Yesterday was election day. This post summarizes results that are relevant to the criminal justice system.
State constitutional amendment allowing felony bench trials: The amendment, discussed in this previous blog post, passed. It won just 53% of the vote but only a simple majority was needed. I hope to post later about implementation issues that may arise.
State supreme court: Generally, the incumbents won. Justice Martin will continue as the chief justice, Justice Hudson retained her seat, and it appears that Justice Beasley will retain her seat, though her edge over Mike Robinson is just a few thousand votes so I believe that Robinson would be entitled to a recount upon request. Judge Sam Ervin, currently on the court of appeals, edged out Justice Bob Hunter, who had been on the court of appeals but was recently appointed to the supreme court. Ervin’s victory will open up a seat on the court of appeals, and I imagine that Justice Hunter will receive strong consideration for that spot. Switcharoo?
Court of appeals: Judge Davis retained his seat, as did Judge Stroud, who was running unopposed. Superior Court Judge Lucy Inman took the Hunter seat over District Court Judge Bill Southern. In the 19-candidate mega-race for the Martin seat, former court of appeals judge John Tyson emerged as the winner with 24% of the vote.
Superior court judges: I don’t think that any sitting superior court judges lost in the general election. [Update: a reader alerted me to the fact that John Bowers, who was just recently appointed as a superior court judge in Charlotte, was defeated by Carla Archie; and another reader informed me that Tom Edwards, a superior court judge in district 25A, was defeated by Daniel Kuehnert.]
District court judges: A quick glance at the State Board of Elections website suggests that sitting judges who lost in the general election include Charles Gillam in district 10 (to Craig Croom); Clark Reaves in district 12 (to April Smith); Sherry Dew Prince in district 13 (to Willie [Fred] Gore); Nancy Gordon in district 14 (to Fred Battaglia); Frederick Wilkins in district 17A (to Chris Freeman); William Heafner in district 19B (to Steve Bibey); Theo Nixon in district 26 (to Yolanda Trotman); and Casey Viser in district 26 (to Alicia Brooks). If I am wrong about any of those or missed any, please let me know. Another interesting result is in district 5, where, in a race for a vacant seat, Kent Harrell edged Lindsey McKee Luther by just 17 votes out of more than 60,000 cast — three one-thousandths of a percent. I don’t know the recount rules for district court judgeships but perhaps one is possible there.
District attorneys: I believe that the only sitting district attorney who sought reelection but lost in the general election was Brad Greenway, defeated in district 29A by Ted Bell. Other races of note include Wake County, where Lorrin Freeman won, and the first district, where Andy Womble, a former public defender who was appointed to serve as district attorney, won election over former assistant district attorney Nancy Lamb.