Indy Endorsements!

The very influential Independent Weekly announced its endorsements today for the primary election, which will be on May 2nd.

In the Orange County BOCC election, it couldn't pick. Thus it encourages you to vote for three out of the quartet of Fred Battle, Mike Nelson, Barry Jacobs, and Alice Gordon.

In the Superior Court race it endorses Carl Fox and Adam Stein.

For Congress it endorses David Price.

In the statewide Judicial races it endorses Robin Hudson for Supreme Court, and Bob Hunter and Linda Stephens for their respective Court of Appeals seats.

Pretty much on the mark in my opinion...

Issues: 

Total votes: 139

Comments

Kind of a "cop-out" in the commissioner's race, in my opinion.

I'd have to agree, Paul. After seeing the Commissioners march on with the awful plan that won't do anything for district representation and that everybody hates, I'm feeling pretty anti-incumbent in that race.

But then again, I like Barry a lot...

No Merger also announced its endorsements of Fred Battle and Alice Gordon this afternoon-

http://nomerger.org/2006_primary_endorsements.htm

I'm glad to see they recognized Fred's commitment to education. Alice's endorsement isn't much of a surprise (although she has certainly been supportive of the CHCCS.)

Please also note the Orange County School Board endorsements:
Ted Triebel, Debbie Piscatelli, Anne Medenblik, and Susan Hallman.
Indy says they didn't receive a survey response from the other candidate, Tony McKnight. This concerns me because if he McKnight does not win, the board will be entirely white. Does anyone know more about McKnight?
In the BOCC race, I would point out that Alice Gordon has also been supportive of increasing funding for the Orange County Schools. I don't see her as a CHCCS "homer." In fact, I think her support for increasing OCS funding has been more productive than Barry Jacobs' support.

Maybe both groups need a run-off discussion...

the indy sent a questionnaire to candidates running for U S Congress.The questions concerned :

1)biggest issues ?

2)should we withdraw from iraq now ?

3)where do you stand on impeachment/censure of bush ?

4) concern about the wealth gap ?

5)trade policy ?

6) a. death penalty ?
b. abortion rights ?
c. affirmative action ?
d. gay rights ?

I think it would be very interesting to the readers if the indy would publish my answers along side those of david price and oscar lewis.

Many candidates publish their full questionnaires on their own web sites. It's a lot of work to do writing all those asnwers to not get to share your intelligent answers with the voters.

i am on the horns of a dilemma :

i can choose to feel flattered that my secret crush assumes that my answers would be "intelligent" or face the distinct possibility that she is merely displaying her intoxicatingly sarcastic wit.

at any rate, although i can(and maybe i will) publish my "intelligent" answers on my web site, i am unable to publish them along side those of my opponents(i don't have their answers).

i do appreciate that the indy offered its rationale for endorsing price which seemed to be a case of : kanoy is right on the issues but since he isn't spending a lot of money he can't be taken seriously, and we should stick with our status quo moderate who is sometimes willing to be drug to progressive positions on the important issues of the day.

this has been a familiar refrain whether it be the indy, the people's alliance or the durham committee. after each meeting i have walked away with the message that i am right on the issues but we don't want to give up our place at the federal trough, ie. price has seniority and sits on the appropriations committee.as one group put it, we don't want to lose our crumbs.

i don't want to sound grandiose but my hope was that this could become a true grassroots campaign that defied the orthodox political paradigm for victory---outspend your opponents.

imagine for a moment what would happen if the indy, the pa, and the durham committee had endorsed this campaign. progressives may have made a statement that would have resonated far beyond the 4th district and the current election cycle.

be that as it may, my time on op has been informative,educational,and fun. the campaign has allowed me to meet a lot of wonderfull people. i admire the dedication and commitment of the op posters.

and when i shock the world on may 2nd, i will continue to return to the blog asking for your support.

kent

Kent, there's more votes out there for you than I think most folk are accounting for...

I look forward to seeing if our community, in general, is willing to trade our place at the federal trough for a principled stand on the issues.

thanks will.

i hope i didn't sound like a nattering nabob of negativity. i have been very encouraged by the response to my web site and phone calls pledging support and votes. but i recognize that success is dependent upon exposure, so we shall see.

by the way, did anyone go to the league of women voters' forum tuesday night ? it was the first forum that david price showed up for,and i would be interested in your feedback/criticism. my harshest critic (my wife---seriously !) said that i totally destroyed price on the facts and the issues.

yesterday, i received an invitation from nbc-17 to appear with david price on "at issues", a sunday talk show. the moderator said that price had not responded to the request but that they would get back to me if and when he did. so far, no word from nbc-17.

Kent, I don't know why my comment came across as facetious, but I'm totally serious. As a former candidate, I know how much work goes into those stupid things, and it only makes sense to re-use it to benefit the campaign. For example: http://markchilton.org/10/24/independent-questionnaire/

I presume YOU think your answers are intelligent, otherwise you wouldn't have written them. I presume you think people would support what you have to say. It's just generic advice for any candidate. Why not post yours and challenge other candidates to do the same?

Another principled run with a local connection is Hawaii's Joseph Zuiker, pop of one of our local 'blog engines Anton.

Ruby,

pardon my touchiness. my rejection sensitivity is running high today.

losing the indy endorsement,although not surprising,was disappointing. and david price has been dodging me which is frustrating.

three weeks ago david declined to join me at fearrington village for a debate on impeachment. just now nbc-17 called to say that david's office had declined their invitation to participate on their sunday morning talk show to debate the issues with me. perhaps my wife's assessment was not only kind,but accurate.to add insult to injury, nbc-17 said that since price didn't want to come on the show,there was no need for me to do the show.

here's hoping my tales of woe have tugged at your heart strings,and you will re-consider having that beer with me.

