Skip to main content

Judicial Independence Symposium (2022 Association Annual Meeting CLE)

8:55        Welcome and Introductions

9:00        Current Views of the Judiciary and Judicial Independence in North Carolina

J. Michael Bitzer, Catawba College, Salisbury
Christopher A. Cooper, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee
Mitch Kokai, John Locke Foundation, Raleigh
Joe Stewart, Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina, Cary (Moderator)

A statewide poll of likely voters and a side-by-side poll of NC attorneys has been performed for the NCBA by Cygnal polling. The polling includes trust and confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court, North Carolina Appellate and non-appellate courts and views on judicial elections, partisan elections, the concept of judicial appointments, fairness, speed of justice, judicial resources and perceived influence on judiciary, among other related issues. The panelists will discuss and share insights on the results as they are revealed.

10:00      Break

10:10      Current and Potential Methods of Judicial Selection

Tim R. Boyum, Spectrum News, Raleigh (Moderator)
Jeanette Doran, North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law, Raleigh
James C. Drennan, University of North Carolina School of Government, Chapel Hill
Former Justice Robert H. "Bob" Edmunds Jr., Fox Rothschild LLP, Greensboro

The session includes a general discussion of methods of Judicial selection in use across the United States including election and appointment; any new developments or methods that are being used; and potential changes to the processes used in North Carolina or reasons to keep current processes in place.

11:10      Lunch Break and Association Annual Meeting

12:55      Afternoon Announcements and Introductions

1:00        Discussion of Judicial Independence in North Carolina

Loretta M. Boniti, Spectrum News, Raleigh (Moderator)
Former Justice Robert H. "Bob" Edmunds Jr., Fox Rothschild LLP, Greensboro
Richard B. "Rick" Glazier, North Carolina Justice Center, Raleigh
Representative Joe John, North Carolina General Assembly, Raleigh
Former Representative Paul B. "Skip" Stam Jr., Stam Law Firm PLLC, Apex

Discussion regarding the state of Judicial Independence in North Carolina today, including current challenges to Judicial Independence, as well as current and future opportunities and threats to Judicial Independence. Topics in this session include effects of partisan elections on the composition of judiciary, judicial action and perceptions of the judiciary and justice. Impacts of the current political environment on judicial candidates are also discussed. The polling results are also discussed in this session.

2:15        Adjourn


A goal of the symposium is to better understand the public's perception of the judiciary, our legal system and concepts related to judicial independence. Another goal is to present viewpoints from engaged participants regarding the current state of our judiciary and legal system, and to provide an exploration of options for our state with regards to methods of judicial appointment/elections. To envision what may be possible tomorrow, requires a better understanding of today.


  • J. Michael Bitzer

    J. Michael Bitzer is the Director, Center for NC Politics & Public Service, Leonard Chair of Political Science and a Professor of Politics & History at Catawba College in Salisbury.

    A professor at Catawba since 2002, Michael's teaching interests are in American politics, public administration, public policy, and the law, courts and judicial process area. His research interests are in Southern politics, North Carolina politics, campaigns & elections, law, and judicial politics. In the 2011-2012 academic year, he served as the Swink Professor for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor for classroom teaching at Catawba.

    In 2021, Michael authored the book, Redistricting and Gerrymandering in North Carolina: Battlelines in the Tar Heel State, which explores the past 40 years of politics and litigation over one of the most partisan activities in American politics. In this study, he explores each decade, since the 1980s, of lawsuits and partisanship when it comes to drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines.

    Michael is also the author of several book chapters on North Carolina politics, including The New Politics of the Old South: An Introduction to Southern Politics and The 2020 Presidential Election in the South. He also wrote a book chapter on The Simpsons and political culture and public opinion, based on a course, "Society & The Simpsons," which he taught for the Freshmen Seminar program. The book was awarded the 2009 Cawelti Award for Best Textbook/Primer on American popular culture by the Popular Culture Association.

