Judicial Bars Vote On Nominees To Fill Local Judge’s Seat

Two judicial district bars gathered for a meeting Aug. 24 to vote on nominees offering to fill a vacancy that will be left behind by the Aug. 31 retirement of District Court Judge Caron H. Stewart.


Stewart presides over District 11 courts in Harnett, Lee and Johnston counties. Representatives of the 12th (Harnett and Lee counties) and 13th (Johnston County) Judicial District bars honored Stewart at the meeting with a standing ovation. Stewart has served as a judge, private attorney and as an assistant district attorney.

The bar members also observed a moment of silence for the late Edward McCormick, a retired Harnett County District Court judge who died of COVID-19 on Aug. 14.

Attendees from the three counties listened to nominee speeches and endorsements from their peers at the meeting inside the training room at the Harnett County Library and Resource Center in Lillington. The election committee then voted on five nominees whose names will be sent to Gov. Roy Cooper’s office as recommendations for the judicial appointment.

Those nominees were:

  • Jillian Pope: 43 votes
  • Jason Kimble: 37 votes
  • Brad Salmon: 36 votes
  • Freddie Cruz: 3 votes
  • Donna Pearson: 1 vote

As president of the 12th Judicial District Bar, Dunn attorney Parrish Hayes Daughtry presided over the meeting in conjunction with Robert Padovano, president of the 13th District Bar. The election committee was comprised of the remaining District Bar officers Walter Schmidlin, Brandon Wallace, Stephanie Norris and Rachel Hairr.

With Stewart’s seat vacant as of Sept. 1, bar members agreed it was “crucial to the efficient operation of the courts in these counties that the seat be filled as expeditiously as possible. This seat will also be open for election in November 2022 so filing deadlines for the seat are imminently approaching,” according to a release from the 12th and 13th Judicial District bars. “… Along with Wake County all three of the counties served by this District Court Judgeship (Harnett, Johnston, and Lee) are in the first track of the Odyssey Rollout plan and this Judge will need to be trained in that regard.”

The Odyssey or eCourts plan “is an initiative of the North Carolina Judicial Branch to modernize our court system with the latest applications and technologies, taking the court system from paper to digital and from 20th century mainframes to cloud-based technologies,” according to the North Carolina Judicial Branch’s website. “The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts worked with the National Center for State Courts to convene stakeholders, develop business requirements, and identify vendors. Tyler Technologies’ Odyssey suite was the solution selected to help migrate court processes from a variety of older applications to one integrated case management system.”

Any civilian or attorney support of these nominees may be submitted to Eric Fletcher, general counsel to NC Gov. Roy Cooper at the following address: Mr. Eric Fletcher, General Counsel Office of the Governor, 20301 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-0301.

-Dunn Daily Record