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Chief justice removes Brad Allen from chief district court judgeship, names Katie Overby to replace him


Misbehavior at Christmas party apparently origin of removal

Alamance County’s longtime chief district court judge has been demoted in rank following a Christmas party at which he allegedly behaved with less than judicious restraint.

Judge Bradley (“Brad”) Reid Allen, Sr. personally acknowledged the change in his status on Monday when he emailed an officer with the local bar association, stating that North Carolina Supreme Court justice Paul Newby had appointed judge Katie Overby as Alamance County’s chief district court judge.

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Then-chief district court judge Brad Allen during an appearance before the Alamance County commissioners.

Brad Allen’s Monday, December, 18, 2023 email to bar association secretary, who then sent a copy countywide to its members:

“Please inform the members that judge Overby has been appointed chief district court judge effective today by Chief Justice Newby.”

“Please inform the members that [fellow district court] judge [Katie] Overby has been appointed chief district court judge effective today by Chief Justice Newby,” Allen explained in a terse email that was subsequently distributed to all of Alamance County’s bar association members.

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Alamance County’s new chief district court judge Kathryn Whitaker “Katie” Overby

Allen is widely reported to have acted inappropriately toward several women at the local bar association Christmas party on December 9, which observers say was captured on video.

In spite of the change in his chief district court judge status, Allen has not resigned or been removed from his position on the district court bench and was still holding court as usual on Wednesday.

Allen did not divulge in his email what alleged circumstances may have prompted Overby’s elevation to chief district court judge.

However, half a dozen attorneys – all of whom insisted on anonymity – have confirmed for The Alamance News that Allen’s demotion as chief district court judge is related to his alleged behavior at the bar association’s annual social, which some refer to as the “business meeting” or the “lobster dinner,” at Occasions on December 9.

An estimated 40 to 50 attorneys attended the local bar association’s annual Christmas social at Occasions in downtown Burlington two weeks ago.

Several eyewitnesses suggested this week that Allen may have already been inebriated when he arrived at the restaurant, and that his condition was exacerbated by additional alcohol he consumed on the premises.  He is accused of allegedly inappropriately touching several women during the party.

“It was a public groping on the dance floor,” said one of the attorneys who spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity. “Apparently, one of our bar members had taken video of it.  I saw this; [my spouse] saw this.  There were a lot of adults in that room who saw this, some of whom are now claiming they didn’t.”

Allen is said to have told others after the fact that his level of intoxication “was due to some changes in medication he was on,” an attorney said in an interview Tuesday.

One of the attorneys who spoke with the newspaper Tuesday said that the Alamance County district attorney’s office had been in touch with several guests to gather more information and suggested that a broader investigation has been opened.

One attorney told the newspaper that “at least two active” complaints were filed against Allen last week with the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission, which is responsible for investigating complaints of misconduct or disability against judges and, if appropriate, making recommendations for public discipline.

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Most of the attorneys whom the newspaper interviewed this week said they had personally witnessed the chain of events that unfolded during the bar association’s annual bash and eventually culminated with Allen falling on the dance floor before he was shepherded out of the restaurant.

“He was calling people [obscenities],” one of the attorneys who attended the event recalled Tuesday. “After the food was served, this happened.  I think about half [of the guests] left after they ate.  Brad wasn’t – until he fell down – the center of attention.  They had to get people to get him up and get him into a car.  His wife was there; she helped get him out of the building.”

Speculation has since ramped up among members of the local legal community that Allen, a Democrat, could be removed from the bench entirely, particularly given that the supreme court, now comprised primarily of Republicans, has the authority to do so if it concludes

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The jurisdiction of the state’s Judicial Standards Commission: https://alamancenews.com/n-c-has-specific-guidelines-for-disciplining-judges/

that the circumstances are serious enough to warrant such action.

The son of the late longtime superior court judge J.B. Allen, Jr., for whom the county’s criminal courts building is named, Brad Allen began his own legal career as an assistant district attorney before he was appointed to a vacancy on the district court bench in 2000. Two years later, Allen won his position outright, marking the start of an unbroken, 20-year streak of electoral success for the Alamance County Democrat.

After more than a decade on the district court bench, Allen was named as the county’s chief district court judge after the elevation of his predecessor, Jim Roberson, to a superior court judgeship in 2014.

Several attorneys said that Newby had come to Graham on Monday to swear Overby in as the chief district court judge.

N.C. Supreme Court chief justice Paul Newby during a 2021 visit to Alamance County’s Historic Court House.

Allen had not responded to a message that The Alamance News hand-delivered to his office, or an email seeking his comment, by press time Wednesday night.

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