    Michael has been interviewed by local, state, national, and international news outlets on American politics and the politics of North Carolina, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Irish Times, The Raleigh News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, ABC, NBC, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, the BBC, London Broadcast Company, France24, and the Australian Broadcast Corporation, among others. He also founded, manages, and writes for the political blog,Old North State Politics.

    Michael earned his B.A. in English from Erskine College, M.A. in History (focusing on modern American history, Southern US political history, and the history of Nazi Germany) from Clemson University and Ph.D. in American Government and Politics (United States) from the The University of Georgia. During his doctoral work from The University of Georgia's School of Public and International Affairs, he was the one of five graduate student recipients of the university's Excellence in Teaching Award.

    Before working on his doctorate, Michael was a newspaper reporter and public affairs director at Clemson University.

    Click here for more information about Michael.

  • Loretta M. Boniti

    Loretta M. Boniti is an award-winning anchor and senior political reporter with Spectrum News 1 in Raleigh. She hosts a weekly public affairs program that covers all the issues important to folks across North Carolina called "In Focus with Loretta Boniti". She has been reporting on all of the big legislative, election, and state government issues across our state for over a decade now, with previous experience covering politics in both Virginia and Georgia.

    Loretta is a New York native and Syracuse University graduate.

  • Tim R. Boyum

    Tim R. Boyum is an anchor at Spectrum News in Raleigh. He has been a journalist for nearly 25 years, mostly in North Carolina. He grew up in Minnesota and attended college at St. Cloud State University and Southern New Hampshire University.

    Tim came to North Carolina from Eureka, California where he was a reporter. He came to North Carolina in 2002 to help launch what was then News 14 Carolina.

    Tim is a three-time Emmy winner for his political coverage and currently serves as Spectrum News 1's political anchor hosting the nightly Capital Tonight, weekly podcast Tying it Together, and monthly political magazine show Front Porch Politics.

  • Christopher A. Cooper

    Christopher A. Cooper is the Robert Lee Madison Distinguished Professor and Director of the Haire Institute for Public policy institute at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. His teaching interests are American politics; parties, campaigns and elections; election administration, state and local government, southern politics, research methods and public administration.

    Christopher's research interests are American politics, state and local politics, southern politics, elections and North Carolina politics. He has received Western Carolina University's highest awards for research (University Scholar, 2011) and teaching (Board of Governors Teaching Award, 2013) and was named the 2013 North Carolina Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

    Christopher is a frequent source for news stories about North Carolina and national politics and he has been quoted hundreds of times in a variety of media including the New York Times, Washington Post, New Yorker, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Herald, Al Jazeera, Charlotte Observer, Asheville-Citizen Times, The Hill, National Journal, Raleigh News and Observer, North Carolina Insider National Public Radio (All Things Considered and Morning Edition), USA Today, CNN, FOX News, WUNC, Blue Ridge Public Radio, WFAE (Charlotte) ABC News, and

    Christopher earner his B.A. from Winthrop University, M.A. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

    Click here for more information about Christopher.

  • Jeanette K. Doran

    Jeanette K. Doran has served as President and General Counsel of the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law since returning to the Institute to reorganize and restart the organization in July 2019.

    Jeanette started her career as a federal law clerk in the Middle District of North Carolina after graduating with honors from Campbell Law School.

    Jeanette's past work experience includes a clerkship in the Middle District of North Carolina, work in the appeals section of the Federal Public Defender as the Research and Writing Attorney, and a staff position at the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill. She joined NCICL in 2005, eventually becoming the Institute's Executive Director in 2011. In December 2013, she was appointed by the then-Governor to serve as Chairman of the newly established Board of Review at the Division of Employment Security, Department of Commerce and completed her public service there in June 2019.

    Jeanette is an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association and the community. She served on the Appellate Rules Committee for ten years and, in 2012, was elected to serve on the Section Council leading the Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section of the Bar Association. Also, in 2012, she was appointed by the North Carolina House of Representatives to serve a two-year term of the Rules Review Commission and continues in that capacity today.

    Jeanette is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, various federal district courts and all North Carolina Courts. She is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs and has published scholarly articles in law reviews, whitepapers, and op-ed commentary.

