Name as it appears on Ballot: Fred Battaglia, Jr.
Phone number: 919.641.5398
1. What do you believe are the three most important qualities a judge must have to be effective? Are there any particular judges, either on the state or federal level, who you believe exemplify these qualities?
In my opinion the three most import qualities a judge must have to be effective are knowledge of the law; fair and impartial and a judicial temperament with listening to all.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the US Supreme Court exemplifies these qualities. Justice Ginsburg has a reputation of being a “cautious jurist” and she is cautious in answering questions as the issue may be one she has to vote on before the court.
2. What do you believe qualifies you to serve as a judge?
a. As a judge for Drug Treatment Court for the past four years, I am part of a team that assists the addict to live a drug free life. All the participants are poor and 90% are people of color. The restorative court is an alternative to incarceration and I am humbled to serve in this capacity. The most rewarding part of being a judge is to watch someone in Drug Treatment Court overcome their addiction and reunite with their family. At the same time become a productive member of society.
b. Prior to December 1, 2017, the court had discretion as to whether or not costs of court, fines and Failure to Appear fees were to be accessed against an individual. After December 1, 2017, the discretion to waive costs, fines and failure to appear fees was taken away from the trial judges’ discretion. The discretion of the court to access fees and costs and to waive the same, should be reinstated by the legislature. Prior to December 1, 2017, I would routinely waive these costs, fines and failure to appear fees when dealing with an indigent defendant.
c. I feel that I am the better qualified candidate to help move forward the goals of Durham County citizens, while working towards to elimination of discrimination for any distinction in public and general private affairs.”
3. In a sentence, how would you define your judicial philosophy?
I developed my judicial philosophy based upon my 29 years in private practice and 4 years on the district court bench. I have applied the law to the facts and made my decisions in an attempt to convict the guilty, free the innocent and place the children with the proper person.
4. How do you define yourself politically? How do your political beliefs affect your judicial approach?
I am a registered Democrat. I registered as a Democrat shortly after turning eighteen years of age and I have never changed my registration. In my four years on the bench, I have applied the law to the facts and made my decisions accordingly.
5. If you are challenging an incumbent, what decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with? If you are an incumbent, what in your record and experience do you believe merits another term?
I am a current sitting judge for the past four years and I feel that the most important impact that I have as a judge is in the restorative nature of Drug Treatment Court. For further discussion see answer to question 2a. above.
6. On any given day, there are North Carolina resident in jail are not because they’ve been convicted of a crime but because they cannot afford their bail. How would you determine whether pretrial incarceration is appropriate? Do you support having a bail schedule with guidelines for how judges should make bail determinations? Why or why not?
My position regarding bail is that everyone is entitled to a bond unless one is charged with capital murder. I follow the guidelines in an order signed on March 16 2011, by the Honorable Orlando F. Hudson, and then Chief District Court Judge Marcia Morey, regarding policies relating to bail and pretrial release effective April 1, 2011.
7. What changes to the cash bail system, if any, do you support? Why? If you don’t support any changes, please explain why you think the current system is successful.
The authorities that are responsible for the current bail system are the Chief Resident Superior Court Judge and the current Resident District Court Judge. If asked I would be willing to assist in the process of change. See answer to question 6 above.
8. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, black people in North Carolina are incarcerated at six times the rate of white people, despite the state being majority white. What responsibility do you think judges hold in addressing racial disparities in our criminal justice system, and what would you do to address these inequities?
When I sit and hear cases, my judicial philosophy is there cannot be equal justice for all, until there is justice for the one in front of me.
9. In some cases, individuals who fail to appear in court for traffic violations are arrested and placed in jail, even if there is an arguable valid reason for the failure to appear. These arrests remain on the person’s record. Do you believe judges should ever overlook failures to appear for things like traffic violations? If so, in what circumstances? If not, why not?
Prior to December 1, 2017, the court had discretion to whether or not costs of court, fines and Failure to Appear fees were to be accessed against an individual. After December 1, 2017, the discretion to waive costs, fines and failure to appear fees was taken away from the trial judge’s discretion. The discretion of the court to access fees and I would routinely waive these costs, fines and failure to appear fees when dealing with an indigent defendant. I don’t have a Bright Line test as each case should be handled differently. My philosophy is that people need a driver’s license and possessing a valid drivers’ license not only benefits the individual, so they may pursue work and conduct family matters, but also society in general. Children do not need to see their parents arrested because they don’t have a drivers’ license; therefore, I use judicial discretion to waive failure-to appear fees for an indigent defendant in most cases.
10. Do you support restorative justice practices prior to sentencing? If so, please explain what sort of practices you support and in what types of cases? Who should be eligible?
See answer to question 2a above.
11. How do you believe low-level drug cases should be handled?
Most low-level drug cases that come before my court, are handled either by a deferred prosecution agreement or a conditional discharge. The net effect of these two legal mechanics is a dismissal of the charge upon the defendant completing certain requirements within a defined period. The condition precedent to these agreements is that the defendant not have a prior criminal record. Thereafter, upon dismissal of the charge, the defendant may expunge their record.
12. In North Carolina, court fees have increased 400 percent over the past twenty years, and nonpayment may be punished with more fees, license revocation, or jail time. Do you believe the justice system in North Carolina criminalizes poverty? If not, please explain. If yes, what would you do as a judge to mitigate that?
It is my humble belief that the legislature has attempted to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. When I started practicing law 33 years ago, the cost of court was $27, today it is $190. The cost of court does not have anything to do with punishment. Cost of court is nothing, but a taxing mechanism implemented by the legislature.
No one goes to jail in the court room I preside in for failing to pay costs and fines, failure to appear fees, failure to comply fees, failure to pay for court appointed attorneys fees, application fee for court appointed attorney, jail fees, probation supervision fees, community service fees, fees for partial payments for cost of court and fines, $600 lab fees for testing of blood in DWI cases or any other fees, costs or fines. I do not believe in debtors prison.