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1 
Judge Brian C. Wilks
March 16, 2014
To: Durham People’s Alliance Political Action Committee
From: Judge Brian C. Wilks
...
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matters and return to their normal days, be it working or attending school. Having sat in courtrooms long
hours waiting...
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Candidate’s Name: Brian C. Wilks
Residence Address: 2112 Hemlock Hill Drive
Durham, North Carolina 27703
Cell-Phone #: ...
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a. I have a strong faith system which coupled with my background and experience has formed
my strong sense of fairness ...
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the requirement of hearing, what he would need to provide to establish his child support
amount. The state was represen...
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b. The consideration by any governmental authority is something that cannot be discussed
whether in existence or not be...
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subject cannot guide my decisions on District Court cases I preside over. My job is to apply
the law fairly as it exist...
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BRIAN CLIFFORD WILKS
2112 Hemlock Hill Drive, Durham, North Carolina 27703
Home Phone (919) 596-8209
Work Phone (919) 8...
9 
PARTNER MARCH 2001- DECEMBER 2002
Simons, Fitzpatrick, Wilks & Slade Durham, North Carolina
Handled various types of ca...
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Brian Wilks 2014 PA-PAC Questionnaire

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Brian Wilks, candidate for NC District Court District 14 Justice, 2014 People's Alliance PAC Questionnaire

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Transcript of "Brian Wilks 2014 PA-PAC Questionnaire"

  1. 1. 1  Judge Brian C. Wilks March 16, 2014 To: Durham People’s Alliance Political Action Committee From: Judge Brian C. Wilks District Court Judge 14th Judicial District Candidate for Re-Election Re: 2014 Endorsements- Questionnaires and Interviews Dear Committee, I would like to express my sincere thanks in allowing me to respond to your questionnaire in an effort to better introduce myself and belief systems so that you may have additional information upon which to form your decision regarding endorsements. First, let me start by telling you a little about my background. I am married to my wife Lisa of 16 plus years and have two children (Justin, 13 and Jori, 11) that attend Rogers Herr Middle School in the Durham Public School System. I am originally from Chester, South Carolina, a small, rural farming and mill town. I am the youngest of 5 children who was raised by a mother that worked at a local plant and a father who was a farmer. My siblings and I are part of the first generation of college graduates in my entire family. I attended the University of South Carolina from 1989-1993, where I received a B.S. degree in Political Science. After graduating in 1993, I attended law school at North Carolina Central University School of Law where I graduated in 1996. After law school, I worked briefly for three months in Winston-Salem, North Carolina as a document review attorney. In January of 1997, I returned to Durham to take a position in the Durham County Public Defender’s Office as an Assistant Public Defender. I remained in the Public Defender’s Office for 4 years, during which time I represented indigent clients charged with criminal offenses ranging from low-level misdemeanors to high level felonies. My time in the Public Defender’s taught me the importance of quality representation for all charged with a criminal offense and the importance of making sure that the legal system and its rules were applied fairly and consistently. During my time as an Assistant Public Defender through the next 6-7 years, I also taught trial practice at North Carolina Central University School of Law. In this position, I was able to teach future lawyers trial skills necessary to zealously represent clients in court and assure that they were prepared to act professionally when appearing in court. Teaching at North Carolina Central allowed me to hone my temperament and communication skills that would prove to be important in my position as District Court Judge. In 2001, I ventured into private practice, first joining a solo practitioner along with one other attorney to form a firm and then practicing as a solo practitioner focused on providing quality representation to the citizens of North Carolina in a variety of legal matters, both civil and criminal as well as federal. My experience in private practice taught me time management skills and allowed me to be empathetic to not only the needs of citizens, but to attorneys alike regarding time spent in the courtroom. In private practice, there were many days that I had to travel from county to county and courtroom to courtroom in an effort to represent citizens. Many of these citizens needed to be able to handle their legal
