Full Legal Name: Mark Elliott Klass
Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Mark E. Klass
Seat Sought: N.C. Court of Appeals (Wynn seat)
Partisan Affiliation: non-partisan
Date of Birth: 11-12-56
Home Address: 115 Linden Lane, Lexington, NC 27292
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 1343, Lexington, NC 27293-1343
Campaign Web Site: www.voteklass.com
Occupation & Employer: Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, State of North Carolina
Bachelor’s Degree Year & Institution: 1997, The University of NC at Chapel Hill
JD Year & School: 1984, Campbell University, Norman A. Wiggins School of Law
Years lived in North Carolina: 53 (all my life)
Home Phone: 336-250-4040
Work Phone: 336-242-6712
1. What are your top priorities or issues of concern for the coming term?
Because of the number of cases that are being appealed at the present, my priority is for each of the cases to be resolved in a timely manner. Cases should be handled expediently and fairly, and the law should be followed in these matters.
2. What qualifies you to serve?
I worked for the District Attorney’s Office for two years, practiced law throughout the State for twelve years and I have been a superior court judge for twelve years. The ability to see all three aspects of the court system and be involved in trials from each side, gives me a good perspective and qualifies me to serve in this position.
3. How do you define yourself politically? How does that impact your judicial approach?
I consider myself a blue dog Democrat; I am fiscally conservative.
I am a hard worker. I expect matters to be handled in a timely fashion and I do not like to see anything that generates waste. There are a limited amount of resources for the State and for the court system, and I feel we need to take what we have and do the best we can under the present economical situation.
4. For challengers: What decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with?
I do not feel that the incumbent has made any decisions that I disagree with because he has only been in that position for less than a month.
5. What do you feel was the U.S. Supreme Court’s most important recent decision? Do you agree with the majority?
I feel that would be the case involving the rights of corporations to spend money in campaigns without anyone knowing who is behind it and where the money is coming from. I disagree with that.
What is the role of that court in setting precedent for North Carolina’s appellate courts?
The U. S. Supreme Court is the supreme law of the land and the rulings they make create precedence for all the courts of the State, being the Supreme Court and court of appeals. We are compelled to follow those.
6. Do you feel that North Carolina’s current system of judicial elections serves the state well? Are there other forms of selecting judges you feel would function better or worse than the current one?
I feel it is time that the judicial elections be looked at simply because as I have noticed over the past ten years, the ability of the public to know who they are voting for, for judicial candidates from district court to superior court to court of appeals to supreme court, has really declined. You can see this in the decline of the number of people voting in the races of local sheriff to the judicial races to the president or senate candidates. The ones who are actually voting, I would venture to guess, the majority are merely guessing at names. Also, because of the salary that is paid to the judges, more qualified candidates are not putting themselves into the process which I think is hurting the quality of the judiciary in the state.
I do not know of any other forms, but I think some should be explored. One possibility is to allow the attorneys to select three candidates from their districts for district or superior court and then the attorneys statewide select three for each position. Then the Governor would select from those or an impartial committee would select from the nominations. It is hard to remove the politics from it completely, but I feel that by putting the people in charge of the nominating committee from the legal profession would be the easiest and best way to address it.
7. Have you ever pled guilty or no contest to any criminal charge other than a minor traffic offense?
8. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I do not feel there is any stand that I could take that would make me popular or unpopular with the voters.
9. Do you favor or oppose applying a plain error review to all alleged errors in capital cases?
I feel capital cases are different because of the severe consequences and I do not feel that applying a plain error review would be the best review in this matter.
Do you favor or oppose mandating appellate review in post-conviction capital cases to help avoid arbitrariness in review of post-conviction capital cases by superior court judges?
I do not. As a superior court judge I review these matters and take them very seriously. It is an additional workload. I feel that superior court judges are better able to handle these matters than the appellate courts.