The North Carolina Bar Association conducts election-time surveys of lawyers (pdf) in the state about the qualifications of people who are running for judgeships. While the Judicial Performance Evaluation Surveys are not widely distributed, they are designed to inform the general public about the candidates for judicial seats. In North Carolina, while we have elected judges, the legislature years ago eliminated partisan elections for judges. Each party lists its party's candidates for judge, but on the actual ballot the judges have no party affiliation.
While we have 19 District Court judges in Wake County, not all are up for election this year, and of the ones who are, just two involve contested elections.
Croom v. Gilliam
Craig Croom, a former District Court and Special Superior Court judge, is running against Charles Gilliam, who was appointed earlier this year by Gov. McCrory to fill a vacancy left by James Fullwood's retirement.
Croom is a former sheriff's deputy and former prosecutor, and current administrative law judge who was on the District Court bench and well-regarded as a fair judge before being, essentially, promoted by Gov. Perdue as a Special Superior Court Judge. He has presided over thousands of bench trials, hearings, and juvenile court sessions.
The NCBA received hundreds of responses to an evaluation sent out asking for feedback on Craig Croom. He was rated much more highly in every category – Integrity & Impartiality, Legal Ability, Professionalism, Communication, Administrative Skills, Overall Performance – than his opponent Charles Gilliam. The NCBA, by contrast, received only about 65 responses to a questionnaire sent out about Gilliam. That's not surprising given that Gilliam has been on the bench for such a brief time, having been appointed by Gov. McCrory and having previously been a lawyer in the corporate world with apparently little courtroom experience.
Croom has been endorsed by the Indy Week.
Ansley v. Meyer
Ronnie Ansley is running for District Court Judge to replace Louis Meyer. Meyer, whose father served on the North Carolina Supreme Court, was appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue in 2012 to replace Kristin Ruth. He has served since.
Ansley is a private practice lawyer who is a familiar face in Wake County District Court. He is well-liked by fellow attorneys, and has been endorsed by the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, and the Indy Weekly. Both Ansley and Meyer received hundreds of responses to the North Carolina Bar Association's survey of lawyers. Ansley outscored Meyer in every category, although the difference between Ansley and Meyer is not nearly as stark as between Croom and Gilliam.