Full Legal Name: Vinston Miller Rozier, Jr.
Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Vince Rozier, Jr.
Seat/ District: Wake County District Court Judge, 10th Judicial District
Partisan Affiliation: Unaffiliated Position (Registered Democrat)
Date of Birth: 10-2-1976
Home Address: 5521 Scenic Brook Lane, Raleigh, NC 27616
Campaign Web Site: www.JudgeRozier.com
Occupation & Employer: State of NC, Wake County District Court Judge
Bachelor’s Degree Year & Institution: Political Science / UNC –Chapel Hill 1998
JD Year & School: 2001 – NCCU School of Law
Years lived in North Carolina: Entire Life
Home Phone: 919-876-8880
Work Phone: 919-792-4818
1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing the District Court? What are your top priorities or issues of concern for the coming term?
There are number of issues facing District Court and the entire judicial system. One of the top priorities facing Wake County District Court is the increase in calendars and how to efficiently use court time. This is particularly important when considering the possibility of increasing the maximum age where a child is considered a juvenile in criminal cases from 15 years old to include those who are 17 years old. How to handle this increase in the Juvenile Court caseload and the decrease in the adult caseload will be critical in assuring that cases are handled effectively and efficiently.
Even in Wake County where there are almost 5000 attorneys, only a small number regularly handle Juvenile Court matters. The decisions of the General Assembly on this matter will greatly impact our court.
A second issue facing Wake County District Court is the speed in which Family Court matters are addressed. I have had Custody and Alimony cases that have been delayed for months due to the large number of cases and the limited amount of time available in court. Wake County has moved to a Family Court system to assure that one judge presides over all the matters concerning one family.
This has proven to be effective and saves time in court because a judge is already familiar with the parties’ file. However, there is still the necessity to make sure that these cases are handled without undue delay. Delay in a Family Court matter may cause a child who is subject to a custody case to be uprooted in the middle of a school year or prevent a dependent spouse from receiving timely support.
Finally, another issue facing Wake County District Court will be the challenge of moving into the new courthouse and the unknown issues that lie ahead.
My first priority for an upcoming term would be to continue to do my best as a Judge.
Additionally, I wish to continue my involvement in Juvenile Court. This involvement is more than just activity in the courtroom. I have tried to use my service as a sitting judge to become involved in various speaking opportunities and programs to prevent juveniles from coming into court. This is important to me because I have seen the results of numerous children appearing in court without having received any prior guidance.
2. What qualifies you to serve?
I am qualified to serve as a District Court Judge from my experience as a Judge and former prosecutor.
As a prosecutor, I handled thousands of cases that involved the vast majority of cases that appear in District Court. I served as prosecutor in over 500 trials that involved Traffic, Misdemeanor, Juvenile, and Domestic Violence cases. I served as prosecutor in over 60 jury trials where the cases had been appealed from District Court. This experience provided me with the unique experience of understanding how juries understood facts, instead of how only lawyers saw facts.
Additionally, my experience as a Felony Prosecutor provided me with greater insight into the entire criminal system. I had the opportunity to work with Drug Enforcement Agents on wiretapping cases, represent the State of NC at first appearances hearings, and handle cases from armed robbery to murder.
Because of my work as a prosecutor, I was voted upon by the attorneys of Wake County to the list of three attorneys who would be appointed by the Governor to serve as the next Wake County District Court Judge.
For 4 1/2 years as a District Court Judge, I have presided over many of the same types of cases I handled as a prosecutor. I have presided over thousands of Traffic, Misdemeanor, Juvenile, and Domestic Violence cases as a judge, just as I tried those cases as a prosecutor. Additionally, I have presided over first appearances and other felony matters that I handled as a prosecutor.
Moreover, I am qualified for the position of District Court Judge because of my work in civil courts. I am a certified Family Court Judge and presided in Family Court for over 2 years. I am a regular Judge in Child Support Court. I am a certified Juvenile Court Judge.
I have 4 1/2 years of experience as a District Court Judge. I have a reputation as a fair and consistent. The vast majority of my support to become a District Court Judge and to remain a District Court Judge has come for attorneys who have observed my work. I believe I am qualified to continue serving as a District Court Judge.
