The NC District Court hears civil cases involving less than $25,000 and criminal misdemeanors. District Court also oversees juvenile court and the magistrates, which handle things like small claims and evictions.Judges are elected for 4 year terms. Legislation in 2017 changed these elections to partisan elections with no primary. There are 43 districts across the state, most of them either one or two counties.
My goal is to be a judge who follows the law as it is written, adheres to principle and preserves and enhances the integrity of the justice system.
My law practice is general in nature, and I have experience in both criminal and civil law. I have been in private practice for nearly 19 years, handling cases in the courts of North Carolina that entire time. In addition, for the past 15 years, my wife (who is also an attorney) and I have maintained our own practice. Running a small business provides necessary insight into the need for government, including the court system, to run effectively for all participants, including victims, defendants, attorneys, and law officers.
Additionally, I have served as a Pamlico County Commissioner since January, 2006, including having been elected chairman during six of my years on the board. During my service, Pamlico County endured the nationwide financial crisis, two major hurricanes (Irene and Florence) as well as the current pandemic. The experiences I've had in that role will, I believe, help me, should I become a judge.
Partisanship has no place in a court of law. My philosophy of the law is straightforward and has nothing to do with my partisan affiliation. Put simply, I believe that the legislature writes the law, and the courts exist to apply the laws as they are written--not in a manner that might please the judge or conform to his or her political preferences. All people who appear before any judge are entitled to have their cases decided fairly according to the law; my personal political views will not play a role, and neither will anything else other than the laws as they are written by the General Assembly.
The primary obstacle to justice in my view is in the nature of a system that at times is too deliberate. Unnecessary delays can hurt victims as well as the accused in criminal court, and they can harm civil litigants as well. For the justice system to operate efficiently and produce the best results, the people who use it must believe that it is fair and that unnecessary delay will be avoided. An effect of improvements to efficiency will be to give people access to the justice system who would otherwise be dissuaded by cost, which will necessarily be reduced with increased efficiency. As a judge, my role would be to make the justice system as efficient as possible, by adhering to deadlines and holding the parties accountable, while ensuring the rights of all the participants are protected.
First, for the past 19 years, I've practiced extensively in district court, trying cases in each of the areas of the law the question addresses. That experience will be valuable to me if I am elected. In each area of the law referenced in the question--and these are the most common ones a district court judge will hear--the life, liberty, property or family of the litigants depends on the judge reaching the correct decision based on the facts and the law. It is impossible to truly grasp that without having spent time in court litigating cases. The experiences I've had in all these areas will bear on my approach to them as a judge.
Additionally, I have served for ten years as a high school coach (head coach of the Pamlico County High School Cross Country team and assistant for Track & Field). What I've seen as a coach has helped me to understand the struggles of children and families in a sparsely populated, rural area. The things we see in court frequently represent what is happening in our schools and homes. Understanding where the behaviors originate and their causes will undoubtedly help me deal with them as a judge, just as it has as a lawyer.