Ah, late October…Time for spooky, scary, silly antics in the hopes of getting some sweet treats. Of course, I am talking about the election season, which blessedly, is soon coming to an end. Early voting in North Carolina begins tomorrow (Thursday (10/23).
For folks looking for scary Halloween costumes, some of the photo-shopped ugly images of Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis are offering some great ideas. We’ve certainly seen them enough, after 80,000 TV commercials and more than $100 million spent.
And while no one can argue that the U.S. Senate race isn’t important, I would suggest that the choices in this year’s Judicial Elections are going to effect your life and the lives of your family, children and colleagues even more. Elected bodies may pass laws, but the Judges interpret them and rule on what they mean for each of us.
This year, the citizens of North Carolina will elect a majority for the North Carolina Supreme Court. Four of the seven seats are being contested, and the stakes could hardly be higher. Issues are coming before the High Court on patients’ rights, workers’ rights, voters’ rights and homeowners’ rights. Very well-financed interests are lined up against these rights, so more than ever it is important to keep the Judiciary independent. As I have written before, justice should not go to the highest bidder.
That’s why in the past I have let you know what was going to be on my ballot and why. Many readers of LEGAL TRENDShave told me “thanks” for the guidance. A few have written to say that disagreed with my choices (which is fine). And I guess it does folks some little bit of good, because this month I’ve received about a dozen emails in the last few weeks asking for this year’s picks. So here goes…
It was about this time last year, I wrote in my LEGAL TRENDS, ODDS & ENDS newsletter my Davidson classmate, “Jimmy” Ervin, and what a good appellate Judge I believe he is. (On this choice, I am splitting with the endorsement of NCAJ; I’m doing so not to support a fellow Wildcat — see below that I’m not voting for Mike Robinson. I’m voting for Jimmy Ervin because I think he’s a great judge.) Likewise, I wrote earlier about my vote for Robin Hudson in the nasty primary race last spring. While I really like Eric Levinson personally, I am very concerned with the high-dollar interests that have thrown big money into this race.
Although he is a Republican, Mark Martin in my mind is clearly the better choice. And while I also like Michael Robinson (like Ervin another Davidson grad) he is very conservative politically, and I see no reason not to keep Justice Cheri Beasley on the bench.
The race for the North Carolina Court of Appeals is just nuts. There are NINETEEN candidates on the ballot running for one seat. And that’s just the beginning…there are four more squaring off for two other seats. (Just so you know, the Court of Appeals is made up of 15 judges, who divide up into three-person panels to review cases that are appealed from the Superior and District Courts in the 100 counties, as well as some of the state’s administrative agencies. They decide whether the trial judges or agencies committed errors about the law; they don’t determine the truth about any facts.) John Arrowood is my choice out of the 19 for the “Martin” seat. He is a well-respected attorney from Charlotte, and has served on the Appeals. Lucy Inman is one of the best trial judges in the state, and would make a great addition to the Court of Appeals. And Mark Davis wicked smart, has a great demeanor and very much deserves to stay on the Court.
Ok, so now we get down to the local level…
Back almost 20 years ago, I was on a very short list to be appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt to the Superior Court Bench. While I was disappointed that he chose another Assistant District Attorney instead of a civil litigator like myself, I could not disagree that Bob Bell was an outstanding selection. He has be a “superior” Superior Court Judge since 1997, and I heartily recommend him for another term.
My ballot, here in my neck of the woods in Mecklenburg County, also includes two contested races races for District Court Judge. I’ll be proudly voting for Theo Nixon, but I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do between Casey Viser and Alicia Brooks. (I don’t know either that well, and I’ve heard good and bad things from fellow attorneys. Keep watching this space for updates…)
Finally, as I have said many times before, I am always delighted whenever I hear from readers of our LEGAL TRENDS newsletters or this NCLegalTrends.com blog on any issue involving the law (or anything else for that matter). If you disagree with any of my selections, that’s what democracy is all about. So email me, or call my office (704-887-6776) and let’s schedule a visit. Come try a cup of our fancy-schmancy coffee here. I’ll pour. –mcd