Name as it appears on the ballot: Daniel Robertson
Campaign Website: I don’t have a personal website but my info is stated at www.onyourballot.vote411.org and also at www.ballotpedia.org
Phone Number: 336-909-8896
Occupation and Employer: Attorney – Law Office of Daniel Robertson
Party Affiliation: Democrat
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? These might include career or community service—please be specific.
First, I clerked for three federal judges as a federal law clerk. In that capacity, I reviewed the briefs of counsel, researched them and drafted opinions for the judge in question to review. None of the opinions I drafted were reversed on appeal and most were not appealed. Second, I recently served for about six years as General Counsel for a bank. In that role, I dealt with numerous disputes and conflicts at the employee, managerial and Board level. I also responded to complaints from customers. I resolved these matters successfully by listening to all parties, asking pertinent questions and making an objective appraisal of the facts. Finally, I presently serve on the Board of Trustees and as Chair of the Parish Relations Committee of my church. Differences of opinion arise in churches too and sometimes can be more passionate than in other arenas. Again, I resolve these issues by listening to all parties, never taking sides and then proposing a solution which resolves the issue and, usually, to the satisfaction of all involved.
2. How do you define yourself politically, and how will your political and legal philosophies affect your performance on the bench?
I’m a registered Democrat as my father and grandfather were. My stance on each issue is based however on the facts as I can best determine them and on what I think is fair and appropriate. If we’re being honest, I think we all have some political or ideological biases based on our experience, religion and understanding. A judge though has a duty to set those biases aside and act based on the law and established principles of stare decisis. A judge is not a legislator. The judiciary is to act as a check on the legislative and executive powers. To do that appropriately, a judge must put aside his or her religious, political and personal ideologies.
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 ability to truly act fairly and objectively, to listen with an open mind, and legal knowledge and experience. The judges I admire most are the three that I worked for — U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee, U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James W. Meyers. Why? They all, at one time or another, faced difficult issues where they could have easily determined the matter based on their political or religious desires as opposed to acting in accordance with established law. They all chose every time to act in accordance with the law. One was a deacon in his church and was faced with the issue of allowing an adult book store in a conservative city to continue to operate or not. He would have loved to have shut it down. Established law at the time though dictated a different result, and he went with what the law required. He was criticized for his decision in the community and probably at church too. He demonstrated courage and compliance with the oath he took. We need more of that in this world.
4. The INDY’s mission is to help build a more just community in the Triangle. How would your election help further that goal?
One reason I’m running is my disgust with the infusion of politics into the judiciary at both the state and federal levels. The proper role of judiciary in our system cannot effectively operate as a check on the legislative and executive powers if members of the judiciary allow themselves to serve as tools for either of the other two branches of government. I’m running to ensure that the rights and liberties of all North Carolinians are fully preserved, regardless of their wealth, connections, power or politics. I’ve seen instances where that didn’t occur. The result was injustice, which always leads to other and greater problems and injustices. I will be fair and impartial. I will also recuse myself if I have a financial or other personal interest in a party appearing before me. That is Rule #1 for judges as to ethical conduct but it appears to have been violated before on the N.C. Supreme Court per the Center for Public Integrity.
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 totally favor the public financing of judicial elections. As to changes, I would like to see a system of election with only a limited amount of public financial allowed, with no outside funds from the candidate, other contributors or PACs allowed. This will help to make sure that judges are not owned by or beholden to third parties and their desires and interests.
6. Given the proliferation of technology, do you perceive a conflict government surveillance and the need for individual privacy? If elected, how would you weigh those competing interests in cases that came before you?
Government surveillance for security reasons and individual privacy rights are two interests that can conflict with each other but can also be weighed and balanced. However, I don’t think it would be appropriate for me, or any candidate, to say how they would weigh those interests in future or hypothetical cases that might come before us in our capacities as a judge.
7. 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 have acted as a whistleblower because it was the right thing to do. Despite all of the protections that have been enacted for whistleblowers, the adage that no good deed goes unpunished generally applies. I have also written a book on the JFK assassination that is very controversial, but that I felt I had to write.