDGE SENTELLE: My father was Horace Sentelle, Jr. He was known to most of his friends – to most everybody – as Dugan. Dugan was a character from a comic strip, Maggie and Jiggs Bringing Up Father. Dugan hung out in the pool hall all the time and apparently my father, in his younger days, had stayed in the pool hall all the time and picked up the nickname of Dugan. He rather liked it. He was sort of an eccentric who taught us to call him Dugan, so my brother and I always called him Dugan and said we were Dugan’s boys. He finished the eleventh grade, which was what was available to him in Clyde, North Carolina, at the time. Clyde is a little further west than Canton. Canton is west of Asheville. Clyde is west of Canton. He bummed around for a while and finally wound up working at a rayon – later nylon – mill outside of Asheville where he was the foreman and a 3 pretty well respected supervisor for someone who didn’t get any farther in school than he did. In fact, I think he and his brother had the two best jobs in the mill of anyone who hadn’t gone to the twelfth grade at least. My mother was Maude Ray. She didn’t have a middle name. She was born in Yancey County, North Carolina. My father is from Haywood, which was west of us, and Yancey is to the east. She grew up in Haywood County. She finished high school in Canton, North Carolina, went to business school in Greensboro for a year or so, was a legal secretary. She was working for Sam Robinson who was a lawyer in Canton who married my father’s sister. I think he was the only one of the brothers or brothersin-law or sisters that had a college degree and he was a lawyer with a Wake Forest law degree. Mother was working for Sam and the story goes – and I think it’s probably not entirely accurate – but the story goes that my father’s younger brother was getting married in his sister’s home. Most people had house weddings instead of church weddings in the working class in those days. It was at Christmastime and my father was standing under the mistletoe and somebody said, “Dugan, you’d better get out from under there. You’re going to get kissed.” He said, “Nobody would want to kiss me.” Sam’s secretary went over and kissed him. That was my mother and that’s where the whole thing started according to the legend. My mother says they knew each other before that, but at least it became public that they were well-acquainted with one another. 4 MR. FREDERICK: How did the Sentelle family come to settle in North Carolina? JUDGE SENTELLE: We wondered about that, too, David. A theory had been – which proved to be wrong – that it was an Italian-Swiss family and that they had come in with some grape growers who had come in at New Bern in the early part of the pre-Colonial era. In fact we now have – by the tracings of my distant cousin, Sam Sentelle, who is Superintendent of schools of Putnam County, West Virginia – Sam traced it back to the early 18th Century Virginia Colony. The Sentelles were the Huguenots. The first couple. Sam also – Sam and Jane, which is my wife’s name – were Huguenots who were among the few Huguenots who came into the Virginia Colony. Most of the Huguenots came to Charleston. For some reason, my people were always mavericks, I guess. They came to Virginia, drifted west, and then came down the Appalachians over the course of three or four generations. Before the Civil War, the Sentelles were already in the Appalachian Mountains, having gone west in Virginia and then drifted South in the Appalachian Mountains. Did that answer your question? MR. FREDERICK: Yes, it did. Do you know what your family’s sympathies were during the Civil War? JUDGE SENTELLE: My great-great-grandfather, whose name was also Samuel Sentelle – that seems to turn up generation after generation – was a mountain Unionist. And he, like quite a few other mountaineers, left the South to fight for the North and he was a Union soldier. Family legend had always been that he was killed on the way back after the war. A local historian finally found 5 an accurate tracing. He was killed on the way back, but the war was not over. He was apparently AWOL at the time he was killed. He and another man by the name of Sentelle and a third companion were ambushed in what’s called the Pink Beds area of the Smokies on the way back. If you’ve ever read the novel Cold Mountain about the Confederate soldiers on their way back to Haywood County – cause he went AWOL near the end of the war and was murdered. It’s the same story except they were Union soldiers and were probably going to the Transylvania side of the county line rather than the Haywood County line, but it’s the same general area as that – very similar to the story told except that it’s Union soldiers instead of Confederates. MR. FREDERICK: Were there many Union sympathizers from this particular part of North Carolina? JUDGE SENTELLE: There were a lot of mountaineers who were Unionists. Now it was stronger in – Wataugua, Yancey, Avery, and Mitchell were the real hotbeds of Unionists. That’s a bit northeast of my part of the mountains. Madison County was called bloody Madison, but it was very evenly divided. They didn’t have to leave to fight one another there, there were so many on both sides. Now when you got over through Buncombe and Haywood/Transylvania, it was more Confederate, but there were pockets of Unionists there too and my great-great-grandfather was one of them. MR. FREDERICK: How did that political involvement affect your family through the generations after the Civil War? 6 JUDGE SENTELLE: Well the term Mountain Republican has a real meaning in Western North Carolina, East Tennessee, Western Virginia, North Georgia. Even in the hill country of Mississippi and Alabama, you have Mountain Unionists who were the founders of the Republican Party in their respective states. My family were Mountain Unionists and my branch of the Sentelles remained loyal Republicans to this day. My brother is still living in Western North Carolina and since his retirement from Sears Roebuck, he’s a Republican precinct worker on the election sites down there. MR. FREDERICK: Was your father active in politics? JUDGE SENTELLE: He was very interested in politics and he would always, if he could, take election day off at the mill to go work at the polls for some candidate or other and he did some campaigning for people. He never ran for office. Now his father – my grandfather, Horace Sentelle, Sr., was very political. He was a printer and he operated one of those many weekly local newspapers that existed in those days, which were very partisan. He had the Republican paper in Haywood County, Canton Enterprise. He actually ran for office a few times, a hopeless cause as Haywood County was very Democrat, but he would fill the ticket. He was what was called a “Post Office Republican.” He was appointed postmaster by the Republicans, which was a political position in those days when the Republicans were in the White House. He was a delegate to the convention that nominated Alf Landon, one of the more kamikaze-like campaigns ever. They carried Maine and Vermont, I think, against F.D.R. 7 My father was not nearly as involved as his father was, but he was always a very vocal Republican, arguing with his many Democratic friends. We grew up very loyal. I was active very early. My father’s friend, Dan Judd, was a local merchant who was in the Lion’s Club and the Masonic Lodge with my father and was a local Republican activist. And there were others of their friends who were. When I was just a kid, I ran errands for them on a bicycle – carried bumper stickers door-to-door for them and things of that nature. I was too young to drive, let alone vote. MR. FREDERICK: How did your father share his political views with you? Were there dinner conversations? JUDGE SENTELLE: Yeah. My father worked shifts at the mill, but when he was on day shift the family had dinner together. He was a very vocal Republican and he and his friends, when they were drinking, they would get in big arguments and my brother and I would love to sit back and listen to them. And around things like the hog killings in the fall. We had Uncle Wayne, who was not really a kin to us at all, Wayne Melton. He was as thorough a Democrat as my father was a Republican. The two of them would take off from the mill in the fall and go to the farms for the hog killings. These were festivals, the hog killings were essential. My brother and I would be set up on the fence to watch. We’d get a hog bladder to blow up and bat around. There was lots of politicians, whisky drinking and the air was full of hot smoke and whisky smells. They were exciting times and we heard 8 some very vociferous, if not always fully intended, arguments over politics all our youth. MR. FREDERICK: Tell me about your childhood – what things you got interested in and what influences were important to you. JUDGE SENTELLE: We moved from Canton, where I was born, to Asheville when I was about three. I had asthma as a baby. Canton was a paper mill town and Doctor Joe Bob Westmoreland, who was the family doctor, told my parents that if they moved out of that town, I might thrive. We got out of that valley where the paper mill smoke hung. If we stayed in Canton, he didn’t think I’d make it. They moved to Asheville and I rarely have had an asthma attack since. If I go back to the paper mill, my throat will start filling up even now, though not nearly as bad as it did when I was smaller. We moved to Asheville in an older, working class neighborhood with lots of other kids. We went to the elementary school that was within walking distance, a very neat walk from the house. We played lots of tag in the evening with the other kids in the neighborhood and all the other games the kids played. Saturday had a pattern. Every kid in the neighborhood got a quarter on Saturday and for a quarter we could walk to the Isis Theater, which was about a mile and a half away in a section called West Asheville, which was a very working class, west-of-the-river kind of section we lived in. We walked about a mile and a half or a little more to the Isis Theater. For a quarter, you got in for nine cents, you could see a double feature, usually a western or a mystery followed by Abbott & 9 Costello, Ma & Pa Kettle, some comedy feature – two or three cartoons, a short comedy, Three Stooges or something in that order – and a serial episode – The Zombies of the Stratosphere or some such thirteen-episode serial. You could get a Coke and a popcorn or a candy bar and you’d have a penny left out of your quarter. We all thought our parents were incredibly generous to let us go out on Saturday to the movies. Of course, I was grown before I realized that the neighborhood got rid of every kid in there every Saturday for hours for a quarter a piece. That was the best spent money those parents probably spent all month, letting us all go to the movies every Saturday. We stayed in that house in West Asheville until I was through the sixth grade. I went to Vance Elementary. That’s named for Zebulon Vance, who was the Civil War governor of North Carolina. I finished at Vance and by that time my father had bought two or three acres of land out in what’s called the Hominy Valley or Enka Section. Over the course of a couple of years, we had a house built on the property. His brother-in-law, his sister’s husband, was a master carpenter. What they did was, to really save on costs, he subbed it for my Daddy and they would work on it when they didn’t have another job, so they did it at greatly reduced costs. It took about a year-and-a-half or so to finish the house, but we went ahead and changed schools after the sixth grade not knowing when we’d get to move out there. I think it was halfway through the eighth before we moved and I was kicking and screaming, not wanting to go to a new 10 school. But we did and I met some really good kids out there and learned to trap muskrats. I trapped rabbits with box traps and we used steel traps to trap muskrats, which is a very unpolitically correct thing to do. I wouldn’t do it today if I had it to do over, I’m sure, but in those days we used steel traps along the creek to trap muskrats. I had a new gang out there. It was called the Rutherford Hill section of Hominy Valley, which was the hill that we lived on. Polk Rutherford and his little brother, David, were of the Rutherford family that once owned the whole hill and their cousin Mike, whose real name was Neal – I have no idea why he was called Mike. John Rich was semi in the gang, but his mother had aspirations. She sent him over to Asheville to school, so he wasn’t really part of that. Jan Crawford, whose father’s property backed up to my Daddy’s, was probably one of my closest friends. He had a little sister, Judy, who rounded out the group, but she was about three years younger than Jan. Jan was a year and a half younger than me. Judy wanted to go everywhere the boys went and do everything that we did, whether it was trapping muskrats or rabbits or skinny dipping in the creek or whatever, Judy was right there with us. She died about a week ago and it’s really been a lot on my heart ever since then thinking about that gal. She had cancer for the last year or so. I’m going to go down and see Jan next week and spend a little time with him. MR. FREDERICK: Have you been able to keep in touch with those friends? 