SALISBURY — Running for Rowan County District Court judge has been on Chris Sease’s radar for years.
The proof can be found on the website of his legal practice. The last sentence of his “about” page reads: “Chris loves being a lawyer; however, his goal is to one day run for Rowan County District Court Judge.
“And it’s been seven years,” Sease said. “It’s something I’ve always liked.”
Sease is currently pursuing this long-standing goal. He is running in the Republican primary against incumbent Kevin Eddinger for the No. 1 seat. Early voting is underway and the primary will take place on May 17.
In his bid for his dream job, Sease hopes to bring a unique perspective to the bench.
“We’re a little complacent at the moment and that’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with that, but we could really use a fresh perspective,” Sease said. “Honestly, representing people every day, hearing their stories and seeing the heartaches they have to go through, I really feel that. As a judge, you have to have empathy, you have to have pity , you have to have understanding, but you also have to make decisions.
A Rowan County native, Sease graduated from East Rowan and spent a year at North Carolina State University. When he left for Raleigh, he planned to study forensics with the goal of working in law enforcement. When he transferred to Pfeiffer – where he played on a men’s tennis scholarship – he decided to enter the pre-law route. His decision was at least partly inspired by fond memories of days spent on the high school mock trial team.
“I tried a case and had a lot of fun with it,” Sease said. “It was the most fun I can remember having in high school.”
Sease attended law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and articled during his first two summers at a law firm in Salisbury. It was then that he decided he wanted to return to Salisbury to practice law after graduation.
“Our bar is a bit unique,” Sease said. “We are very collegial, very professional, but very friendly and able to help others. After seeing other environments in clinics and working elsewhere, there was no one else I would rather be.
He started out at the law firm of Sherrill and Cameron and registered as a court-appointed solicitor. These are private lawyers appointed by a judge to represent an accused who cannot afford to represent himself.
“You catch people many times during some of the most chaotic and extraordinary times of their lives,” Sease said. “A lot of times they expect you to be a miracle worker or a magician and you’re neither. You’re just trying to advise them. You really have to have the right mindset , that is, these people need someone to fight for them, defend them and defend them.
Sease’s courtroom experience is primarily in the criminal realm. For several law firms, including his own since 2015, Sease has attempted 20 jury trials.
Sease said he’s always been interested in being a judge because it’s a chance to be a “force for good.” If elected, Sease said he would explore efforts to bring a drug treatment court jurisdiction to Rowan County.
“They have drug treatment courts elsewhere and it would be nice to explore: is that something possible? Does it work? If we help solve problems early on, can that prevent people from reoffending? For a lot of people, drug addiction is a tough creature to break,” Sease said.
Additionally, Sease said he would support the idea of the courthouse becoming a family court jurisdiction where there would be more court sessions available for disposition and resolution of custody cases, court for children, alimony and equitable distribution.
In addition to supporting these efforts, Sease said he would like to bring more mental health resources to the courthouse to support defendants.
Outside of the courthouse, Sease is involved with the Christiana Lutheran Church. He is Chairman of the Saleeby-Fisher YMCA Board of Directors and sits on the Rowan-Cabarrus YMCA Board of Directors. He also sits on the board of Trustees of Faith Academy Charter School. Seas is married with three children. He currently coaches youth baseball and soccer.