Inman was born in Raleigh with newspaper ink in her blood. Her great-grandfather was the publisher and editor of the Raleigh News & Observer. Her grandfather succeeded his father as editor. And her father was a photographer at the N&O, then a reporter, then the opinion editor.
“I was so proud that my father’s life’s work was to tell the truth, to shine a light on problems that aren’t going to get addressed unless we acknowledge them,” said Inman.
While earning her undergraduate degree in English at NC State, Inman worked as an intern on newspapers in the region. Her first job out of college was working as a reporter for The Raleigh Times, an afternoon paper.
“I loved it,” she recalled. “To have not only permission to ask questions but a responsibility to ask questions is a great motivator. You get to learn about people in every walk of life. Everybody.”
She covered general assignments, the police beat, and eventually the courts. “Courts are a lot like crimes and emergencies except the dust has settled, and instead of asking who, what, where, when, we’re asking why, how and what are the consequences.”
Inman earned her law degree with honors in 1990 from the UNC School of Law and then clerked for Chief Justice James Exum of the NC Supreme Court. “He taught me that you’ve got to write an opinion in a way that the average person can understand, not just a law professor. That process helps you think through your
She earned her legal writing chops practicing civil litigation for 18 years, first in Los Angeles, where she successfully defended the actor Carroll O’Connor (better known as Archie Bunker) in a defamation trial and represented other individuals and businesses in commercial litigation.
She and her husband, writer Billy Warden, returned to North Carolina in 2000 with a 2-year-old and a second child on the way. She joined a civil practice in Raleigh representing plaintiffs in medical negligence and sexual abuse cases. In 2007, along with several criminal and civil attorneys, Inman successfully challenged NC’s lethal injection protocol. She credits her husband, professional colleagues, and many teachers for making it possible for her to practice law while raising two young children.