11 JUDGE SENTELLE: Jan and I have and there are some other friends that have. My oldest friend is a fellow named Tom Furness, who is a very interesting person. Tom, by chance, went to Vance Elementary the same six years I did. He transferred to Sand Hill for the last two years, seventh and eighth grade, and went to Enka High School. So he and I went all the way through together. Nobody else went all the way through with us. They went all the way through with each other, but because we changed school systems, we had a whole bunch of new friends after the sixth grade. Tommy and I were friends from first grade on and Tommy comes through seeking grants and things every two to three years and we’ll have dinner together. Tommy was one of the principal inventors of virtual reality. He was in the Air Force think tank that created it. If you search his name on the Web, you’ll find it. Some call him the father of virtual reality. He and I are probably the only two people in our graduating class that ever had our picture in the paper without numbers under them. Tommy and I have kept up and Jan Crawford, as I mentioned earlier. Jan was a year behind me all through high school and Carolina undergraduate, but he went through an undergraduate program that was a three-year combined program and was in my same class at law school. Jan and I were, I think, the second and third people from Enka High School ever to graduate from law school. We have kept up. Jan comes to see us every now and then. He’s been the president of a community college down there for a little while. He never practiced law. He taught in community 12 colleges and worked in county jobs and then took early retirement with a heart condition a couple years ago. He and his wife moved on to their grandfather’s old place, which is where we used to trap a lot of rabbits and swim in a lot of creeks and such. His little sister had lived there all the time. There were two houses on the farm. They built a new one and moved into it. Jan and I have kept up. Jim Grant was in my class. When Jan was a year behind us, Jim was in class with me and Tommy. Jim retired years ago with a disability from the insurance business after trying several different businesses. Jim and I keep up and then we have an active high school reunion. About every five years, we regularly have a reunion and, though it was about 120 or so people in our class, we probably had about 40 or 50 at least show up for the 40th reunion. I think probably more than that, we probably had 40 percent of the class that showed up for the reunion and a book of responses that showed where a lot of the other people were. I was a little bit surprised to see how many of them were within 50 miles of where we grew up. I wasn’t shocked, but a little bit surprised. Even ones who had gone off in the Army or something had come back home afterward. A fairly small number of us went to college up in that place. Several – being immediate pre-Vietnam era, the drafting era – were in the service. I tried 13 to join the Reserves, myself, and flunked the physical. I “1-y’ed”1 my way through the Vietnam era. We’ve kept up with a lot of folks and we still have family back in that area, which helps us keep in touch. My wife was in the class behind me. That’s E-N-K-A in case you’re wondering about that. It has nothing to do with the Inca Indians. It’s a Dutch acronym. So I guess the short answer is yes, we’ve kept up with a good many of them. By no means everybody, but several that we’ve kept in touch with. MR. FREDERICK: Tell me about the schools and what your teachers were like, what the schools were like. JUDGE SENTELLE: Well we say sometimes that they called it Enka High School because it was on a hill. That was the way in which it was high, but that’s not fair at all. Going back to the elementary school, Vance was sort of a typical working class mountain town elementary school, all-white – it was segregated in those days. There were black people who lived close enough who could have gone to school there if it wasn’t for segregation. But it was segregated. They had their school, we had ours. The teachers were virtually all female, a fair percentage of them unmarried females. The old maid school teacher was the stereotype. I remember hearing that one of them had dated my father in her younger days, but be that as it may, probably close to half of them were unmarried, had never 1 1-Y was a draft classification, short of 4-f, but not 1-a. 14 married. Most of them had gone to teachers’ colleges in the state. It was still legal in those days to teach on a certificate without a college degree, but it was not the norm. Most of them had gone to college. Two of my aunts taught school on certificates without ever having gone to college. They went and took some teacher training and taught at the high school. The teachers there at Vance were probably all graduates of Western Carolina Teacher’s College or Appalachian State Teacher’s College. They were not calling themselves Western Carolina University and Appalachian State University. The principals were, in succession, Mr. Graham and Mr. Hayden. I may have them backwards, but anyhow that was the two men who were principals one after the other at the school. The principal was a man, teachers were women. That was the way it was then. Spotty was the quality of teaching. I had a first grade teacher who stands out in my mind, Miss Colson. She had taught school for a long time. She was old and white-headed in my mind when I was in first grade, but she was still living in Asheville and contacted me and wrote me when I was a judge on the federal bench down there, so she couldn’t have been near as old as I thought she was, although she lived to be, I think, 100, I believe, when she died. She was very stern, very respected, and if you got a good grade in her class, you had learned to read and even begin cursive. She was ahead of the curve in those days. She was a tough, old-timey school teacher. 15 My second grade teacher was Miss Allison. Helen Allison actually was the one who had dated my father in her youth. I can’t think of anything else remarkable about her. She was simply a second grade school teacher. Third grade was Miss Weaver. She was of the Weaver family for whom the town of Weaverville was known. Weaverville was the home of Richard Weaver, the University of Chicago philosophy scholar and conservative writer of the 1950’s and 1940’s. I think she was probably a cousin of his. That’s the town where O. Henry retired for his later years. Zeb Vance, for whom the school was named, was from Weaverville also. Miss Weaver was a funny person. I remember her as having the class laughing a lot. Mrs. Jones was my fourth grade teacher and I remember her as a very portly and very pleasant woman, who again I think was a very good teacher. Then in fifth grade and sixth grade things maybe thinned out a little. Pauline Hall was my fifth grade teacher. She had a son in my class and I beat him up one time. I don’t think she ever forgot that, though she was an old acquaintance of my parents from Haywood County where Canton is. I don’t think she ever liked me very much. I didn’t think she was a great teacher, but maybe that’s because I didn’t like her. My sixth grade teacher, Evelyn Stanton, was the only teacher in that school who was in any sense a modernist. She had just come out of college somewhere up north. She was married to a lawyer and she taught sex education before it was popular and there was some protest from some 16 of the parents about the explicitness of it. That’s the most controversial thing that happened with the teachers in my elementary school years, except that I got kicked out one time for shooting her with a water gun. They expelled me for a few days for that. Then after the sixth grade, as I mentioned earlier, we moved. We hadn’t moved yet, but I transferred schools and went out to Sand Hill Elementary. Now Vance was one through six and if I’d stayed in Asheville, I would have gone to junior high school and a three-year high school following junior high school. But in the county system – there were two separate systems — there was one through eight and then a four-year high school, so I went to the seventh and eighth grade at Sand Hill Elementary. We didn’t change classes the same way that a junior high or high school does, moving from period to period, but we did have a rotation among three or four teachers in the seventh and eighth grades. In the seventh grade, I was in Miss Brown’s homeroom and she also taught us English and she was a very down-home good old school teacher. Miss Mann taught us math. Miss Rector, who was kind of a jerky little woman, taught us science. The coach, Mr. Morris, taught P.E. He coached the seventh and eighth grade teams. Claude Marr, C.C. Marr, was the principal of the school. I came in not really knowing anybody. Tommy Furness transferred the same year I did, but Tommy had already lived in the community out there and he had a lot more friends and we were in different sections because they broke you alphabetically. So I 17 didn’t really know anybody in my class and I was really unhappy for seven or eight days, I’m sure, and then things began to pick up. I had been a very good student for one through six. That had stood me, I think, in very good stead for those years. Seven and eight, I think I found that I was funny and I was more popular if I was funny than if I was smart, so academics trailed off a little and I became more and more of a wiseass through the course of seventh and eighth grades, in trouble more than I had been. One through six, I had been one of the good kids and seven through eight, I was not one of the good kids anymore. But my friend, John Rich, Leroy Searcy and I, Principal Marr in the eighth grade took each of us aside and warned us to quit hanging out with each other, that we were heading for trouble. I don’t know, maybe he was right. But in any event, in the eighth grade, Miss Jamison was our math teacher and my homeroom teacher. She was a bit like Miss Brown, just sort of an oldtime school teacher or local school teacher. Not as good a teacher, I don’t think. She taught English, I said math. I had Miss Mann again for math and Miss Rector again for science and Mr. Morris again as couch for P.E. I was never an athlete, didn’t make either of the basketball or baseball teams which were the only teams they had. Except that the eighth grade year, Dale Galyean, who was our catcher on the baseball team was so good that nobody else wanted to be the backup catcher. So I got to be that because nobody else wanted it. 18 I did not particularly distinguish myself, but did well enough to get into the advanced track when we got to high school. High school was Enka High School, which I referred to earlier as a Dutch acronym. The mill where everybody’s daddy and many peoples’ momma worked was the American Enka Company, the subsidiary of a Dutch company, and ENKA stands for something like American Dutch Rayon Union, or something of that sort. It started in the Depression years and that was a great job for men like my Daddy to have found in those hard years and they stayed with it until they died or retired at the mill. Everybody in the high school, or virtually everybody, either one or more parents worked at the mill or they sold something to people who did work for the mill. It was the center of the community. It had a village where many of the employees lived, Enka Village, in mill-owned housing. We never did but many of my classmates lived in mill-owned housing, which was hierarchical. There were small houses close together where the hourly paid workers lived and there were slightly better homes where the foremen