And the survey says…

Published 11:56 am Friday, April 27, 2012

The North Carolina Bar Association has released its report on all non-incumbent candidates for judicial posts in North Carolina.

That assessment includes the two candidates vying for the position currently held by retiring Chief District 6B Court Judge Thomas R.J. Newbern.

The survey is a follow-up of the Association’s performance evaluation of incumbent judicial candidates whose terms expire this year. Both Newbern and Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant received high marks in that evaluation.

The ratings of non-incumbent candidates, like those of sitting judges, were conducted in surveys of lawyers.

The non-incumbent candidates were judged in six categories: integrity and fairness, legal ability, professionalism, communication, administrative skills and overall performance. They were graded on a five-point scale with five being excellent, four registering good, three was average, two below average and one is poor.

The two candidates seeking to replace Newbern are Woodland attorney Luther Culpepper and Judicial District 6A (Halifax County) Assistant District Attorney Vershenia Balance Moody.

Each of the candidates were measured by their peers with Culpepper receiving reviews from 30-36 fellow lawyers in the six categories and Moody receiving 27 to 36 responses.

According to the review, Culpepper had higher marks from his fellow attorneys in all six categories. In fact, Culpepper was the highest-rated non-incumbent candidate in any of the district court judgeship races statewide.

His overall performance mark of 4.57 was higher than any other candidate with the closest to that mark being a 4.47 rating for District 26 candidate Roy H. Wiggins and a 4.45 mark for District 27B candidate Gwynn G. Radeker.

Culpepper received a 4.60 mark in integrity and fairness while Moody received a 3.85.

Of the 35 who responded to the survey about Culpepper, 25 of them gave him an excellent mark compared to eight good, one average and one poor. Moody received 13 excellent ratings in 34 responses with nine providing a good rating, eight an average, two below average and two poor.

In legal ability, Culpepper received a 4.36 among 36 respondents. That mark broke down to 18 excellent, 14 good, three average and one below average. Moody received a 3.97 among 34 attorneys who responded. That accounted for 13 excellent marks, 11 good, eight average and two below average.

The third category was professionalism and both candidates received 36 responses. Moody scored a 3.81 which again included 13 excellent responses along with 11 good, seven as average, two said below average and three gave a poor rating.

Culpepper received 28 excellent ratings in the category which propelled him to a 4.69 score. There were five who provided a good rating and three an average rating. No respondent provided a below average or poor rating.

In communication, Culpepper received a 4.47 mark among 34 respondents. A total of 21 provided an excellent rating followed by nine good ratings, three average marks and one below average. He did not receive a poor rating.

Moody received a 3.88 mark of the 34 people who answered the question for the survey. She got 12 excellent marks, 10 good and 10 average responses. She also received two poor ratings, but no below average marks.

In the next category, Moody received 27 responses about her administrative skills. Of those, 11 gave her an excellent mark, eight a good rating, four an average mark and two each in the below average and poor category. Her overall rating was 3.89.

Culpepper received an overall rating of 4.50 in the administrative skills among 30 responses. He received 17 excellent marks, 11 good ratings and two average marks. No respondent gave a poor or below average mark.

The final category was overall performance. Culpepper received a 4.57 mark in that area.

Of the 35 responses to the survey, Culpepper had 22 excellent marks, 12 good marks and one below average response. He received no marks for average or poor.

Moody had 34 responses and an overall mark of 3.85. She had 12 excellent marks, 11 good scores, seven average and two each in the below average and poor ratings.

Culpepper and Moody will square off in November’s General Election.