I was born in Morganton, where I continue to reside.
I have been married to Mary Temple Ervin for 26 years and have two children and two stepchildren.
I received my elementary and secondary education in the public schools in Burke County. I received an A.B., magna cum laude, from Davidson College in 1978 and a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1981.
I practiced with the Morganton firm of Byrd, Byrd, Ervin, Whisnant, McMahon & Ervin, P.A., from 1981 until 1999. In private practice, I handled a wide variety of civil, criminal, and administrative cases, including numerous appeals. From 1999 until 2009, I served on the North Carolina Utilities Commission, a quasi-judicial body that regulates investor-owned utility companies. I have been a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals since 2009, having helped decide more than 900 cases.
As I indicated in response to an earlier question, I served as a member of the Utilities Commission from 1999 until 2009 and have served as a judge on the Court of Appeals from 2009 until the present.
The Supreme Court is responsible for deciding the most difficult cases that are handled by the North Carolina judicial system. In order for the Supreme Court to carry out its intended role, each justice must perform two different, although related, tasks. First, a justice must participate in determining which cases unanimously decided by the Court of Appeals should be heard by the Supreme Court. As part of this process, my priority, if elected, would to help identify cases that raise important legal issues that need to be decided in the near term, particularly given the changing nature of economic conditions in our state, and to attempt to persuade a sufficient number of the other justices to vote to grant discretionary review in those cases. Secondly, a justice must participate in deciding each case that ultimately appears on the Supreme Court's docket, regardless of whether the court is required to hear a particular case or whether that case was one in which the court granted discretionary review, fairly and impartially based upon a proper application of the law to the facts. If elected, my priority is to help the court to make fair and impartial decisions in each case.
I have difficulty answering this question, since I do not know much about the judicial temperament exhibited by individual members of the United States Supreme Court. Judicial temperament refers to the manner in which a judge conducts himself or herself and the manner in which he or she treats lawyers, litigants and others. A judge exhibits good judicial temperament in the event that he or she takes his or her work seriously, treats all parties courteously, understands the importance of the case under consideration, listens carefully to the arguments advanced by the parties, rules promptly, and is able to provide a reasoned justification for his or her decision. Although I have read a great deal about the content of the decisions made by the United States Supreme Court and the judicial philosophies espoused by members of that body, I have only observed one oral argument in the United States Supreme Court and do not, for that reason, have much basis for evaluating the judicial temperament exhibited by any of the current justices. I do, however, believe that having good judicial temperament is important and will act in the manner described above in the event that I am elected.
I grew up in the small town of Morganton, where I was raised in the midst of a loving family, where my wife and I continue to reside, and where we raised our own children. While living in Morganton, I have had the opportunity to know and interact with people from all walks of life. I have been active in my church and community throughout my life. Among other things, I have served as a deacon, elder, and Sunday School teacher in my church; participated in United Way activities; worked with a Boy Scout troop; and served on the board of a day care center that operated at my church. In recent years, I have officiated high school, middle school, and age-group soccer matches. As a result of these and other experiences, I am fully conscious of the value of hard work, the need to treat each person with respect, the need for individualized consideration of each case on the basis of the law and the facts, the importance of each case to each individual litigant, the necessity for treating everyone equally under the law, and the importance of explaining judicial decisions in such a manner that each affected person feels that he or she got a fair hearing.
I do not believe that the partisan composition of North Carolina's appellate courts should matter. Consistently with that belief, I support nonpartisan, publicly-financed elections for judicial officials in the event that North Carolina continues to choose judges in open elections. After all, the ultimate responsibility of an appellate judge is to decide specific cases fairly and impartially based solely on the facts and the applicable law rather than on the basis of political or ideological considerations. According to press reports, anonymous, out-of-state money has already been utilized to pay for media advertising on behalf of my opponent. Based on other press reports, I believe that additional independent expenditures will be made on his behalf in the next several weeks. The making of such "SuperPAC" expenditures, at least some of which are politically or ideologically motivated, in judicial races poses a threat to the existing system of nonpartisan, publicly-financed judicial elections and the independence of the judiciary. I find these developments troubling and hope that North Carolina voters will be of the same opinion.
