We know that judicial races are confusing. There’s multiple levels of courts and it can be easy to get lost in the weeds when it comes to who does what. So for this year’s election, we’ve broken down the courts by what they do, who is running and what each candidate stands for.

Early voting started on Feb. 15 and runs through March 2. Primary Election Day is on March 5. Voters looking to cast their votes during the early voting period can do so at any voting location. On Primary Election Day however, voters must go to their assigned precinct. Find that info here.

Need help deciding who else to vote for on your ballot? Check out our comprehensive 2024 Primary Election Guide here.


In 2023, the state general assembly realigned superior, district court and public defender districts in North Carolina. The new maps for the 2024 elections can be found online at nccourts.gov.


The Supreme Court of North Carolina is the state’s highest court, and there is no further appeal within the state. It is made up of the Chief Justice, who also serves as head of the Judicial Branch, and six associate justices. Each justice serves an eight-year term. The Supreme Court has no jury and makes no determinations of fact, but it considers whether error occurred at trial or in judicial interpretation of the law.


Allison Riggs (i)


Allison Riggs was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2023 by Gov. Cooper — who has endorsed her for this year’s election —  after she previously served as a judge on the Court of Appeals. Prior to the bench, she worked as the co-executive director and chief counsel for voting rights at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, as well as a staff attorney and senior staff attorney, according to her online bio. She is a civil rights litigator and community lawyer who served as lead counsel in voting rights cases, including twice before the US Supreme Court. She also noted in a news piece that she was the lead counsel in the NC Supreme Court case that struck down partisan gerrymandering as unconstitutional and in the Fourth Circuit case striking down the 2023 voter law as unconstitutional.

On her campaign website, she lists a number of her opinions during her time as associate justice including reversing a lower court’s opinion to deny suppressing evidence that was collected by police during a traffic stop. Riggs also ruled in favor of news outlet WBTV in Charlotte over city council when she ruled that certain records that the city held were subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act.

Lora Christine Cubbage


Lora Cubbage currently works as a Superior Court judge, a position she was appointed to by Gov. Roy Cooper in 2018. Prior to that, she worked as an assistant district attorney in Guilford County and then as assistant attorney general. According to her campaign website, Cubbage spent 17 years working as a barber before working in law. She graduated from NC A&T State University and then from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law.

On her campaign website, Cubbage noted that she brings “profound understanding of the laws governing cases, especially in civil rights and voting rights.”

Cubbage has been endorsed by the African-American Caucus of NC and the Guilford County Simkins PAC. Cubbage noted in a questionnaire that she will vote for President Biden in the primary election.

NC COURT OF APPEALS JUDGE SEAT 15 (Incumbent: Hunter Murphy, R)

The NC Court of Appeals is the state’s intermediate appellate court that reviews the proceedings that occurred in trial courts for errors of law or legal procedure. 


Hunter Murphy (i)

X: @Hunter_4Judge

Hunter Murphy was first elected to the NC Court of Appeals in 2016 after narrowly beating  Democrat Margaret P. Eagles in the General Election. According to multiple news reports, Murphy, who was a trial attorney from Haywood County, was censured in 2020 for enabling a toxic work environment. According to NC Newsline, a friend who Murphy hired as his executive assistant, started bullying and harassing coworkers and exhibited “a pattern of making lewd or sexually inappropriate remarks in the workplace.” Reports note that Murphy also participated in making jokes and inappropriate comments.

In 2023, Murphy ruled against a woman’s parental rights stating that “life begins at conception.” The controversial opinion was ultimately withdrawn.

Chris Freeman


Chris Freeman currently works as a Rockingham County District Court judge, a position he’s held since 2014. Prior to that, Freeman worked as an assistant district attorney in Rockingham County and as an Air Force Reserve officer. According to his campaign website, Freeman aims to “bring [his] steadfast commitment to conservative judicial philosophy.” He is an active member of his local church, volunteers for a fire department and obtained his bachelor’s degree from High Point University and his law degree from Regent University. 



Superior courts hear civil and criminal cases, including felony cases and civil cases over $25,000.


Tab Hunter

No website

Tab Hunter currently works as an assistant district attorney in Robeson County and worked in Georgia prior to that. He’s also worked as an assistant public defender, staff attorney and private practice attorney in various NC cities. While Hunter does not have a campaign website, in a previous notice of candidacy to seek nomination for District Court judge, Hunter wrote that he would try his “very best to treat all persons, including attorneys, law enforcement officers, public defenders, civil litigants, criminal defendants, corporate executives, juveniles, prosecutors, witnesses, public officials, victims, jurors, business owners, judicial colleagues and court staff with dignity and courtesy, and expect that others to do likewise.”