lived which were a little farther up the hill. At the top there were some really nice houses where some of the Dutchmen lived who were the executives. And the term “Dutchman” was slang for a boss. If somebody got promoted, they became a Dutchman when they got promoted high enough. That takes us away from the school which was named for the community, which in turn was named for the mill. The company does not exist anymore, I don’t think. BASF owned the plant for a while and my brother 19 was telling me that there’s some other company that has a piece of it now, but it’s mostly shut down. When the Japanese took the textile industry several years ago, it shut down most of Enka. MR. FREDERICK: Before we go into high school, I want to ask you about Brown v. Board of Education, which was handed down when you were ten years old. You mentioned that the schools were segregated in your youth. Do you remember how your community responded to the Supreme Court’s announcement of Brown? JUDGE SENTELLE: One would not say they responded enthusiastically to it, David. It really was years before they actually integrated the schools. You know Brown was handed down, but they did not integrate the next day. There was all kinds of subsidiary litigation. My parents were upset and most of the other parents I knew were upset. It had always been separate and they fully believed it should be separate. My parents were not haters. There were many different kinds of racial attitudes. There is a stereotype of all people who were segregationists being race haters, but that’s not the case at all. My father and people like him considered the races to be different, but it was not a matter of hate. It was a matter that they thought they were different and that they were best sticking to their own kinds. My father had friends who were black people, but they were subservient black people. That’s sort of what he thought their capability was. The shoe shine man and the bag boy and maids and janitors at the mill and in the 20 schools were black people and that’s what my father and people like him had always grown up believing was the proper role. Now they did not hate. In fact, both of my parents were involved in trying to integrate their church because they didn’t believe that the church was a place where race should matter. Everybody was God’s children and they were involved in inviting a black preacher to preach there and it didn’t take very well with a lot of people. They believed in segregation, my father in particular. My mother had her own theory of how the schools could be peacefully integrated. Once the Supreme Court made its decision in Brown, she was ready to accept it. She said what they ought to do – and you know she might have been right – was start with the first grade. Don’t try to integrate it all at once. Just let the little kids come together and take it on through one year at a time. As it turned out it probably took that long by trying to do it with all deliberate speed. Momma’s common sense might have worked better than the head-on collisions that went on instead. But you couldn’t see any change in the schools for years. North Carolina adopted the Pearsall plan, which was a method of trying to keep the schools the way they were. They litigated and fought politically for years. When we went to the county schools, it didn’t make any difference out there because at that end of the county, there were no black people. The farther out in the country and the hills you get, the whiter it gets. You mentioned a while ago you’d read my book. I have a passage in there on the history of the white hill country in the South. How they didn’t have 21 the black population they had in the lower country in the South – Eastern North Carolina and the Deep South – because slavery was never a prominent feature in the mountains. They had no plantations. They had neither need nor wealth to acquire slaves, so although there were a few people who had one or two slaves in the mountains, you didn’t have a large black population at the end of the Civil War and there was never a lot of employment to bring any influx of any sort of people in. Only in Asheville and a few other places where you had hotels and some industries that brought in an employable population did you have a significant number of blacks. To this day, I don’t think there’s more than one or two black families in the western end of Buncombe County, so I never went to school with black students until I went to college. MR. FREDERICK: So even the Enka mill was all-white? JUDGE SENTELLE: The Enka mill had black employees, but for the most part they lived in West Asheville. There were mill buses in those days that went around to the residential areas and gathered up the workers and brought them to the mill. There was a white bus and, as they said then, a colored bus and the white bus went to the white section of West Asheville and picked up mill workers. The black bus went to the black section of West Asheville and picked up the — as they said — colored in those days and brought them all to the mill. There were no black people living out there. There were a few Indians, but other than that it was a white section in the western area of town. Now there were black employees, mostly in laboring jobs. I 22 don’t recall any in supervision and very few in production, mostly janitors and menders, carpenters – unskilled carpenters that did repairs on the mill – but it was labor jobs and not production. But there were none living out there and aren’t very many even now. There hasn’t been a large influx of population. Most of the people who still live in that section grew up there and they were white, so it is still largely white. My brother lives in the house we finished growing up in out there. We do get back. My wife’s mother lives in West Asheville and she lives in a section that’s probably, by now, over half black since she lived there and it was always on the edge of the segregated communities. They pretty much lived amongst each other on the edges, but not at Enka, the western end out there. Another odd thing has happened, in that it’s become gentrified in the section where the old mill used to be. The people use those either as second homes or they’ve torn them down and begun to build a whole new subdivision. The Vanderbilt heirs have built a whole new subdivision with expensive homes out there. And, again, there aren’t very many wealthy black people around that section to buy those homes. That has created a new upper white class out there in the old working class section where we grew up. MR. FREDERICK: High school must have been a transformative experience for you, just based on what you’ve said about being somewhat of a cut-up in your middle school years, the seventh and eighth grade years. Tell me about 23 high school and who the teachers were that were an important influence for you. JUDGE SENTELLE: I’m still a cut-up! I was what they called a gifted underachiever. I made the highest SAT scores ever made by anybody from my high school, but I was not in the top four or five in my class. I think I astonished some people, perhaps, although the teachers always knew that I was achieving good grades with a minimum of effort. I was very involved in some good activities. I was on the debate team when I was a sophomore, which was the first sophomore ever to make the debate team. I was president of the forensic league, which was the speech club. I made the honor society. I – informally at first and then in my senior year formally – led the cheering section at all the athletic events. I was editor of the yearbook. I was known as Brother Dave. There was a southern comedian of whom you’ve probably never heard, Brother Dave Gardner, who used to appear on the old Tonight Show with Jack Parr occasionally. Brother Dave had some standup routines that were recorded on old black flat records and his favorite expression was, “Rejoice, Dear Hearts, your Brother Dave is amongst you.” I used to do his routines, so I was called Brother Dave by everyone including the teachers at the high school. I actually had some teachers who would greet each other “Dear Heart” from the method I spread among the students out there. “Rejoice, Dear Hearts, Brother Dave is amongst you.” As I said, I did his standup routines. 24 I did Andy Griffith imitations at high school parties. You probably also don’t know the history of Andy Griffith. What it Was, Was Football. Griffith was a student at Chapel Hill, a graduate student. He began to do a routine where a country bumpkin goes to a football game at Chapel Hill for civic clubs in the Chapel Hill area and then all over North Carolina and then Capitol Records had him record it. It was a massive hit. He went on Ed Sullivan and kind of flopped, but somebody saw him on Ed Sullivan who was casting No Time for Sergeants, on Broadway. They cast Griffith as Will Stockdale and, of course, the rest is history. I learned his What it Was, Was Football routine and a couple of others and I used to do those as well as Dave Gardner imitations. That was when we had the Rutherford Hill group. We actually created a mythical government at Rutherford Hill. I was the Mayor of Rutherford Hill. Jan Crawford and Polk Rutherford were the City Council. We issued honorary citizenship cards, had them printed up at a local print shop. We gave them to the highway patrol and some of the teachers if they liked. Among the teachers, the principal and I were as cross as two sticks. He was a man named Hugh Tomberlin. He was a much more dictatorial principal than anybody could be in these days. Even for that day, he was regarded as a very stern principal. I was regarded as a cutup and a maverick. I was in a lot of trouble. I’d built a lot of detention, but I also was a very good student and I also performed so well on standardized tests 25 that he knew for a long time that I had the potential to do a lot better things than most of the graduates of that high school had done academically. So we stayed pretty crosswise of each other and he paid tribute to me at a pep rally when the scores came back from the, first the PSATs where I was in the top three or four in the state and he announced that I was and the pep rally gave me a standing ovation, and the same thing the following year with the SATs. It didn’t keep me from getting in a whole lot of trouble, but it did help soften the blow at times, I think. He tried very hard to get me to go off to an Ivy League school. I did apply to and was accepted at Yale. I had no desire whatsoever even if we’d had the money, which we didn’t. I was a little scared. I had not really been much outside Western North Carolina. I had traveled some in the South to the homes of relatives and such, but the thought of going off to a Yankee school was a little daunting. And I had always wanted to go to Chapel Hill or Duke, one or the other. Financially, Chapel Hill became the place to go. MR. FREDERICK: I want to go into college in a moment, but first I want to hear about debating in high school. I was a former debater and I want to hear what your experience was like there, what topics you debated, what the competition was like, what the process was like. JUDGE SENTELLE: The first year we had a competition for the forensic team, the sponsor of the NFL conducted the competition and she just judged it dictatorially. The forensic team sponsor was Catherine Rutherford. She was the mother 26 of Polk Rutherford who was one of my disciples there on the Rutherford Hill group. She was a very well-educated woman. She had gone to Carolina. She was one of the few of the faculty who had gone to a big college rather than going to Western Carolina, Appalachian State, or East Tennessee. She conducted Congresses where we’d do legislative sessions and then she had us try out for the debate team. I made it as an alternate and ultimately one of the team members dropped off and I was the first alternate of a four-member team. One of them, Marilyn Plott, got involved in other things and had to drop it, so I became Judy Woodard’s partner. Judy was a junior. We were the negative. Later we had to argue both sides, but you came on as a negative or an affirmative. Charles Robin Britt and Arthur Taylor were the affirmative. Robin was a senior. He was Mr. Everything at the high school. He was president of the student body, captain of the football team, Morehead scholar at Carolina, which was a very prestigious scholarship. Later, he was a one term Congressman. Robin was the captain of the team and he and