People’s Alliance PAC 2014 Questionnaire
for North Carolina Trial Division Judicial Candidates
PO Box 13724___________________________________________________
Cell-phone Number ___(919)590-5977 _ e-mail
See attached resume
1) Where were you born and where have you lived? When did you make Durham
I was born in Greenville, SC. I lived in Amherst, MA for 8 years (where both
of my parent's earned their Ed.D.) and Lawrence, KS for 8 years. I came to
Durham to go to school in 1999, but never intended to stay, as all of my
family and close friends live out of state. While working as a criminal
Magistrate, I spent every other week traveling to visit family. I only started
considering Durham home within the past year.
2) Are you conservative or liberal? Please choose one and then explain your answer.
I tend to have a more liberal point of view—the government does have a
duty to protect civil liberties and human rights. I hesitate to explain further,
because liberal and conservative views differ on many controversial topics
such as the death penalty, abortion, gun control and welfare, among others.
As a judicial official, further explanation may imply my position on these
disputed legal issues in violation of my cannon of ethics.
3) Please describe how your religious and philosophical beliefs may affect your
conduct and decision making if you are elected.
My religious and philosophical beliefs will not affect my decision making or
conduct. I am a Christian, but my role as a judge will be to listen to the facts
and apply the law without injecting my personal beliefs.
4) Please list the organizations (educational, social, charitable, cultural, political,
religious, etc.) you have joined or supported. If you have held an office in any of these
organizations, please describe.
Duke University Alumni Association, Guilford County Black Lawyers
Association, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., International Association of
Women Judges, Duke University Campus Club, NC Magistrates Association,
Attend Union Baptist Church.
5) If you have had an occupation other than law, please describe the occupation and
the work you performed. Who were your employers?
I conducted research on HIV at Duke Medical Center for the Department of
Surgery. By using live virus, I attempted to find a broadly cross-reactive
antibody that would significantly neutralize the virus.
6) Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense other than a minor traffic
offense (such as speeding)? If the answer is yes, please describe the circumstances and
7) Have you personally ever been the plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit? If the
answer is yes, please explain the circumstances and the outcome of the case.
About your practice of law:
8) Please describe your practice as a lawyer. Be specific. Describe the areas of your
practice and your specialties. If, over time, these have changed, describe the changes.
Describe your client base as a part of your answer.
Prior to becoming a Magistrate, I practiced plaintiff's personal injury law. I
was independently charged with handling all stages of these cases and saw
300+ cases to completion. This included countless mediations, arbitrations,
trial preparation and jury trials.
9) If you are a judge in the trial division, please describe two trials over which you
have presided which best illustrate your abilities and temperament as a trial judge.
Explain why you selected the cases you describe.
One case that stands out is a small claims case between two sisters. There
were several family members in the courtroom on both sides of the dispute
and ALL felt they had something to contribute to the hearing, mostly at
inappropriate times. I don't have a clerk, a bailiff and, as usual, the parties
were not represented. As such, there were no attorneys to assist in pulling
out the relevant information and, controlling the courtroom while still
allowing the parties to be heard and feel respected rested solely on my
I selected this case, not only because it exhibits my judicial temperament
and my ability to control a courtroom by myself, but because several
months later, I saw one of the sisters out in the community. She approached
me and thanked me for listening to her case, even though she did not
prevail. She said that I had been very fair, she could tell that I listened, and
that in explaining my ruling, I helped her to understand what she could
have or should have done differently. Also, something I said resonated with
her, and she was able to repair a relationship with her family that had been
damaged for years.
The second noteworthy case presented several challenges. I often find in
small claims court that litigants and attorneys do not give the same level of
respect that they would to a higher court judge. In this case, I had two
zealous advocates, who wanted to control my courtroom—I remained in
control without alienating or offending anyone. The case also presented
some complex legal issues. In controlling the courtroom, I resisted the
temptation to act like I knew all of the answers and took a brief moment to
review the law. In that, I exhibited thoughtfulness and an ability to conduct
the appropriate legal research, without any administrative staff, in order to
render a timely and fair ruling.
10) If you are not a trial judge, please describe two of your cases that best illustrate the
abilities and temperament you would display as the holder of the office you seek.
11) If you are a sitting judge seeking reelection, are you satisfied with your North
Carolina Bar Association Judicial Performance Evaluation scores? Do you think the
evaluation process is valid and the results a fair indication of your performance? Using
the survey categories in the evaluation, please indicate what steps, if any, you plan to
take to improve your scores. If you are not a sitting judge, please evaluate yourself as the
judge you think you will be if you are elected. Please use the five survey categories and in
your answer take into account how you think other attorneys would evaluate you.
