North Carolina Prosecutor Charged After Allegedly Offering $20,000 For Opponent Not To Run For Court Seat

55f0e026b667a.imageWendy 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.

Sources: Journal and ABA Journal

29 thoughts on “North Carolina Prosecutor Charged After Allegedly Offering $20,000 For Opponent Not To Run For Court Seat”

  1. Yeoman’s job? Well that explains everything. And here you guys were duped into believing he was running to do the job expected of a President.

  2. Chief Consort to the Progressive Grand Inquisitor

    No, 2000 to 2008 is eight years. You are correct, however, it was Orwellian.

    Our present 4+2 President is doing a Yeoman’s job of dealing with the sewer he inherited. Too bad he isn’t perfect, but in an imperfect world, one must fight fire with fire.

  3. Neither Senators or Representatives are required to follow the will of their constituents.

  4. Jack,
    Agreed. Ironically, instead of lobbyists having to buy influence at the state level they have streamlined the process at the federal level.

  5. All of this talk lately of repealing various amendments, what really are the chances of any one of them being repealed? Sounds like a lot of wishful thinking.

  6. Olly, The problem with the 17th is that the Senator’s role (to protect the state’s interest) was abandoned in favor of popular support. In effect, we ended up with two House of Representatives. In the end, I think that will be the downfall of this Great Experiment.

  7. Replacing “judges” with “Senators” makes a very good argument to repeal the 17th amendment.

    “Elected Senators 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 Senators to appease public opinion.”

  8. Started law practice in 1974, retired now, and saw a steady increase in women judges thru the years. A number appointed for PC sake and others elected. My experience with women judges was that most had a chip on their shoulder and had something to prove. Many had never practiced law or had worked for the government. Compared to men, overall, they were inferior, plain and simple.

  9. Started law practice in 1974, retired now, and saw a steady increase in women judges thru the years. A number appointed for PC sake and others elected. My experience with women judges was that most had a chip on their shoulder and had something to prove. Many had never practiced law or had worked for the government. Compared to men, overall, they were inferior plain and simple.

  10. The Missouri Plan in Missouri is corrupt!

    When adopted in 1940 (by constitutional amendment), the panel consisted of the Chief Judge of the Missouri Supreme Court, three members of the Missouri Bar Association, and three layman who were appointed by the governor. (The Missouri Bar Association, in 1940, was a benevolent association with no direct ties to the court.)

    Two years later, the Court was granted the authority to create rules for practice and procedure. They immediately used that newfound power to make the Missouri Bar Association a committee of the Missouri Supreme Court. -That significantly changed the dynamics of the Missouri Plan…without voter approval.

    Judges appointed under the Missouri Plan stand for retention election. Only two judges have ever lost retention election. (Even judges that the Bar gave consistently poor ratings remain on the bench because the electorate don’t read the reviews and are happy to maintain the status quo.)

    Of the two judges who lost retention election, the first was purely political. That Judge had the support of Boss Tom Pendergast. It had absolutely nothing to do with the judge being a bad judge.

    The second judge to lose retention election was John Hutcherson. Three bar associations, including the statewide Missouri Bar Association, gave Hutcherson poor reviews. The voters listened and voted him out.

    Four years later Hutcherson applied to the Missouri Supreme Court to be a Senior Judge. The Court granted his application and put him on the bench in 9 other counties. Since he was a Senior Judge, serving at the pleasure of the Supreme Court, the voters had absolutely no say on whether or not the judge remained on the bench.

    In 2009 I ran into former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice (now Federal Court Judge) Ronnie White. He was giving a talk on the benefits of the Missouri Plan at a local community college. I asked him about Hutcherson serving in those other counties, where the voters had no say. He said that he didn’t know anything about it. I told him that was pretty sad, because he was the Chief Justice for two of the years. He was the one who appointed Hutcherson. Yet, he knew nothing about it???

    When the Court appoints (and given the makeup of the selection commission, the court really does control the process), the Court has an interest in making it look like they did a good job. They cover for the judges.

    — In conclusion, letting the judiciary choose their own replacements is a very dangerous proposition.

    In 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to James Madison in which he stated, “I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but the people, and if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them.”

  11. “The case again raises the issue of the wisdom of elected state judges as opposed…..”.

    The case raises the issue of no wisdom at all. How does an idiot like this get this far in life. She texts a bribe to gain a position as a judge. Unfortunately these idiots slip through the cracks whether appointed or elected. We had one for a President for eight years.

  12. Most state judges are both competent and ethical.

    It would be great if that were true. But we have no way of knowing because it has never been examined in depth. Much like the “most cops are good cops” refrain that has been constantly repeated, the ethics and competency of judges are no more a hope, a belief wholly without evidentiary support.

    As the old joke says: Q) What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 85? A)Your Honor.

  13. This story doesn’t just raise the question of whether it is a good idea to elect state court judges. (It’s not a good idea, IMO, I believe the Missouri plan is better for a variety of reasons. ). It appears that the long time county prosecutor was willing to violate the law to further her own ambitions. How many other laws did she previously break to further her own ambitions? How many rules did she bend or break to add more “scalps” to her resume ? (She is clearly lacking in integrity and judgment. )

    I think the problem of overly ambitious, integrity lacking prosecutors is at least as important as the problems associated with electing judges.

  14. Paul, Not a bad idea. But, you have to know just how networked and incestuous attorneys are to know that the Bar is just a small part of that.

  15. I’ve worked on cases w/ elected judges and w/ appointed judges. Never saw any difference. You get great ones to horrible ones w/ both systems. When in doubt, let voters decide. The usually libertarian JT would usually agree w/ that. But, attorneys are a club, and they like to control that club. So, the libertarian goes out the window on this issue.

    1. Nick – one thing I would like to see is that immediately on taking the bench they have to end their membership in the Bar associations. And they cannot fraternize with lawyers, Also, once they are no longer a judge they lose the honorific.

  16. Arizona has a modified Missouri plan. Our two largest counties, the appeals and Supreme Court judges are selected by committee. The other 14 counties elect their judges. Justices of the Peaces are still elected.

  17. You folks need to discuss: The Missouri Plan. In that state they have a system which is applicable in the Courts of Appeals and Mo Sup. Court and in several counties which include: St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Jackson County and Green County. The might be more counties. Under The Missouri Plan a Committee made up of some judges and some private citizens and a politician or two will interview candidates who have submitted applications and choose a “panel” of three choices. The Governor then chooses.
    Over time it has been demonstrated to work very well. The quality in the circuit and associate divisions of the counties included in the Plan is much much higher than in the counties where judges are still elected.
    JT might find it interesting that the Missouri Supreme Court had a former law professor and a former legal services director who sat on the bench at one time.
    Other states have adopted this method.

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