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Doretta Walker 2014 PA-PAC Questionnaire


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Doretta Walker, candidate for NC District Court District 14 Justice, 2014 People's Alliance PAC Questionnaire

Published in: News & Politics
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Doretta Walker 2014 PA-PAC Questionnaire

  1. 1. 1 People’s Alliance PAC 2014 Questionnaire Candidate’s name: Doretta L. Walker Residence address: 7 Cedar Bluff Ct, Durham, NC 27704 Cell phone number: (919) 695-2073 e-mail: DORETTA L. WALKER P.O. Box 753 Durham, NC 27702 (919) 695-2073 EDUCATION: University of North Carolina School of Law Chapel Hill, North Carolina J.D. May, 1993 Licensed to Practice in North Carolina August, 1993 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill B.S. 1990, Administration of Criminal Justice/Psychology Honors: Dean's List 3.0 Academic Achievement Award, Fall 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 EXPERIENCE: District Court Judge. Durham County Fourteenth Judicial District, Durham, NC (Jan. 2011 thru present). Hear cases in district courtrooms in Durham County specifically in Family Court, Child Support Court, Criminal Court, Civil Court, and Traffic Court. Presided over Juvenile Drug Treatment Court for six months prior to its dissolution. Assistant District Attorney, Durham County District Attorney Office, Durham, NC (May, 1997 – presently). Prosecute felonies and misdemeanors. Supervisor of Property and Fraud Team in District Attorney’s Office. Specialty areas include prosecution of cases involving Elder Abuse, Identity Theft, Fraud Cases and working with other State agencies. Instructor, Durham Technical Community College. Durham, NC (2005 –presently). Instruct in Criminal Justice Program: Ethics, Intro to Criminal Justice, Court Procedure and Evidence. Judicial Clerk, North Carolina Court of Appeals, Judge James A. Wynn, Jr, Judge Clifton E. Johnson and Judge Patricia Timmons- Goodson. Raleigh, NC (June 1994 – May 1997). Draft memoranda, bench briefs and opinions. Legal research on a wide variety of legal
  2. 2. 2 issues. Proofreading and cite checking advance sheets and opinions for accuracy. Attorney-Contractor, Carolina Legal Assistance, Raleigh, NC (Jan - June, 1994). Draft pleadings on a contract basis arguing entitlement to class membership in the Thomas S. class action. COMMUNITY & BAR INVOLVEMENT: Godmothers, 2011 thru present. 14TH Judicial District Bar & Durham County Bar Association, Board Member, 2002 – 2010. 2009 – 2010 First Vice-President 2008 – 2010 Chair, Scholarship Committee 2008 – present Member, Scholarship Committee George H. White Bar Association, Treasurer 2000 – 2010; Member, 2000 – present Scholarship Committee 2000 – 2013 Speaker, 2011 – present. Various organizations and schools. SALT (Seniors And Law enforcement Together) 2006 – present Durham Raiders, Board Member, 2006 – 2008 Partners For Youth, Mentor, 1999 – present Triangle Champions Track Club Board Member, 2010 - present Facility Supervisor, Durham Parks & Recreation, City of Durham (March 1995 - 2006.) Customer Service Rep, In-Touch Monitoring Center, Interim, Raleigh, NC (1996-2008). Temporary Worker, Tarheel Temps, UNC-CH (March 1993 - June 1994). Guardian Ad Litem, GAL Program, Durham, NC (Fall, 1991-Jan. 1994). Legal Intern, Carolina Legal Assistance, Raleigh NC (Summer 1992) Mediator, VORP/Dispute Settlement Center, Chapel Hill, NC (Spring 1992). Minority Advisor, Office of Student Counseling, UNC (Fall 1987- 1990). Volunteer, C.A. Dillon School, Butner, NC (Spring, 1989-1990). Volunteer, John Umstead Hospital, Butner, NC (Spring, 1989). REFERENCES: Available upon request.