As an independent assisting the Democrats on the GOTV, I've been asked my views on attracting folk like myself to the Democratic-fold. One area I've stressed is "thoughtful engagement". If you want independents, I think, you need to engage them on the issues - to openly discuss the problems which maybe made them flee the party (or never join).

I'm disappointed that Rep. Price is playing the typical political game of disengagement, especially because it reinforces both the perception and reality of marginalization of ideas which used to be mainstream Democratic principles.

Finally, if Rep. Price doesn't have what it takes to confront Kanoy, what gives the David Becks of the party the confidence he will engage the crazy-side of the Republican party? Is this another preview of the "run the clock out" strategy of the weakened "loyal opposition"? Has Price internalized the lessons of the "whipped dog" Congressional constituency to such an extent, he reflexively ducks any situation that might introduce a bit of controversy?

A sad, sad shameful situation.

Price thinks his victory is in the bag, Why else dodge? I'm going for Kanoy just for change, not thst I think Dave is a bad congressperson but because he's had his shot at it. Voting for change, usually do.

I would like to see Fred Battle have some more specifics on education. When I spoke with him, he basically said that he would prefer to cut funding in one place to pay for changes in another. Or, to save money in one place to spend in another. However, he had NO examples of what he was talking about, only a hypothesis that this would work.

I seem to remember Will trotting out the town buying new computers too often as one "little" thing that could be done to save money. I'm sure there were others, but this was a pretty obvious example AND it showed that he had really looked at the budget.

Well, Kent and Will, I learn from you that the only reason to vote for Price is his seniority, and that's only because it gives him improved access to the federal "trough".

There might be other benefits of seniority, guys. It might help with getting certain issues before the public. It might help when stopping evil legislation. It might even help get better legislation for the country as a whole. But the only motivation you can attribute to Price supporters like me is a "trough"?

Bzzzzt!

If I benefit from Price's trough, I promise to recant.

- ge

I am disturbed about the myopic way Rep. Price's actions are being read. Just because he declines to debate on a sunday morning show, that he knows will focus solely on one issue, why does that make him disengaged?

Rep. Price very well could be working on the one thousand other issues that face this district and this nation right now, we do not know. And when it comes to impeachment I would guess that he knows where his district stands on the president, and he is thus pursuing responsible means of holding the president accountable. He knows our displeasure with Bush because we told him at an OCYD forum, after he had spent time meeting with a group of constituents irked about the state of the executive, and he knows it because he lives in this district and has eyes and ears.

I think it shows that Rep. Price is very engaged in working for the good of this district because 1) he is rated one of the most progressive members of congress, and 2) he focuses his time on all of the issues, not rehashing fights over single issues that we all basically agree on...Bush sucks.

Matt, I don't think it's myopic to note that I haven't seen Price in discussion with the other candidates at any point during this campaign.

Per mine and Ruby's comments on Mark Chilton's previous post about the judicial race, I cannot support voting for Carl Fox.

Ruby, I think that is a perfectly viable factual note. The part i take issue with is when it is strung out to the point that we have a characterization of Rep. Price as dodging constituents and cowering in the face of the Republican adminsitration just because he has not debated Kent yet.

The couple times i have heard him lately, Price has been talking about how hard it is to get things done in DC lately. I am saying it is equally plausible that he is off putting in the extra time fighting the GOP and vigorously advocating for the district as it is that he is engaging in a strategy of salutory neglect.

Matt and George, I don't think it's asking too much for one debate - even if it's a NBC-17 news event - during the primaries between the candidates. It seems like common courtesy.

Matt, I've been keeping as good an eye as I can on Price's activities via his two websites, "googling" and the WashingtonPost RSS feed of his recorded votes. It doesn't seem like he's preoccupied with work. If he is, I'd love to see a list of all the activities he's doing on behalf of his district that are keeping him from engaging, at least once, in a wide-ranging discussion of the issues with his fellow Democratic contender.

I think Kent has brought some of this onto himself by not running a serious (a.k.a. traditional) campaign. I could expand on that, but I think it is concise.

just a point of clarification : the fearrington village invitation concerned one topic--impeachment. the moderator,verna collins, made it clear that the sunday tv talk show would cover ALL issues.

Robert ,
i ask this question in all sincerity : what is "not serious" about my campaign ? in the past 7 weeks, i have done a two hour debate on wptf radio,i have met with the people's alliance and the durham committee, i have talked with indy staff and completed their questionnaire, i have participated in forums sponsored by the chatham co.african american caucus and the durham league of women voters, i have attended and participated in three town hall meetings regarding impeachment, i have been willing to meet david price in other forums, and i have purchased and distributed campaign material within my budget($5k).that may not sound serious to you, but it feels damn serious to me.

and please enlighten me how i brought THIS on myself ? and what is this "this" of which you speak ?

i have 10 days to convey a greater seriousness about the campaign. i am open to all suggestions. thanks.

Kent,
Notice I wrote traditional in parentheses. If you had gone into this with a traditional campaign, with fundraisers, staff, an office, etc., then you probably would have been taken more seriously. As it is, Rep. Price can ignore you as someone who is "not serious", my words not his.

From OP, it seems like you would have had a serious volunteer and donor base. I'm not saying you aren't serious, I'm just saying that to non-political junkies, you probably don't appear serious - thus, Rep. Price can ignore you.

