With time quickly counting down to the May 6 primary election, a new survey by the N.C. Bar Association evaluates the candidates running to be local District Court judges.
A previous survey released earlier this year highlighted the performance of incumbent judges. But the new report is the first to focus on the three candidates seeking one available seat representing District 28, which encompasses Buncombe County.
The survey asked local attorneys to anonymously evaluate the District Court candidates on a range of factors, such as overall performance, legal ability and administrative skills (see charts above and below). Incumbent Democratic Judge Ed Clontz received lower scores than his primary opponents in every category measured. Formerly an Asheville attorney, Clontz was appointed to the position by then-Gov. Bev Perdue in 2011. He was previously Buncombe County’s chief assistant clerk of Superior Court, and prior to that, he was assistant clerk and magistrate. Challengers Thomas Amburgey and J. Matthew Martin are vying with him for the seat; the top-two vote-getters in the May 6 primary will continue to the Nov. 4 general election.
Amburgey, a Republican, received the highest rankings from his colleagues in the N.C. Bar Association survey. He has worked as an assistant district attorney in Buncombe County since he graduated from the Appalachian School of Law in 2007. Martin, a Democrat, also got high scores. He currently works in private practice and as an adjunct professor at the UNC and Elon University law schools. Martin previously served as associate judge of the Cherokee Court, the tribal court for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Buncombe County’s District Court judges are charged with dealing with a wide range of important matters, from property disputes to domestic relations. Nearly all local misdemeanor cases fall under their jurisdiction, as well as probable cause hearings in felony cases.
The three District 28 candidates recently debated—– read coverage of that here.
Early voting on runs through May 3. For list of early voting locations and more information from the Buncombe County Dept. of Election Services, visit its website here.