12) Have you ever been publicly or privately disciplined by the North Carolina State
Bar or any other professional or occupational licensing authority in North Carolina or
any other state? “Disciplined” should be read to include reprimands, censures, and
warnings in addition to license suspension, surrender, revocation, and disbarment. Is
the State Bar or any governmental authority considering a complaint against you at the
present time? Have you ever been found in contempt of court? For each “yes” answer,
please provide us with a full description of the action taken, when it was taken, the
authority in question, and a statement of the facts and events giving rise to the action or
complaint against you.
I received a Show Cause order for untimely payment of a CLE fee.
13) Please describe the nature and extent of any pro bono work you have done. Is
there a pro bono matter to which you have contributed that best illustrates your values?
Under the 3rd year practice rule, I represented and defended juveniles in
delinquency and emancipation hearings. The most rewarding of these was
an emancipation hearing of a 16 year old who had a son, and whose mother
was using the infant’s social security number to fraudulently obtain credit
and other government benefits for herself. In addition to helping the teen to
become emancipated, over the course of my representation and beyond, I
was also able to instill in her the value of education in breaking the cycle of
Most of my legal career has been as a Magistrate. As such, I have not had the
opportunity to do more pro bono work because I am prohibited from
Concerning law and policy:
14) What are your views on the death penalty and the way death penalty cases are
handled in North Carolina? As a matter of the administration of justice, what should the
courts and legislature do about the death penalty?
Although capitol cases are not heard in District Court, my cannon of ethics
prevents me from any pronouncement of my views on such disputed legal
or political issues.
15) Do you perceive any racial discrimination in the criminal justice system? If your
answer is yes, what should be done to combat it?
Yes. This discrimination starts with law enforcement, where minorities are
disproportionately targeted as criminal suspects, and continues through
each stage of the process from arraignment to plea bargaining, sentencing,
jail and prison custody, parole and re-entry. Combating this discrimination
requires a combined effort of practitioners, educators and policymakers.
Discrimination in the court system is a reflection of much larger, more
complex social and economic challenges such as disparate access to
education, housing and jobs.
16) What are your views on the rights (including whether any such rights exist) of
homosexual persons to marry? Did you vote for or against Amendment One?
Again, I can’t comment as to my opinion on disputed legal or political
issues, as it may imply how I would decide a case that appears before me. As
a matter of fact, I voted against Amendment 1.
17) Do we incarcerate too many people in North Carolina? Do we incarcerate the right
people? Please explain your answer. What sentencing policy changes would you support
in your role as a trial court judge? Would you advocate for these policy changes publicly
and to the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission and in the North
Carolina judges conferences?
The evidence that large-scale incarceration is not the most effective way to
ensure public safety and prison overcrowding tend to show that we
incarcerate too many people nationwide. Further, I question several things
about the incarceration rate, namely the utility (or lack thereof) of lengthy
sentences for minor and non-violent crimes and the great racial disparity in
North Carolina. As such, I would support a review of minimum mandatory
sentencing guidelines for nonviolent crimes. These guidelines often limit
judicial discretion and don’t fully allow a trial judge to consider mitigating
factors. Nonetheless, I would remain committed to applying the law as
written and abiding by any such guidelines. When I am elected, I will
embrace the opportunity to not only render judgments but also to have a
voice in advocating for policy changes.
18) If elected, will you support the following programs: the Drug Treatment Court, the
Criminal Justice Resource Center, STAR, the Mental Health Treatment Court, the
Veterans’ Court, the misdemeanor diversion program for 16- and 17- year-olds, and the
newly established pretrial services program? If you have reservations about any of these
programs please explain them.
YES. I will support programs that facilitate treatment for mental health and
substance abuse, provide education and rehabilitation and/or allow
juveniles to avoid criminal records that would ultimately impede their
ability to become productive, employable citizens. I do think that medical
and psychiatric evaluations are necessary in order to assure that those
availing themselves of such resources are qualified for such treatment and
not simply trying to avoid more stringent sentencing.
19) How are you registered to vote? Have you ever changed your registration? If you
have changed your voter registration, please explain why.
Democrat. I have not ever changed my registration.
20) Who did you vote for in the 2008 and 2012 presidential and gubernatorial
2008- Barack Obama, Beverly Purdue
2012- Barack Obama, Walter Dalton
21) Have you ever been active in the campaign of a candidate for elective office (by
active we mean acted as campaign manager, treasurer, or paid staff, or contributed more
than $2,000)? If the answer is yes, please list the candidates and the offices they sought.
22) If you are elected, do you envision any community involvement beyond the
specific duties of the office? If yes, please describe that involvement.
