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‘Most Important Election in N.C.’ – Supreme Court Race, Includes Guide for Three N.C. Court of Appeals Contests

By Jesse Wood

Oct. 29, 2012. On the ballot is one race for a seat on the N.C. Supreme Court, which currently has a conservative majority, but if Sam J. Ervin IV is elected the N.C. Supreme Court would swing liberal. 

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx has stumped for Paul Newby at every campaign stop this election cycle and even dubbed the race “The Most Important Election in North Carolina this fall.” 

“I do not think I am exaggerating,” Foxx said at the Watauga County Republican Party headquarters grand opening in August. “If they take over the [N.C.] Supreme Court, they will undo everything we’ve done in the last two years by a great conservative General Assembly.”

Recently, Ervin received a “surprise” endorsement from the N.C. Sierra Club, which has never endorsed a judicial candidate before now.

“Judge Ervin has a record of giving appropriate consideration to environmental impacts when making decisions. During his tenure at the North Carolina Utilities Commission and the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Judge Ervin consistently demonstrated an appreciation of the impact his rulings have on the state’s natural resources,” stated Ken Brame, the NC Sierra Club’s State Political Co-Chair.

Also on the ballot is three races for N.C. Court of Appeals. 

Just like the Watauga County Board of Education, the seats for judges are nonpartisan, so if you vote a straight-party ticket, you will still have to mark the bubble for the judges. 

Below is a profile of each candidate from the N.C. Board of Elections Voter Guide. 

N.C. Supreme Court (Newby’s Seat)


Paul Newby

Paul Martin Newby – Conservative

Place of Residence: Raleigh

Education: J.D., UNC Law; B.A., Duke (High Honors); Ragsdale High (Jamestown, NC)

Occupation: Justice

Employer: N.C. Supreme Court

Date admitted to the bar: 1980

Legal/Judicial Experience: Justice, N.C. Supreme Court, 2004-present; Adjunct Professor, Campbell Law, 2008-present; Assistant U.S.Attorney, Raleigh, 1985-2004; General Counsel, Cannon Mills Realty, Kannapolis; Associate, Van Winkle Law, Asheville

Candidate’s Personal Statement: I am seeking re-election as a Justice on the Supreme Court where I am privileged to have served our State for the last eight years. In every case I strive to fairly, impartially, and consistently apply the law, faithfully interpreting as intended the Constitution and statutes. I have a reputation of being an honest, hard-working, common-sense Justice. As a result, I have received endorsements from four former Chief Justices, two of each party, and have widespread, bipartisan support across our State.

I am often selected to educate other judges and lawyers and to teach law school courses because of my legal scholarship. I lecture and have written a book on the North Carolina Constitution and received the N.C. Bar Association’s Constitutional Rights Award. Knowing the importance of civic education, I frequently speak to school groups and com­ munity organizations. As an Eagle Scout, I serve the Boy Scouts in numerous ways and have been recognized as Scouter of the Year. For my work with schools and scouts, I received the Citizen-Lawyer Award.

I have been married to Macon Tucker Newby since 1983, and we have four children. We attend Christ Baptist Church where I am an Elder and youth Sunday School teacher. I ask for your support.



Sam J. Ervin, IV

Sam J. Ervin, IV – Liberal

Place of Residence: Morganton, North Carolina

Education: Graduate, Freedom High School – 1974; A.B., magna cum laude, Davidson College 1978; J.D., cum laude, Harvard Law School 1981

Occupation: Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals

Employer: State of North Carolina

Date admitted to the bar: 1981

Legal/Judicial Experience:  I practiced law in Morganton, North Carolina, from 1981 until 1999; served on the North Carolina Utilities Commission from 1999 until 2009; and have served as a Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 2009 until the present.

Candidate’s Personal Statement: The law is the glue that holds society together. For that reason, the law must be applied fairly, impartially, and without ideological, political, or personal bias. A Supreme Court decision has significant impact on the people involved and the State as a whole, since such decisions govern countless other cases across North Carolina. As a Judge of the Court of Appeals, I have produced over 325 opinions and helped decide over 900 cases involving many important legal issues.

In deciding these cases, I carefully studied the facts and thoroughly reviewed the applicable law to ensure that I properly understood the controlling statutes, constitutional provisions, and judicial decisions. I will do the same thing as a member of the Supreme Court. I have been endorsed by the North Carolina Association of Educators, the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, the North Carolina Troopers Association, and the Police Benevolent Association, among others.