3. How do you define yourself politically? How does that impact your judicial approach?
I am politically moderate and, at times, independent. This is a political approach where I recognize that one is not correct based on political affiliation. There is the need to listen to a political argument before agreeing. Additionally, I have no political agenda to push. Therefore, I make my decisions based upon the law and not some liberal, conservative, or activist opinion.
I have discovered that is reflected in my judicial approach. I am patient in making my decisions until I have had the opportunity to hear each side.
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?
My most important decisions have been the decisions in custody cases. There are few decisions in District Court that may have a greater long term impact than in deciding the custody of a child. In ordering a custody schedule or who receives primary custody, we as judges have great influence as to how the child’s life will be shaped. These decisions are of extreme importance.
I have made decisions to send Juveniles to a Youth Development Camp. I have made decisions to imprison parents who have willfully chosen not to pay their child support. I have made decisions to send defendants to prison for 24 months for driving while impaired. Nevertheless, my most important decisions have been the decisions in custody cases.
5. What do you feel was the U.S. Supreme Court’s most important recent decision? Did you agree with the majority?
The recent and important U.S. Supreme Court decision that will have an impact on District Court was Berghuis v. Thompkins. (http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1470.pdf). In this case, the Court indicated that a suspect had not invoked his right to remain silent (Miranda Right) even though he had refused to answer questions during a 3hour interrogation. Finally when asked if he believed in God and would ask God to forgive him for the shooting, he responded “Yes.” Prior to this ruling, many judges would have ruled that a suspect had invoked his right after 3 hours of questioning. However, that has changed now.
As a District Court Judge, it is not my job to agree or disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court. My job is to follow the law, including the precedent established by U.S. Supreme Court.
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 do believe that North Carolina’s current system serves the state well. However, I do feel that it can be improved. If Judges are to be elected, Judges should be nonpartisan. Few people know who judges are prior to their elections. Many individuals rely upon the endorsements from publications like yours to make their decisions.
The current system allows for important decisions, such as custody, to be decided by the person who has the most yard signs. It would seem that there must be a better way. However, I do not know what that might be.
7. Have you ever pled guilty or no contest to any criminal charge other than a minor traffic offense? Please explain.
8. Is there anything else you’d like to add about yourself or the issues that are important to you?
I have accepted the responsibility of serving Wake County in and out of the courthouse with my activity in various organizations which are primarily youth focused (http://judgerozier.com/community.html) :
SAFEchild, Board of Directors
Capital Area Teen Court, Judge
Re-Entry Inc., Board of Directors
Body of Christ Church, Member
Wake County Bar Association, Board of Directors
Upward K-1 Basketball, Coach
Spoken to over 3,000 Wake County students
Lunch with a Lawyer, Volunteer
Many of these activities and others not mentioned involve my attempt to make the future better for children who are affected by the environment around them.
9. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I may lose popularity points with some voters by following a particular law to which they oppose. I may lose popularity points with some voters who expect a defendant to receive the maximum punishment for a particular offense, regardless of their criminal record or the facts involved. I do not know what would always win or lose popularity points, nor is it my job to care. If I care what wins popularity points more than I care about what is the law, then I should not be a judge or be re-elected.
10. On the District Court level, what improvements can be made in terms of the juvenile justice system? What are the weaknesses or constraints in the court’s handling of juvenile offenders?
As a certified Juvenile Court Judge, there are regular frustrations that I have while presiding in delinquency court. Chief among those frustrations is the lack of placement opportunities for children with particular needs. Sometimes a child cannot return to his or her home because of the delinquent activity he or she is involved in within that environment. Other times there may be the need to have a child placed in a particular residential facility to address particular mental health concerns. Unfortunately, we often have children who remain in a Juvenile Detention facility waiting to be placed because there is a delay in the time it takes for the child to be placed. The Juvenile Court office works to make placement a swift reality, but the process often still leaves children detained longer than necessary.
Because of the numerous resources in Wake County, the delays are not as severe as in other counties. This problem may be a weakness. However, others in various parts of NC would consider the number of non-residential treatment options available in Wake County a dramatic strength.