Durham County

District Court judicial hopefuls face multi-step journey to possible bench appointment by governor

An unexpired, vacant District Court bench seat must be filled after Durham County Democrats voted to appoint sitting District Court Judge Marcia Morey to the vacated N.C. House District 30 seat.

The process to replace Morey started with the Fourteenth Judicial District Bar calling for a vote for a new district court judge.

Nine judicial hopefuls submitted their names, credentials and qualifications during a five-day period that ran April 10-14.

Guy Crabtree, president of the Durham County Bar Association and the Fourteenth Judicial District Bar said members of the Fourteenth Judicial District Bar who reside in Durham could vote online for their preferred choices up to Monday, April 24, at which date the voting would end and the tallying would begin.

The top five names will go to Gov. Roy Cooper, Crabtree said. Cooper may choose someone from the submitted list or a candidate of his own choosing. However, legislation is pending in the General Assembly that calls for legislators to fill judicial vacancies.

Here are snapshots of the nine announced judicial candidates for the seat.

Brian Aus

Aus received his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985 and he serves as a general counsel for the North Carolina Sheriff-Police Alliance.

“I seek this in hope of continuing my public service to our community,” Aus wrote. “For more than 25 years I have worked pro bono for the Sheriff’s S.T.A.R.R. life skills and substance abuse treatment program with the goal of reducing recidivism in Durham,” Aus wrote. He serves on the Public Safety Advisory Committee of Mayor Bill Bell’s Poverty Reduction Initiative.

Catherine Constantinou

Constantinou received her law degree from North Carolina Central University and for more than two decades concentrated her practice in the areas of family and civil law.

“I have 23 years of courtroom experience representing all people and colleagues, from all backgrounds,” Constantinou wrote. “My personal and professional experiences have added both depth and breadth to my ability to apply the law in a fair and impartial manner with appropriate judicial temperament.”

Christy A. Hamilton Malott

Malott received her law degree from North Carolina Central University in 2005 and her areas of practice include custody, divorce, equitable distribution, spousal and child support, termination of parental rights, emancipations and general civil matters.

“I have dreamed for years of the day that I would be able to run for Durham District Court Judge,” Malott wrote. “Durham needs a judicial bench with expertise in civil, family, and child welfare law to balance its depth in criminal law — someone like me.”

Amanda L. Maris

Maris received her law degree from North Carolina Central University in 2006 and throughout her career has primarily focused on issues affecting youth and families in the court system, education system and community.

“It is my express intention to file for this vacancy out of a sincere desire to serve this city inside and outside of the courtroom to ensure our justice system is fair, equitable and accessible to all,” Maris wrote. “In 2009, I co-founded a free public expunction clinic to help Legal Aid of NC meet a growing need in our city during an economic recession.”

William “Drew” Marsh III

Marsh received his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982 and in addition to 25 years of civil and criminal trial experience served for close to “10 years on our local bench,” he wrote.

“I am seeking to return to the bench for the following reasons…” Marsh wrote. “I served…on the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council…Domestic Violence Committee…I am the only judge to have presided over the New Life Court…which used a therapeutic team approach to enable persons who are chronically unemployed to reenter the work force…it would be my honor to have your vote allowing me to continue service in Durham.”

State Sen. Floyd B. McKissick, Jr., D-Durham

McKissick received his law degree from Duke University in 1983 and represents District 20 in the N.C. Senate.

“I was the primary sponsor of the N.C. Racial Justice Act (SB461) which addressed issues related to racial bias in the imposition of the death penalty,” McKissick wrote. “I currently serve as the Senior Deputy Democratic Leader in the NC Senate.”

Daniel Meier

Meier received his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002 and primarily focuses his practice on criminal defense and general civil litigation.

“While I recognize that we have an adversarial system, I believe that it doesn’t mean we have to be adversaries outside the courtroom,” Meier wrote. “Too often the sense of professionalism and collegiality seems to get lost in the middle of cases, and I think the Judge can often play a role in helping to keep the parties focused on the issues in the case, and not the personalities.”

Kendra Montgomery-Blinn

Montgomery-Blinn received her law degree from Duke University in 2003 and was an assistant district attorney in Durham from 2004-2007 and returned to that post in August 2015.

“I learned from Judge Morey and Judge O’Neal that Juvenile Court is a place where a compassionate and thoughtful judge can save lives. Learning this early in my career has shaped everything that I have done since,” Montgomery-Blinn wrote. “I am always learning how to be a better lawyer and a better person. If appointed, I promise to never stop learning.”

David T. Robinson

Robinson received his law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law in 2002 and has practiced in North Carolina since 2003, concentrating in criminal, family and civil law.

“It has been my privilege to serve my community in private practice through the acceptance of court appointments to aid those less fortunate in navigating the complex legal system,” Robinson wrote. “My experience has afforded me the opportunity to develop the temperament to serve as Judge.”