For additional information, please see www.ErvinforSupremeCourt.com

N.C. Court of Appeals (McGee’s Seat)


David S. Robinson with family

David S. Robinson – Conservative

Place of residence: Raleigh, NC

Education: Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service; George Washington Law School

Occupation: Attorney

Employer: Special Counsel to Nexsen Pruet, a 190 lawyer firm with 8 offices throughout the Carolinas Date admitted to the bar:  North Carolina: 1990; US Supreme Court: 2012; US Court of International Trade: 2012 

Legal/Judicial Experience:  See below:

Candidate’s Personal Statement: Courts should not make laws. I am the Conservative candidate and I will approach every case with diligence, integrity, and dedication. I will not ‘legislate from the bench’. I respectfully request your vote on November 6.

I bring a lot of real-world legal experience to the bench.  I’ve helped form small non-profits and represented billion-dollar companies that create jobs for North Carolinians. I’ve helped North Carolina companies export their products around the world. I routinely assist humanitarian organizations, Veterans groups and church organizations with their legal needs. I have been practicing law in North Carolina for over two decades; both in large law firms and as a small business owner. 

Throughout my career, I’ve seen the legal systems of many nations, up-close and on their home soil.  I have readily concluded that our legal system is second to none, and that our appellate courts must play a major role in creating a stable, reliable and predictable legal “playing field” for all North Carolinians and their businesses. As your conservative candidate, I believe we achieve this through judicial restraint, not activism. I need your vote on November 6, and I will serve you well.

Please visit my website: www.robinsonfornc.com for additional information.

Thank you for your vote.


Linda McGee

Linda McGee – Liberal

Place of residence: Currituck County, NC 

Education: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, B.A.; J.D.

Occupation: Judge, NC Court of Appeals

Employer: State of North Carolina

Date Admitted to the bar: 1973

Legal/Judicial Experience: Judge, NC Court of Appeals since 1995; Partner in DiSanti, Watson & McGee, 1978-1995

Candidate’s Personal Statement: During 17 years as a judge on the Court of Appeals, I have followed the law In making fair, impartial and unbiased decisions in more than 6,000 cases affecting the lives of people across our State. I base my decisions on the Constitution, the laws enacted by our legislature, and on fairness. Throughout my career, I have worked to protect the rights of families, businesses and individuals. You can rely on my experience as the second most senior judge on the Court and the longest-serving woman judge in the Court’s history.

My commitment to administer justice fairly and respectfully to all who come to the Court has been strengthened by my service as a community college trustee, member of the NC Sentencing Commission, Board of Law Examiners, Chamber of Commerce vice president, Lawyers in Schools leader, my family and church, and appointment by Chief Justices I. Beverly Lake, Jr. and Sarah Parker to the Equal Access to Justice Com­mission.

I am honored by endorsements from the NC Police Benevolent Association, NC State Troopers Association, NC Association of Educators, NC AFL-CIO, NC Advocates for Justice, NC Association of Women Attorneys, Governor Jim Hunt, former Chief Justices Burley Mitchell and Henry Frye, and former Chief Judges Gerald Arnold and Sid Eagles.

I appreciate your vote.


N.C. Court of Appeals (Bryant’s Seat)


Wanda Bryant

Wanda Bryant – Liberal

Place of residence: Durham, NC

Education: Duke University, Bachelor of Arts; Oxford University, England, Summer Study; North Carolina Central University, Juris Doctor

Occupation: Judge on the NC Court of Appeals

Employer: State of North Carolina

Date admitted to the bar: August, 1982

Legal/Judicial Experience: Judge, NC Court  of Appeals; Senior Deputy Attorney General, North Carolina Department of Justice; Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia; Staff Attorney, Police Executive Research Forum, Washington, D.C.; Prosecutor, 13th District (Bladen, Brunswick, and Columbus Counties. 

Candidate’s Personal Statement: Fairness and justice are cornerstones of my life. In 11years on the Court of Appeals, I’ve writ­ ten more than 1,200 opinions on issues that touch the lives of North Carolinians, from workplace injuries and commercial and employment disputes to family matters, criminal law, and property rights. I am passionate about the rule of law, and firm in my conviction that appellate judges must fairly and accurately apply the law in each case. In each opinion I have worked to provide a careful analysis of the facts and a fair and just application of the law. 

I enjoy my current service as Chair of NCCU School of Law Board of Visitors, NC Bar Association Women in the Profession Committee, NC Museum of Sciences Friends Board, and Duke University School of Nursing Board of Advisors.

