Durham County

Bar sends 5 District Court judicial hopefuls’ names to Gov. Cooper

The thinning light of the setting sun reflects off the Durham County Courthouse on a springtime evening.
The thinning light of the setting sun reflects off the Durham County Courthouse on a springtime evening. cwarrenhicks@heraldsun.com

Members of the Fourteenth Judicial District Bar who reside in Durham have completed online voting for their preferred choices to fill the unexpired District Court bench term vacated after the departure of former Judge Marcia Morey to the N.C. House of Representatives.

Nine candidates sought the bar’s non-binding support to be among five candidates recommended for consideration to Gov. Roy Cooper, who will make the appointment to the District Court bench. Cooper is not limited to those five candidates.

The candidates whose received the most votes were, in order, Amanda Maris (49 percent), N.C. Sen. Floyd B. McKissick Jr., D-Durham (44 percent), Christy Hamilton Malott (38 percent), William “Drew” Marsh III (34 percent) and Kendra Montgomery-Blinn (31 percent).

Eliminated in the balloting were hopefuls Brian Michael Aus, Catherine Constantinou, Daniel Meier and David T. Robinson.

Guy Crabtree, president of the Durham County Bar Association and the Fourteenth Judicial District Bar, said he sent the list-of-five names to the Gov. Cooper Tuesday.

“A total of nine candidates submitted their names for consideration. Members of the Bar were instructed to vote for no more than five, with no duplicate votes,” Crabtree wrote, in his letter to Gov. Cooper’s office. “...below are the names of the five candidates who received the most votes. They are presented to you in descending order based on the percentage of ballots upon which their name appeared.”

Here are snapshops of the of the five candidates whose names have been sent to Cooper.

Amanda L. Maris

Maris received her law degree from N.C. 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.”

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.”

Christy A. Hamilton Malott

Malott received her law degree from N.C. 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.”

William “Drew” Marsh III

Marsh received his law degree from UNC-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.”

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 [Elaine] 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.”

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks

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