Stanley Peele: System of patronage continues

Jan. 06, 2013 @ 03:36 PM

On Dec. 31, Gov. Beverly Perdue made three judicial appointments:

  • Mark Davis, to the N.C. Court of Appeals.

For two years, Davis has been general counsel to Perdue. From 2006 to 2011, he worked as a special deputy attorney general in the North Carolina Department of Justice in the special litigation section. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, he spent 13 years in private practice in civil and appellate litigation. He has handled more than 60 appeals in the federal and state appellate courts 

Davis has served as a member of the Appellate Rules Committee, the Bench-Bar Committee, the Constitutional and Civil Rights Section, and the Litigation Section of the N.C. Bar Association and the Bench-Bar Committee of the Wake County Bar. He has lectured on various legal topics to attorneys, sheriffs and others. He received his undergraduate degree and law degree from UNC.

  • Reuben F. Young as a special superior court judge.

He has been secretary of the N.C. Department of Public Safety. He has worked there for three years. Prior to that, Young practiced law in Texas from 1987 to 1995, working as a prosecutor and an assistant attorney general and in private practice. Upon moving to North Carolina, he worked in the North Carolina Department of Justice for six years representing the Department of Public Safety, then was first deputy legal counsel and then as chief legal counsel for the governor.

Young received his law degree from the North Carolina Central University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Howard University.

  • Kendra Hill as a special superior court judge.

Hill has served as the chief ethics officer and deputy general counsel for the Office of the Governor since 2009. Previously, she spent nine years as assistant legal counsel for the North Carolina School Boards Association. She also served as senior director of employee relations for the Wake County Public School System for two years.

She served as a member of the N.C. Bar Association’s Board of Governors from 2002 to 2005, the Education Law Section Council, Government and Public Sector Section Council and as co-chair of the Law-Related Education Committee.

Hill graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. She received her bachelor of arts degree from Duke University.

All three are respected attorneys who have standing in their fields of law.

According to the above information, Davis and Young are the most qualified of the three to be appointed to a judgeship. However, there are many other people in North Carolina who are far more qualified. For Davis to be appointed all the way up to the Court of Appeals is troubling. It would be more appropriate for him to be appointed as a superior court judge.

Again, using the above information, Hill has not yet reached the level of accomplishments usually required of those who are considered for appointment as judge.

None of them have ever been a judge.

Another troubling consideration is that all of the appointments can be considered as patronage. All three appointees were her associates. This is something that should not be done in the area of judgeships. The jobs are too important.

It is natural for politicians to want to help those who have helped them. In this case, governor. Perdue may have felt that the new governor would not keep these three in their jobs, and she wanted to protect them. Nevertheless, it is not right.

It continues a system of patronage -- which can be the bane of government. It gives voice to the old saying: "It's not what you do that gets you advancement. It's who you know."

Judges, attorneys, law enforcement officers and those who have business before the courts -- all are saddened when this happens.

The great majority of North Carolinians disapprove. Of the 16 comments I found on the net, all were critical of Perdue.

Perdue has made some good decisions as governor. This is not one of them.

Stanley Peele serves as an emergency judge throughout the state. Readers can contact him at chh@heraldsun.com or c/o The Chapel Hill Herald, 2828 Pickett Road, Durham, NC.