02/27/06 — Heath files for re-election to district court

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Heath files for re-election to district court

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on February 27, 2006 1:51 PM

District Court Judge Beth Heath of Kinston has filed for re-election for her seat in the 8th Judicial District that includes Wayne, Lenoir and Greene counties.

Her filing Friday was one of two in Wayne and Duplin counties as the deadline draws closer for inclusion on the May primary ballot.

In Duplin County, Hubert Merritt filed as a Democrat for the clerk of court office on Friday. He will face incumbent Democrat Katie Harrell in May.

The deadline for candidate filing is noon Tuesday.

In 2002, Ms. Heath became the first woman elected to the bench in the district.

No other judicial seat in the 8th District is up for election this year. The non-partisan primary is May 2, and the general election is Nov. 7.

Ms. Heath has presided over criminal, civil, domestic and juvenile courts. She has completed juvenile certification training and has been assigned to hold juvenile and domestic courts in Lenoir County.

Juvenile Court, the judge said, "is one of the most important courts a district court judge can hold. The numbers of children and their families involved in the court system increase every day (that) juvenile abuse, neglect, dependency and delinquency courts are held.

"Judges must understand the social and economic dynamics of the family and youth in order to provide meaningful assistance through the court system to provide safety for children and the community and to prevent crime."

Ms. Heath has organized an effort to apply for a grant from the Governor's Crime Commission and Department of Juvenile Justice for funds to develop a gang prevention program. As a volunteer, she speaks to public school students about the judicial system and issues facing them and serves as a Teen Court judge.

She serves on the board of governors for the N.C. Association of District Court Judges as the elected representative for the 12-county 2nd Division. She also is the judicial representative on the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and the Criminal Justice Partnership program in Lenoir County.

Ms. Heath also has served in many capacities in her church, Gordon Street Christian, in Kinston.

Before being elected judge, she was a lawyer in the firm of Wallace, Morris and Barwick in Kinston.

She is a certified family law mediator and has been president of the 8th Judicial District Bar.

She is a graduate of Kinston High School, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the Norman Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University, where she edited the law review.