The North Carolina Court of Appeals is the state's intermediate appellate court. Currently 15 judges hear cases in panels of three. The Court of Appeals reviews the proceedings that occurred in the trial courts for errors of law or legal procedure; it decides only questions of law – not questions of fact. The role of the Court of Appeals is to decide if the trial court correctly applied the law, or if there was prejudicial error in the conduct of the trial.The majority of cases appealed from the Superior and District courts in civil and criminal cases are heard by the Court of Appeals. One major exception is capital murder appeals in which the death penalty was imposed; these appeals go directly to the Supreme Court of North Carolina. In addition, direct appeals from certain of the state’s administrative agencies are heard by the Court of Appeals.
I am a constitutional conservative and strict constructionist. The law should be applied as written. Judges should not make law or legislate.
My up bringing was that of a blue-collar common person in a economically depressed county in rural North Carolina, which I believe provides a unique opportunity to connect with and understand people and their circumstances. I was a North Carolina State Trooper before attending law school, which provided an opportunity for me to develop the ability to communicate and understand people through intentional listening, my time as a Trooper also provided me the opportunity to see our court system work from the prospective of a witness having testified many times at trial. Upon graduating from law school, I returned to Anson County and practiced law in a small firm focusing my practice on litigation in our trial courts. Every case that matriculates to an appeals court begins in a trial court. I am currently a Superior Court Judge, which is the highest-level trial court in our state and have presided over thousands of cases.
A judge’s political party should play no role in his/her work as a Judge. Judges should have no “team” or agenda other than to follow the law as written, apply the law impartially to everyone, and to treat everyone fairly under the law.
One of the greatest obstacles facing the Courts is the maintaining of the separation of powers between the branches of Government. Presently our Courts have the tendency to become politicized as to issues which in some cases leads to our Courts allowing the Legislative branch to undertake Executive Branch duties or allowing the Executive Branch to undertake Legislative Branch duties, and sadly on occasion our Courts will themselves infringe on the separation of powers by creating law or legislating from the bench.
As a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals I am committed to being a fair, independent and impartial jurist. Experience and trust matter.
Over the course of my 32-year legal career, I have been a prosecutor, defense attorney, civil litigant, Secretary of two state agencies, legal counsel to the Governor, superior court judge, and now appellate judge. As a trial judge, I presided over 99 jury trials and numerous bench trials. As an appellate judge, I have authored over 55 opinions. This broad range of experiences has afforded me the opportunity to see the justice system from various perspectives. I work hard every day to ensure that our system of justice is accessible to all people.
The platform of a political party should never play a role in the work of any judge. As a member of the judiciary, all judges take an oath to uphold the Federal and State constitutions and laws. Every judge should be committed to being a fair, impartial, and independent member of the judiciary.
The greatest obstacles to justice are unfair and unequal access to the courts for all North Carolinians, and the unfair application of the law to all citizens. As an appellate judge, it is imperative and it is my responsibility to apply and interpret the law fairly to all parties and litigants.