1. What are your top priorities or issues of concern for the coming term?
To continue in my second term the principle of fairness to all parties who have a case before me.
2. What qualifies you to serve?
I am serving in the 8th year of my first term on the Court of Appeals, following 20 years of practice in the state and federal courts.
3. How do you define yourself politically? How does that impact your judicial approach?
Judges on the Court of Appeals are elected in non-partisan races. My judicial approach is unaffected by political factors.
4. FOR INCUMBENTS: What have been your most important decisions in your current capacity? FOR CHALLENGERS: What decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with?
As the incumbent judge seeking to retain my seat, I have written 800 opinions. The cases that I have decided are equally important because they are so important to the parties involved in each case.
5. What do you feel was the U.S. Supreme Court’s most important recent decision? Did you agree with the majority? What is the role of that court in setting precedent for North Carolina’s appellate courts?
Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, U.S. Sup. Ct. ( 2009 ), ruling that forensic laboratory reports are testimonial. The reports are properly introduced into evidence only when the author of the report testifies to it’s authenticity. I agree with the decision. It is having a great impact upon the prosecution of criminal cases in North Carolina.
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?
The voters in North Carolina have consistently favored electing their judges, and this system has served the state well. Our legislature is unlikely to change the selection process anytime soon.
7. Have you ever pled guilty or no contest to any criminal charge other than a minor traffic offense? Please explain.
No. I have no criminal convictions.
8. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
My principle of fairness to all parties in the cases before me could cost me popularity points with some folks who seek special interest or bias in the determination of their case.
9. Do you favor or oppose applying a plain error review to all alleged errors in capital cases? 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? Please explain
I favor plain error review of all alleged errors in capital cases. I believe that our Supreme Court is very diligent in it’s review of capital cases and the many motions in post-conviction capital cases.