I do look forward to becoming more involved in the community. Until
recently, I wasn’t very familiar with the People’s Alliance, but as a newly
joined member I hope to become active in efforts to reduce the poverty rate
in Durham, which is amongst the worst in the state. I also hope to discover
a way to advocate for a better public transportation system. While this may
inconsequential to many, the lack thereof greatly and adversely affects
citizens’ ability to maintain consistent employment and provide for their
families. I also place a high value on education and preparation. I have done
a great deal of tutoring over the past several years, but realize that I have
been too focused on simply getting my students through whatever classes
they find challenging. My plan going forward is to make a greater effort to
expose more youth to the tools that will prepare them for higher education
AMINAH M. THOMPSON
ADMISSION Licensed to practice in North Carolina, 2007
EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA SCHOOL OF LAW, Chapel Hill, NC
Juris Doctorate, May 2007
Activities/Honors: Broun (TYLA/AAJ) Trial Team, Competitor/Coach
Thurgood Marshall (BLSA) Mock Trial Team, Competitor/Coach
Journal of Law and Technology, Staff Writer
Gressman-Pollitt Oral Advocacy Award Winner
2006-2007 William H. Holderness Scholarship Recipient
2005-2006 Student Advisory Council to Dean Gail Agrawal
UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY FACULTY OF LAW, Sydney, Australia
Study Abroad, Summer 2006
Coursework: International Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Human
Rights and Global Economy, International Environmental Law
DUKE UNIVERSITY, Durham, NC
A.B. Sociology, May 2003
Activities/Honors: International Sociology Honor Society, Alpha Kappa Delta
Spring 2002 Initiate, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
UNIVERSITY OF GHANA, Accra, Ghana, West Africa
Study Abroad, Summer 2002
Coursework: Law, Politics, Arts & Culture
EXPERIENCE JUDICIAL BRANCH-STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, Durham, NC
Magistrate Judge, January 2009-Present
Preside over Small Claims Court and evictions, issue search and arrest
warrants, set bond, issue Involuntary Commitment orders, Ex Parte
Domestic Violence Protective Orders, and perform marriages.
WOMBLE CARLYLE SANDRIDGE AND RICE, Durham, NC
Contract Attorney, September 2008-January 2009
Reviewed and quality controlled documents for production in
complex litigation for relevance, privilege and confidentiality.
R. STEVE BOWDEN & ASSOCIATES, Greensboro, NC
Associate Attorney, October 2007-October 2008
Personal injury and malpractice litigation. Managed staff of seven
paralegals. Independently conducted client intake, negotiations,
legal research, discovery, mediations, arbitrations and jury trial.
JUDGE MATHIS, AND SYNDICATED PRODUCTIONS, INC., North Carolina
Court Researcher, July 2006-October 2007
Researched and recommended small claims cases in Durham,
Orange and Wake counties for hearing on court TV show.
A. THOMPSON ▪ Page 2
EXPERIENCE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA SCHOOL OF LAW, Chapel Hill, NC
CONT. Research Assistant, July 2006-June, 2007
Researched professional responsibility and constitutional issues.
Assisted in restructuring Sydney Study Abroad Program.
DUKE UNIVERSITY ATHLETIC DEPT., Durham, NC
Academic Tutor, January 2003-May 2006
Tutored college students in Spanish, English, sociology and chemistry.
UNC SCHOOL OF LAW CRIMINAL CLINIC, Chapel Hill, NC
Juvenile Public Defender, January 2007-May 2007
Represented juveniles during emancipation, delinquency and
LEGAL AID OF NORTH CAROLINA, Durham, NC
Legal Intern, August 2006-December 2006
Interviewed clients, researched and prepared memoranda on
consumer law and other civil issues including contract law, tax,
bankruptcy, real estate and domestic disputes.
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA SCHOOL OF LAW, Chapel Hill, NC
Research Assistant, June 2005-August 2005
Selected by Ruth McKinney, Dean for Legal Writing and Academic
Success, to proofread and update the first-year Research, Reasoning,
Writing and Advocacy curriculum and course materials.
LAND LOSS PREVENTION PROJECT, Durham, NC
Legal Intern, May 2005-August 2005
Researched and prepared memoranda on real estate disputes and
provision of legal services to underrepresented landowners.
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA ATHLETIC DEPT., Chapel Hill, NC
Academic Tutor, July 2004-August 2005
Tutored college students in Business Law, Media Law, Sociology,
Chemistry and Writing skills.
DUKE UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF SURGERY, Durham, NC
Research Technician II, June 2003-July 2004
Performed assays with live virus to identify immunogens that
generate broadly cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies against HIV
DUKE UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY, Durham, NC
Laboratory/Recitation Instructor, July 2001-May 2002
Developed lesson plans and instructed advanced general chemistry
laboratory of 20 students. Assisted instructor with administration and
grading of quizzes and tests.
PROFESSIONAL International Association of Women Judges
ASSOCIATIONS North Carolina Magistrates Association
Duke University Alumni Association
Duke University Campus Club
INTERESTS International Travel, Photography, Tennis, Writing