  3. 3. 3 Questions on People’s Alliance PAC Questionnaire – Doretta Walker 1. Where were you born and where have you lived? When did you make Durham your home? I was born and raised in Durham by my mother and have lived here all of my life. She was sick for most of her life but still gave us everything she could. Even though we were poor, education and achievement was stressed as a desired goal for the children in our family. While attending college in Chapel Hill, I came home every weekend to work. I was brought up to be compassionate to everyone and to assist those who were in need if I was able to do so. 2. Are you conservative or liberal? Please choose one and then explain your answer. Canon 3 of the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct requires that judges not appear to be willing to rule in such a way. As judges we are not to do or say anything that may diminish the public’s confidence in our integrity and fairness. Answering questions such as this one might cause any ruling I make to be looked upon as being unfair or favoring one party over another. Also, we cannot convey to any group that they may be in a position to influence our decisions in any way. Moreover, we are to abstain from public comment about the merits of a pending proceeding in any court dealing with a case or controversy arising in North Carolina or addressing North Carolina law. 3. Please describe how your religious and philosophical beliefs may affect your conduct and decision making if you are elected. As a judge, I am charged with applying the law to the set of facts before me without regard to my personal beliefs or religious preferences. To do otherwise would certainly violate the canons of ethics. While I am entitled to express my personal beliefs and practice my religion according to the dictates of my faith and conscience in any private setting, I do not see the judiciary as a place to exercise my personal faith or opinions when it comes to carrying out my responsibilities as a jurist. 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. I am a member of the Fourteenth Judicial District Bar & Durham County Bar Association (was First Vice President and Chair of the Scholarship Committee); George H. White Bar Association (Treasurer); SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together); Triangle Champions Track Club; Godmothers; NCNW –Durham Section; National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Incorporated (Krinon Editor), and Partners for Youth.
  4. 4. 4 5. If you have had an occupation other than law, please describe the occupation and the work you performed. Who were your employers? I have served as an instructor at Durham Technical Community College for the past decade teaching Criminal Law, Ethics, and Court Procedure and Evidence. 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 the outcome. No. 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. No. 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. I was an Assistant District Attorney for thirteen plus years. I handled complex white collar crimes in the office and property offenses. I specialized in cases involving elder abuse and neglect, identity theft, fraud cases, and property crimes. I was the supervisor of the fraud and property team in the Durham County District Attorney’s Office. Additionally, I handled prosecutions involving counterfeit trademarks and goods, and cases involving other state agencies. 9. If you are a judge in the trial division, please describe two trials over which you have presided which best illustrates your abilities and temperament as a trial judge. Explain why you selected the cases you described. Canon 3 of the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits me from commenting on pending proceedings and specific cases and controversies that have come before the court. I work in family court and almost all of the cases are subject to being opened for modifications. I deal with cases involving child custody, among other things. In general, these cases involve intense and traumatizing events that occur in a family’s household. The dissolution of a family and the resulting consequences to children who through no fault of their own see their world as they know it disintegrate is also a reason why I would never comment on such matters outside the court. In each of the trials that come before me I am called upon to listen and decide from the facts what’s in the best interest of the child. This as you may imagine takes patience, as families are hurting, sometimes angry, and even fearful of the outcome and how it may impact their life and the lives of their children. My responsibility is to discern the truth and the credibility of witnesses and the evidence presented in any given situation. This requires patience and a willingness to listen to each side present their case even if they have difficulty expressing
  5. 5. 5 their thoughts and feelings. It also means being understanding even if the witnesses’ statements and evidence are contrary to what is considered traditional and acceptable. Judges have broad discretion in determining the weight to be given to the evidence presented and are required to use this discretion wisely. Therefore, I have to be attentive and discerning while remaining open to whatever issue may arise. I believe that this is what I do best. As a District Court Judge, I am tasked with making fair and impartial decisions while applying the relevant law based upon the facts presented in the case. I do so without regard to outside influences and pressures such as financial contributions, political leanings and support, socio-economic status, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or the national origin of the persons before the court. 10. If you are not a trial judge, please describe two of your case 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. I am and have always been one to strive to achieve the very best that I can; therefore, I will never be satisfied as long as there is room to improve. I would say that the current process is one measure of evaluating members of the judiciary. I believe it should be weighed in light of its subjectivity because it asks over twenty thousand attorneys in North Carolina to rate the judges that they have appeared before or have had professional interaction with in the categories of Integrity & Impartiality, Legal Ability, Professionalism, Communication, Administrative Skills and Overall Performance. The general idea is good, but the process can be greatly distorted. For example, I received a less than favorable score from some attorneys in the category of legal ability. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Law School and went on to clerk for three of the best judges ever to serve on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, viz., Judge James A. Wynn (now on the United States 4th Circuit Court of Appeals), the late Judge Clifton E. Johnson, and Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson (First African-American female to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court). After that, I prosecuted thousands of defendants every year and handled complex white collar crimes and issues for over a decade. Additionally, I regularly teach about the court system and evidence. That being said, as to the various categories, we all can improve and no one is perfect. I will continue to set high standards for myself as a Judge and seek the support and input of judicial mentors as well as avail myself of various learning opportunities.
