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Dead Candidate Leads Balloting For Judgeship

May 4, 1988

LUMBERTON, N.C. (AP) _ A Lumbee Indian who was slain during his bid for a Superior Court judgeship got more votes than his opponent in the Democratic primary.

Julian Pierce was shot to death March 26 in what officials initially called an assassination but later termed a domestic dispute.

Members of minority groups requested an outside investigation, and Pierce’s supporters asked for a symbolic vote for him in Tuesday’s primary.

Since there are no Republican candidates, his Democratic opponent, District Attorney Joe Freeman Britt, is almost assured election.

With 26 of 40 precincts reporting, Pierce had 7,282 votes to Britt’s 4,903, according to unofficial returns. Reporters were not allowed to see codes for the later returns.

″I think it just proves that people were not satisfied with the status quo and that they were ready for a positive change,″ Harvey Godwin, Pierce’s campaign manager, said of the vote.

″They believe in having compassion for other human beings like Julian did and equality for all people. And they want to get a better justice system in Robeson County.″

Elections officials did not count the votes for Pierce, citing state law forbidding a local board of elections from counting or using votes for a deceased candidate in any way. But both candidates were listed on the ballots, and the votes were tabulated in each precinct.

The Robeson County legislative delegation and Pierce’s campaign committee have agreed to ask the Legislature to create another Superior Court judgeship for the county, and Gov. Jim Martin said he would appoint a minority, probably an Indian.

The county’s population of about 100,000 is 37 percent Indian, 37 percent white and 26 percent black.

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