With two seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court set to be on the ballot this November, Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman recently declared her candidacy for the Democratic primary.
She announced plans to succeed Justice Robin Hudson, who has served on the court since 2007.
Inman served as a special Superior Court judge from 2010 to 2014, before being elected to the N.C. Court of Appeals. She also ran for the N.C. Supreme Court in 2020 but lost to Republican Phil Berger Jr. by just over 70,000 votes.
As a Supreme Court justice, she hopes to continue her service and work on high-stakes cases.
“I also want to make sure that our state's highest court continues to follow the rule of law and leaves politics at the courthouse steps,” she said.
Inman said her involvement with the justice system started as a student at N.C. State University, where she covered court proceedings for the university's newspaper.
Her experiences in the courthouse, she said, eventually led her to study at the UNC School of Law and helped teach her about many rules and procedures she continues to follow today.
“It’s really where people meet their government, face to face,” Inman said. “They all come to court, to the public forum there, looking for a fair shake. They all look at the judge and want to be treated with respect.”
After law school, Inman clerked for former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice James Exum Jr. before moving to Los Angeles, where she practiced civil litigation.
After she returned to Raleigh, Inman was eventually appointed by former Gov. Beverly Perdue to serve as a special Superior Court judge, presiding over hearings and jury trials throughout the state.
Inman said the experience showed her North Carolina's tremendous cultural and ethnic diversity, and the need to secure equality everywhere.
“The challenge for judges is that the law needs to be the same everywhere," Inman said. "It shouldn’t matter what county you’re in, the law should be applied the same.”
Inman described her campaign as a continuation of her judicial service and said she hoped to fill the shoes of Hudson, her longtime mentor who decided not to run for reelection in 2022.
In addition, Inman said her greatest desire was to fight back against the surge of partisanship in the court system, which she said has undermined its ability to represent the people.
Unlike other government positions, Inman said, judges have a direct responsibility to the people of North Carolina, and they are held accountable to the law — rather than to political parties.
With the primary only a few months away, some organizations — like the N.C. AFL-CIO, an association of unions across the state — have endorsed Inman’s campaign.
N.C. AFL-CIO President MaryBe McMillan said in an email that the group endorsed Inman because of her commitment to justice for all people.
“We appreciate Judge Inman's accessibility and her eagerness to hear from people across the state about their issues and concerns," she said.
However, some other groups continue to deliberate their endorsements.
The N.C. Association of Defense Attorneys endorsed Inman in the 2020 general election, but Executive Director Lynette Pitt said in an email that the organization has not yet made any decisions for the 2022 election cycle.
“Candidates are reviewed each election cycle and past endorsements do not necessarily ensure future endorsements," she said.
Inman said she ultimately hopes to serve all North Carolinians, and that she would take every effort to apply the law consistently and fairly.
“I want anybody to be able to kick the tires of the judicial decision and test the court's reasoning, and that transparency should give the public confidence that judges have come by their decisions honestly and impartially,” she said. “That's my goal in every opinion that I work on.”
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated the educational background of Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman. She attended North Carolina State University. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
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