Name as it appears on the ballot: Hoyt Tessener
Campaign Website:
Phone Number: 919-618-7020
Occupation and Employer: Attorney – Martin & Jones, PLLC
Party Affiliation: Unaffiliated

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? These might include career or community service—please be specific.

“I have been a practicing law for over 27 years, primarily in North Carolina Superior Courts. I know what it is like to be in Superior Court for every party, jurors and attorneys.

I have been involved in almost every type case that comes before the Superior Court, both defending and presenting cases. I have represented children paralyzed by defective products, handled civil rights cases, protected the elderly, represented and been up against the largest companies and even defended a young man charged with capital murder.

I grew up in a small town and attended public schools. I lived my early years with my Mom as a single parent. I have a wife, two daughters and a son. I know the impact of court and the consequences of court on all members of our society. I am a long time volunteer at StepUp Ministries where you see first hand how hard it is for some to get back up after being knocked down.

There is virtually no walk of life that I have not experienced. I like people, and I am comfortable in Superior Court. I respect the court and what it stands for. I will maintain the dignity of the courts while respecting everyone in court.”

2. How do you define yourself politically, and how will your political and legal philosophies affect your performance on the bench?

“I am unaffiliated and independent. Politics have no place in the court. When I tell voters that I am independent, they are relieved and quickly tell me that judges must not be beholding to a political party.

My legal philosophy is to follow the laws and the constitutions. The judicial branch is one of three branches of government. If the law is not what the citizens’ want, the citizens can replace the legislators who draft the laws and/or the governor who signs the laws.”

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?

“A judge must have a proven academic record so that the judge can understand the law being administered. A judge must be experienced in the Court where the judge is presiding because the courts are not the same. Lastly, a Superior Court Judge must possess a strong work ethic.

There are many very good Superior Court Judges. After trying cases throughout North Carolina, my experience shows that the best Superior Court judges came from private practice and had a variety of experiences. Superior Court Judges I most admire include Don Bridges, Richard Doughton, Howard Manning, Paul Ridgeway and Don Stephens.”

4. The INDY’s mission is to help build a more just community in the Triangle. How would your election help further that goal?

“I will be a just judge. I know no other way. My age and my many experiences in both Superior Court and personal life prepares me to be just in the courtroom.

My practice areas as an attorney means that I meet people at a very low point in their life. Tragedy does not discriminate. Yet, one of the great parts of my job is the opportunity to work with every type of person, really get to know them and to try to bring them some comfort or closure.

As a Superior Court Judge, I will have the opportunity to speak with our community about not only my experiences as a judge but also my vast experience as an attorney. I will take every opportunity to build a more just community by explaining and illustrating the consequences of actions.”

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 favor public financing.

I would like to see an apolitical or bipartisan committee of attorneys and judges vet judicial candidates before they can run for a judicial position. The vetting process would require a minimum level of academic success and experience before the potential candidates could be considered. For example, any potential candidate should be required to submit their law school transcript. The potential candidate should have a minimum of 5 years experience practicing in the court where he/she wants to preside as a Judge. For example, Superior Court requires a vast knowledge of the Rules of Evidence and the Rules of Procedure that can only be gained by actual experience. Finally, the potential candidate should have appeared in a minimum of 20 trials to verdict so that he/she has the experience of seeing the trial to its conclusion. The committee can then evaluate and select at least two candidates to sit for the actual election. Judicial races are non-partisan. Therefore, politics should not be a consideration. During the election, the political parties would not be allowed to endorse or even suggest a candidate. The process would reduce costs, insure qualified candidates and maintain the trust of the people.”

6. Given the proliferation of technology, do you perceive a conflict government surveillance and the need for individual privacy? If elected, how would you weigh those competing interests in cases that came before you?

“We are not allowed under the Code of Judicial Conduct to address specific issues. In general, we have already seen conflict, and I expect continued conflicts over technology and privacy. Because of these conflicts and others yet unforeseen, we need judges with the experience to balance all interests based upon the evidence presented in the courtroom.”

7. 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 was selected to attend Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers’ College in 1997. For 30 days and nights, 30 students worked, learned, ate and slept trial work at Thunderhead Ranch 46 miles outside Dubois, Wyoming, population 863. Approximately 60 instructors rotated throughout the month to help us become better lawyers. After the completion of the College, I was selected to be an instructor.”