Georgia Nixon


The daughter of Greek immigrants, Nixon said during a recent candidate forum that as a judge, she would practice fairness and “create an environment where everybody will be heard.” Nixon was sanctioned in 2013 by the state bar for her actions relating to two separate cases. In the end, Nixon’s general good standing and good behavior kept her from having her license suspended. Nixon currently runs her own private practice and has served on Jamestown Town Council for 12 years. She’s been practicing law since 1991. When asked about minors turning to the courts to seek abortions in NC, Nixon said she is pro-choice.


District courts hear cases involving civil, criminal, juvenile, and magistrate matters.


Walter Trip Baker III


Walter Trip Baker was first appointed to district court in 2023 by Gov. Roy Cooper. Prior to that, Baker served as an assistant district attorney in Guilford County and was a solo practitioner at Baker Law Offices. In total, he has 20 years of legal experience.

During a candidate forum, Baker said that his philosophy of law is to take his time and to do research and “lean” on other attorneys if needed to make a decision in a case. He said that he is pro-choice and has presided over hearings involving minors seeking abortions in the state.

If elected, he said he would “treat every case as important as the one before and the one after, to be accessible, to show up early, put in the time and to not get ‘black robe’ syndrome.”

John Parker Stone


According to his website, John Parker Stone has been an assistant district attorney in Guilford County for more than a decade.

He said that during the time, he has “developed a reputation for being professional, consistent, and fair.” His favorite part about being in the DA’s office is being in the courtroom, Stone said. 

“I have handled all types of criminal cases, from murder to felony larceny to habitual DWI,” Stone said. “Due to the variety of cases I get, I have dealt with all sorts of hearings and motions and issues.”



Moshera Mills


Moshera Mills is a UNCG graduate who worked in the assistant district attorney’s office, as a magistrate judge and currently practices family and criminal law. Mills was sanctioned by the state bar in 2014, as a censure. According to the disciplinary order, Mills was censured in a cast that involved her representing a client who filed an action for return of legal fees. Mills then represented that the client’s fee petition had been dismissed, which was not true. 

She also ran for District Court in 2020 and lost to Brian Tomlin, who now represents Seat 13 after the changes in the maps.

When asked about minors turning to the courts to seek abortions in NC, Mills said she is pro-choice.

During a campaign forum, Mills said that she is passionate about children and would increase programs like the Children’s Law Center which allow judges to appoint a third-party entity in custody matters to interview the child and the school and bring a report to court if she were able to make changes to the judicial system. She said if elected, she would work to “treat people with kindness and with respect.”

Charlene Y. Armstrong


Charlene Armstrong has worked for 27 years as an attorney, 18 of those years in Guilford County. When asked about minors turning to the courts to seek abortions in NC, she said that she is pro-choice and that she’s represented “young ladies who need to have that decision made for them and it was heart-wrenching when judges decided for whatever reason not to approve that decision because the judges had whatever opinion, and these young ladies’ plans for their future and they could not talk to their parents about it.” Armstrong said that she views herself “as a servant” and that she would work “to make people’s lives better based on their interaction” with her if elected.



Kelvin Smith (i)


Incumbent Kelvin Smith was first elected to district court in 2020 after beating opponent Gavin Reardon in the election. He was then appointed by Gov. Cooper to a different vacant seat. As an African-American male, Smith said during a candidate forum that he understands that the criminal justice system disproportionately affects African Americans and African-American men and that’s why he ran for the seat.

When asked about minors turning to the courts to seek abortions in NC, Smith said that “a lady justice, allegedly, is blind. So your personal perspective should not matter whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice.”

Democrat ShaKeta D. Berrie speaks during the Feb. 6 judicial campaign forum at Elon Law School. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

ShaKeta D. Berrie


ShaKeta D. Berrie graduated from Elon Law School in 2016 and currently works as an assistant public defender serving indigent criminal defendants in Guilford County.

When asked about minors turning to the courts to seek abortions in NC, Berrie said that she is pro-choice and that as a former teen mom, she understands where young parents may be coming from. She pointed out how the district courts are inefficient and her judicial philosophy is “empathy, understanding and humility.”

Democrat Cynthia Hatfield speaks during the Feb. 6 judicial campaign forum at Elon Law School. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

Cynthia Hatfield


Sixty-year-old attorney Cynthia Hatfield has been practicing law for 35 years and has been working in District Court for 34. She’s concerned about the civil court backlog and called on judges to keep better track of cases. She said she’s been “schooled by the best” when asked about humility and noted that she’s pro-choice but that the “law needs to be followed.”

On her judicial philosophy, Hatfield said that she tries to put herself in the shoes of the people that come before her to figure them out and understand them.

According to their website, Hatfield works as part of a family firm with her parents, who are also attorneys.



