June 29, 2011 GASTON GAZETTE by Michael Barrett Gaston judge considered one of state's best Comments 6 June 28, 2011 6:21 PM Michael Barrett For many people, going to court can be one of the worst, most nerve-wracking experiences of their life. Gaston County Chief District Court Judge Ralph Gingles Jr. may not leave everyone happy with the rulings he delivers. But he is renowned for making the uneasy feel more comfortable from his position on the bench, while allowing little room for doubt about the soundness of his decisions. "He's a man of very few words. He listens intently," said Bill Powers, a Charlotte attorney who has been on the winning and losing end of Gingles' judgments. "He humbles himself in order to humble others. "That doesn't mean he won't lower the boom on you. But you know every day you're in court with him, he's going to give a fair ruling." Gingles' long and distinguished career as an adjudicator was acknowledged recently when he became the latest to receive the Outstanding Trial Judge Award from the N.C. Advocates for Justice. The nonprofit works to protect and champion people's rights, and on a sporadic basis since 1981, it has recognized a Superior Court judge who is doing the same. Gingles (pronounced Jingles) is the 32nd person and the first District Court judge to receive the distinction, said Powers, a NCAJ member who served on the selection committee this year. He and Gastonia attorney David Phillips presented the honor to Gingles on his 65th birthday, June 18 in Wilmington. Cronyism had nothing to do with it, said Powers, who said Gingles mixes a keen legal intellect with a kind demeanor and disposition. "The week before I gave him the award, (Gingles) ruled against me in a case," he said with a laugh. "It really is given out to people who stand as a shining example on the judiciary. Judge Gingles is a man of character and dignity, and just by virtue of his personality, you can't help but like him."