It took bad publicity and public pressure for Republican leadership to lean on James Ethridge. He finally did the right thing and resigned.
From the WMPM website:
Judge Resigns But SBI Investigation Continues - One day after the Johnston County Republican Party urged District Court Judge James Ethridge “to take prudent action in the best interests of his family, his supporters and the taxpaying public,” he resigned. Through his attorney Alan Schneider, Etheridge said his resignation would be delivered to the governor this week and that it would be effective next Tuesday. Etheridge was no longer able to hold court sessions after the NC State Bar revoked his license in October after determining he was dishonest and deceitful when he took the home and $14,000 in life savings of an elderly woman while he was a lawyer in 2001. He was elected as a judge in 2004, after practicing law for 28 years. Judge Ethridge did not resign after the State Bar revoked his law license and was continuing to receive his annual salary of $101,376. He would have continued to have been paid $1,949 weekly until the end of his term in December 2008 unless he resigned or was impeached. Meanwhile, the State Bureau of Investigation is continuing its investigation of Judge Ethridge. “We received a request to investigate from former District Attorney Tom Lock,” SBI spokesperson Noelle Talley said. “We are continuing that investigation under District Attorney Susan Doyle. When it is complete, we will submit a report to her office.” Ms. Talley said she could not say when the investigation might be completed but confirmed the SBI is investigating allegations of criminal activity by Mr. Ethridge before he became a judge.