    Click here for more information about Jeanette.

  • James C. "Jim" Drennan

    James C. "Jim" Drennan joined the School of Government (then the Institute of Government) in 1974. He was the Albert Coates Professor of Public Law and Government until he retired from full-time teaching in 2011. He remains on the faculty on a part-time basis where he teaches and advises on court administration issues, judicial ethics and fairness, criminal sentencing, and judicial leadership.

    While on leave from 1993 through 1995, Jim served as director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.

    Jim earned a B.A. from Furman University and a J.D. from Duke University, where he served on the editorial board of the Duke Law Journal.

    Click here for more information about Jim.

  • Justice Robert H. “Bob” Edmunds Jr. (Ret.)

    Justice Robert H. "Bob" Edmunds Jr. (Ret.) served as an appellate judge for 18 years, most recently as Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. He now serves clients with that same dedication as part of the Fox Rothchild's Appellate group in Greensboro.

    Justice Edmunds began his legal career as an assistant district attorney in Greensboro, and later was an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina. In 1986, he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina by President Ronald Reagan and was retained by President George H. W. Bush. Justice Edmunds entered private practice in 1993. In 1998, he was elected to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and served on that court until his election to the Supreme Court.

    Justice Edmunds reentered private practice in 2017, practicing appellate law in the Greensboro office of Fox Rothschild LLP. He is board certified as a specialist in appellate practice and in state and federal criminal law. He is president of the Appellate Judges Education Institute, has chaired the American Bar Association's Appellate Judges Conference, has chaired the North Carolina Bar Association's Judicial Independence and Integrity Committee, and is on the Education Committee of the National Judicial College. He has served as an adjunct professor at Campbell University School of Law and Regent University School of Law.

    Justice Edmunds earned his B.A., with honors, from Vassar College, his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law and his LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

    Click here for more information about Justice Edmunds.

  • Former Representative Richard B. "Rick" Glazier

    Former Representative Richard B. "Rick" Glazier is the Executive Director of the NC Justice Center. Previously, he had been elected seven times to the North Carolina House of Representatives from Cumberland County. Rick received his JD from Wake Forest University in 1981. He was a Visiting Professor in Criminal Justice at Fayetteville State University for 8 years and has been teaching pre-trial civil law, as well as trial and appellate advocacy, at Campbell University School of Law for 28 years.  In 1996, he was elected to the Cumberland County School Board and served for six years, two as Chairman.  Rick started his professional career in Fayetteville as Assistant Public Defender, then served 5 years as a law clerk to two federal judges, James C. Fox and Wallace Dixon, and spent 15 years as a member, partner, and for 8 years, managing partner, of the Beaver, Holt law firm.

    Rick has received many legislative honors and awards, including the President's Award from NCAE, Common Cause's Democracy Award, Defender of Justice Award from the NC Justice Center, Outstanding Legislator Award from the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers, and Legislator of the Year Award from numerous organizations, including Equality NC, NC Social Workers, NC Autism Society, NC Mental Health Alliance, NC Association of Teacher Assistants, NC League of Conservation Voters, NC Association of Superintendents and Administrators, NC Guidance Counselors Association, the United States Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner's Award, and the Ruth Easterling Award from the Covenant for NC's Children. He also received the Citizen Lawyer Award from the NC Bar in 2012 for his work in public office, the Patrick Henry Award from the National Guard Association of the United States, the N.C. Council of Churches Faith in Public Service Award, and in 2015, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

    Rick is also a former member of the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation Advisory Board, the UNC-TV Board of Trustees, the Chief Justice's Committee on the Future of the Business Courts in North Carolina, the NC Public School Forum Board of Directors, the Cumberland County Children's Advocacy Center Board, and the Fayetteville Urban Ministry Board. Rick currently serves on North Carolina's Actual Innocence Inquiry Commission and as a member of the Chief Justice's Equal Access to Justice Commission as well as the Chief Justice's Faith and Justice Alliance.