I can understand, though not agree, with how you're waging this campaign. I like the idea, I just don't think it is going to be anywhere near as successful as a traditional campaign would have been at getting out your message.

BTW, I think spending $5K of your own money is very serious, not many of us would do that to prove a point.

I think any campaign that does not accept donations is not "serious," even if it's just for Town Council. Donations are a key way to demonstrate community support, and are neccesary for spreading the candidate's message.

I'm not saying you have to raise millions, but why turn supporters away? Why handicap yourself if you actually want to win?

Thanks Robert for acknowledging Kent's seriousness.

Kent has to work within his self-imposed constraints. Like Ruby, I think he should've taken donations, like Anton's dad (whose making a "principled run" in Hawaii), but he's stuck to his strategy and I can appreciate his reasons.

That said, Price's supporters should be encouraging Price to engage with his constituents that expect a stronger reaction to our country's continued slide. Engaging with Kent, who I feel is a rough proxy for my interests, would be a great start.

Finally, with Bush's recent nuclear posturing on Iran, the recent ATT discoveries demonstrating the technical means for NSA's widespread illegal wire-tapping of the American citizenry, the Hu nonsense, escalating death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan, my desire for real change has only sharpened.

And, it probably seems, so has my criticism of Price.

I know Price is a good man, maybe a model of a decent leader for quiet times, someone that seems to "bring the Federal bacon" home for his constituents, but he's doing democracy and Democracy a disfavor by not engaging in an open debate.

And his recent puffery is not very encouraging either:

Price's Questioning of Gen. Abizaid Leads to House Ban on Permanent U.S. Bases in Iraq

Washington, Mar 16 -

WASHINGTON, DC -- Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to prohibit a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq. The vote came on the heels of Rep. David Price's sharp questioning of General John Abizaid, the U.S. Army's top commander in the Middle East, about long-term U.S. policy in Iraq.

During General Abizaid's testimony before a House Appropriations Subcommittee, Price asked: “Can you make an unequivocal commitment that the U.S. does not plan to establish permanent bases in Iraq?” Abizaid's response: “No sir, I can't...the policy on long-term presence in Iraq hasn't been formulated.”

Price's questions prompted concern among House members and were widely cited during floor debate on the amendment, which was offered during consideration of a $91.8 billion supplemental appropriations bill.

“On Saturday, our Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the U.S. has no goal of establishing permanent bases in Iraq,” Rep. Price told his colleagues on the floor of the House. “Three days later, General Abizaid tells me the policy on long-term presence in Iraq ‘hasn't been formulated.' If Administration officials cannot make up their minds three years into this war, it is time Congress did it for them.”

Rep. Price has been outspoken in his opposition to the war and to the President's handling of it. He has cosponsored legislation (H. Con. Res.197) to prohibit a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq. He has also introduced legislation (H.J. Res.70) to require the President to submit to Congress an exit strategy for U.S. forces in Iraq and to prohibit permanent bases.

Sounds good. Sounds like a leader charging forward. Sounds like no permanent bases in Iraq.

Unfortunately, the truth behind HR 197 is far different.

I wish the Senate concurred. I wish the other House efforts were moving forward. But this is no done deal, to claim otherwise is a bit disingenous.

Probably to Ruby and everyone elses relief, I'll drop commenting on Price (at least on OP) until after the election.

I agree with Ruby, contributions show community support. Why not take limited (and only individual, no PACs) contributions, like $100 per person maximum? 250 of such contributions would be $25,000, not much these days, but enough to run a solid campaign assuming a candidate has a good active volunteer base.

I support Price, although I do think Kent raises some good issues. I met Kent recently and told him that would not vote for him, but I'm glad he's in the race and raising these issues.

Who was it that only accepted $100 donations in his Presidential campaign? I want to say Pete Wilson...but that doesn't feel right.

He got a lot of coverage because of that, although I can't remember his name, soooooooo....

Jerry Brown. I remembered he was Oakland mayor and a Senator as well.

Brown quit a few years later, citing problems with money's influence in politics. He ran an unorthodox campaign for president in 1992 -- accepting donations of only up to $100 and using an 800 number to raise money -- and beat Bill Clinton in primaries in Maine, Colorado, Vermont, Connecticut, Utah and Nevada.

In 1998, Ed Garvey, Democratic candidate for Governor of WI against Tommy Thompson, raised a million dollars in $100 contributions. He lost, but ran 8 points ahead of the Democratic challenger in 1994 even though Thompson outspent him about 7-1.

Why exactly did the Independent endorse a candidate who cannot serve out the term?

You have to admire the job that Adam Stein's campaign has done of downplaying simple fact that he will not be able to serve out his term if he's elected to the Orange/Chatham Superior Court. He even got the journalists at the Independent to repeat his campaign's talking point -- that he would serve as "a recalled Superior Court Judge" -- without explaining what on earth is a "recalled Superior Court Judge", or scratching the surface of this argument to make its implications clear. To do so: if Stein is elected, he will be required by law to vacate the seat slightly more than a quarter of the way into the term. At that time, the governor -- the next governor -- will appoint his successor, who will serve until the next general election, or for roughly a year.

I'll copy in a separate post the statute regarding "recalled judges" and let the reader decide if Stein's campaign's scenario of serving as a "recalled judge" is based in fact or fantasy. But the voter who goes to the polls to cast a vote in celebration of Stein's distinguished career should understand the full implications. The recall is made at the discretion of the Chief Justice; it is not some kind of automatic blessing. There are a number of other retired Superior Court justices eligible for the same status, so the Stein campaign should explain why exactly they believe the imaginary scenario is a reason to support him.

