I began my judgeship journey on November 9, 2020, and am doing what I love which is helping people through the legal process and making our community a better place for all the people of Orange and Chatham counties.
I always wanted to serve the people in my district and now I have the opportunity to help them, not as a lawyer and litigant, but as a judge using all my 30 years of experience to help better the lives in our community. I closed my practice of 30 years with some tough and heart felt good-byes from clients, but with much encouragement from my clients in this new role.
I am married to Kimberly Dawn Roper and have three daughters Taylor Nicole Roper, Payton Victoria Roper, and Kelsey Alyece Roper. I am the son of Carlton Jay Roper, Georgia Tech graduate and Industrial Engineer, and Mary Ruth Roper, homemaker and Certified Nurse Assistant for the local nursing home, both of whom have passed but their legacies remain with my daily. I grew up in Snellville, Georgia, a small town with a caution light and gas station, five-thousand strong in populace! I attended public schools and graduated in 1981 from South Gwinett High School. In high school, I lettered in three sports, football, basketball and track. I was All-State in football and track. After high school graduation, I attended the University of Alabama on a football scholarship to play linebacker for the legendary Paul Bear Bryant. I lettered in football for four years and was academic all-SEC for two of those years. I graduated college in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce and Business Administration. After college, I decided to attend law school. I was admitted to Cumberland School of Law receiving my Juris Doctorate in 1989. Before graduating from law school, I took the Georgia bar and passed it in 1989. I took the North Carolina and Alabama bars in 1990, passing both.
I wanted to work in a small town. My hometown of Snellville had grown to fifty-thousand and no one that I knew still lived there. I sought small firms through my law school’s placement office and landed an offer with Moody, Moody and Williams in Siler City. I began my legal career under the tutelage of Jack Moody, Esquire, and Sam Williams, Esquire. Both were instrumental in developing my legal career as a small town country lawyer. Our firm focused on the general practice of law with its primary focus on representing injured clients, defending clients charged with crimes, assisting clients with real estate transactions, administering estates, and helping clients through domestic legal issues. For 30 years I represented clients in Chatham and Orange counties through a myriad of factual situations loving every minute of it. I loved the trial! Trials were highly analogous for me in this sense. I spent my life on the football field, and here are the parallels between a legal trial and a football contest: judge-referee; jury-fans; rules of the game-rules of evidence, opposing lawyer-opponent, and winner-loser.
After 30 years, an opportunity arose in July 2020, when the Honorable Joseph Moody Buckner retired after providing Chatham and Orange counties 25 years of excellent service as a district court judge! I prayed about my direction and journey seeking guidance about running for district court judge, discussed it with my family and colleagues, and contemplated my heart felt desire at fifty-seven years of age. With much support and belief that now was the time, I began my run for district court judge.
I knew that my colleagues in Chatham and Orange counties would vote at a special district bar meeting to send the names of the 5 top vote recipients to Governor Roy Cooper for his appointment. Game on! Because of the pandemic, I could not meet with people in person, but thanks to technology, I either phoned or emailed many colleagues within my district asking for their vote. The bar provided a Zoom production to meet the nominees for District Court Judge. The vote came two days later, and I was humbled to receive the top vote of all 5 nominees from my peers. Given the number of qualified candidates for Governor Cooper’s consideration, I reached out to the citizens of this community for support and letters of recommendation to Governor Cooper. I explained my judicial philosophy and desire to serve all citizens, lawyers and litigants. I am eternally thankful for all the support received and expressed to Governor Cooper. After an interview with the governor’s general counsel and the governor himself, I waited for the decision. On August 7, 2020, Governor Cooper asked “Will you take the position of District Court Judge, if appointed?” I emphatically said “Yes sir I will gladly take it and will be honored to serve the people of Orange and Chatham counties!”