Name as it appears on the ballot: Chris Dillon

Age: 55 years old

Party affiliation: Republican

Campaign website:

Occupation & employer: Judge, NC Court of Appeals

1) Please tell us what in your record as a public official or private citizen demonstrates your ability to be effective, fair, and impartial on the bench? Please be specific. What do you believe qualifies you to serve as a district court judge?

Judicial Experience – There are five seats up on our Court this year. I am the only judge seeking re-election…and have more experience on the Court than the other 9 candidates combined. If re-elected, I will be the 2nd most senior judge on our Court.

Spirit of Non-partisanship – I believe that a judge should not be beholden to a party but should apply the law honestly, no matter the result. During the past 8 years, I have been asked to declare laws passed by the GOP-led General Assembly on occasion…and have done so on (I think) 3 occasions.

1. State v. Packingham, 229 NC App. 293 (2013)- We held that a statute which prevented those convicted of certain sex crimes from accessing most internet sites. JJ Geer, Elmore and I thought the statute was overly broad and struck it down. Our state supreme court, in a 4-3 votes (with the 4 GOP-backed justices in the majority) reversed us. But SCOTUS reversed our state supreme court and agreed with us 9-0.

2. Richmond Cty. v. Cowell, 243 NC App. 116 (2015)- We held that a statute unconstitutional that provided that certain criminal fines had to be used to fund prisons. We held that based on our state constitution, the $$$ had to go to fund education.

3. NCAE v. State of NC, 241 NC App 284 (2015)- I wrote a partial concurrence, recognizing that a scheme that allowed teachers to be fired without a hearing violated the property rights of a teacher.

I have written other dissents/opinions that I think show my independence. For instance –

1. NC Utilities Comm’n v. NC WARN, 255 NC App. 613 (2017)- I was the only judge on our Court or the Supreme Court who agreed with NC WARN’s position that the Utilities Commission had no right to regulate a contract between NC WARN and an African-American church for the provision of solar panels on the church property to provide power to the church only. To me, this clearly was not a “public” utility since the panels were designed to provide power only to the property where the panels were placed.

2. State v. Harvey, 260 NC App 706 (2018)- I was the only vote on our Court which thought the defendant convicted of murder was entitled to a new trial. The defendant (in poor English) essentially testified that he stabbed the victim in self-defense. The trial judge refused to instruct on self-defense. Though there was a lot of evidence of guilt, the defendant was entitled to have the JURY decide the issue and should have been instructed on it. On appeal to the state supreme court, Justice Earls was the only justice who agreed with me.

I am one of a handful of judges on our Court who became a judge by winning a non-partisan election. Since becoming partisan again, it is rare for a judge to receive endorsements from both sides of the political aisle. I have sought and obtained support from many former Democratic judges and officials, such as former Chief Judge Gerald Arnold and Judge Eddie Greene. I have a lot of Democrats and Unaffiliated people supporting me…which I appreciate. I have received the endorsement from both the plaintiff’s bar (the NC Advocates for Justice) and the defense bar (NC Association of Defense Attorneys.) Since I am one of the more experienced judges, I really try and encourage newer judges NOT to decide cases based on politics…even when serving on a panel with two other Republicans. I think it is good to have me on those panels.

Work Experience – I bring needed diversity to our Court based on my work experience. I have extensive experience in the business world. I helped start a community bank in Raleigh, serving small business owners and professionals. I am the only licensed real estate broker on our appellate bench. At the Court of Appeals, we get a wide variety of cases, including many dealing with business and real estate (such as in domestic equitable division cases). I do not have a pro-bank or pro-business bias in my rulings, but I believe our Court has benefitted from having me on the Court these past 8 years as we work through those cases.

Civic Experience – I have served on many boards and volunteered for many worthwhile organizations in Raleigh. For instance, I served on the board of DHIC, which provides housing for low to moderate income folks. I am currently serving on the board of the NC Friends of the Museum of Natural History.

2) How do you define yourself politically? How does that impact your judicial approach?

I am personally conservative in my personal beliefs. But I do not consider politics as my “religion.” I have many friends with all types of political beliefs…and have hired clerks with this idea in mind. Very few clerks I have hired actually voted for me in 2012. My politics, however, has no effect on how I do my job. I am passionate about doing my job in a non-partisan way…and simply apply the law. I always strive to follow precedent. Conservatives often say that judges should not “legislate from the bench.” I agree that we should stay in our land and apply laws passed by our General Assembly IF they are constitutionally allowed to pass them. In the same way, I strongly believe that a judge should not invade the province of the JURY. Even if I think a defendant is guilty, a defendant has the right to have a JURY make that determination in a FAIR trial. I have no problem whatsoever reversing convictions, even if I strongly believe the defendant is guilty, where the defendant did not receive a fair trial.

3) What do you believe are the three most important qualities a judge must have to be an effective jurist? Which judges, past or present, do you most admire? Why?

-Ability to work with others of political bents – We are a very collegial court, one of the best in the country. And I would like it to stay that way.

-Self-awareness – A judge should understand that (s)he is biased, just like anyone else and then fight hard to overcome that bias when deciding a case.

-A servant attitude – Though I have the “judge” in front of my name, I strive to remember that I am just a servant. The best part of the job is the opportunity to mentor younger people. I have interns from area law schools, and am the only judge who offers an internship to a high school student each year. And I serve as an adjunct professor at both UNC and Campbell law schools, teaching a real estate class.

4) In a sentence, how would you define your judicial philosophy?

My philosophy is to follow the law wherever it will take me when deciding cases, no matter my personal beliefs, in order to treat all people equally.

5) Do you favor or oppose public financing of judicial elections? What changes to North Carolina’s system of judicial elections do you believe are necessary, if any?

I ran when we had campaign finance back in 2012, and personally it was much more preferable. I do not like calling attorneys for money. This cycle, I have witnessed many candidates (including sitting judges) spend a lot of their day “dialing for dollars.” I have done very, very little of that, as evidenced by my campaign report. Most of my money has been raised unsolicited, which I appreciate. I don’t know if there is a “better” system than the popular election of judges. Any system would involve politics. I do not think I would have been able to be a judge under an appointed system since I was never active in politics or otherwise politically connected. I am certainly open to consider other systems, but it may be hard to convince voters to give up their right to vote on their judges.

6) In many cases, voters know very little about the judges they are electing. Tell us something about yourself that our readers may be surprised to learn.

Though my father was the announcer for NC State basketball for 50+ years, he was ok that I became a double Tar Heel (both undergrad and law.) I am the youngest of five children. My wife Ann, who is a special ed teacher, is also the youngest of five children. And together we have five children.

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