I've posted here before in support of Allen Baddour, so take it with a grain of salt. But the easy acceptance of the Stein talking point is the kind of thing that drives me bonkers when I think about progressives in politics. It's wholly appropriate and indeed liberal and affirming to celebrate Stein's record from four decades ago. But is the best way to do it to trade 2.5 years on the bench for another round of appointments and a potential Republican appointee (and incumbent candidate) in Orange/Chatham?

The most liberal district in the state has the opportunity to vote for a judge with a progressive outlook and a whole career ahead of him. As a liberal who has become utterly exhausted from watching conservatives outmaneuver my own political side in venue after venue, I really have to ask, when did the future become anything but now?

§ 7A-57. Recall of active and emergency trial judges who have reached mandatory retirement age.

Superior and district court judges retired because they have reached the mandatory retirement age, and emergency superior and district court judges whose commissions have expired because they have reached the mandatory retirement age, may be recalled to preside over regular or special sessions of the court from which retired under the following circumstances:

(1) The judge must consent to the recall.

(2) The Chief Justice is authorized to order the recall.

(3) Prior to ordering recall, the Chief Justice shall satisfy himself that the recalled judge is capable of efficiently and promptly discharging the duties of the office to which recalled.

(4) Jurisdiction of a recalled retired superior court judge is as set forth in G.S. 7A-48, and jurisdiction of a recalled retired district court judge is as set forth in G.S. 7A-53.1.

(5) Orders of recall and assignment shall be in writing and entered upon the minutes of the court to which assigned.

(6) Compensation of recalled retired trial judges is the same as for recalled emergency trial judges under G.S. 7A-52(b). (1981, ch. 455, s. 4.)

wait your turn

This discussion started off with Tom Jensen's characterization of the Independent Weekly's endoresements as "very influential". He is surely right. But then it is followed by many questions and criticisms. At some point, we need a real discussion of the paper's process and influence.
Some said, and I agree, that it is not helpful to pick four in a three slot race, purporting to be impartial among them. At the same time, the Independent prominently printed the photos of three out of four of the candidates. What happened to Alice, the only woman?
It is not always clear how much knowledge of the local scene the paper has. For example, I would have more confidence that the writer -- and editor -- really was tuned in if the superior court race write up for Carl Fox didn't say, "He was an elected district attorney for the town of Chapel Hill for 20 years". No, it was for a two-county district; there is no district attorney for Chapel Hill.
It was also the Independent that gave us the infamous endorsement of Bill Fletcher, the reactionary and obstructionist Wake School Board member, for Superintendent of Public Instruction two years ago, even after calling him a "troglodyte" on health education. Its endorsement probably influenced enough Triangle voters to keep that close race in dispute for almost a year.
What process is used by the Independent to arrive at its endorsements? Does the staff attend official meetings, interview constituents, take note of which elected officials keep their promises and which ones just make them? Do the editors understand the responsibilities of the offices to which candidates are elected? Do they understand or appreciate the accomplishments, or lack of same, of the candidates they endorse or reject?
There are a number of reasons to be skeptical of it's endorsements. I have voted for many of the folks it supports, and will do so again this year, but less and less frequently because of it. Is it time for Orange Politics, or some other representative progressive local organization to become "very influential" with its endorsements?

I mostly find Indy endorsements odd and unanalyzable. I too feel the Indy doesn't follow Orange County politics closely enough to warrant such influence.

If voters were more informed, endorsements wouldn't matter nearly as much.

Even I have been known to clip out the Indy suggestions, especially for obscure judicial races.

Why is the Indy endorsing Stein who won't be able to complete his term as Superior Court Judge if elected? Why not endorse Chuck Anderson based upon his experience? I'm not saying Stein shouldn't be elected - I'm certain he's an upstanding & intelligent guy who's had a very successful career as a civil rights attorney - but what's the point? Why not endorse candidates who are not only well qualified - but will be able to complete at least one term... it seems so idiotic. Now I know not to put much faith in who the Indy endorses. I'm supporting Chuck Anderson and Fox.

Will (Sexton):

Your question is essentially twofold. Why support Adam Stein for Superior Court judge when mandatory retirement laws for judges will force him to step down before the end of his term and, assuming Stein is elected, how reasonable is it to expect that after he steps down as a Resident Judge he will be able to serve statewide as an at-large, recalled Superior Court Judge?

As a civil rights lawyer who practices throughout North Carolina, I can share my thoughts on both questions.

First, I went to law school with Alan Baddour and like him very much. But Baddour's “progressive outlook and a whole career ahead of him” do not put him in the same league as Adam Stein. Mark Chilton and others have already reflected on Stein's pivotal contributions to the law in North Carolina as well as the United States. Stein's skills as a trial lawyer, appellate lawyer and legal scholar cannot be overstated. On the other hand, as a progressive myself, I think you overstate the significance of Baddour's “progressive outlook.” A progressive outlook is not enough for a judge. The best judges not only have a progressive outlook, they come to the bench with the demonstrated legal skills, knowledge and experience to translate a progressive outlook into sound progressive decisions. Stein has an unmatched record of doing exactly that as a lawyer, usually against the best lawyers from the most prestigious law firms in the state. By contrast, Baddour's legal credentials are thin. His principal legal qualification is as a mid-level Assistant District Attorney, which is likely why he bases his candidacy most heavily on his record of noteworthy community service. What is missing is the body of substantial legal work that is necessary preparation for outstanding service as a judge. With Stein, we know we will have an outstanding judge right away. There is no such promise (yet) in Baddour's record.