  • Jason M. Hensley

    Jason M. Hensley began his service as Executive Director of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) and the North Carolina Bar Foundation (NCBF) in January 2017. Previously, he served as in-house counsel for Bernhardt Furniture Company in Lenoir, NC – one of the largest and oldest privately owned furniture manufacturers in the United States. Jason advanced in responsibility at Bernhardt, beginning as Corporate Counsel in 2002 and becoming General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Director of Real Estate in 2015.

    Prior to becoming Executive Director of the NCBA, Jason served in voluntary leadership positions with the NCBA, including Chair of the Corporate Counsel Section and as a member of the NCBA Board of Governors. He also served as a Commissioner on the Technology Committee of the recent North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice.

    Jason is a 1999 graduate in Operations Management from Appalachian State University (where he was the top graduate of the Walker School of Business); a 2002 graduate of the School of Law of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (where he served as Student Bar Association President); and he received an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014.

    Click here for more information about Jason.

  • Representative Joseph R. "Joe" John

    Representative Joseph R. "Joe" John, a UNC-CH School of Law graduate, began his public service career in Greensboro working as a Legal Aid attorney, Assistant DA and partner in a small law firm, then District and Superior Court Judge. Thereafter he served on the NC Court of Appeals, was Deputy NCDMV Commissioner and Director of the SBI State Crime Laboratory.

    A member of the NC House since 2016, Joe became Chair of the NC Courts Commission in 2018. He is the only person in NC history to have high-level experience in all 3 branches of state government.

    Joe is married to Evelyn and the couple have 3 adult children and 7 grandchildren.

  • Mitch Kokai

    Mitch Kokai is Senior Political Analyst for the John Locke Foundation. It is a free-market, state-policy-oriented think tank based in Raleigh.

    Mitch joined Locke in December 2005 after working for four years as chief state government reporter at the News 14 Carolina television channel. Before television, he spent seven years leading local radio news departments in Whiteville, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh.

    Mitch writes a weekly column for Locke's He also offers commentary regularly on radio and television, including PBS North Carolina's "Front Row" program.

    Mitch earned his B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Click here for more information about Mitch.

  • Former Representative Paul B. "Skip" Stam Jr.

    Former Representative Paul B. "Skip" Stam Jr. has practiced law in Apex for 46 years. He served 16 years in the North Carolina House of Representatives, the last 10 as Republican Leader and Speaker Pro Tem (2007- 2016). His practice concentrates on real estate and state constitutional law. For a complete biography and dozens of articles on public policy issues see

    In 2009 and 2013 Skip worked extensively on constitutional amendments providing for appellate judges to be appointed by the Governor with confirmation in periodic retention elections and by the Assembly – no screening committee.

    Contact Skip at

  • Joe Stewart

    Joe Stewart is Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina (IIANC) in Cary.

    Joe's a recipient of the Bob Slocum Award for Excellence in Advocacy from the Association Executives of NC (AENC), and the IIANC Chairman's Citation for his work on hands-free driving legislation, and the 2020 Maurice G. Herndon Legislative Award from the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America for his work on legislative issues and political engagement.

    Prior to his current position, Joe was the Executive Director of the NC Free Enterprise Foundation (NCFREE), a non-profit, nonpartisan political research organization, and he remains a media source for objective political insights and is a regular guest political analyst for Capital Tonight on Spectrum News and on UNC-TV's Front Row with Marc Rotterman.

    Joe's resume includes Political Director of the NC Chamber of Commerce, Chief Deputy State Treasurer of North Carolina, and Assistant Secretary of the NC Department Public Safety. He has more than 35 years of experience in government, politics, association management, issue advocacy, campaigns and fundraising in North Carolina and Washington, DC.

    Joe serves on the Board of The NC Institute of Political Leadership (IOPL) and is a former Board President of the Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC) and former member of the NC Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) Leadership Council.

June 24, 2022
Fri 8:55 AM EDT
Benton Convention Center 301 West 5th Street Winston-Salem, NC 27101 336.397.7777

View map and directions

Duration 5H 20M

No longer available for purchase
Already Registered?
For Technical Support
(888) 705-6002
+1 (858) 201-4136*
*for callers residing outside of the United States