  2. 2. 2  matters and return to their normal days, be it working or attending school. Having sat in courtrooms long hours waiting to handle matters as an attorney, as a current District Court Judge I try to be cognizant of the time I require people to remain in my courtroom. In 2003, I had an opportunity to leave private practice and accept a job as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of North Carolina. In this position, I represented the North Carolina Department of Corrections in complex personnel matters. I also drafted appellate briefs in criminal matters appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. While drafting criminal briefs and motions in civil cases I was able to develop my skills at research and writing. I remained at the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office until 2007 when I received a call from the Durham District Attorney’s Office asking me to return to Durham to work as the District Court Supervisor. This position gave me the opportunity to implement policies and procedures that would better manage the high volume of cases hear in District Courts, as well as supervise all District Court Assistant District Attorneys. From this position I gathered hands-on experience of District Court operations from a totally different perspective, which allowed me to balance my experience gained through defense work and bring me full circle in the practice of law. It was from this position that Governor Michael Easley appointed me as District Court Judge in 2008 to serve out the remaining two years of retiring Judge Craig Brown’s term. In 2010, I was fortunate enough to run unopposed for my seat, serving another four year term. This year, thanks to the support of the local bar and the citizens of Durham I again am unopposed for reelection. I truly believe that the blessing of being unopposed for a second full term comes squarely from the commitment I have made to treat everyone fairly, impartially, with dignity and respect. All attributes that I believe I have obtained from my faith, family rearing, and lessons I have learned in life along the way. To that end this personal statement regarding my background serves as a precursor to answering the questionnaire, because in reading the questions thoroughly, there are some questions as a sitting trial judge in District Court I do not believe I can answer and be in compliance with the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct to “uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary and to perform the duties of my office impartially and diligently.” See North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct Canons 1 & 2 Sincerely, Judge Brian C. Wilks District Court Judge 14th Judicial District
  3. 3. 3  Candidate’s Name: Brian C. Wilks Residence Address: 2112 Hemlock Hill Drive Durham, North Carolina 27703 Cell-Phone #: (919) 801-0776 email: brianwilks@hotmail.com About You: 1. Where were you born and where have you lived? When did you make Durham your home? a. I was born in Chester, South Carolina b. I lived in Chester, South Carolina (1971-1989); Columbia, South Carolina (1989-1993); Durham, North Carolina (1994-1996); Winston Salem, North Carolina (3 months in 1996) Durham, North Carolina (1997-present). 2. Are you a conservative or liberal? Please choose one and then explain your answer. a. I don’t place labels on myself and as a judicial officer it is my job and responsibility as an officer of the court to uphold the law as it is written and to assure equal applicability of the laws to all citizens, regardless of race, color creed or affiliation. See North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct Canons 1 & 2 and my personal statement. 3. Please describe how your religious beliefs and philosophical beliefs may affect your conduct and decision making if you are elected.
