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Abe Jones, a former superior court judge, talks about why he should be on
the appeals court last week at Forsyth County Democratic Headquarters.
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Greg Stelzer chats with Carrie Vickery, a District Court judicial candidate, last
week at Forsyth County Democratic Headquarters.
Photo* By Todd Luck
Judge Rickye McKoy
Mitchell speaks to vot
ers on her candidacy
for appeals court judge
at the Forsyth County
Thursday, Aug. 25.
BY TODD LUCK
Democrats running for judicial office
presented their qualifications to voters at
Forsyth County Democratic Headquarters
on Thursday, Aug. 25.*
Candidates running for District Court,
Court of Appeals and the N.C. Supreme
Court all spoke to attendees. Judicial can
didates tend to avoid taking partisan
stances, since they need to be objective on
the issues that come before them. Instead
they often focus on their experience to dif
ferentiate themselves from their oppo
nents and that's exactly what five candi
dates did during last week's campaign
Carrie Vickery, who is running in
Forsyth County for District Court judge,
said it's not just the quantity of her experi
ence, but the diverse quality of it that
makes her the best choice for voters.
"I am the only candidate in this race
that has practiced and continues to prac
tice in every single courtroom that comes
before the district court," said Vickery.
Vickery has been an attorney with the
Holton Law Firm since 2009. She's prac
ticed criminal and civil law and is a board
certified family law specialist. Her oppo
nent, Aaron Berlin," has been a Forsyth
County assistant district attorney since
2011. They're both running for the 21st
Judicial District seat currently held by
Judge William Graham, who is retiring.
Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan
made similar arguments as to why more
than 26 years as a superior, administrative
and district court judge made him more
qualified to be a N.C Supreme Court
judge, than incumbent Justice Robert
Edmunds. He said presiding over diverse
types of cases that may be appealed to the
high court makes him better suited to
review those cases as a justice.
"My opponent doesn't know what he
doesn't know," said Morgan.
Edmunds, who served on the N.C.
Supreme Court since 2001, has been a
lawyer, district attorney and served two
years on the appeals court before being
elected to his current position.
Originally, the General Assembly
changed N.C. Supreme Court re-elections
so that incumbents wouldn't face chal
lengers and the only vote would be on if
they should keep the seat or not. If a jus
tice was voted out, the governor would've
appointed a replacement. The retention
elections were declared unconstitutional in
the courts, causing the seat to be on the
June 7 primary. Morgan came in second
behind Edmunds in that primary. He said
he thought the retention election was a
"reward" to Edmunds by Republican law
makers for upholding redisricting legisla
Moigan said that his election would
give Democrats a majority on the court,
but instead of partisanship, he promised to
be fair and impartial. He said judges
should not have political predispositions.
Candidates for the N.C. Court of
Appeals made similar arguments. The
appeals court is comprised of 15 members
who sit in rotating panels of three and
serve eight-year terms. Wake County
District Court Judge Vince Rozier felt
lower court judicial experience is vital to
the appeals court. However, only three out
of the current 15 appeals judges had that
type of experience before joining the
"It's like there are 12 principals
who've never been teachers in the class
room and they're telling teachers what
should happen," Rozier said.
His opponent, incumbent Richard
Dietz of Winston-Salem, was an attorney
before being appointed to the court by
Gov. Pat McCrory in 2014.
Candidate Abe Jones also has many
years of experience he wants to bring to
the appeals court. He served from 1995
2012 as a superior court judge in Wake
County. He is currently engaged in private
practice and as an adjunct professor at
UNC Law School.
"You have to bring something with
you to the bench," said Jones.
He's running against incumbent Bob
Hunter of Raleigh who was a N.C. deputy
attorney general before being elected to
the appeals court in 2008.
District Court Judge Rickye McKoy
Mitchell also has a lot of experience, hav
ing held her position since 1998. She is the
longest serving district court judge in
Mecklenburg County's 26th Judicial
District. Her opponent, incumbent Justice
Valerie Zachary of Yadkinville, was an
attorney before being appointed to the
court by McCrory in July 2015.
"We will be bringing to you experi
ence, fairness, commitment on the bench
and in the community, and being respected
about what we do because we respect
those that come before us," said McKoy
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