Name as it appears on the ballot:  John M. Tyson

Age:  69

Party affiliation: Republican 

Campaign website:

Occupation & employer:  Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals, Emergency Superior Court Judge, NC Judicial Branch; Adj Professor of Law, Campbell University School of Law and Elon University School of Law. Vice Chair of the NC Dispute Resolution Commission.

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 Court of Appeals judge?

I was elected statewide and served as Judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 2001 until 2009. Upon completion of that term, I was appointed by Governor Michael Easley and continued to serve as a Recall Judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and as an Emergency Superior Court Judge into 2013. I was re-elected to the Court of Appeals in 2014 and have continued to serve continuously since then. I also serve as the elected Vice-Chair of the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission, as initially appointed by Chief Justice Mark Martin, and re-appointed by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.

The Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives nominated me to serve on the State Ethics Commission and that nomination was confirmed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2012. In 2013 Governor Pat McCrory appointed me to serve as Chairman of the State Ethics Commission until my required resignation on August 5, 2014 to file for re-election to the Court of Appeals. I was successful in that statewide election and have continued to serve as Judge on the Court of Appeals since January 1, 2015.

I have ruled on over 7,000 appeals and motions and have written over 3,000 opinions with 98% of those opinions affirmed or left undisturbed by the Supreme Court of North Carolina. While court policy allows 90 days for opinions to be filed, I averaged filing my opinions within 30 days, using taxpayer’s time and resources judiciously. Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.

Since 1987, I have continued to teach continuing legal education seminars for the bar and Real Property Planning at Campbell University School of Law. In 2004, I earned a Master of Law in Judicial Process (LL.M.) from the University of Virginia School of Law and also earned, through peer review and examinations, the designation of Board Certified Specialist – Real Property Law by the North Carolina State Bar, the only North Carolina Judge so certified. I hold an AV-Pre-eminent© peer-reviewed Martindale-Hubble rating, the highest legal professional rating for Ethics and Knowledge of the Law

A judge must continue to study and remain up to date on the changing body of law.  As a consistent advocate of life-long learning. In addition to the Masters of Law in Judicial Process listed above, I continued my graduate education and earned a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) from Duke University (1988); and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) with honors from Campbell University School of Law (1979–Member of the Charter Class).  My Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and Secondary Education was earned from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (1974).

I served as a Public-School teacher in New Hanover and Cumberland Counties and as a State Probation/Parole Officer in Columbus and New Hanover Counties prior to attending law school.

Please visit for a detailed review of my record.

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

A textualist and an originalist. I believe in and have put into practice that judicial accountability and efficiency, which demands a life-long commitment to continuing education, training, and experience. This philosophy has developed over many years of experience, study, and practical application of the law as a practitioner. law professor, and as a trial and appellate judge.

As the third co-equal branch of government, judges should be independent of the Legislative or Executive Branches and remain objective in their decisions. All of my decisions are based upon the law and not my personal opinion or beliefs. I am elected by and am accountable to the People of North Carolina.

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?

My oath requires me to “support, maintain, and defend, the North Carolina Constitution, consistent with the Constitution of the United States.” I do not allow either my personal or political beliefs to violate that oath. My record consistently shows that I review the facts and law applicable to each case and render fair, impartial, and reasoned decisions. Those are the minimum expectations of any judge. I admire United States Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.  He faithfully and impartially applied the law as written.

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

My judicial philosophy is consistent with the mission & goals of North Carolina’s Judicial Branch, which requires Judges: “To protect and preserve the rights and liberties of all the people, as guaranteed by the Constitutions and laws of the United States and North Carolina, by providing a fair, independent and accessible forum for the just, timely and economical resolution of their legal affairs.”  My judicial philosophy is also stated at

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 participated in the NC Public Judicial Campaign Financing Fund during two previous statewide elections before it was ruled to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States and was abolished by the NC Legislature.  I was awarded the Plott Hound Award by Common Cause for my participation in that program.

The funding levels provided under that program were wholly insufficient to run a meaningful statewide election. Severe underfunding limits the ability of judges to identify themselves and communicate their records to the voters and permits outside parties  and independent expenditure groups to overly influence the outcome of the election. More latitude in funding must be given to experienced appellate judges with excellent records, who are faced with inexperienced and unqualified or special interest challengers.

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.

I have been married since 1975 to my wife, Kirby, and we are parents of four children and grandparents to four grandchildren. I was raised on a family farm in Cumberland County and learned to fix and work on tractors and farm vehicles.  I enjoy restoring antique tractors, trucks, and automobiles.  I am also a coin collector since six years old.

7. What sets you apart from the other candidate in this race? 

Demonstrated Appellate Judicial Experience and Excellence, Education, Performance, Work Ethic, and Transparency. Thank you for your support and vote in November. Please visit for a detailed review of my record.

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