Ann Marie Calabria, a Republican on the state Court of Appeals, announced recently that she does not plan to seek another term on the bench, opening the way for candidates to announce their campaigns more than a year ahead of the 2018 elections.
Calabria, 69, would not have been able to serve a full term had she run for re-election next year and been successful. Under North Carolina law, judges must retire at 72.
Her seat is one of the ones that has been a topic of political conversation this year.
The General Assembly, despite a veto from Gov. Roy Cooper, voted to decrease the appeals court size from 15 to 12. Republicans leading the General Assembly said their decision was based on workload, but Democrats said the law was designed to prevent Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, from being able to appoint people to the court if judges were to retire or leave before their term expired.
Calabria’s decision means the appeals court will continue to have 15 members.
With in days of Calabria’s announcement, two candidates have stepped forward.
Mark Dorosin, an Orange County Democrat, and Jefferson Griffin, a Wake County Republican, announced their plans to seek the seat this week.
Griffin has been a district court judge in Wake County since 2015, when former Gov. Pat McCrory appointed him to the bench. He won election to a four-year term in 2016. Griffin grew up in Red Oak and is a 2008 graduate of N.C. Central University’s law school. He has been a Wake County assistant district attorney and a lawyer in private practice in Kinston.
“All North Carolinians owe a debt of gratitude to Judge Calabria for her service to our state,” Griffin said in a statement. “I am honored to have this opportunity to seek her seat on the Court of Appeals and will work tirelessly to ensure our Constitution is upheld and the rule of law is applied in an equal and just manner.”
Dorosin, a civil rights lawyer and chairman of the Orange County board of commissioners, has been managing attorney at the UNC Center for Civil Rights for the past eight years. Dorosin also has taught community courses in economic development, state and local government, and civil rights at Duke and UNC law schools.
"My desire to serve as an Appeals Court judge stems from my belief that the courts too often are out of touch with the people of this state,” Dorosin said in a statement. “My work over the last twenty years has been dedicated to helping historically marginalized individuals and communities engage local governments and advocate for their interests. Electing a judge who understands and appreciates those perspectives will produce a more equitable legal process for all North Carolinians.”