Wendy Joyce Terry, 43, the longtime prosecutor in Davidson County, North Carolina, was indicted this week in a bizarre case where she is accused of texting an offer to pay $20,000 to get an opponent to drop out of an election for a superior court seat. Putting aside the wisdom on texting bribes or payoffs, Terry is accused of texting the offer to district court Judge April Wood.
Terry allegedly offered Wood a $20,000 campaign contribution if she persuaded her husband, Jeffrey Berg, not to run in 2016 for a superior court seat that Wendy Terry wanted to fill. She now faces a six count indictment including a felony obstruction count and two counts of buying and selling offices.
By the way, state law limits campaign contributions to $5,100.
The case again raises the issue of the wisdom of elected state judges as opposed to systems of appointments. Elected judges are a troubling mix in terms of quality across the country. Not only do elections reward the most popular or well funded, but it creates pressure on judges to appease public opinion. In the worst cases, we have seen judges turn their courtrooms into circus like forums in thrilling the public with novel and degrading forms of punishment. Most state judges are both competent and ethical. However, the election process represents a corrosive element in our judicial system and does not necessarily favor the most qualified candidates for these offices.