To be a fair, impartial and objective District Court Judge treating everyone with equality and respect regardless of their background
I was one of five children, and while we were well off, there wasn't enough for five tuitions. I joined the Navy when I was eighteen years old and served my country for four years. The military exposed me to different cultures and I met a larger variety of people than I would have if I had simply stayed in my home town outside of Albany, New York. I was part of the original crew of a Destroyer (DD-989) and was sent to the Persian Gulf in 1981. My military experience broadened my perspective and allowed me to attend Cornell University (1985) on the GI Bill.
I have been a practicing lawyer in Wake County since 1992. I started working on indigent criminal defense matters in 1994 and have been advocating for people from all walks of life for the past 26 years. I know the impact a single day in Court can have on both an individual and a family. I have learned the law, learned the precedent, and know the procedures.
I do not believe a party platform should have much of a role in my work as a District Court Judge. I believe in equality for all, regardless of race, creed, country of origin, gender or sexual preference. I believe in an individual's right to make personal choices about their health and family matters. I believe that all citizens should be free to practice the religion of their choice
These principals and beliefs will always be with me, but it is more a matter of principal than party platform. I do not believe a judge should make any decision based solely on political concerns.
The lack of affordable and readily available mental healthcare. I see an increasing number of mentally ill defendants charged with various crimes. We have criminalized drug addiction. I would look at some of the resources currently available, such as Recovery Court and Mental Health Deferrals, that seek to correct the problem rather than punish the individual. I would like to expand these programs so they are available to all that need them. I would work hard to bring in a Veteran's Court to Wake County. This is a program that would assist veterans who are suffering from PTSD, anxiety and other service related issues to seek treatment from the VA and get assistance assimilating back to civilian life.
I believe the current cash bond bail system treats people differently depending on their economic situation, resulting in those who cannot afford bail spending time in custody prior to a ruling on their guilt or innocence. This adversely affects their family and employment, and creates an environment where one might plead guilty to a charge just to be released from incarceration.
I have experience representing defendants in misdemeanor and low level felony matters that are routinely heard in District Court. I have authored a chapter, published in a book by the North Carolina State Bar, explaining sentencing procedures to general practice attorneys (2016). I have represented small businesses in contract disputes, business matters, and construction and lien laws. I have experience in family matters and juvenile matters. I have been practicing in Domestic Violence Court since its inception in 1997. I have volunteered my time to Project Together, which is a program run through North Carolina Legal Aid to give pro bono assistance to those needing domestic violence protective orders. I have experience with bond foreclosures, landlord tenant matters, and general civil litigation. I know the law, I know the precedent, and I know the procedures. I will be able to hit the ground running as your next District Court Judge.
Judges should be experienced in the law, dedicated to serving the community, and fair to the people. That is my proven record and I want your vote.
I have been an attorney for well over a decade. In that time, I have practiced civil law, representing businesses, healthcare providers, and law enforcement, family law, and criminal law. I worked as an attorney for the prison system as well as for North Carolina's Juvenile Justice system. In working with families and juveniles, I was particularly qualified because of my own personal experience raising a child with special needs. I have tried cases in District Court, Superior Court, and North Carolina Federal District Courts.
I have handled both state and federal appeals. Currently, I am the Associate Director for the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, a state agency charged with investigating claims of innocence by convicted persons. I have personally been involved in investigating cases that resulted in the exoneration of incarcerated individuals -- a finding that they were innocent of their conviction. Not only do I investigate cases in that role, I also am responsible for managing the agency which means I have to ensure efficiency and competency of an entire agency, not just in my own cases. At the Commission, I am also responsible for ensuring the victims are heard. I understand government work and what it means to serve the people. I understand, in a way that is unique to being personally involved in an exoneration, what it looks like when we do not get justice right. I will carry that understanding, and my experience, with me to the bench.
I am very fortunate to receive support for my candidacy in the form of endorsements from Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters alike. I will have the endorsement of a former Court of Appeals Judge, multiple attorneys, the former Director of Prisons, and a victim advocate. These endorsements come from people who know me and know my work -- people from all different backgrounds and political parties. I hope voters understand this as a representation of who I am as a person and as a representation of the quality of my legal reputation. I want to take that same work ethic and reputation to the District Court bench. I believe that the judiciary is charged with upholding the law as laid out by the legislature and case precedent. I believe that judges are charged with knowing, and following, the law in every case regardless of political party. My role now as the Associate Director of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, my previous roles as an attorney both in government and private practice and my role as a District Court Judge are based in knowing the law and following it to a result. I have been acting in a neutral role for many years as the Associate Director of the Commission, and am prepared to continue that fairness and neutrality on the bench.
I might need extra space! There are obstacles to justice not just in criminal work, but also in civil work. Resources, or the lack thereof, can impact any litigant in a number of ways -- for example, availability of expert witnesses and ability to pay an attorney with more resources. I am personally aware of how disabilities impact litigants and those individuals who might be affected by the litigation even if not litigants themselves, such as children in a family law case. I have first hand knowledge of the impact of race in cases I investigated at the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission. I also understand how race impacts access to correct diagnoses and resources for developmental disabilities which greatly impacts how children may be treated in the criminal justice system. At the Commission, I have learned the benefit of the position of neutrality in getting to the truth of a case -- part of that neutrality is recognizing and correcting my own biases on a routine basis. As a District Court Judge, I believe ensuring that the law is followed from the first motion in a case up and through trial is necessary to ensuring justice is delivered fairly and accurately. District Court Judges are also fact finders in many cases -- my direct experience in being a neutral factfinder in a government role will translate directly to me being able to be a fair and neutral factfinder in District Court. That is also necessary to the fair administration of justice.
I practiced family law for several years in private practice at Cranfill Sumner and Hartzog, LLP, including pro bono work in domestic violence cases. I was part of a small group of attorneys who began the family law practice at the firm. As an Assistant Attorney General, I managed criminal appeals which allowed me to learn the issues that came from the trial court levels in criminal cases. I also represented the Department of Public Safety in issues such as sentencing questions, parole, use of force, and law enforcement authority. As Assistant General Counsel for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, I advised the prison system and probation officers on issues such as investigating criminal conduct within the prison, use of force, and the authority for search and arrest of probationers. I also worked with Juvenile Justice on issues ranging from housing of juvenile offenders to investigation of juvenile offense allegations. At the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, I oversee and personally investigate cases of innocence by convicted persons. I am personally involved in figuring out what, if anything, went wrong in the justice system. In addition, in my various roles, I have been responsible for not just understanding criminal behavior or civil liability but also in understanding the needs of victims. I want to bring my record of experience in civil and criminal law, and my record of public service, to serve the citizens as a District Court Judge.