Justice Robert A Douglass
The Wit and Wisdom of the NC Supreme Court - A Human Life
"Surely a human life is still worth something---the pulling of a bell-cord, the opening of a whistle. We are constantly told that we should be shocked at the excessive verdicts of juries. That is often the case, but there are other things which also touch my judicial sensibility. A human form mangled beyond recognition, and an immortal spirit hurled into eternity with a moment’s warning, are a greater shock to the instructed conscious of a Christian age then any verdict rendering merely pecuniary damages. This may be called mere sentimentality. Be it so. I can never hope to attain that high plane to judicial temperament where I shall be entirely free from human sympathy. In addition to the weight of reason and authority in favor of drawing the line at affirmative verdicts, another advantage is that it a natural boundary, seen and known of all men. Where the dividing lines between great principles are marked by nothing more substantial than stakes, which can easily be put down, and as easily pulled up and moved, the principles themselves are in imminent danger…I cannot afford to cast away the moorings of the past, and turn my opinions loose to float without chart or compass, the aimless driftwood on a shoreless sea."
Justice Robert A. Douglass, Neal v. Railroad Co. (126 NC 634 @ 660)