  6. 6. 6 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 warning 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 given rise to the action or complaint against you. Answer: No to all of above. 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? I have not worked as a private attorney; however, I have been a volunteer in my community all of my life. I have served as a mentor with Partners for Youth since the inception of the program over a decade ago where I provide mentoring and guidance to youth about activities, education, and social skills. I also volunteer with SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) where I work with senior citizens, educating them about issues in the judicial system and the law that are relevant to their lives. Additionally, I have done speaking engagements and shared in discussions with youth at various schools in Durham. 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? The North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges from commenting on cases and controversies addressing North Carolina law and from commenting on cases that are pending. This involves issues that are making its way through our courts in North Carolina. Additionally, this is not a matter of which District Court Judges are called upon to decide. 15. Do you perceive any racial discrimination in the criminal justice system? If your answer is yes, what should be done to combat it? Racial discrimination is one of the many forms of discrimination that exists in many areas of our society today. I believe it can only be eradicated when people of all races come together as the human race and make their collective voices heard loud enough to decide that it it must end. As a member of the judiciary, I insist upon affirming the dignity of all persons who appear before the court and affording them all of the rights and privileges given to any other person or citizen no matter their status. I am especially sensitive to seeing that we protect each person’s right to be heard and treated with fairness before the court because they are most vulnerable in our criminal justice system. As a judge, it is my responsibility to be fair
  7. 7. 7 and impartial and apply the law pursuant to the applicable rules and the Constitution of our State and nation without regard to race, gender, religion or national origin. 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? The North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges from commenting on cases and controversies addressing North Carolina law and from commenting on cases that are pending. My position as a jurist is that all citizens are entitled to due process and the rights afforded to them under our Constitution. Moreover, as a judge, it my responsibility to uphold the laws and statutes passed by the legislative branch and signed into law by our governing bodies without regard to my personal opinions or position on a particular issue. 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 this policy change publicity and to the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission and in the North Carolina judges conferences? The North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges from commenting on cases and controversies addressing North Carolina law. As a judge, I cannot answer questions which may be used to diminish the integrity and fairness of the judiciary. Sentencing policy changes that I support would include allowing judges to have more discretion in sentencing as cases are determined on a case by case basis and when the facts and circumstances are different between individuals. The North Carolina Judges Conference has passed various resolutions advocating for many policy changes which I support. 18. If elected, will you support the following programs: the Drug Treatment Court, the Criminal Justice Resource Center, STARR, 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. I support these programs. I only hope that the programs will be fully funded so that all persons in need of them can benefit as others have in the past. I have witnessed firsthand how various programs have been started and then discontinued even though successful. The Youth Drug Treatment Court was disbanded after the money used to fund it was taken away. This program and similar ones like it are of a great benefit not only to the ones that are being served, but to the community as well. Your politics:
  8. 8. 8 19. How are you registered to vote? Have you ever changed your registration? If you have changed your voter registration, please explain why. I have been a registered Democrat since I first voted at age 18 and have maintained my status as such continuously. 20. Who did you vote for in the 2008 and 2012 presidential and gubernatorial elections? I supported the Democratic Party ticket. 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. I contributed to my own race for District Court Judge 22. If you are elected, do you envision any community involvement beyond the specific duties of the office? If yes, please describe that involvement. Yes, I have been involved in my community since I was in grade school and plan to always give back to the Durham community and its youth. In addition to the involvement previously mentioned, I plan to continue speaking to civic and educational groups to educate the community about our court system and mentoring and performing various outreach efforts as a means of connecting with more of our youth in various venues. We all have a stake in decreasing crime and making our community a safe place to live. We also owe the people we serve our best efforts in seeing that everyone among us has a fair chance and a good start at the greatest opportunity for achievement and success as a member of the community.