I administer justice impartially, thoughtfully, and knowledgeably with fairness, integrity, and respect.
My combination of judicial experience and leadership, diverse legal experience, stellar academic credentials, proven commitment to service, and professionalism uniquely qualify me to be re-elected to the District Court. I was elected countywide in 2016 by the voters of Mecklenburg County and have served as District Court Judge for the past three years. I currently preside in the Juvenile Court where I make decisions regarding the welfare of children in foster care and juveniles alleged to be delinquent. I am proud to hold the distinction as a “Certified Juvenile Court Judge” which required the completion of more than 72 hours of specialized training in juvenile delinquency, abuse, neglect, and dependency, substance abuse, and child development. Over the past three years, I have presided over thousands of cases and have been thoughtful in my decision-making and knowledgeable in the application of the law. I have presided over matters related to juvenile delinquency, juvenile abuse, neglect and dependency, child custody and support, civil and criminal domestic violence, alimony, equitable distribution, misdemeanor criminal cases, and involuntary commitments. I have exemplary courtroom demeanor and clear expectations of courtroom decorum and professionalism. My legal experience prior to the bench was diverse and provided the foundation for a sound knowledge of the law, an understanding of the rules of procedure, and a standard of professionalism that I have brought to the bench.
As a judge remaining impartial is paramount. In 2017, the state legislature decided to add the political party of judges and judicial candidates to the ballot. As an incumbent District Court Judge in Mecklenburg County, my political affiliation plays no role in my judicial deliberation and decision-making, courtroom management, or judicial leadership as a judicial liaison to several collaborative entities. I have remained committed to fairness, integrity, and respect in administering the law. My core responsibility is to uphold the administration of the law impartially, which means I assess the facts at hand and make rulings based solely on the law. There is simply no political platform that plays a role in my work.
Two of the greatest obstacles to justice at this time are implicit bias and lack of accessible legal representation in civil matters for indigent members of our community. I am committed to the work of Race Matters for Juvenile Justice to reduce disproportionality and disparate outcomes for children and families, including the use of the Judicial Bench Card. For more than twenty years, I have worked as a leader in the areas of diversity, inclusion, and equity, and have continued to be a leading voice in matters that lead to disparate outcomes in our court system. As a Certified Juvenile Court Judge, I actively promote pro-social activities for court-involved youth, which ensures that children in foster care have access to the same programming and services that promote educational, academic and cultural enrichment and mental and emotional health that are available to children not in care. Unlike indigent defendants in criminal matters, indigent litigants in civil matters are not entitled to appointed counsel. Individuals often represent themselves in matters such as child custody and support, domestic violence, alimony, and marital property distribution. These cases can emotional and have very specific evidentiary requirements. A large number of Family Court cases involve self-represented litigants and, although Mecklenburg County has a superb Self-Serve Center that provides forms for use in some civil cases, there is still a significant need for legal guidance.
As an incumbent District Court Judge, I have extensive experience presiding over cases in the area of family law, criminal law, and juvenile justice. I have presided over thousands of hearings in addressing multiple areas of law, including juvenile delinquency, juvenile abuse, neglect and dependency, child custody and support, civil and criminal domestic violence, divorce, alimony, equitable distribution, misdemeanor criminal cases, and involuntary commitments. Particularly with respect to juvenile justice, as a Juvenile Court Judge, I am one of only four judges presiding over cases under the new Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (the “Raise the Age” law) and am only one of four Mecklenburg County District Court Judges who has received extensive training regarding the new legislation that went into effect on December 1, 2019. I am also an active member of collaborative stakeholder groups working to ensure the effective, efficient, and equitable implementation of the Raise the Age legislation. Prior to joining the bench, I practiced law in state and federal courts in North and South Carolina with Parker Poe and with my own small firm. In addition to gaining extensive litigation experience, including arguing before the North Carolina Court of Appeals, which I leverage every day as a sitting judge, I represented clients in divorce, child custody and support, and equitable distribution cases. In addition, I represented children in hearings involving school discipline matters.