I grew up in Winston-Salem. I have the right temperament and experience to be a District Court Judge, and I want to make a difference from the bench.
I spend a lot of my free time working on the Executive Board of Parenting Path, which used to be known as Exchange/SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now). The organization's mission is to treat and more importantly prevent child abuse and neglect in Forsyth County and surrounding counties. I am passionate about protecting children because they are unable to advocate for themselves. The employees provide in-home services to help stabilize families in crisis, they go to hospitals and teach new parents how to care for their infants, they provide respite care for parents who have no one to watch their children and need to care for themselves for a short period of time, and other family-based services.
I am also a card-carrying member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the NAACP, and am active in those organizations. I volunteer with HOPE of Winston-Salem, a local non-profit that provides nutritious meals to children and families in need. I also rent several plots in Simon's Green Acre Community Garden at the Enterprise Center off of MLK Jr. Drive, where I enjoy growing tomatoes and HOT peppers with my fellow community gardeners.
The most serious issue facing the judiciary is what role judges should play in addressing mass incarceration. Legislatures classify crimes and prior record levels of defendants, and for many felonies also set mandatory minimum sentences. It's up to judges upon conviction to determine what sentence to impose on that particular defendant based on the facts in that particular case. In many cases, judges' hands are tied because of the sentencing guidelines created by the lawmaking body, especially in the federal system. But in state court, judges usually have discretion. How much should a judge consider how this defendant being in prison, and for how long, will contribute to the problem of mass incarceration? That's the most serious issue.
Until I have to sentence the first defendant who appears before me and is convicted of a crime, I could not say how I would address this issue. Many factors need to be taken into consideration at sentencing, including the nature of the crime (who is the victim, how were they victimized, is it possible to compensate the victim, etc.), whether drugs, alcohol or mental health issues played a role in the defendant's criminal conduct, is the defendant contrite, has the defendant committed this type of crime before and more generally the defendant's prior record, what are the State and defendant asking for, and other considerations. It's fair to ask oneself: of all the people incarcerated, does this person need to be another one of them?
I do not agree with partisan judicial races. While we live in hyper-partisan times, and when I am campaigning in public, many people want to know my party affiliation, having partisan judicial races reinforces the public's existing perception that judges are politically biased in their rulings when in fact the vast majority rule neutrally and impartially. It is imperative that the public has faith in the judiciary as a fair and impartial, co-equal branch of government. North Carolina should change back to a system of political appointments for judicial openings. While that doesn't entirely remove the politics, it at least removes the campaigning, fundraising, and rank partisanship that partisan judicial elections portray to the public.
I believe that I am the most qualified, have the most community involvement, and the most leadership experience to be a judge and a community leader.
I have served our community as a:
The North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission. North Carolina State Bar Representative.
Terms 2013-2015 & 2015-2017, 2017-2019 as the Chair of the Batterers Intervention Committee.
Speas Elementary School PTA, 2019 - current.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters Services, Inc. (Had two little brothers in the program).
Senior Academy through the Winston-Salem Foundation.
Forsyth County Bar Association. Member from 2007 – Present. Executive Committee member 2016-2017, 2017-2019.
Riverrun International Film Festival: Board of Directors. Terms: 2014 – 2017 & 2017 – 2020, Member of the Community Outreach Committee
Hospice Foundation Leadership Council. Term: 2017-2019, Hope Run and Kentucky Derby Party committee member.
Trellis Supportive Care: Board of Directors. Term: 2019-2021, member of the personnel committee.
Forsyth County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC). Terms: 2011 - 2015, ex officio member and of the
Carter G. Woodson Charter School, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Terms: 2011 - 2013, Secretary 2012 - 2013 fiscal year.
The Black Philanthropy Initiative of the Winston-Salem Foundation, Board of Directors. Term 2020-2022.
The Winston-Salem Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc.
Winston-Salem Urban League, general member.
NAACP of Winston-Salem, General member.
I also attend a lot of community events and volunteer with my wife and two children.
The most serious issue facing the judiciary is maintaining, and in some cases growing, the confidence from the public that the judicial system is fair, just, equitable, to everyone that seeks the courts for justice.
As a former prosecutor, I have a community reputation for being fair and equitable, seeking justice for victims while also realizing that the criminal justice system is not just to punish, but to reform, provide restitution, and help keep our communities safe.
In 2018, law professors at Wake Forest published a study analyzing North Carolina jury trials in criminal cases in 2011. Their study found that I did not strike any potential black male jurors (0%) and that I only removed one potential black female juror from my trials.
My record of community service, objective data showing my ability to equitable in felony trials, and legal experience show that I will do what i have always done, serve with honor in the courts and our community.
I currently serve as the presiding judge in contested workers' compensation cases and I know that politics have never influenced any my decisions. That should never be the case no matter who serves as a judge. My hope is that, regardless of party affiliation, voters from all sides will become informed on the experience, leadership, and community involvement of the candidates that seek office and vote their conscience.