Secondly, it is entirely within reason to expect Stein to serve as a Recalled Superior Court Judge after he steps down as Resident Judge. As you correctly show, the qualifications for a Recalled Superior Court Judge are desire to serve and continued competence to serve. I can attest that the experience in North Carolina is that retired judges who apply to serve as recalled judges – most don't – are quickly designated as recalled judges. I am aware of no circumstances that suggest that this practice will for some reason be suspended when it comes to Stein. If anything, Stein, who is fit and in excellent health, will embody what makes sense about the recalled judge policy – keeping energetic, capable jurists on the bench. There is no foreseeable reason the Chief Justice would do anything other than immediately appoint Stein to recalled judge status.

Will, there is another reason progressives should support Stein. Progressives (and progressive lawyers) also need him as a recalled judge. Stein commands unusual trust and respect from attorneys on both sides of the aisle. Since recalled judges are often assigned to preside over particularly challenging cases upon the joint request of opposing lawyers, Stein will be that rare sort of trusted judge that progressive lawyers and their opposing counsel will be able to agree on for their difficult cases. From my vantage point, as a civil rights attorney whose clients are typically “little people” who have sued either big government and big corporations, I feel a lot better about walking into a courtroom with someone like Stein as a presiding judge who understands and will fairly apply a difficult body of law. That kind of seasoned ability only comes from years of practice.

Thanks,
Ashley Osment

I'll take up my friend Ashley's challenge! See the next post.

But first, there's no need for you to take shots at Allen Baddour in your post in support of Adam Stein. It's not necessary, and although Adam Stein has been known to take shots at Allen's age at campaign forums, I know this isn't your style. You'd be rightly pissed if someone questioned your potential as a civil rights attorney , and called your record "thin" because you've been at it for "only" 10 years or so. Adam Stein was younger than Allen Baddour, and only a couple years out of law school, when he joined Julius Chambers's firm two years after Chambers filed the Swann suit. Where would Adam Stein be now if Julius Chambers had decided his experience was too "thin", and the issue too significant, for Adam to be one of his partners? Let's be fair and honest about Allen Baddour's record, which is considerably more accomplished than you've allowed -- he's the only candidate in the field with experience as a defense attorney, a prosecutor, a civil litigator, and as a judge. That should not be dismissed so easily.

And if we're going to zero in on the aspects of the candidates' backgrounds they are themselves emphasizing as evidence of weakness elsewhere, perhaps we should also wonder why Adam Stein's campaign is so fixated on how he helped Julius Chambers 35 years ago. But none of that's fair; we both know there's only so much space and time to get across the candidate's strongest message; in Baddour's case, it's what he's doing in and for this community as an attorney and a volunteer these last 10 years; for Adam Stein, I'm assuming his strongest message concernes what he did 35 years ago.

So having cleared the air about that, on to why the Indy's endorsement of Adam Stein was misguided, and why people should know they would be voting for someone they'd see on our bench for less than 3 years of an 8-year term.

I offer this criticism of the Stein endorsement because the rationale offered for electing a judge who can serve less than 3 years of an 8-year term is based on a misunderstanding of the law and how the judicial system works in North Carolina. All voters, no matter who they may end up supporting, deserve to have this misunderstanding explained before making their choices. In this, I take issue with Ashley's summary.l

First the facts, which I will explain in greater detail afterward:

1. Adam Stein, if elected to serve as a Superior Court judge in
District 15B, which includes Orange and Chatham Counties, can't serve
the whole term. He will be able to serve less than 3 years of the 8-year
term.

2. If elected and after his retirement shortly thereafter it is highly
unlikely that Adam Stein would ever again sit on the bench in Orange or Chatham counties as a Superior Court judge.

3. When Adam Stein steps down, we will have a new governor, and that governor will appoint someone to take his seat until the next General Assembly election. Because of when Adam Stein turns 72, that replacement would serve at least a year on the bench before having to run for election, and would have the advantage of incumbency. None of us knows who that governor will be, nor whether that governor will have our best interests at heart or share our community standards. The devil you know, and so on...

Point #1 is just a fact and doesn't need much more explanation. North
Carolina requires that its judges retire at age 72; Adam Stein would be
69 and a few months when seated as a Superior Court judge, if elected. He can't serve the whole term, or even half.

Point #2 requires an understanding of both the North Carolina General
Statutes, Section 7A-57, which I won't excerpt here because it's long
but easily available at the legislature's website. It also requires
insight into the Adminstrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and how it operates.

First, Adam Stein has offered in his literature, through his supporters
here on op.org, and through The Independent, that (and I'm quoting the Indy), "... he could continue to serve as a recalled Superior Court
Judge throughout the rest of that term, which means both that the
governor would appoint his successor and that Orange and Chatham
counties would have a third judge on hand." The wording of this
statement is misleading.

Being recalled is not automatic, as Ashley has pointed out. If it were, then Adam Stein would be at least in line in our district alone. Two other former Superior Court judges -- Wade Barber and Tom Ross -- already live in our district. (I'm not sure where Judge Battle is living now; he served on the Superior Court bench here in the district before Judge Barber.) Ashley may see no reason that the Chief Justice would not recall Adam Stein, but she is not the Chief Justice. (That is, she's not the Chief Justice _yet_. I'd love to see Ashley Osment on that bench.)

