08/31/06 — Levinson makes bid for N.C. Supreme Court

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Levinson makes bid for N.C. Supreme Court

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 31, 2006 1:45 PM

Judge Eric Levinson thinks campaigning is about more than promoting an agenda, choosing sides and giving speeches. More important than those objectives, he said, is meeting the voting public and talking about issues with an open mind.

For Levinson, running for a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court might be tough work, but he gains energy from the concerns he hears from voters statewide and his goal to be the type of judge people can entrust to do the right thing.

His stop in Wayne County Monday was no different, he said.

"Rather than just going city to city, I try to go into the communities and get a flavor of what is concerning the locals," Levinson said. In Wayne and throughout the state, people have voiced similar concerns, he added -- sexual predators, public safety, concern for families and children and electing judges who respect lawmakers.

Before taking his seat on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Levinson served as a homicide and sexual assault prosecutor, a District, Family and Juvenile Court judge. He said he has a "special interest" in law involving families and children.

"It wasn't until after I joined the bench that my interest and concern on families and children grew," he said. "And I quickly worked to increase my understanding in those areas. It certainly is one of the most important things we do as a system of justice -- protecting children and families."

His background is one of the qualifications that make him an important candidate for the state's highest court, he said.

"(Family and Juvenile law) are some of the fastest growing areas of law we have, in terms of number of new cases," he said. "Traditionally, we have not had a judge with a background in these areas on the Supreme Court."

Still, Levinson said he understands that there are other important issues facing the state and country, including immigration. But while many have opinions, take sides and promote agendas on the issue, judges must take their cue from other branches of government, he added.

"Anyone who brings a particular agenda to the court will inevitably cause damage to the system," Levinson said. "It's understandable that employers need a workforce that is ready and able. But at the same time, we are a country of laws. Whatever the General Assembly or president decides in regards to immigration is a matter of policy. Whatever they decide is law, we will enforce."

His stance on the death penalty was much the same -- a judge's job is to enforce the law, not rewrite it.

"The General Assembly has adopted the death penalty," he said. "As judges, it is our duty to administer that law responsibly."

To date, Levinson's interpretation of how to be a responsible judge has earned him endorsements from Sen. Elizabeth Dole and Sen. Richard Burr -- not to mention more than half of the sheriffs in the state.

Levinson said he believes he is delicate, thoughtful and a hard worker. Still, what makes him stand out he said is his will to serve the public.

"I have always wanted to serve the public," he said. "Being a judge is the best way I could think of to do that. Still, I never anticipated being a candidate for the Supreme Court."