The INDY’s Endorsements for the N.C. Court of Appeals | Our Endorsements | Indy Week

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The INDY’s Endorsements for the N.C. Court of Appeals

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N.C. Court of Appeals Judge (Dietz)

Vince Rozier

Both Vince Rozier and incumbent Richard Dietz have experience that suits them to the bench. Rozier is a former prosecutor and district court judge; Dietz, a former First Amendment attorney, has served on the Court of Appeals since 2014 and is the only state appellate judge to have argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. While Dietz has strong bipartisan cred and makes a forceful case for judicial independence from politics, we're siding with Rozier, whose decade as a Wake County trial court judge will offer him a unique perspective among the fifteen appellate court judges, of whom only three have prior judicial experience.

Rozier has a record of working with youth, including efforts to initiate a gang truce in Raleigh and to create a diversion program for sixteen-to-eighteen-year-olds who are charged with first-time, nonviolent offenses. He also argues that a foremost issue in the American justice system is implicit bias, which must be aggressively rooted out at all levels: "It is intellectually lazy to impose this bias only on officers," he says. "Judges can reveal their biases in sentences, prosecutors may reveal it in who is indicted, and defenders may reveal it in how they treat clients or believe the facts offered by law enforcement." We agree—and we think Rozier deserves your support.

N.C. Court of Appeals Judge (Geer)

Margaret Eagles

Margaret Eagles certainly has the pedigree for this position—her father, Sidney Eagles, was once the chief judge of the N.C. Court of Appeals. But she has earned our endorsement in her own right. Since 2009, she's served as district court judge, where she is currently the lead domestic violence judge, meaning she handles many of these cases both in civil and criminal capacities. She's been an assistant attorney general, representing the state in environmental litigation and criminal appeals, as well as a clerk to the N.C. Supreme Court. Her opponent, Hunter Murphy, is a trial attorney who blasts "activist judges." He's a qualified candidate, but he's never served on the bench and can't match Eagles's experience. 

N.C. Court of Appeals Judge (Hunter)

Abe Jones

Abe Jones, a Superior Court judge for the last two decades, is one of the few candidates for the appellate bench who has been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. The incumbent in this race, Bob Hunter, has plenty of experience, but he represents the status quo. Jones, on the other hand, speaks of issues pertinent to the advancement of criminal justice reform, such as excessive bail and a lack of speedy trials—which can leave people in jail for long stretches without being convicted—as well as repairing the "fragile relationship between citizens and law enforcement," as he puts it. He deserves your vote.  

N.C. Court of Appeals Judge (Stephens)

Linda Stephens 

Linda Stephens's opponent in this race is Phil Berger Jr., the son of the far-right Senate leader. Try as we might, we can't help but hold that against him. It doesn't help that, this summer, the legislature changed the law so that appeals court judges of the governor's party—i.e., Berger, a Republican—appear first on the ballot (which is where all candidates want to be in low-profile races). Were it not for the legislation, Berger Jr. would have appeared second, owing to a random draw. We're not OK with that kind of chicanery.

But you can do more than vote against Berger. You can help elect Stephens, a trailblazer and qualified candidate who's spent a decade on the Court of Appeals and has earned the endorsements of Equality NC, the state chapter of the National Organization for Women, the N.C. Sierra Club, the N.C. Association of Educators, and the N.C. Police Benevolent Association, among others.

N.C. Court of Appeals Judge (Zachary)

Rickye McKoy-Mitchell

While her slogan, "Faces, Not Just Cases," might be somewhat regrettable, McKoy-Mitchell has established herself as a fair-minded judge during her time on the district court. She's the longest-serving district court judge in Mecklenburg County and has experience both with criminal and civil cases. The incumbent, Valerie Zachary, has been endorsed by the likes of House Speaker Tim Moore, Representative Paul Stam, and Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison. McCoy-Mitchell, meanwhile, claims the support of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, the Durham People's Alliance, the Raleigh-Wake County Citizens Association, Equality NC, and the N.C. Association of Educators. If you can judge a judge by her friends, this isn't a tough choice. Vote McKoy-Mitchell.

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