North Carolina Department of Correction News - May 1999

Criminal justice is a family affair for Alamance JDM

BURLINGTON — Judicial District Manager Jeff Allen may not be able to put into words what made him pursue a career in probation – it’s just something that’s in his blood. Just as some people come from a family of doctors or farmers, Jeff comes from a family that earns its living working for the criminal justice system.

Jeff’s grandfather, Frank Barnhart, was a highway patrolman for 36 years, his father, J.B. Allen, is a superior court judge and his brother, Brad Allen, is a district attorney.

While his grandfather is enjoying his retirement after working nearly four decades for the highway patrol, the rest of the Allen men are still hard at work pursuing justice.

Even though Judge Allen cannot preside over any cases where Brad is the prosecutor or any cases that Jeff was involved in as a probation officer because of conflicts of interest, that does not stop the elder Allen from trying to give his sons some fatherly advice. After all, he has experience doing both their jobs. Before becoming a judge, J.B. Allen worked as a probation officer for five years and, later after law school, as an assistant district attorney for two years. He then became a district court judge before accepting his current position as a superior court judge.

"We’re very close. I certainly don’t give them advice on specific cases, but they come to me for general advice," he said.

Following his father’s lead, Jeff began his career in 1983 as a probation officer. But instead of turning to law school like his father, Jeff decided to remain with probation and was eventually promoted to unit supervisor while working in District 9A. In February of 1998 he was appointed to his current position as JDM of District 15A in Alamance County where he oversees a staff of 42 employees.

While his brother was pursuing a career in probation, Brad decided to take the law school route and landed a job with the district attorney’s office soon after graduation. As a prosecutor in Alamance County for the past nine and a half years, Brad has handled all types of cases, but mainly felonies such as drug cases, assaults and murders. Next year, there may be two judges in the Allen family, as Brad has plans to run for district court judge.

With so much in common in their professional lives, one might think that criminal justice would be the hot topic when the Allen men get together. Yet the truth is quite the opposite.

"When we get together for family gatherings, we don’t talk law," Judge Allen said. "We try very hard not to bring it home with us." u

NC DOC Homepage
E-mail NC DOC