  4. 4. 4  a. I have a strong faith system which coupled with my background and experience has formed my strong sense of fairness and impartiality and the need for everyone to be treated equally regardless of their race, color, creed or affiliation. While my beliefs shape my sense of fairness, my decisions as a sitting judge have to be made based upon the law and the facts that come before me in the courtroom so that my actions uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary and allow me to perform my duties impartially and diligently in accordance with the canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct. 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. a. North Carolina Bar Association b. Durham County 14th Judicial District Bar c. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity d. St. Titus Episcopal Church e. Orange Grove Missionary Baptist Church f. Antioch Builds Community g. Durham Rescue Mission h. Durham Homeless Shelter i. Durham Food Bank j. Oak Grove Athletic Association k. State Employee Credit Union Advisory Board l. Bethesda Athletic Association m. Durham Striders Track and Field Club n. Teen Court o. John Avery Boys and Girls Clubs p. Pearsontown Elementary School q. Rogers Herr Middle School r. Future Attorney’s Challenging Elementary Students s. Durham Committee on the Affairs of Colored People t. George H. White Bar Association 5. If you have had an occupation other than law, please describe the occupation and the work you performed. Who were your employers? a. Adjunct Professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law. See personal statement and resume 6. Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense other than a minor traffic offense (such as a speeding)? If the answer is yes, please describe the circumstances and the outcome. a. I have not been convicted of a criminal offense. 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. a. I have not been the plaintiff or defendant in a law suit. 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 changes. Describe your client base as a part of your answer. a. See personal statement and resume 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. a. The first case was a case that occurred in Child Support Court. The case involved a self- represented individual who was self-employed that I had to establish the amount of child support he would have to pay. Being self -represented, the individual wasn’t familiar with
  5. 5. 5  the requirement of hearing, what he would need to provide to establish his child support amount. The state was represented by an Assistant District Attorney, trained in the practice of law. The citizen brought everything he had (receipts, bank records, payments made directly to custodial parent, travel expenses, salary from work study, graduate assistant jobs, etc.) several hundred pages of documents. I was tasked with taking all of the information and organizing and interpreting it out of session so that when we returned to court I would be able to follow his testimony. While the process was slow and methodical, we eventually sifted through all of the information to reach a resolution. Then reason I chose this case was because as a District Court Judge I regularly encounter pro se litigants and as such they need to know that the Judge is reviewing all of their information fairly, allowing them all the time the case needs to be heard and will treat them with the same impartiality as a citizen with a high powered, highly paid attorney would receive. b. The second case I would choose would not be a case in particular but any ordinary day in criminal district court where the docket may indicate 200 plus people to be heard and only having room in your court for 120. I chose this situation because it shows the temperament knowledge and ability needed to be a District Court Judge. If you do not possess the appropriate temperament, skill and ability, the daunting task of handling the number of cases that comes before you and allowing everyone the ability to be heard and rendering the most fair and just resolution could not happen. I believe my faith, background and job experience has prepared me to deal with the stresses that this situation creates. 10. DOES NOT APPLY TO MY SITUATION 11. If you are a sitting judge seeking reelection, are you satisfied with your North Carolina Bar Association Judicial Performance Evaluation score? 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, I any, you plan to take to improve your scores. a. As far as my score on the survey, I am humbled and thankful that my fellow attorneys rated me where I was rated. I don’t think any judge, including myself, is satisfied. To be satisfied it to believe that there is no room for improvement. I believe that there is always room for improvement, I didn’t grade out at a 5.0 which means there were some attorneys that felt I needed to improve in various areas. b. As far as the process, I think that any survey has a margin of error as there will always be some outliers as a result of whatever issues that individual person may have with the person being surveyed. I believe the results overall are a fair indication of my performance and my quest to be the best judicial official I can be. c. My steps and plans to improve my scores are to continue to try and uphold the canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct and to constantly ask for feedback from attorneys, citizens, and courthouse staff. Once getting the feedback, to implement the constructive criticisms as long as they don’t interfere with the Code of conduct that we are governed by on the State level. 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. a. I have not been publically or privately disciplined by the Bar or any other professional or occupational organization. Any public Disciplinary actions are a matter of public record with the North Carolina Bar.
