LUMBERTON — A District Court judge on Thursday who refused to hold court with a prosecutor who is his opponent in the Nov. 6 General Election said he did so to make sure he was not in violation of judicial standards.
According to District Attorney Johnson Britt, he had to assign another prosecutor to replace Angelica Chavis-McIntyre when Judge Dale Deese would not enter the courtroom.
Chavis-McIntyre would only say, “I showed up to prosecute cases in the court I was assigned to and was unable to do so. Justice cannot be carried out if the judge refuses to hold court.”
Deese, who was appointed in 2016 to replace John Carter when he retired, will face Chavis-McIntyre in November.
Deese said he has no choice.
“The Judicial Standards Commission has instructed judges to recuse themselves from appearing in court with their opponent during the election campaign and for six months thereafter,” Deese said. “Therefore, I may have been subject to disciplinary action by the Judicial Standards Commission had I held court with my opponent.”
Britt characterized the cases Chavis-McIntyre was assigned to Thursday in criminal District Court as “little misdemeanors and traffic tickets.”
“I was not here when it happened,” Britt said. “I was just informed when I got here and was told he was not going to hold court with her as the prosecutor.”
He assigned Mary Jane Richardson to replace Chavis-McIntyre and said it was really not much of a hardship because the matters are routine.
“The way it is run are the types of cases are always the same,” Britt said. “Just the names and the dates change.”
Eighty cases were scheduled on Thursday’s docket for courtroom 3C, according to public records. Deese’s refusal to enter delayed court for about an hour.
A defendant, who didn’t want to be identified, said he was a little confused on what was going on in the courtroom.
“The deputy in the courtroom walks up to a clerk and the lawyer and says, ‘He refuses to come into court with her here,’” the defendant said.
Another person posted on social media what he witnessed Thursday morning in courtroom 3C.
“Sitting in court this morning and judge refuses to come in court with who the DA is, that’s crazy,” she posted.
She called herself the “victim in the case and he threw out the case … judge deese came in with a attitude.”
Deese and McIntyre are running for one of three District Court seats available in November. McIntrye is a Democrat, and Deese is listed as unaffiliated.
Assistant District Attorney Vanessa Burton, a Democrat, and Robeson County Assistant Public Defender Jack Moody Jr., a Republican, are seeking the seat that will be vacated with the retirement of Judge Herbert L. Richardson.
Robeson County Department of Social Services attorney Brooke Locklear Clark, a Democrat, is the lone candidate for the seat recently vacated by Judge J. Stanley Carmical, who was appointed a Superior Court judge.