Retired N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Doug McCullough unexpectedly died this week in Las Vegas, where he had retired with his wife, Lucci.

Judge McCullough had a storied career, reaching the rank of Colonel in the United States Marine Corps reserve and serving as legislative counsel for Apollo astronaut and moonwalker Harrison Schmitt during the latter’s term as United States Senator from New Mexico.  He also spent many years as a senior Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  Based on his experiences there, he wrote Sea of Greed, a true tale of his prosecution of narcotrafficking along the North Carolina coast.  A movie based upon that book is scheduled to begin filming soon.  I imagine that Doug assumed his role would be played by George Clooney.

Judge McCullough was first elected to the Court of Appeals in 2000.   Though defeated in his bid for reelection in 2008, he was returned to the court in the 2010 election and served a second full term.  Upon leaving the bench, he split his time between Swan Quarter and Lucci’s home in Las Vegas.

Judge McCullough always enjoyed bipartisan support in his election campaigns.  His colleagues on the appellate bench both respected and appreciated his legal acumen, his writing skills, his dry sense of humor, and his ability and readiness to work with others. 

He will be missed. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy can be shared on Judge McCullough’s obituary page.

–Bob Edmunds