Trey Allen is a Republican running for the North Carolina Supreme Court because he was concerned with how many people view the court as a political entity.
“Ultimately, the authority of the courts rests on the public's confidence in judges to apply the law to the facts and make decisions on that basis,” Allen said. “A perception that our state's highest court is acting more like a political body than a legal one threatens to erode that foundation of our justice system, so I'm running to try to improve the public's perception of the court.”
While Allen said he has not previously served as a judge, he also noted that three out of the seven judges who currently serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court have not previously served as judge before. Allen said because the role of an appellate judge, such as a supreme court judge, is not always in the courtroom, this matches well with his experience. Allen has been a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Government, which he said government officials throughout the state turn to the School of Government for legal opinions.
“They're only in court a few days a month and when they are doing is they're listening to the arguments of attorneys on points of law, and the basic job of an appellate court is to make sure that the lower courts have gotten the law right,” Allen said.
Allen said while it doesn’t make a big difference to him if a candidate’s party affiliation is listed on the ballot, as is the case for judge races, he hopes that voters take the time to research candidates, as opposed to just looking at the names and parties listed.
Allen’s motivation for running to be a judge also meshes with his philosophy as a judge. He said that in order to help with people’s perceptions of judges, those in the judicial branch should not be putting their own opinions into the courtroom.
“It's very important for the courts to stay in their role and that is to avoid the temptation to turn the personal political views of judges into law to rewrite the line or the constitution so that they go along with maybe what the judge would like them to say,” Allen said. “Judges need to base all their decisions on the facts and the law in each case, and they need to put their personal views aside when they do that.”