Retired superior court judges are, from time to time, recalled by the
Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court to serve for a term of court --
a week or so -- in a district where there is an emergency vacancy.
(Judge gets sick, judge is stuck somewhere else in the middle of a
trial, etc.) Emergency judges -- former superior and district court
judges who haven't yet reached the age of mandatory retirement, and have made themselves available for emergency situations -- serve essentially in the same capacity as recalled retired judges. They're just younger.

When a judge is recalled, they're recalled to serve wherever they're
needed, regardless of where they served as an active judge. (Convenience may be a consideration, but it's not the primary one.) Retired or emergency judges do not necessarily get first crack at cases within their former district. According to the AOC, there are currently 17 emergency superior court judges in North Carolina, and 8 recalled
retired superior court judges. That's 25 judges already waiting in the
wings to take a week in court and, among other things, take home the
very good pay given to emergency/recalled judges sitting temporarily.

It's for this last reason that, according to the AOC, they're reluctant
to assign _any_ emergency or recalled judges to court if they can help
it. Because of the way that superior court judges are rotated around
throughout their "division" -- a group of neighboring counties -- in any
given week there are at least 5, and as many as 20, unassigned _active_ superior court judges in North Carolina already on the payroll.
Understandably, the AOC would rather assign one of them to an emergency situation than try to explain to the Legislature why they're assigning retired/recalled/emergency judges and paying them extra money when an active judge would have been a whole lot cheaper.

Finally, it should be remembered that, as of a year ago, we have _two_ superior court judges in Orange-Chatham for the first time. This fact makes it even less likely than ever before that our district will need an emergency/recalled judge. In the past, even when we had only one resident superior court judge, the district has very rarely needed an
emergency/recalled judge to step in. With two judges, the possibility
becomes remote.

It adds up to this: It is extremely unlikely that Adam Stein will ever
sit on the superior court bench in Orange-Chatham after his retirement, less than 3 years into an 8-year term. He may be "on hand," whatever that means (I presume it means he will live here), but he's no
more likely to get assigned a court term in our district than any of the
unassigned active superior court judges in the state, or the 25 other
emergency/recalled judges.

The Independent's endorsement implies, as does Adam Stein's literature, that he will be _serving_ in our district during the rest of that 8-year term he has to vacate so early. That is simply untrue.

Ashley sidesteps this point when she addresses the idea of whether or not Adam Stein is likely to serve "statewide as an at large, recalled Superior Court Judge." I'll grant that it may be marginally more likely that Adam Stein would sit _somewhere_ in North Carolina as a recalled judge. But it's also irrelevant. There's a reason we don't have statewide elections for Superior Court judges. I'll submit that electing Adam Stein so he can serve less than a third of his term here, after which he may go sit for a few weeks in Madison County, or Cartaret County, is not in the best interest of this district. And the local nature of the election distinguishes Superior Court judge races, as it was intended in the state Constitution.

[I think we should also distinguish between "special judges," whose status and qualifications are different than those of an emergency/recalled judge. I believe that we're talking about "special judges" when we talk about judges appointed to difficult cases at the agreement of the opposing sides.]

Point #3 should be troubling if you're interested in the future of our
courts here in Orange and Chatham counties. All of the candidates for
Superior Court judge in our district, except Adam Stein, can serve a
full 8-year term. That's 8 years -- rather than a little less than 3 --
in which to help reform and refine the way our courts work. Our courts
need to make better use of technology, our courts need to continue to
develop new ways of dealing with low-level offenders who would be more likely to become positive contributors to our community if offerred alternatives to jail, and our courts need to grapple with the challenge of creating a system of justice that is seen as fair and trustworthy in our multi-lingual community. These are big jobs, and surely our judges will have a better chance of success with them if they have 8 years, rather than less than 3.

If you're interested in reforming our system of naming judges, and
turning away from a dependence on appointments toward democratic
elections, what possible sense does it make to vote for someone whose election would _guarantee_ that in three years we'd have to depend on an as-yet-unelected governor to fill yet another seat on our bench?

And as for the argument that stepping down early would put the
election of superior court judges on an alternating 4-year rotation,
this depends on the notion that all future judges will serve until their
term expires. That is, all future judges _after_ Adam Stein, who will
not be serving until his term expires. Let's be realistic: in the future, as in the past, some judges will be appointed and will soon stand for election, and others will win election outright. Whether that's on a 2, 3, 4, 5 1/2, 6 3/8, or 8-year rotation is beyond Adam Stein's power to control.

That's it. Thanks!

(Full Disclosure: I am married to Sherri Toler Murrell, who is Allen
Baddour's campaign treasurer. Like most voters, I am not an attorney.)

Errata: Ashley Osment is right that emergency/recalled judges could be called up under the circumstances she described, and I was wrong to say that she was referring to special judges. Special judges could also be called into a situation like that, but not to the exclusion of emergency, recalled, or available active judges.

(By the way, I forgot to mention special judges in my round-up of all the various "at-large" superior court judges available to sit a court term during vacancies or for other reasons. Add five more to the list.)

I am reading this thread and I find it incongruous. Is anyone else outraged by a law (and the tacit acceptance of this law on a progressive thread) that forces elected judges to resign when they reach a particular age? Will some of the lawyers out there explain the reason for this law and its constitutionality, particularly when these are elected judges with finite terms? Someone who is elected by the people in a democratic process will not allowed to serve the term to which they were elected, only because of their age. I find this outrageous and surely anti-democratic. Why is there such a “matter of fact” discussion on this progressive(?) site of a case of blatant discrimination on the basis of age, not competence? Is there anyone out there who believes Adam Stein is less likely to be a competent judge in three years than his opposition, or that he should not be treated as an individual? Why can't the electorate decide on his competence or the competence of any other candidate? Let me say, that I could perhaps accept a mandatory retirement process if it were a lifetime appointment (but 72 seems awfully young) but with an electoral process I see no justifiable reason for one. To conclude, I will be voting for Adam Stein because IMHO he is the best man for the job but also I hope that the law can be changed so he will have as much right as any other candidate to serve a full term if elected.