Arthur Taylor, who later was principal of the high school, were the other half. We were a very simpatico, a very compatible, a very collegial bunch and we all adored Ms. Rutherford. She was really erudite in a way we weren’t accustomed to in our teachers. She was so well-read and so good at calling up quotes and supplying us with something in practice. If we couldn’t think of a resource, she would at least suggest a line of research if not actually give us something we could use. 27 We traveled as far as Johnson City, Tennessee, in the debates. Then we went to Appalachian State for the regional finals. We made the regionals every year and never won in the three years I was there. We were always runner up or in the top two or three, but we never got to go to the state finals at Chapel Hill. That was always a good treat. We’d get to go out there and stay in a dormitory at Appalachian State, which was a place that high school boys liked to go in those days because it was very heavily female then and even high school boys could make out out there. The first year it was resolved that the United States should adopt a modified education system based on the Soviet Union. I don’t remember precisely how it was worded, but it had to do with adopting a system. No, based on England’s system. The Soviet Union was one we used in discussion. It was based on the British system of education. One year was a right to work topic. I think that was my senior year and I don’t remember for the life of me what was the one that came in between. The second year, my partner was Tom Orr. He was a junior – we were both juniors. I don’t remember what we argued that year. The third year was the right to work and Jan Crawford, my buddy from behind me there, was a junior and he and I were partners on the debate team. We traveled as far as Johnson City, Tennessee, Elizabeth City, North Carolina. All the local schools that had debate teams, which was about maybe a fourth of the schools. Then we made the finals again at Appalachian for the regional and again did not make it down to Carolina for the state finals. 28 MR. FREDERICK: Did they do individual events as well – extemporaneous speaking, original oratory, etc.? JUDGE SENTELLE: Yes. We had National Forensic League speech tournaments. We had Congresses where you do legislative sessions, then we had tournaments where you do extemp and recitations. There were two kinds of extemp. They used two different names for them. One of them was the light subjects, where you could do a humorous speech. The other one you were given about two minutes to think and you had to speak for a couple minutes on a serious subject. We sponsored one of those at our school. Our club had almost lost its charter. You got points for participation in all these things, but we had to build the charter back up. It helped us to sponsor one of the meets, so we had a tournament at our school. They were all very useful things in preparation for the route that I intended to go and did go professionally. MR. FREDERICK: When did you decide that you wanted to be a lawyer? Was it in high school? JUDGE SENTELLE: I think it was before that. There were a lot of factors. I was not particularly fond of Sam Robinson, my uncle by marriage. My mother had worked for him. She did not work for him when I was a kid. She stayed home mostly. Sam just looked to me like he did more interesting things than the men in the family who were mill workers and carpenters. And he would come in talking about cases he had tried and deals he had put together and it sounded more interesting than what everybody else did. 29 I was born, as I said before, on February 12 and people kept giving me biographies of Lincoln because of it being his birthday, so I read a lot about Lincoln and what he did sounded like a thing I would like to do. So I wanted to be a lawyer by the time I was in the sixth or seventh grade. It was not some epiphany, just gradually developed. I drifted off for a little while in high school and thought about the ministry and realized I wasn’t good enough for that and went back to wanting to be a lawyer. I guess that answers your question. MR. FREDERICK: How did you find the training you did in debate to help as a trial lawyer? JUDGE SENTELLE: Oh, a lot of ways. The first is, I realize that I speak more slowly than people up here. That’s not necessarily the natural accent of the mountains. In fact, Andy Griffith’s cadence is just about normal for the mountains up there, where he says, “It was back last October, I believe it was,” Andy spoke a little faster and that’s the natural cadence in the mountains. Ms. Rutherford slowed us down, where the coaches and judges could understand what we were saying. You had to learn to speak on your feet because you had to rebut what the other side would say when you gave your rebuttal. And I liked the rebuttal function of it and I liked to speak on my feet. It also, of course, takes the butterflies out of your stomach. But I learned to speak on my feet. I learned to listen and respond. I saw that note-taking was not the way to go. Trial lawyers who take a lot of notes are not going to do a very good job because they’re not hearing everything that is said and they’re not thinking about what they’re going to 30 say back. You’ve got to learn to hear it, remember it, and respond, and you learn the ways to speak to which people are responsive. You learn what caught your audience, what caught the judges if there was no audience. You learn things about style and method and cadence and approach that I think stayed with me through a not-very-enthusiastic debating career at Carolina and then all the years of trial law. MR. FREDERICK: How about writing? You’re a wonderful writer. Did you have good writing instructors when you were in high school? JUDGE SENTELLE: You know, I think the first writing instructors that I remember were back in elementary school. Ms. Weaver, who was the funny person in the third grade began to try to teach us to write sentences that were not just, “See the cat run.” My sixth grade teacher, whose name has now escaped me, Ms. Stanton, the one that I shot with a water gun who I never really liked very much, she made us put together essays in a way that the other teachers in that elementary school were not yet. She was helpful, although I think part of it, David, honestly is a gift. I think some of it you have to have. You can only be trained so much and I remember in the sixth grade getting back a paper that said, “This is very good. I hope it’s your own work.” And we had some words about that. It may have been before I shot her with the water gun. Because she believed it was better than she expected a sixth grade student to write on cavemen. My parents were both very good with language. My father wrote wonderful letters. We read the King James Bible. All of those things, I 31 think, contributed to being able to write well. Then in college I had a very good composition instructor whom I think influenced me from there on, Charles Edge, who I also took a literature course under. He complimented me as being a very good writer and then he taught me things that I could do to make it better, so it was probably more from grammar school and college than from direct instruction in high school. Although Ms. Rutherford, whom I never had for a class, the debate coach, was very good in the use of language and I think she helped a great deal. Also, just reading helps you write and I was a voracious reader. A lot of junk, but a lot of good stuff, too. MR. FREDERICK: What books do you remember as being favorites from your high school years? JUDGE SENTELLE: Well I first read Buckley’s Up From Liberalism while I was in high school. I first read Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. I even got him to autograph it while I was still in high school. Somewhere along the way there, I read To Kill a Mockingbird, which still remains one of my favorites. Thomas Wolfe, I became first enamored with while in high school. Now I’m not talking about Tom Wolfe, the pop writer, who is quite a good writer – I don’t mean to say anything mean – but Thomas Wolfe was the early twentieth-century novelist who grew up in Asheville who wrote Look Homeward, Angel, Of Time and the River, Web and the Rock. He sort of wrote, You Can’t Go Home Again, although I think his editor put a 32 lot of that together after Wolfe’s death. Those were – particularly Look Homeward, Angel – very influential books for me. Look Homeward, Angel was very autobiographical. They all were, but especially that one. My Uncle Jack, among others, could sit there and tell you who the characters were in real life and what their real names were. The Gant family in the book is the Wolfe family in real life. The Pentland family in the book is the Westall family in real life, Wolfe’s mother’s people. At any rate, he grew up in the mountains and read a lot and wasn’t very good at sports and I read his stuff and identified with a lot of it. Then again in college, I re-read a lot of it in Chapel Hill, which he calls Pulpit Hill in the book. He talks about going out and walking in the graveyard at night. I used to go out and walk in the same graveyard at night. So Wolfe’s books were very influential. My grandmother began to teach me Shakespeare when I was in elementary school. We liked to go out – I in particular, but my brother, too – particularly I liked to go out and spend Sunday at my grandmother’s apartment after she moved back to Canton. She and my grandfather had lived with us in Asheville for a few years. He developed what was probably Alzheimer’s, although they didn’t have that diagnosis in those days. They moved into a little apartment in Canton. As I said, I used to like to go stay out there on weekends. I guess just to keep me busy, she had an old thin-paged, onion skin-page copy, leather-bound of The Complete Works of Shakespeare that I have now that she would have me 33 read from and learn passages from. And that, I think, was influential also. And we had the King James Bible. MR. FREDERICK: Were you the first in your family to go to college? JUDGE SENTELLE: Yes. I had a great-grandfather, J. Wiley Shook, my father’s mother’s father who was a lawyer, but he had read law at the time when you could read law under a practitioner. He had not gone to law school or college. Collateral relatives had gone to college. But I had a very interesting greatgrandfather. Now I was the first to graduate, but he actually went to college as a mature man bit by bit. As I mentioned earlier, in the old days you could teach in public school with a high school education. And he learned to read after he was a grown man and passed the teaching exam and taught school. My great-grandfather, Dick Sentelle, Richard Alva Sentelle, known as Grandpa Dick or Granddaddy Dick to his grandchildren – he was dead before I was born – and Uncle Dick to the whole community. He was a school teacher and a preacher without a college education, but then he started going to summer institutes at Western Carolina and Wake Forest and actually acquired a good bit of a college education. By the time he died in his seventies, he was still taking summer courses but he never got a degree, although he was superintendent of schools of Haywood County. It was an incredible thing for a man who’d never finished college to have been secretary of the Baptist convention and secretary of schools. There is a little biography of him, 34 which is really a collection of his journals, mostly, which I have a couple of copies of, Dick Sentelle of Haywood. He was a remarkable man. Beyond him, nobody else had finished college. There were some collateral relatives who had, but nobody in my direct line on either side. My mother had two sisters who taught school and who finished college after they were middle-aged people, but they were after me finishing. In fact, after their own children finished college, they finished college. At the time I finished college, I was the first in my direct line. My first cousin, Mary, finished the same year I did at Carolina, so we were carrying the ball for our family at the same time. MR. FREDERICK: How did your family react to your decision to go off to university? JUDGE SENTELLE: My parents, particularly my father, had always wanted their sons to go off to college. My brother didn’t. He went in the Air Force right out of high school. He had not been a very good student, although he was very intelligent. He got a bad start in elementary school, I think. He never really