Choices Offered For Judicial Races
N.C. Supreme Court
Sarah Parker, appointed by Gov. Mike Easley last fall to fill the vacancy left by Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr., seeks a full eight-year term. We think she has earned one, and we enthusiastically recommend her re-election over challenger W. Russell "Rusty" Duke Jr., who is now the senior resident Superior Court judge in Pitt County.
A native of Charlotte, Parker has compiled an extensive record as an able and cautious jurist with an even, non-ideological temperament. She has been on the Supreme Court since 1993 and served on the state Court of Appeals before that. She richly deserves a full term.
Three associate justice positions also appear on the ballot. For the first one, incumbent Mark D. Martin is the clear choice over Rachel Lea Hunter, who seems an unusually lightweight candidate for such a heavy job.
Martin has compiled a distinguished record since taking office in 1999. He has received the endorsement of all five living former chief justices of the state Supreme Court. He is clearly to be preferred over Hunter, who spent 12 years as a law clerk in Pennsylvania before being admitted to the N.C. Bar a mere four years ago.
We favor Patricia Timmons-Goodson of Fayetteville for re-election to the second associate justice position on the ballot. She served eight years on the Court of Appeals and more than 12 years as a District Court judge before joining the Supreme Court in February.
Her opponent, Eric Levinson of Charlotte, won election to the Court of Appeals four years ago after serving as a District Court judge and prosecutor. He also is well qualified, but Timmons-Goodson's longer experience and superior deliberative style give her the edge.
The third associate justice position on the ballot is an open seat. We recommend Appeals Court Judge Robin Hudson over Anne Marie Calabria, also an Appeals Court judge. Appointed in 2001, Hudson has a couple of years over Calabria in experience and a wider background.
Court of Appeals
The ballot includes two contested Appeals Court races.
The Pilot recommends Bob Hunter for the first one. He is running for a second term, opposed by Kris Bailey of Cary, who works as general counsel to State Auditor Les Merritt. Bailey served one term on Wake District Court before failing in his re-election bid in 2004.
Linda Stephens of Raleigh, appointed to the court last January, gets our vote over Donna Stroud of Zebulon, though both are strong candidates. Stephens came to the court with 21 years' experience in private law practice in Raleigh and four years on the N.C. Industrial Commis-sion. Stroud is serving her first term in District Court after 16 years in private practice.
District Court 19B
Though District 19B covers Moore, Randolph and Montgomery counties, both candidates for the judgeship hail from Randolph, where their bitter contest has sometimes generated more heat than light.
Both candidates came across as dedicated, intelligent and well qualified in endorsement interviews with The Pilot. On balance, though, we recommend challenger Kristian Allen, an assistant prosecutor in the D.A.'s office, over incumbent Judge Scott Etheridge.
Etheridge is clearly a conscientious and honest judge, though defense attorneys complain that he is sometimes doctrinaire and harsh in his judgments, with a higher percentage of appeals than the other judges in the district. Many of the attorneys are supporting Allen, though she is part of the office that prosecutes their clients.
Both candidates make no bones of their Republican backgrounds. But Allen also placed her posters in the Democratic headquarters, taking the state at its word that this is a "nonpartisan" race. The Randolph County GOP chairman (Etheridge's former law partner) unfairly ordered her signs removed from his party headquarters.
We would have felt better if Etheridge had publicly disassociated himself from that decision and asked that his opponent's posters be returned. The fact that he did not do so helps sway us toward his opponent, Allen.
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