Name as it appears on the ballot:  Lucy Inman

Age:  61

Party affiliation:  Democrat

Campaign website:  lucyinmanforjustice.com

Occupation & employer:  Judge, NC Court of Appeals

1) Please tell us what in your record as a public official or private citizen demonstrates your ability to be effective, fair, and impartial on the bench? Please be specific. What do you believe qualifies you to serve as a Court of Appeals or Supreme Court judge?

In nearly eight years serving on the Court of Appeals, I have authored more than 500 appellate opinions, including a few dissenting and concurring opinions that have been adopted by the Supreme Court, shaping not only the outcome in those cases but improving the consistency and clarity of the law. Before winning a nonpartisan statewide election to the appellate court in 2014, I served for more than four years as a Superior Court judge, presiding in trials and hearings in communities all across the state. Before that, I practiced law for 18 years, representing people from all walks of life, primarily in the trial courts. I started my legal career working as a law clerk at the North Carolina Supreme Court, for a chief justice who instilled in me great respect for the role and responsibility of writing in our justice system. My breadth of experience, temperament, and record of decision making as both a trial and appellate judge have been described as effective, fair and impartial by other judges, lawyers, community groups, and legal scholars and qualify me to serve as an associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

2) How do you define yourself politically? How does that impact your judicial approach?

I define myself politically as moderate and apolitical in my job as a judge, because I take no political positions and express no political opinions. I have been affiliated with the Democratic Party my entire adult life and generally share the values and mission of the Democratic Party.  Before becoming a judge, I volunteered my time to advocate for preventing gun violence and protecting the rights of people living with disabilities.  I halted all advocacy work when I became a judge. I have limited my political activity to my own candidacy for judicial office and as a candidate have limited my statements to matters concerning the administration of justice and the integrity of our judiciary and our democracy. I approach my work as a judge in a manner that I hope all judges approach their work – ever conscious of the immense power judges have, and our corresponding responsibility to interpret the law impartially, independent of partisan political agendas, and without fear or favor. I see it as my duty to protect each individual’s rights under the law, and in particular as provided by the federal and state constitutions, regardless of whether that individual or the right at issue is popular among the majority of citizens.

3) What do you believe are the three most important qualities a judge must have to be an effective jurist? Which judges, past or present, do you most admire? Why?

The three most important qualities to be an effective jurist are (1) the willingness to listen and consider with respect viewpoints different from my own; (2) the humility to know that my first instinct may be flawed or short sighted; and (3) the ability to communicate with others to collaboratively search for the truth and find common ground.  Judges past and present whom I admire include retired North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Exum, because he advanced the understanding by courts and legal scholars of provisions in the North Carolina Constitution that are not found the United States Constitution and that provide further protections to our citizens; North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson, because of her exemplary service as a jurist and guardian of our state constitution, as a sitting justice defending the independence of the judiciary from partisan politics and other outside influences, and as a mentor to me and many other women in the judiciary; and retired Court of Appeals Judge Wanda Bryant, because she wrote strong but respectful opinions to defend the rule of law, worked tirelessly to uphold ethical standards for judges, and always modeled the very important quality of listening to opposing views and considering them before deciding any matter.

4) In a sentence, how would you define your judicial philosophy?

I approach each case as follows: 1) honestly review the facts of record; 2) impartially apply the law to those facts, independent of any political agenda and without fear or favor, and 3) present the facts, the law, and reasoning in plain language that other courts and the general public can understand, so that they know not only the outcome of a decision, but how the outcome was reached.

5) Do you favor or oppose public financing of judicial elections? What changes to North Carolina’s system of judicial elections do you believe are necessary, if any?

I favor public financing of judicial elections, which our legislature established for a few years before repealing it. Public financing made it possible for candidates with relatively less access to wealth to compete for election based on a  minimum number of donations rather than based on the amount of money they could raise. In 2016, North Carolina became the first state in nearly a century to revert from nonpartisan to partisan judicial elections. A return to nonpartisan elections is necessary to reduce the influence of partisan politics that threatens the independence of judges. According to a recent survey by the North Carolina Bar Association, nonpartisan judicial elections are favored by more than 70 percent of both lawyers and nonlawyers. The choice between nonpartisan and partisan judicial elections and the availability of public financing for judicial elections is within the authority of the legislative branch, not the judicial branch.

6) In many cases, voters know very little about the judges they are electing. Tell us something about yourself that our readers may be surprised to learn.

I met my husband by writing to him the first and last fan letter I’ve ever sent to anyone.  I had never met or seen him but I was drawn to his work as a journalist.  I was living in rural Orange County at the time, studying for the North Carolina Bar exam, and reading the News & Observer daily, when I noticed a writer who included exclamation points and occasionally onomatopoeia in his stories about artists, musicians, and unusual characters.  At that time I was writing press materials for performers at the Eno River Festival, including The Sensational Nightingales, a gospel band.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the N&O one day to find a full section front with a photo of that band and a feature article written by Billy Warden, whose writing I had admired.  It occurred to me that he would be an interesting person to meet when I moved back to Raleigh to work as a law clerk at the NC Supreme Court.   So I wrote him a letter thanking him for the article and suggesting we meet once I was again living there.  We eventually met when he was preparing to interview the artist R. Crumb, and I happened to have every vinyl record made by R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders.  We’ve been married for 31 years now, and he remains my greatest muse and editor.

7) What sets you apart from the other candidate in this race?

Unlike my opponent, whose experience has been focussed exclusively on appellate practice, I have served as a trial judge in courthouses all across North Carolina, in both urban and rural communities.  I’ve worked with lawyers, witnesses and jurors in cases including impaired driving, homicide, business disputes, and constitutional challenges. I’ve signed search warrants after reviewing applications and hearing testimony from law enforcement officers.  Also unlike my opponent, I devoted my career before becoming a judge to representing people from all walks of life primarily in the trial courts, where almost every appellate case begins.  And although my opponent and I have never disagreed on a case we have presided in together, unlike my opponent I have occasionally written dissenting opinions.  While all judges should work to find consensus, when that is not possible, it is a judge’s duty to remain independent and shed light on the disagreement so that other courts and the public can see divergent approaches to important issues.


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