caught on academically. He didn’t go on to school and my parents wished he had. He later finished at community college, but that’s a different story for him to tell. But they always wanted us to go to college and they were very encouraging, very supportive, and delighted that I went to Chapel Hill. As I said before, a majority of my high school class did not go to college at all – at least not right out of high school. Some of them went later. Of those who did go to college, a substantial number of that minority went to 35 either Western Carolina or Appalachian State. A few to Mars Hill or Asheville Biltmore Junior College, which is now UNC-Asheville. Only a very few of us went off to large state universities or large universities. Tommy Furness, who I mentioned earlier, went to Duke on an Angier B. Duke scholarship. A couple of people went to N.C. State. Three of us went to Carolina and it was a point of pride that we had been admitted to and gone off to Carolina. MR. FREDERICK: Did you know what you wanted to study as soon as you arrived? JUDGE SENTELLE: I knew that I eventually wanted to go to law school, so I had in my mind that political science was probably the way you should prepare for law school. I read that somewhere. I’m not sure that it’s true. I wound up taking enough English courses to have a second major in English. And if I had to advise, I might tell people that English would be a good major for pre-law. If you were turned in the right direction, accounting might be. But I was in political science and I found it to be a very easy major. It gave me a lot of time to do the other things I wanted to do, so I stayed in political science. As I said, I took a lot of English. I found that to be very valuable for writing skills. Yes, I knew the direction I wanted to go, but I didn’t work nearly as hard as I should have in college. I partied too much and drank way too much. MR. FREDERICK: What courses did you enjoy the most? JUDGE SENTELLE: The advanced composition course that I mentioned earlier under Charles Edge was an excellent course in which we really dealt with rhetoric. He 36 also taught a literature course that I took on the early English novel. We started with Fielding and worked all the way up to Jane Austen and the Brontè sisters. And I learned a new way of reading literature there that I had been exposed to in other English classes, but had never really bought – the analysis of fiction – the themes and messages that were involved. Charles Edge made me believe it. I really believe that Jane Austen had the story of the Minotaur in her mind as a pattern for some of the inner workings of what happened to her characters. It was a really great course. I took a political science seminar that I enjoyed. Jimmy Prothro was the professor. He and I probably didn’t agree on what day it was, but he made a very lively seminar. I was one of, I think, two conservatives in the seminar for about twenty-five people. Prothro was a very active, liberal Democrat. The rest of the class, as was common, were liberals or nothing. And nothing tended to be liberal in Chapel Hill. It was an interesting class with interesting exchanges. Those are a few classes that stand out. I took physics my freshman year. I don’t remember anything about it. My wife doesn’t believe this. I don’t even remember going to it. I got a ‘C’, so I passed it, but I have no recollection of it whatsoever. I took calculus. There was a requirement for six hours of math, but if you placed over a course, you could take the one course and get credit for all of them. I placed over two math courses, took the third course, and got nine hours credit and said goodbye to the math department. Although I had made the highest math scores on the SAT, again, of anybody from my high school 37 ever at that time, I didn’t particularly like math then. I learned later that I liked it better than I thought I did. I do play games with math now. I don’t think I was ever as hard-working at it as I should have been or I might have enjoyed it more. My approach in high school had always been that I would do enough to get by and then figure out how to ace the exam, during the exam. It was more exciting that way. That’s not a good way to prepare for calculus, but I couldn’t figure it out. I had to do it by doing the work and doing it by rote. I had to get a ‘C’ to get credit for the other courses. I got my ‘C’ and I said goodbye to the math department. MR. FREDERICK: What other activities did you get involved in at college? JUDGE SENTELLE: Well, I was very active in the Young Republicans. I have a friend to this day who practices law in Raleigh whom I met during registration our freshman year, Chuck Neely, who ran for governor in North Carolina and lost the primary a few years ago. Chuck and I dropped out of the registration line together to join the Young Republicans at one of the side tables. I went through the ranks there and was very involved with Republican campaigning and Republican politics in North Carolina. I attended all the CR, YR, and State Republican conventions for years – all the time I was an undergraduate. My first year in law school, I was president of the Young Republicans. I didn’t mean to be, but the president dropped out and I had been vice president, so I was stuck with it. I was on the debate team my freshman, sophomore, and junior years and I just ran out of time my senior year and did not debate that year. Kellis 38 Parker, who was later a Harvard Law professor, was on the debate team with me there. Kellis died last year or the year before. He was, I think, the first black man to debate for Carolina. My partner my freshman year was Charles Heatherly, who was a sophomore and I was a freshman. He had been a graduate of Enka, also, and had been in the NFL up there with me at the high school. My sophomore year, my partner was Barry Hyman. He was a Jewish boy from High Point. I think, when I stayed in his house, it was the first time I’d ever stayed in the home of anyone who wasn’t a Christian. We had Jewish acquaintances growing up, but they all lived in Asheville and not over in West Asheville or out in the country. My momma, I said a while ago that she mostly stayed home, but except during Christmas season, she worked in a department store and her boss was Harry Winter. But it was a little bit different for us to have a Jewish friend. I lived in Barry’s fraternity house one summer after that where we joked that I was the house goy. I was there to turn the lights on and off on Saturdays. Charlie and I debated together again my junior year. He was a senior and I was a junior and then, as I said, I dropped off the team my senior year. By then I had gotten behind financially and I worked a substantial part of the time my junior and senior years. That takes a big chunk out of your time for extracurriculars when you’re working. I worked a 20 – 24-hour week. I worked even longer at Chapel Hill my junior and senior years. I had worked my freshman year, but had a very good job. I read to blind 39 students and I read courses I was taking, so it didn’t really take a chunk out of your time. I had dropped out my sophomore year when I had an operation and then I bummed around for a while and I got myself behind financially. When I went back, I had to work more. MR. FREDERICK: How did you finance your college education? JUDGE SENTELLE: I had worked in the restaurants around the tourist traps of western North Carolina from the time I was about fifteen. I had worked some construction in the summers when I was fourteen, fifteen, sixteen. I saved a lot of money and my parents helped me, but I did save the biggest part of it myself. They didn’t have a lot of money, although they were quite willing to help me. They did help me a lot my sophomore year when I was sick. I had a pilonidal cyst, which in itself is not bad except it got very infected and I didn’t want to drop out and have it removed and so I stayed running a low-grade fever most of my aborted sophomore year. They told me, “Quit your job and let us pay for this one.” Then finally they said, “Look, just drop out and come home,” which I did. Then I worked in a laundry office and worked summers at the restaurants again. You could easily find restaurant work, so I worked summers in restaurants. I worked for the laundry and got paid minimum wage. The second year, I was one of four guys who had a commission office in a high-rise dorm, so we made considerably more than minimum wage by rotating the time we spent on it. We had the job and all the football players and other scholarship athletes got free laundry service and free 40 linen service, so they would use all of our services. In fact, if money wasn’t coming in fast enough, we’d go change their linens for them so we could get a nickel a pack for the linens we passed out. Those were the principal ways in which I financed it. As I said, my parents also helped out. In law school, I got married, which was kind of like a scholarship. My wife worked and we went into some debt, which was very low-interest debt. The last two years of law school, I had a very full ride. I had had a small scholarship the first year, but there was something called the Dameron Fellowship that’s awarded after your first year. I don’t know how to officially describe it, but it’s sort of, “Look, we missed you with a good scholarship the first time, but now you’ve proved you can handle it.” So it’s given to one student every year and I got it my last two years. MR. FREDERICK: Were you involved in political campaigns at the presidential or state level during your college years? JUDGE SENTELLE: Yes, I was very involved in the Goldwater campaign in ’64. The local Republican Party was not a very conservative Republican Party there and the students of the College Republicans really ran Goldwater headquarters. I had been a Goldwater Republican for some time. I met him my senior year in high school. I had already read his book before that, The Conscience of a Conservative, and I really believed that he was the way to go, that he had it right. He came to speak to a private prep school at their graduation, Asheville School for Boys, which was a pricey prep school. 41 Dan Judd, who was a hardware store operator and one of my Daddy’s Lion’s Club and lodge buddies, as I mentioned earlier, was county chairman. I went and asked Dan if he could get my book autographed for me and he said, “I’ve got some passes for the party, so come on, you can go.” So Dan and I and his son went out there and he let Danny, Jr., and me bring Barry Goldwater around from the airport and we had a long talk with him. I got him to autograph my copy of The Conscience of a Conservative, which is probably in the office here somewhere. And then, as I said, I worked in his campaigns in the conventions forward. I was very involved in the campaign. I almost flunked myself out, I spent so much time on it. In ’64, I was involved with other campaigns. Now in those days, remember, there weren’t very many Republicans winning in North Carolina. It was still a very Democratic state, so I worked in losing campaigns for most other offices. While I was in law school, we elected Jim Gardner as the congressman for that district, the first Republican for that district. All the way through law school, I was Republican Party chairman of the precinct and I would resign shortly before each election and get myself appointed as Republican precinct judge, which you couldn’t hold a party office and be an official poll worker. You got paid, I think, twenty dollars a day for being the precinct judge. I picked up an extra twenty dollars every election day back then, but I’d become precinct chairman again as soon as the election was over. 42 I worked in Charlie Strong’s campaign for governor. He lost in the primary to Bob Gavin and then I worked in Bob’s campaign. Whatever was going on that was Republican, I was involved in it. And as I said, Goldwater was the heaviest for me. That’s where I first became an admirer of Ronald Reagan, during the Goldwater campaign when he made the “A Time for Choosing” speech. We knew he was vaguely Republican and conservative before that speech. When he made that speech, I think the whole conservative movement across the country said, “This is the future.” “This is the man.” MR. FREDERICK: Did you develop a personal relationship with Senator Goldwater during the campaign? JUDGE SENTELLE: Not really. There were many people between me and him. I was very flattered one day when he came through the second time