  6. 6. 6  b. The consideration by any governmental authority is something that cannot be discussed whether in existence or not because it would be considered an ongoing investigation I am not making any affirmative representations that any such investigation exists, just that it couldn’t be discussed by any judge if one were to exist. c. I have never been found in contempt of court, which is a matter of public record. 13. Please describe the nature and the extent of pro bono work you have done. Is there a pro bono matter to which you have contributed that best illustrate your values. a. As a sitting judge I am not allowed to engage in the active practice of law. While in private practice I often saw citizens appear in court without the assistance of counsel and either volunteered as a friend of the court to assist them or was asked by the court to assist citizens, which shows the trust that the court had in my willingness to assist people in the courtroom. 14. What are your views on the death penalty and the way the death penalty cases are handled in North Carolina? As a matter of the administration of justice, what should be the courts and legislature do about the death penalty? a. As a sitting judge in the District Court Trial division, I cannot answer this question and be in compliance with Canons 1, 2 & 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. We as District Court Judges don’t preside over death penalty cases and my personal opinions on the subject cannot guide my decisions in District Court cases I preside over. My job is to apply the law fairly as it exists at the time, uphold the independence and integrity of the judiciary, avoid impropriety and perform the duties of my office impartially and diligently. See Code of Judicial Conduct 15. Do you perceive any racial discrimination in the criminal justice system? If your answer is yes, what should be done to combat it? a. As a sitting judge in the District Court Trial division, I cannot answer this question and be in compliance with Canons 1, 2 & 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. My personal opinions on the subject cannot guide my decisions on District Court cases I preside over. My job is to apply the law fairly as it exists at the time, uphold the independence and integrity of the judiciary ,avoid impropriety and perform the duties of my office impartially and diligently. See Code of Judicial Conduct and Personal Statement 16. What are your views on the rights (including whether any such rights exists) of homosexual persons to marry? Did you vote for or against Amendment One? a. As a sitting judge in the District Court Trial division, I cannot answer this question and be in compliance with Canons 1, 2 & 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. We as District Court Judges don’t preside over marriages and my personal opinions on the subject cannot guide my decisions on District Court cases I preside over. My job is to apply the law fairly as it exists at the time, uphold the independence and integrity of the judiciary, avoid impropriety and perform the duties of my office impartially and diligently. See Code of Judicial Conduct and Personal Statement 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 judge? Would you advocate for these policy changes publically and to the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission and in the North Carolina judges conferences? a. As a sitting judge in the District Court Trial division, I cannot answer this question and be in compliance with Canons 1, 2 & 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. To give my personal opinion one way or the other violates the Code of Judicial Conduct in that an answer in the affirmative gives the appearance that I may be partial to the rights of defendant in that too many people are being incarcerated. To answer in the negative would give the appearance of being partial to the rights of the alleged victims in that not enough people are being incarcerated. We as District Court Judges sentence people found guilty of crimes based upon the sentencing guidelines in effect at the time of sentencing and my personal opinions on the
  7. 7. 7  subject cannot guide my decisions on District Court cases I preside over. My job is to apply the law fairly as it exists at the time, uphold the independence and integrity of the judiciary, avoid impropriety and perform the duties of my office impartially and diligently. See Code of Judicial Conduct and Personal Statement 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 Veteran’s 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 a. I have presided over Drug treatment Court and recommend and assigned individuals to several of these programs. Any programs in existence aimed to stop the revolving door and recidivism rate in the court systems is something that needs to be considered for use. 19. How are you registered to vote? Have you ever changed your registration? If you have changed your voter registration, please explain why. a. As a District Court Judge, we run in non-partisan race, County wide. My party affiliation is a matter of public record and had never been changed. 20. Who did you vote for in the 2008 and 2012 presidential and gubernatorial elections? a. As a District Court Judge, we run in non-partisan race, County wide. My party affiliation is a matter of public record and had never been changed. See Personal Statement for background 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 $2,000.00)? If the answer is yes, please list the candidates and the offices they sought. a. I have not been active in the campaign of a candidate for elective office. 22. If you are elected, do you envision any community involvement beyond the specific duties of the office? If yes, please describe that involvement. a. I am not only an elected official in Durham, I am a citizen of Durham and constantly participate in the community as frequently and I can. A lot of my involvement revolves around my church and Durham public schools, since I have two Durham Public School students. I am asked to speak to various community groups as well as volunteer of our time, talents and treasures as a family to make Durham a better place to live.
