Full Legal Name: Cressie H. Thigpen, Jr.
Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Cressie Thigpen
Seat Sought: Judge NC Court of Appeals
Partisan Affiliation: Democrat
Date of Birth: 08-12-1946
Home Address: 1208 Hunting Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC 27613
Mailing Address (if different from home):
P.O. Box 2515, Raleigh, NC 27602 (campaign office)
Campaign Web Site: www.judgecressiethigpen.com
Occupation & Employer: State of North Carolina, Judge, NC Court of Appeals
Bachelor's Degree Year & Institution:
BS, Business Administration with a minor in Spanish, 1966, North Carolina Central University
JD Year & School: 1973, Rutgers University
Years lived in North Carolina: 63
Home Phone: 919-847-1472
Work Phone: 919-256-3689 (campaign headquarters)
1. What are your top priorities or issues of concern for the coming term?
My top priority is handling the caseload of the Court of Appeals and getting my opinions out in a timely fashion. There are fifteen judges on the court. We are responsible for hearing over 1,800 cases each year. I believe attorneys and their clients are entitled to receive timely opinions in cases that are appealed to the court.
2. What qualifies you to serve?
I have experience with all aspects of the judicial system. This broad legal experience makes me uniquely qualified to serve on the NC Court of Appeals:
Court of Appeals Judge
Superior Court Judge
35 years in private practice representing plaintiffs and defendants.
Experience with civil, criminal, domestic, real estate and business law.
Teaching experience (adjunct instructor at the NCCU Law School)
Served on the Board of Law Examiners
President of the NC State Bar
Judicial temperament: Courteous, Patient, Fair and Impartial, Thorough
3. How do you define yourself politically? How does that impact your judicial approach?
All judicial races are non-partisan races. However, my judicial philosophy is simple. I believe in the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of North Carolina. I believe in the rule of law and that everyone deserves to have his or her day in court. I believe that everyone who appears in court has the right to be treated courteously and with respect.
4. FOR INCUMBENTS: What have been your most important decisions in your current capacity? FOR CHALLENGERS: What decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with?
I was appointed by Governor Beverly Perdue to the Court of Appeals on August 23, 2010 to fill the seat previously occupied by Judge Jim Wynn. Because of my recent appointment, I have not yet had the opportunity to render an opinion. However, I will begin hearing cases during the September 27 session of court.
5. What do you feel was the U.S. Supreme Court's most important recent decision? Did you agree with the majority? What is the role of that court in setting precedent for North Carolina's appellate courts?
Probably the recent case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This is the case in which the United States Supreme Court held that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in a candidate election cannot be limited under the First Amendment. My responsibility as a state appellate court judge is to follow the holding in the Citizens United case whether I agree or disagree with the holding.
The role of the US Supreme Court is to decide cases involving the US Constitution and federal law. Our job as judges on the North Carolina Court of Appeals is to follow the precedent set by the US Supreme Court when we are deciding cases involving the US Supreme Court's interpretation of the United States Constitution.
6. Do you feel that North Carolina's current system of judicial elections serves the state well? Are there other forms of selecting judges you feel would function better or worse than the current one?
There is currently a debate regarding the benefits of merit selection of judges as opposed to our present system of judicial elections. The arguments for merit selection are that it minimizes political considerations in the selection of judges, improves the quality of the judiciary and ensures judicial independence. The primary argument for the election of judges is that it increases the accountability of judges who have to stand for re-election. I think our obligation as a state is to try and determine which system produces the most qualified judges and allows the judiciary to remain independent. I think a study would be in order to determine which system is better. There are other states that use merit selection rather than an elective system. We may now have enough information that would allow us to determine which system, or combination of systems, might be better.
7. Have you ever pled guilty or no contest to any criminal charge other than a minor traffic offense? Please explain.
8. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
It is difficult for me to answer this question because I might address an issue that might come before me as a judge. However, we must ensure the independence of the judiciary such that judges can make decisions based on the law even if those decisions happen to be unpopular with voters.
9. Do you favor or oppose applying a plain error review to all alleged errors in capital cases? Do you favor or oppose mandating appellate review in post-conviction capital cases to help avoid arbitrariness in review of post-conviction capital cases by superior court judges? Please explain
Capital cases do not come before the NC Court of Appeals, so these questions would not be applicable to my position on the Court of Appeals.
Thank you to the publisher, editors, and staff at the Independent Weekly for these thoughtful questions. I appreciate the opportunity to introduce myself to you and your readers. Please contact me or my staff if we can provide any additional information.
---- Judge Cressie Thigpen