What is your overall judicial philosophy?
Judges should endeavor to uphold the rule of law and to decide cases fairly and impartially. My approach is to carefully review the facts of a case, consider the arguments of the parties, and fairly apply the law to the facts of each case.
Which United States Supreme Court Justice, past or present, would you compare your judicial philosophy to?
Judges should endeavor to fairly and impartially apply the law. That is my objective. I do not try to emulate the judicial philosophy of any other justice or judge.
Why are you qualified for this position?
I currently serve as the Senior Associate Justice, the second most experienced member on the N.C. Supreme Court. I have been a member of the North Carolina state judiciary for almost 14 years. I am the only active member of the state judiciary with experience on the Superior Court, Court of Appeals, and Supreme Court. I have participated in over 1600 fully briefed and argued appeals as a member of the Appellate Division of the General Court of Justice. As a superior court judge, I held civil and criminal sessions of court in 28 North Carolina counties. Prior to my judicial service, I served as legal counsel to the Governor of North Carolina, engaged in the private practice of law, and clerked for a federal judge. I have served on the adjunct law faculty at Duke University School of Law, the University of North Carolina School of Law, and North Carolina Central University School of Law.
What improvements do you believe could be made to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the state court system?
One of our greatest needs is improving the technological infrastructure within our local courthouses. I participated in the initial dialogue directed toward establishing an electronic filing system in our trial courts. This type of filing system is already in place and working well within the federal courthouses located in North Carolina. The N.C. Supreme Court and N.C. Court of Appeals have implemented electronic filing systems that work very well. I favor the development of such systems in our trial courts.
Do you believe that all citizens have adequate access to legal help and the legal system? If not, what can be done to provide wider and better access?
I attended an initial planning meeting to discuss access to justice concerns at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Bar Association in 2005. Shortly thereafter, the N.C. Supreme Court voted to establish a Commission to study this question. I fully supported the establishment of this Commission and will continue to do all I can to ensure that all citizens have adequate access to legal assistance and the legal system.