  8. 8. 8  BRIAN CLIFFORD WILKS 2112 Hemlock Hill Drive, Durham, North Carolina 27703 Home Phone (919) 596-8209 Work Phone (919) 808-3206 Cell Phone (919) 801-0776 bwilks14@gmail.com brianwilks@hotmail.com EMPLOYMENT DISTRICT COURT JUDGE JULY 2008- PRESENT 14TH Judicial District Durham, North Carolina Preside over district court matters, including abuse, neglect dependency, child support, civil jury trial, criminal law cases, traffic court cases, as well as assigned to preside over Durham Adult Drug Treatment Court. DISTRICT COURT SUPERVISOR (DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE) MARCH 2007-JULY 2008 14TH Prosecutorial District Durham, North Carolina Responsible for supervising the District Court Assistant District Attorneys, as well as law school interns. Serve as a liaison for the District Attorney's Office to all other courthouse staff. Continuously implement guidelines and procedures to improve the efficiency of the District Courts. Review unassigned felony cases to make a determination whether the cases need to be indicted to Superior Court. Negotiate both felony and misdemeanor cases. Conduct trials and probable cause hearings. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL OCTOBER 2003 –MARCH 2007 North Carolina Department of Justice Raleigh, North Carolina Provided a broad range of legal services and litigation support to the North Carolina Department of Corrections and its divisions. Defended civil and administrative actions brought by Department of Correction Employees raising employment law claims before the Office of Administrative Hearings, the State Personnel Commission, and the State and Federal Courts. Drafted appellate briefs in an effort to uphold convictions in superior court criminal matters. ADJUNCT PROFESSOR 2000-2010 North Carolina Central University School of Law Durham, North Carolina Coached the traveling trial advocacy competition teams for both the National Trial Competition and the Academy of Trial Lawyers Competition. Prepared students to present a complete trial from pre-trial motions to closing arguments concerning criminal as well as civil issues. Instructed the students on all aspects of trial preparation, including courtroom decorum, oratory skills, opening statements, direct and cross examinations and closing arguments. OWNER/PROPRIETOR JANUARY 2003-OCTOBER 2003 The Law Office of Brian C. Wilks Durham, North Carolina Handled various types of cases, including family law, personal injury, divorce, real estate, estate matters, child custody and litigating criminal cases on district and superior court levels.
  9. 9. 9  PARTNER MARCH 2001- DECEMBER 2002 Simons, Fitzpatrick, Wilks & Slade Durham, North Carolina Handled various types of cases including criminal law, family law, abuse, neglect and dependency, real estate, personal injury, bankruptcy, divorce and child custody. Co-managed a four-person law firm with a five person legal assistant staff, which included assigning office tasks to staff, preparing payroll, and conducting client interviews. ASSISTANT PUBLIC DEFENDER JANUARY 1997-FEBRUARY 2001 Durham County Public Defenders Office Durham, North Carolina Handled various criminal law cases on the district court and superior court levels, including juvenile court cases. Handled misdemeanor appeals and felony level trials in superior court. Conducted numerous client interviews and plea negotiations. CONTRACT ATTORNEY SEPTEMBER 1996-DECEMBER 1996 Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice Winston Salem, North Carolina Reviewed documents to ascertain their responsiveness in preparation for litigation. Reviewed the responsive documents to determine if any privilege existed under the federal rules of evidence. EDUCATION J.D. LAW 1993-1996 North Carolina Central University School of Law Durham, North Carolina B.A. POLITICAL SCIENCE 1989-1993 The University of South Carolina Columbia, South Carolina LICENSES & ADDITIONAL TRAINING   Member of the Durham County Bar Association  Member of the North Carolina Bar Association (Admitted August 1996 #23340)  Member of the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (Admitted 2001)  Advance Cross Examination School, Atlanta, GA  National Criminal Defense College, Macon, GA  NITA Teaching Certification  Attended and successfully completed the management training program conducted by the Office of State Personnel MEMBERSHIPS  Member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated  Member of the Antioch Builds Community Board of Directors  Former Member of the State Employee’s Credit Union Advisory Board

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