during the preconvention that he called me by name. I don’t know if somebody fed it to him or not, but he did call me “Dave” when he saw me. That got me a lot of admiring glances from the other college students. But, no, I didn’t have any kind of real close, personal relationship with Barry Goldwater. I admired him as a leader. I was a college student. MR. FREDERICK: Tell me about your law school experience. What caused you to decide to stay in Chapel Hill after college? JUDGE SENTELLE: Financial factors were a big factor. I actually seriously considered going to Duke or thought about Yale but, again, decided that the financial and displacement factors were enormous. Jane and I had just gotten married 43 and financials was a big factor. Although my college ranking was not outstanding, my LSATs were. I was in the top percentile in the LSATs and Duke offered me a scholarship, but Duke was so expensive that even with a scholarship, it still would have cost a significant amount more than Carolina. It was only a very small scholarship. Jane became pregnant very quickly and money was very important to us, only she was working and we knew there would be a hiatus. We lost that child, so our children don’t start until after I finished law school. In any event, financials were a big part of it. I might have gone to Duke for a change of scenery had it not been for that, but there was also nagging me all the time the fact that graduates of UNC Law School and Wake Forest Law School were the ones who did things politically in North Carolina. You didn’t see very many Duke – more then than now, perhaps, although Liddy Dole is a Duke undergraduate. Most of the people who were moving and shaking politically were Carolina Law School graduates and that was a fact not lost on me. I remember in the gubernatorial election of ’64, the Democrats had three candidates running – Dan Moore, Beverly Lake, and Richardson Pryor. Pryor was Harvard Law, Lake was Yale Law, and Dan Moore won. He was Carolina Law and I think there was a connection. MR. FREDERICK: Did you have aspirations to run for office? JUDGE SENTELLE: Yes, I did in those days. I wound up not running for any high offices later. My main aspiration in those days was to practice law. I wanted to practice 44 trial law, I wanted to be good at it, but it was always on my mind that a lot of trial lawyers go to Congress. I seriously thought about it. In 1984, Jim Martin was our congressman from Charlotte and Charlotte was a district run by Republicans since 1952. Jim decided to run for governor. I had been county party chairman. Jim called me, among others, to tell me he’d decided to run for governor. I hung the phone up and said, “Jane, Jim’s not running for Congress.” She said, “You’re not either.” That was almost the end of it. I had three school-age children who were approaching college age and practiced with a small firm. I just didn’t have the backing to have been able to take time out to run for Congress then. Jesse Helms’s people said they would see that my campaign was funded, but I had to think about funding three colleges and three weddings. We decided we couldn’t afford it. So I ran for county commissioner and lost. I was an elected state judge and won. So I ran for office twice, won one and lost one. That gets us way ahead of where we were, so jump back to whatever you wanted to ask me before. MR. FREDERICK: Well, law school. What courses got you particularly excited in law school? JUDGE SENTELLE: An incredible number of them did. I loved law school. I don’t think I ever worked that hard mentally before for as sustained a period of time as I did in law school and I found where I was supposed to be. It was a combination of reasoning and rhetoric that I wanted to do. I had always thought I’d love it and I did. 45 J. Dickson Phillips was the dean of the law school and was later a Fourth Circuit judge. Dick taught a course that was improperly labeled, “Personal Property.” It was really a procedure course, but they used a personal property casebook for the procedural framework. I found it to be a very good introductory course to learning how things were done in the law. Phillips was rumored to have pets and I was rumored to be one of them and that was fine with me. I did very well in law school. I had the “book A” as it’s called in his class, among others. Torts – which some people don’t find stimulating – I did find stimulating. I had Robert Byrd, not the senator but a different Robert Byrd, later succeeded Phillips as dean at the school. Byrd I had four times. I had been meaning to have him three, but I had him for both semesters of torts and then for trusts and later for remedies. He taught a very good torts class, a very Socratic, interactive kind of torts class where you’d really have to think about what you were doing. He was always one step ahead, a very, very bright man and a very fine professor. I’m thinking now in terms of the first year of law school. Chancellor William Aycock taught the real estate class, which can be a very dull course. He was so entertaining and so bright that that was a good course the first semester. Then Freddy B. McCall taught the second semester. Freddy B. was one of the most erudite scholars in any field I ever knew. He knew North Carolina property law and baseball. You couldn’t ask him anything about either of those subjects that he didn’t know. 46 As law school went on, I had Dean Frank Strong for the constitutional law seminar. He was a retired dean of Ohio State University Law School and he taught a seminar on a different constitutional topic every semester. When I had him, we were dealing with the constitutional implications and restrictions on third-party electoral participation – ballot access for minority parties. Ohio had the strictest third-party laws in the country. Every state had some sort of third-party law. Most states had some sort of third-party laws that were restrictive on ballot access. He had each student take a state and write a brief attacking or defending those laws. He wouldn’t let me pick a state. Everybody else got to pick a state, but I had to take Ohio. I had had him the semester before for Federal Jurisdiction and Federal Courts, which is a wonderful course. He had his own Socratic method. He would come in and do things like, “Sentelle, I know the bell hasn’t rung yet, but when it does, I’m going to call on you. Be thinking about what you’re going to say.” He wouldn’t tell you what he was going to ask you. Then he’d ask you, “Well, Sentelle, what do you want to say?” “About what, sir?” “Oh, well about the material in such-and-such a case.” He played with us and he really had a marvelous method where everything didn’t come together until the end. He was teaching strands of this and strands of that and he would weave them together as you got closer and closer to the end. I loved him and although the law review board is exempted from the seminar requirement, I took his seminar just to get him 47 again. And he loved me. His wife was my press agent. She would tell everybody, “This is the Sentelle boy who made the A’s under Frank twice, the high A twice.” Those were among the classes that stand out in my mind. My first tax course, estate and gift tax, was one I really enjoyed. Income tax wasn’t any good. It was a different professor who was a very dry lecturer. That’s no way to teach tax. John Scott, who taught the textbook method, was the professor in my estate and gift tax class. He was very expert and taught a lectured class in a sense, but it was more anecdotal than it was a lecture. He was quite able to take those statutes one-by-one and tell you how they got there and what you’d do with them if you were ever on one side or the other of the tax controversy. I’m sure that I’m going into more detail than you really wanted me to, but those are the courses I remember immediately. MR. FREDERICK: You joined the law review as a second-year law student? JUDGE SENTELLE: Well, in those days you had to grade on. I realize by the time you came through law school, you had your write-ons and grade-ons, but if you’re in the top ten percent of the first-year class in law school, you then had to write two notes or one long comment that was published before you were officially a law review member. But you were only eligible if you were in the top ten percent. Then you had to write-in and your note had to be accepted. So, at the end of my first year, I was tenth in the class. I was in the top ten percent, but for some reason it was the top twenty people. That 48 was arbitrary – you had to be in the top twenty people, which was a little more than ten percent. It seemed to be the pattern that the last five, fifteen through twenty, didn’t write or didn’t get their notes published. It was about the top fifteen who managed to make it through the first year. So I started writing the summer before my second year and made the law review. I got two notes published and then made the editorial board for the third year. The editorial board was seven people in those days. The editor-in-chief was C. Boyden Gray, who was later White House Counsel under the elder George Bush. MR. FREDERICK: Was Gray also in your section in first-year? JUDGE SENTELLE: He was and he wasn’t. They had cut it into six different sections and then mixed them different ways for different classes so that there were always either two or three sections blended. So Boyden and I were in torts together, but not in criminal law together. But that’s a better way to do it than to have the same section all the way through. It makes for better comparisons. Gray and I had two classes together and three classes not together. MR. FREDERICK: What was he like as a law student? JUDGE SENTELLE: He was brilliant. A lot of people thought he was aloof. I never thought so. I always liked Boyden. He just had a bearing about him that a lot of aristocrats have that makes them seem aloof. He really didn’t mean to be snobbish and I don’t think he was. He went around with his pants way up his shins because he grew so tall so late and he’d come to my little two- 49 room apartment for supper and was just a very laid-back guy when you got to know him. But he was hard to know. He studied all the time. We used to say he was number one in the class in three regards: he had the best grades, he was the tallest, and he had the most money. The Gray family, of course, is a legendary multimillionaire, multi-generation family. MR. FREDERICK: How did he end up at UNC Law School, do you know? JUDGE SENTELLE: He went to Harvard undergrad and was, I think, summa cum laude, but his father had been president of the greater university and I think he just had a loyalty that he wanted to come back home and he came back to the greater university. Although his family had endowed a lot of Wake Forest, along with the Reynolds family. But he had a loyalty to UNC through his father, Gordon Gray, who had been Secretary of Defense under Eisenhower and the president of the greater university, as is called the Chapel Hill campus of NC State. It was called the Women’s College of Greensboro in those days and then added other branches. I think that was that. He just had a loyalty there. He came back to UNC and that was a great shock to Scalia when he found out that Gray had gone to UNC. He undertook to introduce us one day and Gray informed him that we had been classmates. “You didn’t go to Harvard Law School?” MR. FREDERICK: Was Gray active in Republican politics as well in law school? JUDGE SENTELLE: No. I knew he was a conservative. I did not, at that time, consider him as conservative as I was. He had read all the right things and we could 50 discuss everything from Edmund Burke through Buckley and did discuss them during breaks, but he was never active in politics in those days at all. MR. FREDERICK: What captured your interest for writing as a law student to do your notes? JUDGE SENTELLE: I made a mistake the first one I wrote. Bill Aycock, whom I admired, the real estate professor, wanted somebody to write a note on a case involving landlord liability for tenant negligence. North Carolina apparently was the only state to ever adopt it and he thought it was a terrible idea and wanted it noted. I noted it and found out it was far too dry and I did not like working for Bill. We got along fine as long as I wasn’t working for him. He was much more making you work for him than writing your own note with him assisting. In any event, I made a mistake that time. The second one, though, I wrote with Frank