Parker’s Picks For Statewide Judicial Races


Hi, Hooligans. I’m Parker, and I was invited to offer up a voter guide for the Judicial elections. Here’s a little about my background:

I’ve lived in North Carolina my entire life and I am convinced it is the best state in the Union. The more I travel, the more I realize how true that is. I consider myself a John Edwards populist (the I’m-really-worried-about-the-lower-middle-class type, not the oops-I-impregnated-my-secretary type). I was appalled at the failure of the Democratic Party to push the best choice for one of the Court of Appeals seats (Leto Copley), leaving us with the possibility of a 29-year old who drinks the Tea. With two judges leaving the bench after the primary this year’s Buncombe County ballot will be extra confusing for voters, so we all need to pitch in to help educate people.

You can offer your own choices in the comments section of the voter guide. And please offer your choices for the District Court races, which I do not cover in this post.

Pay attention to the state wide Court of Appeals and Supreme Court Candidates if you are at all concerned with how a different majority might affect the decisions being made in Raleigh.

This IndWeek guide was one of the sources I used to “pick three” judge recommendations to replace Judge Wynn.

The most important vote you cast this November may be for a Judge

Any given day in North Carolina, our Court of Appeals and Supreme Court make decisions that affect our families, jobs, and property. More recently they’ve heard cases on:

Same sex adoption
Environmental regulations and enforcement
Eminent Domain
Foreclosure and Subprime Loans
State challenges to national healthcare program

Why are these races so much harder to understand and explain than regular races? Here’s your quick and dirty rundown of STATEWIDE judicial elections in North Carolina, so you can impress your friends then take them to vote:

Judicial Elections in North Carolina are nonpartisan. This means straight ticket voting doesn’t cast you vote for judges. Without a handy political shorthand for your kindred spirits, you need to do your research.

Judges on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are elected to 8 year terms and have no term limits. Legal decisions are much more difficult to change than legislation. That’s a lot of bad law that can be made by a few judges for a long time.

Court of Appeals has 15 judges who hear cases in 3 judge panels and hear appeals except in death penalty cases.

The Supreme Court consists of 6 justices and 1 chief justice and can only be appealed to the US Supreme Court.

So, my egalitarian brothers and sisters, here are my suggestions for the judicial elections:

Supreme Court – Bob Hunter is a Western North Carolina native who authored over 700 opinions while on the Court of Appeals.

Court of Appeals Geer Seat – Martha Geer is the incumbent and prior to serving on the court she litigated cases in all court levels, state and federal, including the Supreme Court.

Court of Appeal Calabria seat – Jane Gray is a Wake County District Court Judge who also worked for the Department of Justice.

Court of Appeals Wynn seat – Hold on, this one’s confusing. Justice Wynn left his seat in August to serve on the federal courts. Because the timing allowed no primary there are a whopping 13 people on the ballot for his seat. Voters will get to rank their top 3 choices and if no candidate gets 50% the state uses a rare system called instant run-off. These are the candidates (progressive candidates for your consideration have a * and are listed first):

Hammer, Stanley (D)*
Middleton, Anne (D)*
Thigpen, Cressie (D)*
Bloss, John (U)
Casteen, John Wesley (U)
Dillon, Robert Christpopher (R)
Farlow, Jewel Ann (U)
Garner, Daniel (R)
Klass, Mark (D)
Mccullough, John Douglas (R)
Payne, Harry (D)
Sullivan, John (D)
Vesper, Pamela (U)

And if your eyes haven’t glazed over yet…

Court of Appeals Elmore seat – The nonpartisan primary and voter apathy left us no progressives in this race. So the lesser evil is the incumbent (Elmore) who has substantial legal experience and represented indigent clients throughout his career. His opponent is very conservative and has never represented a client or tried a case in court since he graduated from law school 5 years ago.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my picks. Get out there and vote!

Categories : Democrats, Local


  1. Jim Jenkins says:

    Thank you for this, Parker.

  2. designation says:

    In the IRV race, I strongly suggest folks vote for Cressie Thigpen as their first choice (in the first column).

    Only the top two vote-getters will advance to the run-off (should no one receive over 50% of the vote).

    Dividing the progressive vote among three (or more) candidates without emphasizing a ranked order could result in none of them making the instant runoff.

    Vote Cressie Thigpen in the first column.

  3. Esther Manheimer says:

    For the local judicial elections in Buncombe County:

    On the back of the ballot at the bottom, vote for Heather Whitaker Goldstein as your first choice. She’s a smart, community leader who will serve us well as one of our next Superior Court Judges.

  4. Big Ivy says:

    I join Jim Jenkins in offering my thanks for this posting.

    I’ve read the “Judicial Voter Guide” repeatedly, trying to scrape out bits of information. I appreciate your research and opinion as it gives me a little bit more information to apply when trying to make my choices.

  5. nathan ramsey says:

    Parker – you’ve been drinking too much beer!

  6. Thank you for taking the time to include the IRV race and for the nod in my direction in this election. What more does a candidate need that an endorsement from Scrutiny Hooligans? (Love the name, love your site). Anne Middleton

  7. Parker says:

    Thank You for your comments
    I agree with designation that a strategy is needed when voting in the Instant run off election. Except a strategy would really require statewide organization, which is something that I haven’t seen a lot of for Judge races.

    Sueto’s point about switching back to appointing Judges is an interesting one. Unfortunately, it does seem that partisan hacks and religious zealots have the loudest voice with voters, so it might be something to think about. At least Something worth debating on Scroo Hoo sometime after the election.


  8. David Cohen says:

    An observation that may be off base, but I would like to hear other opinions—
    Heather Goldstein is the only candidate that I have ever seen have her first name be the most prominent on her campaign signs. Is she worried that Goldstein might be too “ethnic” (Jewish) for the public to digest?
    Just sign me a curious Jew……

  9. Deus Ex Machina says:

    Nah, Hillary Clinton did the same prominent first name thing with her campaign signs in 2008.

  10. David Cohen says:

    Thanks, Deus, I had forgotten about her.

  11. shadmarsh says:

    fwiw David, I had the same thought when I saw the Goldstein signs…

  12. Ben says:

    Thought about going on a Chris Berman rant
    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TLG_LtWhj4) a few weeks ago after seeing 13 – THIRTEEN! names listed on the Court of Appeals seat ballot.
    I hate to say it, but this is one where people are going to close their eyes and say “oh, I like that name better than that other one” and the cat lady from The Simpsons will begin carrying a gavel in one hand while throwing cats with the other….

    Yes, everyone PLEASE help people learn more about the candidates this year!