14 vie for judge's seat

Lawyers to vote; Easley to decide

Staff WriterMay 23, 2008 

— Fourteen lawyers want to be Durham's next District Court judge, a seat that opened up this month with the sudden departure of Craig Brown.

Brown, a judge for 11 years, tendered his resignation several weeks ago with little explanation.

Because Brown stepped down midway through his elected term, the governor will appoint someone to serve until the next election.

Thursday was the deadline for lawyers to submit their names to the Durham Bar Association for consideration for the post.

The candidates are:

* Brian Michael Aus, a defense lawyer who in 2004 was barred by Judge Ronald Stephens from handling capital murder cases because of his "ineffective counsel" in a death-penalty case. He made an unsuccessful bid in 2002 for District Court judge.

* Catherine L. Constantinou, the wife of Brown and a private lawyer who focuses on family law cases.

* Philip W. Evans, a bar association director who practices family law, juvenile law and estate planning.

* Tab C. Hunter, a former assistant district attorney and former Guilford County public defender who made an unsuccessful bid in 2002 for District Court judge.

* Martha New Milam, a specialist in family law.

* Robert J. "Naughty" Nauseef, a defense lawyer who ran unsuccessfully in 2006 for the District Court judge seat held by Ann McKown. His nickname, he has said, came from people mispronouncing his last name.

* Janice P. Paul, an assistant district attorney.

* Daniel F. Read, a family law specialist.

* Kathy Williams Richardson, who devotes most of her practice to family law but also does cases in the traffic and criminal courts and does some civil litigation.

* Anita L. Smith, a general practice lawyer who made a failed bid in 2006 for the District Court judge seat that Nancy E. Gordon won.

* Steven R. Storch, an assistant district attorney who closed his private practice last year to work as a prosecutor.

* Kerry Sutton, a defense lawyer who represented a Duke lacrosse team captain not charged in the case. She was the subject of criticism by bloggers for making laudatory comments about former District Attorney Mike Nifong's 2006 election.

* Shannon A. Tucker, a public defender who made a failed bid in 2006 for the District Court judge seat that Gordon won.

* Brian C. Wilks, an assistant district attorney who worked in the state Attorney General's Office and as a public defender.

Ballots will go out today to the hundreds of lawyers who make up the Durham bar.

The lawyers can vote for three candidates.

The votes will be tabulated June 5. The governor could appoint someone not on the local bar's list, but lawyers in Durham hope he considers their advice.

"I'm excited that so many candidates wish to hold such an esteemed position and to effect change here in Durham," said John Fitzpatrick, head of the local defense bar. "It says a whole lot about a person when the entire local bar submits their name as a great candidate. We have a lot more insight into a candidate because we're here with them all the time."

anne.blythe@newsobserver.com or (919) 932-8741

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