I have been married to Macon Tucker Newby (of Wilson) since 1983. We have four children. I was raised in Jamestown. My mother was a school teacher; my dad was a printer (an hourly worker).
J.D., UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law, 1980
; B.A., Public Policy Studies (magna cum laude) Duke University, 1977; Ragsdale High School (Jamestown) 1973.
Justice, N.C. Supreme Court, 2004-present; Adjunct Professor, Campbell University Law School, 2008-present (I teach State Constitutional Law and Current Appellate Issues. I have co-authored a book on the NC Constitution.); Presenter, NC Judicial College, 2008-present; Assistant U.S. Attorney, Raleigh, 1985-2004; General Counsel, Cannon Mills Realty, Kannapolis, 1984-1985; Associate, Van Winkle Law Firm, Asheville, 1980-1984; Intern, U.S. Supreme Court; Intern, Public Defenders Office.
Elected as a Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2004. Seeking re-election.
As a Justice on the state Supreme Court, I strive to do justice by following the rule of law, fairly, impartially, and consistently applying the law in every case. The rule of law means everyone appearing before the court is treated the same regardless of gender, race, or other characteristics. In a fair and impartial manner, the law must be consistently and predictably applied in each case. This is my goal and has been for the last eight years. I respect our foundational ideals of separation of powers and the limited role of the judiciary. The court should decide only the case before it and not legislate. My approach has earned me the reputation of being a hard-working, honest, thoughtful justice. My work has resulted in widespread bipartisan support across the state, including endorsements from four former chief justices, two of each party, as well as from law enforcement, legal, and business groups. Because of my legal scholarship and broad experience, I have been selected to provide continuing education to judges and lawyers and teach law school courses. Civic education is vital, and I will continue to make frequent presentations to legal, school, scout and civic groups.
"Judicial temperament" is the manner in which a judge interacts with those appearing before the court as well as how a judge approaches the judicial role. I do not know sufficiently the members of the U.S. Supreme Court to comment fairly on their judicial temperaments. My approach to my position as a justice on our state Supreme Court is to be a public servant, humbly appreciating the honor of my position each day. I try to treat each person I meet with respect and dignity. I read all submitted materials and carefully consider the arguments presented. I listen to both sides and ask pertinent questions. I try to be courteous and kind to all. I understand that each case involves matters of great importance to the parties and deserves fair consideration. I have met U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on several occasions at Duke Law School, where he graciously teaches courses, and I know we share a desire to help in the legal education of future lawyers and judges.
Being the first lawyer in my family, I am truly honored to be a justice on the N.C. Supreme Court. As a Boy Scout, I learned the importance of sincerely taking an oath, “to do my duty to God and country,” and striving to live by its principles. Likewise, in assuming the responsibilities of a justice, I took an oath to uphold our federal and state constitutions and laws “so help me God.” Daily I strive to fulfill the duties of my position. I am very involved in my local Baptist church and appreciate our freedom of religion. As a student of history, I marvel at the wisdom of the framers of our constitutional republic. I have great respect for separation of powers and the differing roles of the three co-equal branches. I teach and have written a book on the N.C. Constitution. I try to be a good ambassador for the judicial branch. I am a strong proponent of civic education and speak frequently to school, civic and scout groups. My mother, a teacher, and father, an hourly worker, taught me the value of hard work. I worked my way through school and appreciate the opportunity provided by education. I have a family farm and understand the challenges of agriculture and small business.
Justice is blind to partisanship and other irrelevant considerations. I have a reputation of fairly and impartially applying the law in every case. My approach has earned me widespread bipartisan support across the state, including the endorsements of four former Supreme Court chief justices, two of each party, as well as nonpartisan legal, law enforcement, and business groups, such as the National Federation of Independent Business and the State Chamber of Commerce PACs. Judicial philosophy, not partisanship, matters. Judicial philosophy shapes the manner in which a judge approaches the role. The judicial branch is responsible for dispensing justice by following the rule of law. The rule of law means applying the law equally to everyone appearing before the court, in a fair and impartial manner. Judges should be selected who understand that their role is simply to decide the pending case and act with self-restraint, not asserting policy preferences. For the last eight years as a justice on our Supreme Court, I have strived to apply this judicial philosophy and to follow the rule of law in every case.