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Federal judge from NC held court in combat zones

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A federal judge is back in North Carolina after a seven-month assignment bringing justice to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Charlotte Observer reports that U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney kept his 9 mm pistol holstered under his black robe as he presided over courts-martial of U.S. soldiers charged with wrongdoing.

U.S. Army legal corps historian Fred Borch says Whitney was the first federal judge to become a military judge and preside over courts-martial in a combat theater. Borch says the 52-year-old judge also presided over the last court-martial in Iraq earlier this month.

Whitney was the top federal prosecutor in eastern North Carolina when President George W. Bush nominated him in 2006 to be a federal judge in Charlotte for the state’s western district.