NC Court of Appeals Judge Seat 05
The North Carolina Court of Appeals is the state's intermediate appellate court. Currently 15 judges hear cases in panels of three. The Court of Appeals reviews the proceedings that occurred in the trial courts for errors of law or legal procedure; it decides only questions of law – not questions of fact. The role of the Court of Appeals is to decide if the trial court correctly applied the law, or if there was prejudicial error in the conduct of the trial.The majority of cases appealed from the Superior and District courts in civil and criminal cases are heard by the Court of Appeals. One major exception is capital murder appeals in which the death penalty was imposed; these appeals go directly to the Supreme Court of North Carolina. In addition, direct appeals from certain of the state’s administrative agencies are heard by the Court of Appeals.
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Lora Christine Cubbage
What unique personal and professional experiences have prepared you for this judgeship?
You are running for a partisan judicial position. What role should the platform of your political party play in your work as a judge on the court?
What do you perceive as the greatest obstacles to justice and do you think there is a role you should play to address these obstacles?
51 years old
Our courts on all levels should be accessible to all and reflect the demographics of our State. Our Judges should be independent, impartial and fair.
My educational background at NC A&T State University and UNC Chapel Hill School of Law prepared me to enter into the legal profession. My service as an Assistant District Attorney and an Assistant Attorney General allowed me to become well versed in criminal and civil law. I am also well versed in Worker’ Compensation law as well as experienced at arguing civil and criminal cases to the Court of Appeals. I have served as a District and Superior Court Judge which has allowed me to serve in every court on the trial court level. I have served on complex cases that the Chief Justice had to specifically appoint me to handle. The Court of Appeals is coined the “working court” because the majority of case law comes from this Court, therefore, we must continue to elect Judges with experience that will transition into the work done at the Court of Appeals. While there will be a learning curve for every person coming to this bench we must elect experienced candidates to handle the large caseload and types of cases coming to the Court of Appeals. Our judicial system has been challenged more so than ever as of late and in order to regain the public trust we must, (1) elect independent, fair and impartial judges who will commit to protect and defend the NC and US Constitutions that guarantees rights and equal protection of the laws for all, (2) commit to creating a judiciary that reflect the demographics of our State, and (3) ensure our justice system is accessible to all people.
The platform of my political party should NOT play a role in my work as a judge on the Court. The Court is a separate but equal branch of government and should remain independent in the rulings that are handed down. The requirement that judges run in partisan races I believe was a grave mistake. No litigant should ever think they will or will not prevail in an issue before the court based on party affiliation. In the same vein, a judge should not be chosen to hear a case based on party affiliation. Our Courts serve as a check on the Executive and Legislative branches of government. We also serve as decision makers when litigants cannot decide for themselves an outcome of their situation and nothing but the facts of the case and the laws applicable to those facts should play a role. I believe that partisan judicial races also erodes the public trust in the judicial branch, which for most litigants is the place of last recourse. There should never be a question regarding the fairness, independency or integrity of the judges that are entrusted to make decisions that will impact the lives of every person in our State in most cases. Our oath of office centers around independency and integrity and we have an obligation to hold ourselves to that high standard.
The greatest obstacles to justice is accessibility, racial disparity and equal protection of the laws. I think that Judges play the most critical role in addressing these obstacles. Judges have the responsibility to set aside the implicit biases that we ALL have and hear the cases on the merits of the case. Most clear in our current year of 2020 I believe many many judges see where implicit bias training is critical to the work we do. I also believe judges have to be mindful of the sentences we are handing down from case to case to ensure we are being equal and equitable in our rulings. Our public believes there are two justice systems. One for the wealthy and one for the poor. It is the obligation of judges to change that perception by making sure we remain fair and impartial in all aspects of the work we do to include rulings, pre-trial conditions, bonds/bails, sentencing and access to our courts. We must recommits to the work of equal justice in our courts and then continue to do preventive maintenance check-ups so to speak so that we can gauge the areas that we need to improve. While I truly believe in our justice system I am able to acknowledge there is room for improvements.
I am a consistent Judge that believes in fairness and equality under the law. I will follow the Constitution and not legislate from the bench.
While in law school, I Clerked for the Court of Appeals in the summer of 2004. I started work in the Durham County DA’s Office. I transferred to the Brunswick, Bladen, & Columbus County DA’s Office in 2011. While in the DA’s Office, I tried every type of case to include first degree murder. In 2014, I won a contested election to become the first African American male ever to serve as a Judge in the district. After being sworn in I saw a need for additional expertise on the bench for our juvenile courts. After additional training I have become a Certified Juvenile Court Judge. I feel that our juveniles and families are our greatest resource in NC and we need Judges to serve at the appellate level that have the experience in these courts.
There are some economic obstacles that make access to justice cost prohibitive to our citizens. However, as a Judge there is not a role in that I would play unless it was before the court.
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