RALEIGH — A Mecklenburg County District Court judge will be running for the state’s Court of Appeals in 2022.
Judge Michael Stading, elected to the 26th District Court in 2018, announced in January that he would be seeking a spot on the N.C. Court of Appeals in 2022. His campaign has hit the ground running, raising $50,000 by early March.
The 40-year-old Stading was born and raised in North Carolina and lives in Mint Hill, southeast of Charlotte.
“My family’s actually been there [Mint Hill] since 1751, which I did not know until very recently. My eighth great-grandfather is buried a mile from my house,” Stading told North State Journal in an interview.
“I met my wife there, in that same town, at Independence High School when I was actually a junior. She was a senior,” said Stading, adding that they never broke up after high school, instead, going on to get married after college when he was in his first year at Campbell Law School and his wife, Jennie, was a public-school teacher in Wake County.
Following law school, the couple moved back to Charlotte where they still live with their three children, ages 13, 10 and a four.
Stading says he became interested in becoming a judge after friends encouraged him to consider it. He said he wasn’t sure at first about running, but that “it got weighing on my heart,” and after praying about it with his wife, he got into the race.
“I thought it was the responsible thing to do to — to take my personal experience, my professional experiences, and apply that to the courtroom from that standpoint. That’s ultimately what led me to do that,” Stading said.
After passing the bar in 2006, Stading started out as a prosecutor the following year in the Mecklenburg County DA’s office. While a prosecutor, Stading handled dozens of jury trials and hundreds of bench trials until forming his own private practice around 2013. While in private practice, he represented the Fraternal Order of Police, as well as criminal defense and administrative law.
Prior to starting his own firm, he became a board-certified specialist in criminal law in 2012.
Stading was also a captain in the United States Air Force and practiced law in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, also called the JAG Corps. He served in the JAG Corps, stationed with the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base.
“So, I did things a little bit backwards,” Stading said of his time in the Air Force. “After I went into private practice and paid off law school and when I first started the process, I think I had two kids by the time I started commissioned-officer training school.”
“I had never done anything like that before. So, this was the first time I’ve ever set foot on a quad to march was the first day I was in training for being in the Air Force,” said Stading.
Stading, who still participates in the Air Force Reserves, said that at first his wife took some convincing on the idea of the Air Force, but that ultimately, “my wife is like me,” and that they feel very strongly about service to the country.
When asked what he thought was important in a Court of Appeals judge, Stading said that relevant experience of an individual was key, and for him, it’s his broad base of experience.
“I’ve been a prosecutor, so have that perspective. I did defense work, so I have that perspective. I represented police officers in private practice, for different sets of circumstances, so, that perspective, and then from the military side, going into federal court getting to be a litigator again,” Stading said. “You know, even while I’m still on the bench, when I go from civilian status to military status, I get to be a litigator… a court ordered attorney again… and, so, I get to have that perspective as well.”
Stading added that “It’s important to have judges who have been involved in that process actively and know it intimately. “
“The Court of Appeals is important, because that’s where these cases are reviewed, and we have to make sure that everything is done just right,” said Stading.
When he’s not in the court room, Stading says his favorite thing to do is coach his kids in sports like baseball and wrestling. Stading said wrestling was “his sport” and that he was captain of the wrestling team in high school.
“I spend every minute I can doing those things with my kids,” said Stading. “I love coaching baseball. I, myself, do not personally like to play baseball, but I love coaching baseball.”
When not coaching, Stading helps out as a member of his local American Legion, of which he is a founding member.