CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As many as three in ten voters in North Carolina who cast ballots in the Presidential race skip over the races for judges. There are six contested District Court races in Mecklenburg County alone.
There’s no 'D' or 'R' to go by in a non-partisan race and name recognition is minimal. So the North Carolina Bar Association surveyed lawyers anonymously to ask about judges’ performance and then to evaluate candidates who challenged those judges. The resulting stark disparity between some opponents has led the candidates who did not fare so well to question the survey.
Take the case of Mecklenburg District Court Judge Ty Hands, who is being challenged by attorney Jeff Thompson. The NC Bar Association survey gave Judge Hands a good or excellent overall performance score in 87% of the votes cast. For her challenger Jeff Thompson, his good or excellent scores were almost half that -- 44.9%.
At a public forum at the Charlotte School of Law Wednesday night, Thompson was incredulous that 15 of his ballots scored him at straight “ones” -– the lowest score available.
“They were supposed to be given out to people … to answer truthfully,” said Thompson. “Unfortunately because there's no accountability with this survey people can answer any way they so choose.”
But Judge Hands trusts the numbers and campaigns on them.
“With any process anonymously there could be some opportunity to skew (the numbers),” she said. “I think ultimately the percentage is what bears out.”
To see which judges are running, click here.
To view the biographies of the candidates, click here.
To see how lawyers rate the candidates, click here.