Duncan:

Fair enough about Baddour's record: strike “thin.” But I'm not taking shots at Baddour as much as I am questioning Will Sexton's rush to make a serious comparison between Baddour and Stein. That I think very highly of Baddour and still insist that he is not in the same league with Stein should mean something. Stein is not simply another good candidate. He is far more than that.

You suggest people have fixated on Stein's past. I have no idea about fixations – except mine on my dogs – but there is no reason for anyone to fixate on Stein's past, rich as it is in legal accomplishments.

Baddour may recall a Shaw v. Reno symposium I helped organize at UNC Law when we were students in ‘93-94. Stein took that case to the US Supreme Court four times in the 90s, making the final argument that preserved NC's two majority African American congressional districts.

After the 2000 census, Stein represented the State Conference of the NAACP, at trial and before the NC Supreme Court, to preserve the creation of majority African American state districts. He was subsequently invited by the House and Senate leadership to advise them on how to comply with federal and state redistricting regulations and he provided separate counsel to the Legislative Black Caucus on the legislature's state redistricting plans.

Stein is widely credited for the 2002 establishment of the Indigent Defense Services Commission, which has greatly improved the quality of legal representation for indigent criminal defendants in North Carolina, most notably in death penalty cases. (He was the Commission's first chair and remains to this day a Commission leader.)

Stein is an ongoing tour de force in the General Assembly battling for things like the death penalty moratorium and against restrictions on the rights of injured people to recover damages.

I could obviously go on and on, but I don't need to. Stein is an indefatigable advocate for the cutting edge issues of our time, while carrying the caseload of a highly sought after trial lawyer. A judge with this breadth of experience is irreplaceable.

On your other point – what if Orange/Chatham elects a conservative to the bench in 2010 after Stein steps down – if I still lived in my childhood home in Sylva, this might be a concern. But I don't have that fear here, and certainly not for a 2010 election. (Stay tuned, 2018 might be a different story – but it would take an immensely radical change in the makeup of the political face of Orange County).

Finally, Duncan, it is far from “irrelevant” to Chatham/Orange voters to have Stein serving statewide. Regardless of where a good superior court judge presides, he or she helps the citizens of Orange and Chatham counties. The better the judiciary statewide, the more protected we all are because trial courts, regardless of where, set the stage for legal precedents that affect us all. There is no question that North Carolina needs more judges coming from Orange/Chatham. The caliber of our judges is, well, higher. If we can have three, that is a very good thing and all the more so if the third is Stein. I cannot overstate the significance of his potential influence in North Carolina. Say fifteen good appellate decisions come from decisions first crafted by Stein at the trial court level. That is huge. And, I believe, that (and more) is what we'll get from Stein.

All the best,
Ashley

I agree with Allen Spalt's post above. The first thing that crossed my mind when reading the Orange endorsements was: So you're endorsing four candidates, and you've got pictures of only three. C'mon.

Like Ruby, I've used the Indy as a guide for many years, esp. for judges, and will continue to read it, but it's relative worth as endorsement material is sinking fast. From Fletcher to the totally bogus rap on Gloria Faley, etc. it seems the endorsement process has lost some integrity, for lack of a better word.

Just my opinion, but I feel the paper is getting lazy with its pre-election coverage, relying on a usual, and perhaps narrowing number of political "suspects/sources" for input.

Ashley,

You've written an eloquent argument for why Adam Stein would make a fine appeals court judge. But we both know that Superior Court is a whole different kind of venue. It would verge on the miraculous if, in 2 1/2 years, Adam Stein presided over 15 trials that each ended in important, precedent-setting appellate decisions. He'd be lucky to get one case like that in 8 years. Day in and day out in Superior Court, Adam Stein would be dealing with Joe Bagadonuts who thought it would be smart to set up a meth lab next to an elementary school in Silk Hope; he'll find himself deciding who was at fault when a gargoyle decorating a prominent restaurant detaches and hits a pedestrian in the head; he'll be presiding over rape, murder, robbery, and breaking and entering cases. He'll do some business cases, depending on the amount of money involved.

I see very little experience, if any, in Adam Stein's recent past to indicate that he's experienced with these sorts of cases at the trial court level, or that he's even been interested in that kind of trial work in the later part of his career. His sudden interest in Superior Court is puzzling to me. He's very consciously built a career that eschews the mundane question, the unfortunately common and awful offenses and violence humans torture each other with every day, in favor of the Big Question, the Big Case. I'm afraid that, as a Superior Court judge, he'll be disappointed, frustrated, and bored.

I don't say that recklessly. We have had judges sitting in our own district whose expectations of what they'd be doing on the bench were, over time, shattered by the endless, soul-trying parade of human inanity, pettiness, meanness, and frailty. Some of these judges have adjusted, and some have not. Those who have not have become unpredictable, belligerent, mercurial jurists who become harder and harder to deal with over time. I think you know what I'm talking about.

Finally, it's not usually the goal of trial court judges to have their cases appealed. Yes, there is an appeal of right in certain cases, but outside of those a trial court judge's goal ought to be to conduct a case in such a manner that there's no error. It shouldn't be a trial court judge's goal to generate appealable issues in the conduct of the trial. I know you didn't mean that Adam Stein would set out to get cases appealed, but short of that it's unlikely he'll have many that evolve into important appellate decisions.