Strong as my faculty advisor in Adderley v. Florida, which was the case involving the upholding of the trespass convictions of the Florida civil rights demonstrators that had blocked the passageway to a jail. It was one of the very early decisions on the First Amendment implications of physical demonstration. There were precursors, but this was the one that got the point most squarely up to that time. MR. FREDERICK: Was the UNC faculty at that time enamored of a particular view toward how the law should be taught or understood? JUDGE SENTELLE: For the most part, it was a very Socratic teaching group. There were a few lecturers, but for the most part it was semi-lecture plus a lot of Socratic interchange. There was a classical devotion to the law as an entity among 51 most professors that was pretty much along the present view of the law. Not much crit, not much radical, not much legal positivism. We had one criminal law professor who had come from Yale. He was South African in origin, a wild-ass radical who tried to completely depart from any teaching of the black-letter law at all and taught a complete policy course in criminal law. He was there three years, was a complete flop, and I don’t think he ever succeeded anywhere. That was Michael Katz. He faded away. I saw him a couple of years later trying to argue a case for the ACLU or some other group. He wasn’t permitted to argue because he wasn’t a member of the bar. In any event, I don’t know what became of him. There was not much of the crits or positivism movements appearing in that still-classical view of the law among most professors. MR. FREDERICK: Liberal? Conservative? JUDGE SENTELLE: The faculty was very liberal by general standards, not terribly liberal by the standards of law professors in general. The only real conservatives were Freddy B. McCall, who was the old property professor who I had for the second course in property, and Dean Frank Strong was a conservative who resurfaced for a brief moment during Bob Bork’s hearings. He wrote an op-ed piece for some publication supporting Bork’s nomination. By then he’d been retired for many years, but he was still a bright old guy. They were the only really conservative professors whom I remember, but the rest of the faculty tended to be fairly moderately liberal. It didn’t tend 52 to color their teaching to any great extent. There were exceptions, but for the most part it was a pretty center-left kind of faculty. Bill Aycock was a very prominent Democrat, the former chancellor of the university who was the other property law professor. Bill had been a Nuremberg prosecutor. He had been chancellor of the university. His greatest claim to fame had been that he fired the legendary coach, Frank McGuire, of the basketball program just a couple of years after he won the national basketball championship. He told me about it later and then he hired the young assistant coach, a fellow named Dean Smith, who became the winningest coach in college basketball history. Bill told me about it years later when I was teaching at Chapel Hill. Bill, by then, was long-since emeritus and he said that the investigation that he had run made it clear that there were players being paid and that Frank McGuire had to know – if he wasn’t directly involved, he at least had to know it. And so he volunteered this information to the NCAA and volunteered Carolina for probation. He cut it back to two scholarships a year and told McGuire he could resign or be fired. McGuire resigned and he called in Dean Smith, the young assistant. He told Dean what had just transpired and said, “I would like to hire you as coach.” Dean said, “Well, you just fired a legend, we’ll only have two scholarships a year? I’m not sure how long I’d have a job if I took the head coaching position.” Bill said, “I told him, Dean, as long as I’ve got a job, you’ve got a job,” and Smith said, “You 53 just fired Frank McGuire, that’s what I’m worried about!” But it became legend. MR. FREDERICK: You were in law school in the sixties with the Vietnam War starting and civil rights marches. What kinds of political activities were prominent on the UNC campus? What did people care about when you were there? JUDGE SENTELLE: The radicalism began when I was a freshman or before and built throughout the four years I was in undergraduate school. There was a lot of left-wing activism. A small but very vocal group of us on the right, the Goldwater youth, the Conservative Society and Young Americans for Freedom. We were small, we were vocal. The left gradually developed into the hippie-type movement that had a lot of demonstrations and they were very interested in the broad term of civil rights and in opposing the Vietnam War. I had a lot of friends over there. It was not a bitter kind of thing at all, but I knew a lot of people who were activists on the left while I was in undergraduate school and in law school. There were a lot of antiVietnam demonstrations. When I was an undergraduate, there were a lot of sit-ins. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there were still segregated restaurants and other places of business in Chapel Hill and all over North Carolina. There were a lot of sit-ins and a lot of picketing of the segregated restaurants and bars and I have to confess that I was not nearly as sympathetic toward their cause as I should have been. I deeply regret my attitude, but I crossed their picket lines lots of times to drink at 54 segregated bars. I had some sympathy, and still do, for the small business owners who were caught in the middle of that thing. Whether they wanted to integrate or not, if they did integrate, they lost one set of clients, the customers they’d built all those years, and they had to start over. There were a lot of the rednecks in those bars who weren’t going to come back if they had another place to go. And yet the students were right and I was not involved in supporting them. As I say, I even crossed the picket line sometimes and drank in some of the cheap bars. Dean Smith, to his everlasting credit before he was head coach when he was still just an assistant, at a time when Adolf Rupp in Kentucky was saying, “Tell me which kids are black so I’ll know not to recruit them.” Smith was going out and sitting in with the black students in Chapel Hill. They would sit in and Coach Smith went with them before he was head coach. Coach Smith recruited the first black star in the ACC, Charlie Scott, who went AllAmerican for him. Literally, I think Maryland had a black player before him, but he just sat on the bench and attracted no attention. Charlie Scott was right up there in front. The big causes were race-related and Vietnam War-related. We did some counter-picketing of the Vietnam War pickets. The Young Republicans and the Young Americans for Freedom would counter-picket the antiwar pickets. Those were the big causes. There were other things, but those were the big ones. MR. FREDERICK: What was your view of Lyndon Johnson? 55 JUDGE SENTELLE: I thought he was a brilliant politician and a very dangerous man. I always thought he was corrupt, but he was a lot further left than you would expect a Texan to be and a master politician. Brilliant man. MR. FREDERICK: Other than Goldwater, who are your political heroes during the sixties? JUDGE SENTELLE: Well, there was a TV commentator in Raleigh, North Carolina. He did the opinion commentary after the news every night for WRAL TV, channel five. He was a Democrat then, although he later changed to Republican: Jesse Helms. Jesse was somebody that I greatly admired then and over the years. Jim Gardner was a young Republican politician who did very well in the restaurant business. He was one of the founders of Hardees, which is still around, but it grew to be a big chain and then it shrunk. Jim was active in the Young Republicans and then ran for Congress from a district that caught Chapel Hill at its edge there. Jim was one of our very active leaders whom I greatly admired. I always had a respect for Everett Dirksen, the old oratorical ornament of the Senate. He was a very canny Republican leader in the Senate. A Republican conservative of not quite the then-judged purity of Goldwater, but still a solid conservative. Intellectually, Bill Buckley was someone we all admired. Later I came to, on this court, respect his brother a great deal more than I ever did Bill. I think Jim is one of the most intellectual people I ever met, but we didn’t know about Jim so much then until he ran for Senate and was elected. By then I was out of law school and we move into a different era there. 56 MR. FREDERICK: Is there anything more about law school that you recall that you’d like to say? JUDGE SENTELLE: I could talk forever on that subject. I greatly enjoyed those years and the intellectual exchange, the camaraderie also. Working very hard at something that you love is something that I had not experienced to that degree before and it has been with me the rest of my life. I don’t really keep in contact with very many classmates because I’m up here and most of them are in other places. I see Boyden from time to time. I practiced with one of my classmates for a time, but he and I have lost touch. So really I’m not very much in touch with my classmates, but I had a lot of good friends and camaraderie at the time. And there are many courses that I thoroughly enjoyed. I enjoyed writing the exams. I surprised myself, but I had one bad grade in the criminal law course of the Yale-oriented professor that kept me from magna. If I had had an ‘A’ in that class, I would have been in the top two. I guess I was tied for third in the class. Boyden was first and then a fellow named Reid Johnson, who had trouble finding himself afterward – I think he’s finally a partner in a North Carolina firm – then Susan Ehringhaus and John Aldridge and I were tied at third. Susan was later vice chancellor of the university and now I think she retired from that and she’s with some think tank. John founded an Atlanta law firm, went with a big firm, and then, I think, spun off a smaller firm and has done really well. 57 MR. FREDERICK: Law school you finished in 1968. A lot of people were getting drafted. What was your experience? JUDGE SENTELLE: I believe that if I had ever actually been drafted, I would have been wondering why because I tried to join the Navy and flunked the physical. I tried to join the Navy Reserves in high school, but the draft was a threat hanging over all of us so four of us went together to join the Navy Reserves and fix our obligation. We figured we’d go in, do our time, and get some scholarships. I flunked the physical and was told, “Don’t worry about the draft.” But I worried anyway because I kept thinking they’d relax the rules. I had asthma and I had very flat feet and weak ankles. Put together, they just said no. But what can I not do on a boat? Lots of things. Anyhow, I wasn’t really worried but a little concerned because the standards do change from doctor to doctor. My wife was pregnant when I finished law school. We had both intended to go back to Asheville to spend the rest of our lives. I was going to practice trial law, maybe stand for Congress or the legislature at some point, maybe go on the bench. We were both going back to Asheville. We loved it up there, our families were up there – Jane’s mother’s family. Her father had no real family much and he was from the Midwest. She’d grown up there. We went back twice to spend the rest of our lives. We spent a year and a half the first time and two years the second time. I kept being offered jobs in Charlotte when I was in law school and kept turning them down in 58 favor of going to Asheville. Went with an insurance defense firm up there. Very, very small by the standards which you would know, but second or third largest firm in Asheville in those days because both that market and that era, firms were much smaller. There were about eight lawyers in the firm. I really was not very happy in the firm. I worked very, very hard and they did not pay you very much for being an associate in those days and I did not get the feeling that advancement was going to be very fast in that law firm. They were working me very hard and I was not going to make very much money very soon. In fact, somebody else left the firm for that reason who was a few years ahead of me. MR. FREDERICK: What caused you to join it in the first place? JUDGE SENTELLE: Well the partners were very favorable and I didn’t know any associates personally to get a very frank view from. I