David Moffatt Furches

10th NC Supreme Court Chief Justice

Date Born: April 21, 1832

Date Died: June 7,1908

Place Born: Davie County, NC

Place Buried: Oakwood Cemetery in Statesville, NC


Chief Justice 1901-1903
Associate Justice 1895-1901

David Moffatt Furches was born on April 21, 1832 in Rowan County (part of which later became Davie County), NC, the son of Stephen Lewis Furches and Polly (Howell) Furches. He attended the Union Academy in Davie County before studying law for two years under Richmond Mumford Pearson, then current Associate Justice and later Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, at his Richmond Hill Law School. He was admitted to the NC bar in 1857.

David Moffatt Furches was then appointed Solicitor for Davie County in the county seat of Mocksville.

On November 22, 1859, David Moffatt Furches married Eliza Bingham, daughter of Lemuel Bingham and Jane Washington (Miller) Bingham; they had no children. She died in 1891.

At the oubreak of the U.S. Civil War, David Moffatt Furches joined the Confederate Army for a short time (unit not known), even though as a County Solicitor, he was exempt from military service. However, his three brothers and four brothers-in-law served, and, as Furches put it, he "concluded to stay out," and returned home.

In October of 1865, David Moffatt Furches was elected to represent Davie County in the 1865 NC Constitutional Convention. In 1866, he moved to Statesville, the county seat of Iredell County. In 1872, he was defeated in his bid for the U.S. Congress.

In 1875, David Moffatt Furches was appointed as a Judge on the NC Superior Court in Iredell County, and he served for three years. In 1880, he made another unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Congress. In 1888, the Republican Party nominated him for the NC Supreme Court, but he was again defeated in the General Election. In 1892, he was defeated in his bid for the office of Governor of North Carolina.

On December 6, 1893, David Moffatt Furches married a second time, to Lula Corpening, daughter of T.J. Corpening of Statesville; they had no children.

In the 1894 General Election, David Moffatt Furches was finally elected as an Associate Justice on the NC Supreme Court, winning the old seat of Chief Justice James Edward Shepherd, who was beaten in the election by William Turner Faircloth as the new Chief Justice.

On December 29, 1900 Chief Justice William Turner Faircloth died a mere two weeks before the inauguration of the recently-elected Democrat Charles Brantley Aycock as governor. Outgoing Republican Governor Daniel Lindsay Russell came under intense pressure from various interest groups to resign his office and accept the appointment to the Chief Justiceship from Lieutenant Governor Charles A. Reynolds, who would succeed him. Corporate titans such as Alexander B. Andrews, vice-president of the Southern Railway Company, and Benjamin N. Duke, the Durham tobacco magnate, urged Russell to pursue that course. Many Democrats such as Robert Furman, editor of the Raleigh Morning Post, and Robert Brodnax Glenn, future governor, applauded the idea because it was widely believed that Russell supported the recently adopted suffrage amendment disfranchising North Carolina blacks. Russell, however, resisted the pressures and in a surprising move appointed David Moffatt Furches as the next Chief Justice on the NC Supreme Court.

David Moffatt Furches had barely put on the robe as the Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court when he and Associate Justice Robert Martin Douglas were both impeached by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly of 1901. Although the NC House of Representatives passed the articles of impeachment, the NC Senate refused to convict. Since he had been appointed to continue the term of William Turner Faircloth, his term ended on January 1, 1903, when he was not re-elected in the General Election of 1902.

David Moffatt Furches then returned to Statesville to practice law in the firm of Furches, Coble, and Nicholson.

On June 7, 1908, David Moffatt Furches died, and he was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Statesville, NC.

Appointed as Chief Justice by Governor Russell on January 5, 1901. Impeachment proceedings were brought against him, however, the vote failed to receive the 2/3rd majority. He was defeated by Walter Clark in the general elections of 1902.
David Moffit Furches (born April 21, 1832 - died c. 1911) was a North Carolina politician and jurist who served as an Associate Justice (1895-1901) and Chief Justice (1901-1903) of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Furches read law under Chief Justice Richmond M. Pearson and served in the State Constitutional Convention in 1865, representing Davie County. Furches practiced law in Davie and later Iredell County, North Carolina and became a prominent member of the North Carolina Republican Party.

In 1875, he was appointed a State Superior Court Judge, a position he held until 1879. He lost two races for the United States House of Representatives, one in 1872 and the other in 1880, and was his party's nominee for Governor of North Carolina in 1892, losing to Elias Carr.

In 1894, Furches was elected to the NC Supreme Court. In 1900 the justices, by a vote of four to one, declared unconstitutional important legislation enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly of 1899-1900, which was controlled by Democrats. When Chief Justice William T. Faircloth died in December 1900, fellow Republican Gov. Daniel L. Russell appointed Furches to the post.

On February 18, 1901, the North Carolina House of Representatives (again controlled by Democrats) impeached Furches and Associate Justice Robert M. Douglas (who was also a Republican). The charges involved an obscure case in which the justices ordered the North Carolina State Treasurer to pay the salary of the state Shell Fish Inspector (a Republican), against the wishes of the General Assembly. A majority of the North Carolina Senate voted to remove the justices, but not the two-thirds majority required. Among the lawyers defending Furches in the impeachment proceedings was former Gov. Thomas J. Jarvis, a Democrat.

Furches lost in his bid for election as chief justice in 1902. As of 1906, he was a member of the state Republican Party's executive committee. He died around 1911.

David M. Furches was born in Davie County in April of 1832. His grandfather, Tobias Furches, was a prominent Baptist preacher. Furches was educated at Union Academy in Davie County and studied law under Chief Justice Richmond M. Pearson, obtainin a license to practice in the NC Superior Court in 1857.

He located in Mocksville, where he was the County Attorney, removing to Statesville in 1866. He was a membrer of the State Convention in 1865; was defeated for Congress in 1872; defeated for the Supreme Court in 1888; and defeated for Governor in 1892.

He was appointed Judge of the NC Superior Court in 1875 to succeed Anderson Mitchell, and served until January of 1879.

He was elected to the NC Supreme Court as a Republican and took his seat on January 1, 1895.

Jointly with Justice Robert M. Douglas, he was impeached by the Legislature of 1901 for issuing an order to the State Treasurer to pay out money which had been forbidden by an act of the Legislature, White v. Auditor, 126 N.C., 570. The charge was sustained by a majority of the Senate, but did not receive the necessary two-thirds vote to convict and remove from office.

He resumed the practice of law at the end of his term in 1903 and died in 1908.

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