Judicial experience is an asset for service on the state's highest court. I have served as a trial judge and on both of our state's appellate courts, the North Carolina Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Appeals. A good judge follows the law and is not swayed by popular opinion. A good judge and a good chief justice is courageous, courage to follow the law, courage to not bow to the pressure in high profile cases, courage to be just. I have served twenty one years as a jurist and was appointed to serve as the chief justice in February 2019. I have been courageous in entering emergency directives (orders) to greatly reduce the number of cases we were hearing in all of our courts across the state.
Yes I am running for a partisan judicial position. But, my record demonstrates that I have never made a court decision because of pressure or because my election lay in the balance. I have been motivated by addressing justice in our courts and outside of our courts with the many programs I have promoted and begun to address access to justice issues.
The safety of our courts is the greatest obstacle that we are challenged with today. As chief justice, it has been my priority to make sure that safety is paramount in our more than 300 court facilities across the state while still allowing courts to handle the most emergent needs. We have done everything we can to protect our staff and citizens across the state of North Carolina and we will continue to do so.
I follow the Rule of Law, treating everyone the same. In every case, I strive to fairly, impartially, and consistently apply the law as intended.
First elected in 2004, I am the longest-serving Supreme Court justice, and the only current justice elected twice to the Court, having received widespread bi-partisan support across NC. I have practiced law for 40 years, and have broad legal experience. I’ve worked in private practice, as corporate counsel, and as an Assistant US Attorney. For the last 16 years, I’ve served as a justice on the NC Supreme Court. I’m the only former prosecutor on the Court. In 2003, I helped recover NC's original copy of the Bill of Rights, which was stolen in 1865. Recognized for my legal scholarship, I teach law students, judges, and lawyers. I have written a book on the NC Constitution and received various awards, including the Constitutional Rights Award. Believing that civic education is important, I frequently speak to school groups and community organizations. For my community involvement, I received the Citizen-Lawyer Award and the Marine Corp League Good Citizen Award. I’m an Eagle Scout and have received the National Distinguished Eagle Award because of my service to Scouting and the public. I received the Heroism Award for rescuing 9 people from a riptide. I am a lifelong North Carolinian, born in Randolph County, raised in Jamestown (Guilford County), and educated at Duke and UNC. My mother was a school teacher, my dad a printer.
The platform of a political party has no role in my work as a justice. My job is to fairly, impartially, and consistently apply the law to each case, treating every party the same. This is the Rule of Law, and the Rule of Law directs my judicial decisions. Judicial philosophy is very important. My judicial philosophy recognizes the distinct role of the three branches of government; judges decide each case based upon the law and should not legislate.
The law must be fairly, impartially, and consistently applied in every case. Justice delayed is justice denied. The justice system must be continually evaluated to insure that there exists appropriate access for parties and fair procedures for claims to be addressed in a timely manner. An electronic filing system must be implemented statewide with all due diligence. We need to continually build public trust and confidence in our system of justice. We need to emphasize civic education and help folks understand the unique role of each branch of government. All the interested stakeholders, such as trial judges, clerks, prosecutors, public defenders, and community leaders must work together to evaluate our justice system and help improve it. Serving as Chief Justice would allow me to address all of these areas.