Today in Alexander County, Thomas “Rob” Young was sworn in as District Court 22-A, Seat 2 Judge surrounded by his family and friends.
While in college at UNC Asheville, one of his professors encouraged him to pursue a legal professional degree. The second semester of his senior year he took a constitutional law class which he thoroughly loved. That one class changed his trajectory. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Philosophy then obtained his Juris Doctor Degree from Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa.
Coming back to North Carolina to start a law practice was an easy choice for the Young family since his wife, Kim, is from Hickory. They knew that starting and raising a family here was the right decision.
In 1999 he opened his practice in Asheville. As a general state and federal solo law trial attorney, he provided representation in the prosecution of consumer claims, unfair trade practices, personal injury and debt collection as well as defense representation of criminal defenses, child custody and Child Protective Service cases. While his practice offered many more services, it was child law that struck a chord. He felt a pull to the juvenile appeals cases. When the social services attorney in Iredell county became available, he applied. After five years in private practice, he closed his doors in Buncombe County and moved to Iredell. For the next five years he was the only attorney for the Iredell County Department of Social services who handled child welfare, child support and adult services in miscellaneous appellate. In 2004, Alexander County hired him as their Department of Social services attorney. He felt that he “was doing very important work, working to protect children who were abused and neglected. Helping them to get adopted out of bad situations.” Young said that he “wanted to help those who could not speak for themselves” and that is exactly what he has done!
He knew that there was more he could do. In 2018 he ran for a judgeship seat that opened up when Judge Church retired. He lost to Carol Hicks. When the opportunity came around again in 2020, he ran and won the open seat when Judge Brown retired. He campaigned on backlogged domestic abuse and substance abuse cases in both Alexander and Iredell Counties. Young said most of his cases “had something to do with drugs. Drugs were at the root of so many problems from child abuse to child neglect to domestic abuse. Every single thing seemed to have a root or some sort of element of drug usage or drug abuse in it. One thing that I kept hearing and I also knew that there was not a lot of effective treatment programs in Criminal Court. There are options that can provide treatment. So, I decided, let’s attack this and make this (treatment) a priority.”
Young is very passionate about addressing the root issues, perhaps that is his Master’s in Religious Studies showing. He’s said many times that he wants Drug Court to become a reality in Iredell county. He spoke of other counties that have this program and it works! It frees up the system, helps with all of the backlogged cases, which will be worse this year since the courts have been closed due to Covid. Young addressed the appropriation from the legislature and discussed grants to get this program up and running. He praised the work Sheriff Darren Campbell, and the Iredell County Sheriff’s office has accomplished with Interstate Criminal Enforcement (ICE) team. The numbers are staggering for the ICSO and have saved the taxpayers in Iredell County millions of dollars.
Judge Young decided early on in his career to keep a notebook of cases, since juvenile law changes rapidly. Now, Judge Young is an accomplished writer and mentor. He has since authored “North Carolina Juvenile Law: Practice and Procedure,” “Legal Rights of Children,” “Juvenile Law for the Family Practitioner,” “A Morass of Confusion and Inconsistency: The Application of the Doctrine of Nullum Tempus Occurrit Regi in North Carolina.” Young also has a blog “Parens Patrai: Juvenile Law and the Legal Rights of Children,” and several periodicals “Civil Contempt: What it Is, What It’s Not and How to Use It,” “Butting into Other People’s Business: Intervention Under NC Rule of Civil Procedure 24, Managing the Issue of Paternity in Child Custody and Civil Support Cases,” and “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness: A Proposal to Penalize False Child Protective Services Reporting and for Enhanced Report Screening in NC.” Several CLE Presentations in: Issues in National, State and Local.
In his spare time, he volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America Troop 348, South Iredell High school band boosters, V Point Ruritan Club, the Iredell County Crosby Scholars, Broad Street United Methodist and the Drug and Alcohol Coalition of Iredell County. His family can be found any given weekend hiking the most treacherous of trails anywhere in the United States.
If given the chance, you should sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee with Judge Young. You will walk away a friend. Iredell County is incredibly lucky to have him sit on “our” bench.