Former Chapel Hill mayor honored in England

ablythe@newsobserver.comAugust 5, 2012 

Ken Broun.


It might seem odd to hear someone excited about being benched in London this summer, particularly amid the 2012 Olympic games.

But Ken Broun, a law professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and former Chapel Hill mayor, is quite pleased about his recent benching.

Broun became an honorary bencher of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in London — a recognition of his legal acumen and global outreach education, which puts him in the company of the noted and accomplished, both living and dead.

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, was made an honorary Bencher in 2009.

Sir Walter Raleigh, the English aristocrat, that writer, poet, courtier, soldier and explorer for whom North Carolina’s capital city is named, is an honorary bencher of the Middle Temple, too.

Barristers, or lawyers, in London must belong to one of the Four Inns of Court, professional associations that have supervisory and disciplinary functions over their members.

The inns provide libraries, dining facilities and professional accommodation.

The Middle Temple is one.

Chief Justice John Roberts, Attorney General Eric Holder and the American Ambassador to the United Kingdom are honorary benchers. As was John Adams, second president of the United States.

Broun, who officially retired from UNC-CH in 2011, teaches evidence law at the Chapel Hill law school and Duke University.

Broun, an honors graduate of the University of Illinois law school, started his tenure at UNC-CH in 1968.

Through the years, he did a stint as director of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, served as dean of the UNC-CH law school for eight years, was the mayor of Chapel Hill from 1991 to 1995 and wrote books about the law.

This year, the Oxford University press published his book “Saving Nelson Mandela: The Rivonia Trial and the Fate of South Africa.”

During the past five years, he has been involved with an exchange program between the UNC-CH law school and British barristers-in-training at the Middle Temple Society.

When the society recognized him in mid-July, Broun was treated to a fancy dinner, fabulous dessert, wine, storytelling and a toast to the absent queen, who, Broun assumed, was busy preparing for her grand entrance to the Olympic games.

Broun insists on no new titles with his honorary benching.

But for anyone who wants to congratulate him, try “Master Junior.” That’s how members of the Middle Temple addressed him when he got the royal treatment in England.

Blythe: 919-836-4948

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