Judge Manning is a Raleigh native and obtained his Bachelor’s degree in history at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and then enrolled in UNC’s School of Law, where he earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1968. Judge Manning served four years as a Navy Judge Advocate General officer before returning to Raleigh and joining his father’s law firm. He practiced law for 16 years, including arguing a case before the United States Supreme Court, before seeking to become a Superior Court judge. He has been on the bench for most of the terms since 1988.
Judge Manning has presided over hundreds of civil and criminal cases. Known for his tenacity, Manning has been chosen on numerous occasions to oversee complicated judicial cases.
He was chosen by Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell to preside over Leandro vs. State of North Carolina, a lawsuit filed in 1994 on behalf of students and parents from five low-wealth counties. The plaintiffs claimed that the state was in violation of the Constitution because their school districts were unable to raise adequate funding to provide equal education to all students.
Judge Manning’s rulings in the case, which have been largely upheld by the North Carolina Supreme Court, say that the state has failed to provide a “sound, basic education” to all students. His rulings have compelled policymakers to develop new funding for schools serving low-income communities and to establish mechanisms that seek to ensure each classroom has an effective teacher and each school an effective principal.
Judge Manning continues to preside over hearings concerning implementation of responses to the rulings.
Judge Manning has been honored many times. Among the honors, he received the Outstanding Trial Judge Award from the N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers in 2001, the Champion for Children award from the N.C. Child Advocacy Institute in 2002, the Legislative/Public Policy Award from the N.C. School Psychology Association in 2004, and the Public School Forum’s Jay Robinson Leadership Award in 2005. He was named the Raleigh News & Observer’s Tar Heel of the Year in 2004.
Judge Manning also has participated in many civic activities. Among them, he was a member of the N.C. Conference of Superior Court Judges from 1997-2000. For 20 years starting in 1975, Judge Manning served on the board of directors for the Hilltop Home for Children, a residential home for children with severe birth defects.
For his dedication and for his tenaciousness in seeking equity in education for all of North Carolina’s children, the North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children awards Superior Court Judge Howard E. Manning, Jr. a 2015 Champions for Children award.