Brian Tomlin (i)


Incumbent Brian Tomlin was appointed to an open seat in 2019 by Gov. Roy Cooper and was then re-elected in 2020 after winning the primary election against Moshera Mills.

Tomlin has worked as a lawyer and a judge for a combined 27 years. Prior to that, he worked as a news reporter for 11 years, five of them at the News & Record. On his website, he notes that during his time practicing law, he’s seen “the darkest sides of the human population” but that he’s “hopeful for our future.” And “after 23 years of taking sides in these kinds of fights,” Tomlin said he was “given the chance as a judge to referee them.”

Tomlin said that he has never held anyone in contempt of court which he says is “probably a little unconventional.”

Gabriel Kussin


Assistant public defender Gabriel Kussin hails from Durham and said he was inspired to go into law after working in Latino advocacy organizations. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law in 2015. He states that he is running as the first Latino judge in Guilford County (his mother “fought for Puerto Rican justice” according to his campaign website.)

If elected, Kussin would advocate for more driver’s license restoration projects. He said he is pro-choice and has worked with Planned Parenthood and volunteered at the local abortion clinic. He said he hopes to bring a sense of humility to the role if elected by reminding himself that in court, many people are “dealing with the most important thing in their lives at that moment.”



Tomakio S. Gause


Tomakio Gause first ran for District Court in 2020 and lost to Carolina Tomlinson-Pemberton in the primary election. Gause has worked in private practice for the last 13 years and has worked in law for 18, representing indigent criminal and civil clients. She said she is pro-choice and that she would reach out to other attorneys if there’s anything she doesn’t know while sitting as a judge, “because I don’t know everything and I’m perfectly fine admitting I don’t know everything,” she said. 

One of her biggest issues is making sure that pro se litigants, or those who choose to represent themselves, are better prepared by the time they come to court. She said she’d like to fix the process to save them and the court time.

Stephanie Goldsborough


Attorney Stephanie Goldsborough has been practicing law for 20 years and started her career at the Legal Aid Society in Winston-Salem, representing domestic violence victims. She now works as a criminal defense attorney. She said she was pro-choice and that even as a judge, it’s important to have humility.

Her judicial philosophy is to not judge a book by its cover.

“No matter what people come into the courtroom, no matter what they look like… giving them the opportunity to be heard… is incredibly important,” she said.

She has been endorsed by the African American Caucus of Guilford County, according to her website.

William H. (Bill) Hill, Jr.


Attorney William H. Hill, Jr. has served as a prosecutor in NC for 26 years, 19 of them in Greensboro and five in High Point. He’s also worked as an assistant district attorney in several counties including Guilford.

Online, Hill Jr. noted that he worked in the Juvenile Court system in the early stages of his career and that continues to impact his work because “family law, criminal law, and juvenile issues often touch upon each other.”

If elected, Hill said that he would make sure to not embarrass or belittle attorneys in the courtroom.

“We all have made mistakes,” he wrote. “We can appreciate those that remember what it was like before taking the bench.”




Shonna R. Alexander


According to her website, attorney Shonna Alexander grew up in Winston-Salem and passed the bar in 1999. She also previously served as a magistrate judge.

“During that process we are taught to put our feelings aside and to be fair,” Alexander said during a candidate forum.

In 2008, Alexander was suspended from practicing law for three years, but was able to get reinstated after one year due to good behavior. The suspension stemmed from the years 2005-06 in which Alexander failed to appear in court multiple times on behalf of one client and was unresponsive to another client. 

On her website, Alexander also states that she has worked as a registered nurse since 2007. That experience has affected how she views her job both in the doctor’s office and as an attorney.

“The same way I serve at the bedside, I serve my clients in the courtroom and as a district court judge, I would certainly serve this community,” she said. 

Andrew Keever

No website

Andrew Keever, whose parents were both ministers, has run for District Court in 2012 and 2014.

“Service to the community is a passion of mine and I learned that from my family,” Keever said during a candidate forum. He said that he brings 25 years of experience, 16 of those years as a public defender. He is currently the senior public defender for Forsyth County and also practices in Juvenile Court, which he says brings additional experience to his role.

“Fair, impartial, experience, that’s what I would bring to the district court bench,” Keever said.

Lauren A. Tuttle


Lauren Tuttle, who went to law school late in life, is currently employed as an assistant public defender and has worked in private practice in family and civil manners. She said she’s running for judge to be an impartial and independent voice on the bench.

“I believe that what Forsyth County needs is a judge that they can trust,” Tuttle said during a candidate forum.

Tuttle said that as a public defender, she works with all kinds of people from across the county which has helped her to “meet people where they are.”

Tuttle said that one of her core drives is to be of service, which is why she’s seeking to serve on the bench.

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