thought and think a great deal of one of the partners, but I didn’t realize the extent to which it was dominated by one partner. It was four partners: Uzzell, DuMont, Russell, and Green. It was called Uzzell and DuMont. Bill Russell I had known from forever. His mother was my Latin teacher in high school. My father was one of those unlucky people who gets called for jury duty every time he’s eligible and I used to go with him and watch Bill try cases and Bill was a good lawyer. Bill tried lots of cases. Bill recruited me for the firm and I think he meant well and I would have eventually probably done all right there, but I began to have misgivings about whether anybody was going to be able to realize their full potential with DuMont dominating the 59 firm the way he did. I was working more hours than I wanted to work with a wife and small child. It had gotten down to where there was only me and one other associate and we were carrying the same load that four of us had carried. I went home one night and told Jane, “I’m going to look for somewhere else to practice law.” The next day, Bruce Briggs, who was Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney called me and asked me to come have lunch with him and the U.S. Attorney. I knew Briggs and the U.S. Attorney both very well from Republican politics. MR. FREDERICK: Who was the U.S. Attorney at the time? JUDGE SENTELLE: Keith Snyder. And in those days even the assistant U.S. attorneys were political appointees in the hinterland districts. The big districts had a lot of continuity career assistants, but there were very few slots in the countryside. And we had a couple of years after the President changed, everyone knew that. Keith Snyder and Bruce Briggs – Keith was the U.S. Attorney and Bruce was the chief assistant – were in the Asheville office. There was a Charlotte office in the district. And I came to lunch and Keith said, “How would you like to take the Charlotte office at the U.S. Attorney’s office?” I was a year and a half out of law school and I was being offered to be placed in charge of essentially the largest U.S. Attorney’s office in the state and I went home and said, “Jane, we’re moving to Charlotte.” I told them, “I’ll have to talk to my wife.” We did and that was the end of that story. 60 MR. FREDERICK: How do you think that came to be? JUDGE SENTELLE: There was a fellow in Charlotte that wanted the job that had a lot of political connections. They did not want him. They did not trust him. They knew that I had a) academic credentials that he couldn’t touch (although he was years ahead of me in practice), I had the law review and the honors and the fellowships, and b) I had started working in politics so young that I had more contacts than this fellow. And they thought that I could head him off politically. If anybody said, “Why didn’t you appoint Don?” They could say, “Because Dave wanted it and you know how Dave’s worked for Gardner and worked for Gavin and worked for the Goldwater people and we felt like we owed Dave.” So that’s the way that they picked me out to be the person to block the guy they didn’t want. There wasn’t anybody else then and they knew me from the conventions. They knew that I may not have tried a lot of cases, but they knew how I handled myself on the floor of political conventions and they thought I could handle it. I had been the whip for the chair at the state conventions and I’d chaired a lot of conventions. They were satisfied I could do the work. They let me in and, frankly, I did the work, David. MR. FREDERICK: So had you had a trial yet in your year and a half of work? JUDGE SENTELLE: Yes, a few. I know how unbelievable that sounds. The first case I tried, I had a traffic offense that I went over and tried. The AAA provided, and still provides, a small legal fee for traffic offenses for their members and we represented AAA and they sent me over to try a traffic offense. The 61 next case I tried was a girl I had worked in a restaurant with who was charged with hitting her boyfriend with a tape recorder and I went over and defended her on an assault charge. I won both of those. Then Frank Snepp was a very mean, overbearing, but very qualified judge who was on the North Carolina Superior Court. Frank came to town and discovered that Asheville did not have an appointed counsel list, that they had to hunt people to try appointed cases. So he started calling the bottom name on every one of the firms in town and appointing them whether they wanted to or not. He said, “You are appointed to represent an indigent criminal.” So the first jury case I tried was for an indigent defendant in a hopeless case, which is not a bad way to start. Nobody could have won that case. By the time he got to the second name from the bottom on each of those firms, the bar had put together a list of people who wanted to take appointed cases. Otherwise they just picked out people who hung around the courthouse. So I had tried that one. I second-chaired for the other associate who had been there for some years and had not made partner, which was one of the things that disturbed me. I second-chaired Eddie on an automobile accident civil case and then I tried a couple of non-jury cases, but we won it on motions on the defense and won the counter-claim before a jury. So we were okay after that and we walked over there and recovered on a defense case. I tried several non-jury cases. 62 I also did a lot of workers’ comp cases and had several administrative hearings there, so I had tried more cases than you might think. Actually, I skipped the first civil case I tried. We practiced in thirteen counties. The insurance companies used their Asheville counsel for the rural counties around Asheville and Willy Green took me down with him to one of the northeastern counties to move for a continuance while he went to one of the other counties to try a little property damage claim. Northeastern part of the western part of North Carolina, that is to say. Instead of moving for a continuance, I just tried the case. He came back in as I was winning the case. Thank you, Lord, for letting me win that one. He said, “What happened?” I said, “He wouldn’t give me the continuance. I had to try it.” “What’s happening?” “He’s deliberating, he’s thinking about it.” So we won and everything was all right. If I’d lost, I wouldn’t have worked for them anymore. MR. FREDERICK: So in spite of all the hard work, there were some good experiences? JUDGE SENTELLE: Oh, yes, I had some good experiences there. I just spent too much time on the road. What bothered me was not the hard work at the law, but that I had thirteen counties and they were always deadline-missing people, so I’d wind up – we didn’t have paralegals – I’d wind up having to run papers to Murphy to file. I’d spend the whole day in Murphy going out there to file a paper or hunt a witness and spend six hours of it driving and not devote time to learning the law in the way I wanted to learn to practice law. So it wasn’t working. I was spending too much time doing what 63 we’d have paralegals doing today, investigating and filing. Witness interviews I learned a lot from, but, again, it would have been better if we’d had investigators doing them, I suppose. MR. FREDERICK: So about what date did you start in the U.S. Attorney’s office? JUDGE SENTELLE: Very early in ’70. I’ve got the commission around here somewhere, but I think February of ’70. I was between jobs for just a couple of weeks because I had resigned effective the end of a month and then I had to wait until my background investigation was completed. I think a week – there was one week between jobs and I went over and hung out at the courthouse and took a couple of appointed cases while I was hanging out between jobs. MR. FREDERICK: Now this involved moving your family as well. JUDGE SENTELLE: We moved to Charlotte, yes. MR. FREDERICK: How large was the U.S. Attorney’s office at that time in Charlotte? JUDGE SENTELLE: Incredibly small. Two assistants. There was a vacancy and then they hired Bob McClure as my second chair. So there were just two lawyers and two secretaries in Charlotte. Two lawyers and four or five secretaries in Asheville because, with the U.S. Attorney being there, they did the administrative work in that office. It was incredibly small. Now there are probably about thirty lawyers in that office in Charlotte and the Asheville office probably has six or eight. MR. FREDERICK: What was the docket like? 64 JUDGE SENTELLE: It was a varied federal docket. We didn’t have much drug offense in those days. We still had a little bit of whiskey, some drugs. We had draft dodgers – the selective service violation cases. Charlotte was a banking center, so we had some bank embezzlement cases. Bank robbery was the state sport in North Carolina then. We tried a lot of bank robberies. They were still prosecuting Dyer Act cases when I went in about the interstate stolen vehicles. That became pretty much something you referred to the state by the time I left, but we did some of it still then. Interstate theft and theft from interstate shipment. Charlotte was a trucking center and there was a lot of theft of interstate shipments. Some of it was very organized. Some of it was gangs that stole trucks or truckload lots. What I liked best was the con artists – mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud. So since I was assigning the cases, I assigned most of those to myself. White collar prosecution and defense were the two things I enjoyed best in the law, I think. I did a lot of mail fraud and bank fraud. We had a couple of really good investigators. Ed Shively was a postal inspector, except that he worked fraud exclusively. He was named and described as brilliant by a Wall Street Journal reporter in a book about international con artists called the Fountain Pen Conspirators. Ed was an ace and then we had Charlie Williams, who was a very fine FBI accountant who did a lot of the bank fraud investigations. There were others, but those two stand out as people I worked white collar crime with and were excellent. We put together, with nobody’s blessing but our own, what would be 65 called a task force today and I guess it would be, in some ways, frowned on. But my postal friend, Ed Shively, had all kind of contacts in the credit fraud industry so we had him and the top credit fraud people for Esso and Exxon now and First Bank, which is now Wachovia, and North Carolina National, which is Bank of America. Then we had the Charlotte Fraud Squad. We worked task force style on credit card fraud and did things that were new. We were the first to use computer evidence in a credit card fraud trial in the country. They took me to Atlanta and walked me through the national data center of computers where they had credit centers. We were very daring, trying out all the new ideas in prosecuting credit card fraud. I got a reputation for prosecuting fraud and I got borrowed by the district of New Hampshire to try some mafia up there on an insurance fraud case. I lost it but, as my boss said, “if it hadn’t been tough, they wouldn’t have come all the way to North Carolina to borrow a guy to try it. They would have tried it themselves.” That’s sort of the big picture of the docket. And we also had to do civil as well as criminal trials. You couldn’t specialize because there were only two or three of us. So I defended the post office on accident cases. I had some very interesting constitutional questions defending the Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, on allegations of discrimination. Whether a failure to scatter site location was discrimination in housing. It took us four years to get 66 through that one. And we had the routine kind of civil actions, as I said, the federal tort claims, contracts and such. MR. FREDERICK: How often did you go to trial? JUDGE SENTELLE: I was in trial an incredible amount of the time and somewhere around here I have the numbers. I gave you my clearance numbers, I guess, where I tried a couple hundred cases. I was in court an incredible amount of time. MR. FREDERICK: That must have been very hard with small children. JUDGE SENTELLE: It was and I guess it was unfair sometimes, although I tried very hard to spend the free time that I had with the family, or an awful lot of it anyhow, with Jane and the girls. And I was close to and remain close to my daughters. Last Thursday was a good day. I got to keep my granddaughter all day. She’s six months old. I brought her up here and showed her to everyone.