Name as it appears on the ballot: Kevin E. Jones

Age: 46

Party affiliation: Democrat 

Campaign website:

Occupation & employer: Attorney / The Law Office of Kevin E. Jones, PLLC

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?

My twenty-five (25) years of service to those in need have allowed me to gain the necessary skill and perspective to be effective, fair, and impartial on the bench. I started my years of service as a 5th grade classroom teacher at an under resourced school in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. As a classroom teacher, I was required to work with parents, fellow teachers, and community members to ensure my students received an excellent education. Like classroom teachers, an effective District Court judge must be willing work collaboratively with courthouse staff and fellow judicial officials to create an environment where all citizens receive appropriate access to the justice system.

When I moved from the classroom to the courtroom, I became a Durham County Assistant Public Defender. My prior experience working with students made me an ideal candidate to handle all the juvenile cases that came through our office. In addition to my juvenile delinquency case load, I also handled a consistent case load of approximately 250-300 misdemeanor and lower-level felony cases for the office. To provide clients with an accurate assessment of their cases, I had to possess a thorough understanding of both the prosecution’s case and the defense. This training and experience will serve me well as a District Court judge in that I will be able to understand and analyze both sides of an argument to render judgments that are fair and impartial.

After leaving the Durham County Public Defender’s Office, I established the Law Office of Kevin E. Jones, PLLC in January 2007. As an attorney in private practice, I used all the lessons learned as a classroom teacher and an Assistant Public Defender to build a practice committed to guiding clients through the justice system. My practice focuses on Criminal Law, Traffic, Family Law, and Civil litigation. The variety of cases handled in my private practice prepared me to preside in all court room settings in District Court.

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

I define myself as a liberal democrat. However, my political beliefs will not affect my judicial approach if I am elected. As a District Court Judge I would be sworn to uphold the United States Constitution and North Carolina state Constitution. The Constitution requires the application of facts to the applicable law in rendering decisions. We live in a diverse community which consists of people who hold a variety of political and philosophical beliefs. It is paramount that each member of our community receives equal and equitable treatment when they appear before the court. Citizens should never have to question whether the political party beliefs of the judge presiding over their legal issue will influence the outcome of their case. My decisions will be based on interpretation of the law and the facts as they are presented and not my political beliefs.

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?

The three most important qualities a judge must possess are appropriate temperament, humility, and critical thinking. The court room is a high stress environment where citizens are consistently required to make critical life changing decisions. A judge must not add unnecessary hostility and tension to the proceedings. In fact, an effective District Court judge should be able to tone down and manage the emotions of litigants, attorneys, and witnesses to protect the integrity of the proceedings.

Judges must also possess humility to safeguard against injustice. Our adversarial judicial system is designed to seek truth. However, the search for truth can be hampered when lawyers and judges make errors during court proceedings or in the interpretation of the law.

A judge who is unwilling to acknowledge when an error has been made is a threat to the integrity of our entire justice system. Humility will not only force a judge to acknowledge when an error has been made but will also push him or her to correct that error. A judge must possess be able to think critically about the issues that appear before the court. The black letter of the law is often clear and straight forward. However, the fact patterns presented in each case will have extreme variations. It is these variations that require judges to think outside of the box in applying the law to facts of each case.

Our newest Durham County Superior Court Judge Brian Wilks is the judge I admire most because of his ability to embody these three qualities. I practiced before Judge Wilks in District Court before he was appointed to the Superior Court bench. During that time, he treated all who appeared before him with dignity and respect, maintained the appropriate demeanor from the bench, and was always willing to acknowledge when an error had been made on his behalf.

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

I will pursue Greater Justice for the citizens of Durham by showing determination in seeking truth in all cases and dedication to treating all citizens who appear before the court with dignity and respect while balancing judgment with mercy.

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 do favor public finance of judicial elections. Soliciting donations from private citizens and lawyers within the community can give the wrong impression to the public. By accepting private donations, the perception becomes that the judiciary is up for sale.

I believe that judicial campaigns should have limits on spending. The large amount of money required to run a judicial race prohibits those who would be ideal judicial candidates from running for office. The current system incentivizes those who have large amounts of disposable income to run for office while discouraging those who are unable to raise the necessary funds.

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 am a huge superhero fan. I enjoy all things DC and Marvel comics related. Superhero movies, cartoons, and TV shows are my guilty pleasures. My love for superheroes has become a bit of a family tradition. We have made it a point to see all new superhero movie releases on opening weekend. Covid-19 has placed what I hope is a temporary hold on going to comic book conventions with my son. We are looking forward to the day when we can resume gathering with other like minded superhero enthusiasts.

7) What sets you apart from the other candidates in this race?

My perspective and experience are what set me apart from the other candidates in this race. I decided to run for District Court Judge to provide the citizens of Durham with “Greater Justice.” I view greater justice as never being satisfied with the status quo or “business as usual” within the justice system. Tragedy awaits when those who are responsible for the administration of justice: police officers, sheriff deputies, attorneys, clerks, and judges, fail to see the importance of pursuing greater justice. Victims of crime are not made whole, defendants’ constitutional rights are trampled, and families are torn apart when the “business as usual” approach becomes the norm. I am running for judge to bring a new perspective that focuses more on serving the citizens of Durham and less on maintaining outdated, inefficient, and out of touch policies.

My pursuit of greater justice is inspired by the eighteen (18) years I have spent helping clients understand their constitutional rights, protecting clients from those who would abuse the justice system, and securing resources for clients who are in need. As an Assistant Public Defender in Durham County, I counseled many young men and women through their first involvement with the justice system. I received an up close and personal view of how citizens often receive harsh and unfair treatment from judicial officials when they unknowingly fail to abide by an individual judge’s courtroom customs. Talking out of turn, wearing the wrong clothes, and allowing a cell phone to ring have all resulted in severe reprimands and even contempt proceedings being initiated against Durham citizens. While I believe that appropriate court room decorum is necessary to effectively administer justice; I do not believe someone’s liberty should be taken away because they did not wear the right article of clothing to court or they forgot to place their phone on silence. I am running for District Court Judge to bring a more balanced and sensible perspective to the bench.

In addition to representing young people during my time as a public defender, I also represented individuals who lived below the poverty line, suffered from mental illness, or were battling drug addiction. Unfortunately, many of my clients found themselves struggling with all three of these conditions. My clients frequently found themselves facing the extremely difficult decision of either paying rent or paying court fees. I considered it a part of my advocacy to find the appropriate resources for my clients to help prevent them from returning to the justice system as a repeat offender. It is my belief that judicial officials must be aware of the individual circumstances of each citizen appearing before the court. Judges can make equitable decisions based on the law when they are open to receiving all the information available to them about citizens seeking relief from the court.

My years in private practice and as an Assistant Public Defender have intensified by desire to seek justice in every case. As the landscape of our great city continues to evolve, we must elect judicial officials who are willing to learn, adapt, and innovate. I am running for District Court Judge because my experience and training will allow me to bring a more inclusive and progressive perspective to the District Court bench.