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East Flat Rock native nominated for nation's second highest court

Allison Jones Rushing Allison Jones Rushing

EAST FLAT ROCK — On the bus ride to a mock trial competition, an East Henderson High School team member became ill and couldn’t play his role in the trial. Not to worry. Mock trial coach Virginia Haynes drafted Allison Jones to play the prosecutor and defense attorney roles.

“We did the case,” Haynes said. “Then we had a break and she went up and played the other role.” Allison won outstanding lawyer for both portrayals. “She actually won an outstanding attorney award at the State competition,” added Haynes, who taught American history at East from 1983 to 2009. “It was the first time East had had a student win at the state level. It was pretty prestigious for her to win that award.”
Excelling in academics and mock trial would serve Allison Jones Rushing well. A graduate of Wake Forest University and Duke’s School of Law, Rushing has just been nominated for a seat on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from North Carolina and four other states.
The daughter of David and Lynnette Jones, Allison grew up in East Flat Rock, singing and playing piano at East Flat Rock Baptist Church.
“I used to ask her if she was going to go to school to study music or go to school to study law,” Haynes recalled. While Allison was gifted at both, law won.
After graduating summa cum laude from Wake Forest, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, she graduated magna cum laude from Duke law, where she served as executive editor of the Duke Law Journal.
She built an impressive record from the time she left Duke, clerking for some of the biggest names in the judiciary. She clerked for Canton native David Sentelle, senior U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge; 10th Circuit judge Neil Gorsuch, who became the newest U.S. Supreme Court judge last year; and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
“She was blessed,” David Jones said. “They thought a lot of her, especially Justice Thomas. He came to her wedding couple of years ago. He’s one of the nicest men we’ve ever met and is one of the most congenial judges on the court. He did so much for his clerks.”
It’s been an eventful couple of years for Rushing, who is 36. She met her husband, Blake Rushing, at her church, Capitol Hill Baptist. After they married two years ago, she had a baby on her first wedding anniversary.

U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis praised President Trump’s choice.

“North Carolina native Allison Rushing has an incredible wealth of judicial experience and is regarded as one of the best legal minds in the country,” Tillis said. “She will be an outstanding addition to the Fourth Circuit, and I look forward to advancing her nomination through the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
She’s gearing up now for an all-day confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, scheduled for Oct. 10.
“If they recommend her then the full Senate would vote on confirming her,” Jones said. “I think her chances are good. ...  She’s the kind of person that just likes to read and study and think about things, so she would make a good judge.”

‘No limit to what Allison can accomplish’


Like most people that have known Allison, from her high school years on, Haynes, her mock trial coach, sounded thrilled but not surprised at the nomination to the second highest court in the land.
“There is no limit to what Allison can accomplish,” she said. “I think she’s a fantastic choice in herself and it’s fantastic for the state and fantastic for the Fourth Circuit. She’s just top notch. I could never enough good things about her. I couldn’t be prouder of her and happier for her, happier for us.”
As mock trial coach, Haynes guided her charges through the courtroom experience. While Allison is in line to achieve the highest judicial level of any of East’s mock trial grads, she’s hardly the only success story to emerge. Ashley Hornsby Welch, class of 1996, was elected the youngest district attorney in North Carolina. Another female mock trial alumnus is an engineer “moving up fast” with the Georgia Department of Transportation. One became a top legislative aide in Congress. Several practice law.
“They got their feet wet, argued in front of real judges and in front of attorneys who were scoring them,” Haynes said. “For one of them to have reached this level is really something.”
Without the support of the legal community in Hendersonville, bright young students like Allison Jones would not have had the opportunity to hone their skills and identify a career path.
“Some school districts can’t even do mock trial because they can’t get attorneys,” Haynes said. “We were always so fortunate to have local attorneys who were willing to spend time with the kids and even more would come on the day of the competition, giving up a Saturday to listen to the same case over and over. Mr. Thompson when he was there let us practice in the courthouse. I don’t think that’s a privilege that some of the school districts get.”
Public schoolteachers take pride in producing a high achiever like Rushing.
“I kept my children here to go to school because it’s such a great place to be educated,” Haynes said. “I love bragging on all the kids and this one is pretty easy to brag on.”