That's just the fact of week-in and week-out work in Superior Court. He'll be spending his time presiding over the recounting, which becomes awfully repetitive over time, of the worst we manage to do to each other. My money (and my vote) is on a candidate who has been in that situation, in that court, most of his days as an attorney, the candidate who has weathered the experience and flourished, and who has managed to maintain a steady, fair, and judicious temperament throughout the experience.

That is, I voted for Allen Baddour (and Michael Patrick.) As far as Baddour's ability to be a successful, and even a great judge, it's easy to figure out: we can all go watch him preside over court. He's been hearing cases in other counties in the division, and some attorneys from our district have appeared before him. The reports back have been quite positive, even from attorneys who actively opposed the Baddour appointment initially, for many of the reasons you've cited. The proof of a candidate's aptitude for the bench can only be truly gauged by watching them run court, and in Allen Baddour's case, no one has to take my word for his talent, knowledge of the law, and judicial temperament. We can go see Judge Baddour when he's back in Orange County soon, and judge (no pun intended) for ourselves.

I'm enjoying having this conversation with you, Ashley, and I very much respect the work you do.

Duncan

Duncan and Ashley,

I am really enjoying watching your debate, as it embodies the mix of politics and policy that interests me. It is has been a welcome aside from studying day and night for my Contracts exam on friday. My first vote is emphatically for Judge Anderson, but my second is definitely up in the air.

Duncan, i was wondering if you could clarify what you were saying about determining judicial temperament from actual experience, when Judge Baddour was only appointed a couple months ago. From what i have heard from other judges it takes a bit of time to settle into your exact "persona" as a judge. Also will Baddour be presiding in Orange County before May 2, because otherwise it does not help my decision.

Ashley, because you seem to understand NC's judicial system, if continuing after retirement is such an understood thing, then why is there a mandatory age at all? I was just wondering if you knew the background.

Thanks for helping me figure out my second vote, because as has been previously posted, the Indy does not give me much faith in their appraisals.

Well, I believe Judge Baddour will make it past the primary (four of the six will), and so there will be ample time for Orange and Chatham voters to assess his performance on the bench before the general election in November. He will not be back in Orange-Chatham before May 2, however. I think he returns in June.

Not having been a judge, I don't know, but it seems reasonable that it would take some time to settle into a "persona," or at least a comfortable way of working. One's natural temperament, though, would be the larger part of that ultimate persona, and that temperament would be in evidence from the first day on the bench. If you're prone by natural disposition to yell at attorneys from the bench and generally be rude and dismissive, for instance, then that will reveal itself pretty quickly. Similarly, if you're naturally even-tempered, fair-minded, and someone who can control the complexities of running a court, that will show itself quickly, too.

So, I think it's worth going to see Judge Baddour (and Judge Fox and Judge Anderson) preside over a session of court; it's certainly better than _not_ seeing them work, and what could it hurt?

Maybe it's my myopia but I can't find it in myself to vote for a professional judge like fox. As a voter AND a criminal I want incompetence and a learning curve on the bench.

Matt:

Article IV, § 8 of the State Constitution empowers the legislature to set age limits for judges and the legislature has set it at 72. I agree (with Jim Rabinowitz) that that's too young. The ability to serve longer as a recalled judge likely reflects the same concern.

As for whether you should support Stein next Tuesday, I think you should. Stein's record speaks for itself and no doubt was what prompted every organizational endorsement I know of to support Stein over Baddour, including the Independent, the Hank Anderson Breakfast Club and (this week) the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys.

I think the Independent got it right in regard to Stein. It looked at the facts and concluded that Stein's experience is “unparalleled.” This is true. And why you should support Stein.

The Hank Anderson Breakfast Club, if you don't know, is a group of African American leaders that has met at Dips every Saturday morning for the last twenty years. The North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys (NCAWA) is a statewide organization of women attorneys from every area of practice.

The Independent, the Hank Anderson Breakfast Club and NCAWA each endorsed Adam Stein and Carl Fox.

Since you're looking for guidance, it's worth knowing how the NCAWA makes its endorsements. After collecting information from every candidate for judicial office in North Carolina, as well as from other lawyers, judges and citizens, NCAWA bases its endorsement decisions on a lawyer's “skill and ability, professional competence, legal experience, and temperament and demeanor for a judicial position.” It also “consider[s] the candidate's demonstrated support for the participation of women in the legal profession and for the rights of women under the law.” Stein's endorsement by the NCAWA should be no surprise. He is recognized as being a mentor to many women and minority lawyers, both inside and outside his firm, as an advocate for women and minorities to serve as judges and otherwise as leaders in the profession, and for his representation of women and minorities fighting discrimination.

In its letter to Governor Easley endorsing Stein's appointment as Superior Court Judge, NCAWA cited “glowing recommendations about Mr. Stein from members of our organization. They not only commented on his intellect, experience and temperament, but also “on his support of women in the profession and the goals of this organization.”

The turnout will not be high on Tuesday. It's an important race. So, thanks for your interest.

Ashley Osment

P.S. Duncan, I'm enjoying speaking with you, too. Long time no see. In response to your last post, Stein has spent his career making sure people viewed as "petty" "mean" "inane" or "frail" -- from the "Joe Bagadonuts" with his meth lab to the pedestrian struck by a falling gargoyle to the repeat offender wrongly accused of capital murder -- get respect and fairness from this system. That's exactly what we should want from a superior court judge and that's what Stein brings.

 

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