I have been endorsed by Governor Jim Hunt, former Chief Justices Burley Mitchell and Henry Frye, former Chief Judges Gerald Arnold and Sid Eagles, NC AFL-CIO, NC Association of Women Attorneys, NC Police Benevolent Association, and NC Association of Educators.


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Marty McGee

Marty McGee – Conservative

Place of residence: Concord

Education: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A. 1991; Wake Forest University School of Law, J.D. 1995

Occupation: District Court Judge Employer: State of North Carolina Date admitted to the bar: 1995

Legal/Judicial experience: District Court Judge, 2000-present; Practicing Attorney, 1995-2000

Candidate’s Personal Statement: The Court of Appeals reviews the work of trial courts to ensure the proper application of our laws.

I have more experience as a trial judge than anyone currently serving on the Court of Appeals. I have presided over tens of thou sands of cases involving criminal, family, juvenile and other civil law matters. More than a decade of work in some of our state’s busiest courtrooms has ideally prepared me to meet the challenges of reviewing the decisions of our trial courts. Who better to evaluate the decisions of the trial courts than an experienced trial judge?

I regularly teach legal education courses to judges and lawyers. I enjoy the academic aspects of my work, but never forget that each case affects the lives of the persons who appear before me and our community.

Before becoming a judge, I represented people in courts ranging from small claims court to the Supreme Court of the United States.

I believe in judicial restraint. Our courts have an important, but limited role in our constitutional democracy. As a judge, my record is one of following the law regardless of my personal opinions or public pressures.

My wife, Debin, and I have two daughters and have been married more than 20 years.

Please visit www.judgemartymcgee.com. I would appreciate your vote.

N.C. Court of Appeals (Thigpen’s Seat)


Chris Dillon and his wife Ann

Chris Dillon – Conservative 

Place of residence: Raleigh

Education: UNC Chapel Hill School of Law, J.D., 1990; B.S. in Business Administration, 1987

Occupation: Attorney and General Counsel

Employer: Self-employed

Date admitted to the Bar: August 18, 1990

Legal/Judicial Experience: Private practice – Solo practitioner and at a large firm; Small Business General Counsel

Candidate’s Personal Statement: Thank you for your interest in learning about the judicial candidates. Many voters do not know a lot about the “down ballot” races, yet they are so important.

My name is Chris Dillon. I am running for a seat that recently became vacant. My opponent was appointed by the Governor last year to temporarily fill that vacancy. I would be honored to have your vote.

The Court would benefit from having a judge not only with years of legal experience but also real-life experience beyond working as an attorney.  I have worked with people from all walks of life at a small business I helped start where I saw first-hand how the law impacts all of our lives.

I will apply the law impartially and not legislate from the bench. I will be fair and “call balls and strikes” without regard to who the teams are. Finally, I truly want to serve. One of my favorite lessons from the Bible is that those in a position of authority should strive “to serve” rather than “to be served”.

I am supported statewide by attorneys and people from all walks of life and political perspectives. So when you get to the back of the ballot, please vote for me, Chris Dillon.



Cressie Thigpen

Cressie Thigpen – Liberal

Place of residence: Raleigh, NC

Education: NC Central University, B.S.; Rutgers University School of Law, J.D.; National Judicial College, New Appellate Judges Seminar (Certificates).

Occupation: Judge on the NC Court of Appeals

Employer: State of North Carolina

Date admitted to the bar: 1973

Legal/Judicial experience: Judge, NC Court of Appeals, August 2010- present; Special Superior Court Judge, 2008- 2010; President, NC State Bar, 1999- 2000; Partner, Thigpen, Blue, Stephens, Fellers, 1976- 2008; Adjunct Professor of Law, NC Central University, 1991-1992; Solo Practitioner, 1974- 1976; Staff Attorney, Durham County Legal Aid Society, July 1973- December 1973

Candidate Statement: Experience counts on the Court. My 35 years as a trial lawyer, former Superior Court Judge, Adjunct Professor of Law and past president of the NC State Bar, have prepared me to continue my service on the Court of Appeals.

My judicial philosophy is simple.  I follow the law. I apply the law equally to every case. During my years as a judge, I have made it my priority to be fair to every citizen by providing a fair and respectful forum, so that the people involved in every case know they have a judge who makes a decision that is impartial and based on the law.

I am proud to be endorsed by former Chief Justices Burley Mitchell and Henry Frye, former Chief Judge Sid Eagles, former Governor Jim Hunt, the NC Troopers Association, the NC Police Benevolent Association, the NC AFL-CIO, the NC Advocates for Justice, the NC Association of Educators, and the NC Association of Women Attorneys.


Find Judge Thigpen on Facebook