Moore County judge waives parole fees in lieu of ‘voluntary’ COVID-19 vaccination proof 

In this Dec. 29, 2020, file photo, Pat Moore, with the Chester County, Pa., Health Department, fills a syringe with Moderna COVID-19 vaccine before administering it to emergency medical workers and health care personnel. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

RALEIGH — A judge in Moore County has been waiving probation fees if parolees provide “voluntary proof” of full COVID-19 vaccination to probation officers. 

Per reporting in March by Moore local resident and radio host JD Zumwalt, Moore County Resident Superior Court Judge James Webb was identified as the judge waiving the fees.  

An image showing an order from Judge James Webb in Moore County.

Documentation of over a dozen parole orders spanning the years 2021 through 2022 reviewed by North State Journal verified that Webb was indeed issuing fee waivers in lieu of a person providing “voluntary” proof they were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

According to state laws related to probation, courts “may impose conditions of probation reasonably necessary to insure that the defendant will lead a law-abiding life or to assist him to do so.” 

Probation laws in North Carolina also describe “supervision fees” that are paid to the clerk of court for the county where the judgment was entered, a deferred prosecution agreement was filed, or a conditional discharge was ordered.  

According to the statute, those fees are typically around $40 but can be higher. The collected fees are supposed to be sent to the state and are deposited into the state General Fund. 

North State Journal reached out to the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) about Webb’s vaccination waiver option. 

“We don’t have a comment on this, but one item of note is that G.S. 15A-1343(c1) permits a judge to waive supervised probation fees for ‘good cause’,” an AOC communications office spokesperson said in an email response.  

The spokesperson’s reference to “good cause” comes from the section of the statute which states, “The court may exempt a person from paying the fee only for good cause and upon motion of the person placed on supervised probation.” 

North State Journal also reached out to other various court officials in Moore County, including the parole office, district attorney’s office and Moore County Superior Court. No responses have been received to date from any of those entities.  

Additionally, multiple attempts were made in recent weeks to obtain comment from Webb through Michelle Ritter, a judicial assistant for the court, but a response has not yet been received as of Tuesday evening. 

About A.P. Dillon 969 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_