North Carolina District Court 10
Name as it appears on the ballot: Dan Nagle
Campaign website: DanNagleforJudge.com
Phone number: 919.787.6812
Years lived in the state: 50
Please tell us what in your record as a public official or private citizen demonstrates your ability to be effective, fair, and impartial on the bench? These might include career or community service―please be specific.
I have been a resident of Wake County for 50 years, and I have served the citizens of this County all of my adult life: as a firefighter, as a law enforcement officer, as a prosecutor, and now as district court judge. My combined experience in these roles provides a unique perspective that no other candidate would bring. I have seen, at all levels, how the law is a tool that can be used to help resolve both individual and community problems. I have also seen and recognized how the law is a very powerful agent that must be applied in a fair and just manner.
What do you believe qualifies you to serve as a district court judge?
My qualifications to serve as district court judge include all of my experience with the district court over the past 38 years as a law enforcement officer, as a prosecutor, and as district court judge. While working with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, I responded to calls and complaints from citizens, interviewed victims and suspects, and when appropriate pursued criminal charges or made referrals to community resources. While serving with the Sheriff’s Office, I served as a juror twice. Once on a civil trial, and once on a criminal trial. After retiring as major from the Sheriff’s Office, I attended law school. While pursuing my undergraduate degree in Justice Studies, I interned with the law firm of Hatch, Little, and Bunn, LLP. While pursuing my Juris Doctorate, I interned at the North Carolina Supreme Court, the District Attorney’s Office in Wake County, and the Public Defender’s Office in Wake County. After graduating from law school, I served as an assistant district attorney with the Wake County District Attorney’s Office where I resolved thousands of cases in the district, superior, and juvenile courts by plea, trial, diversion, or dismissal. Since my election as district court judge, I have presided over close to two thousand criminal, traffic, driving while impaired, probation violation, involuntary commitment, civil and criminal domestic violence, and child support pleas, trials, or hearings.
How do you define yourself politically? How does that impact your judicial approach?
The office of district court judge is a non-partisan office. It is my judicial philosophy that a judge is bound to apply the law as it is written by the legislature and consistent with the United States and North Carolina Constitutions and the decisions of the appellate courts. Should I disagree with a law or its effect, my remedy is to consult with those who formulated the law, the legislature, and seek to change that law through the political process. Throughout my career, as a law enforcement officer, as a prosecutor, and now as judge, I have consistently followed the rule of law, fairly and consistently, without fear or favor.
What do you believe are the three most important qualities a judge must have to be an effective jurist? Which judges, past or present, do you most admire? Why?
The three most important qualities a judge must have to be an effective jurist are integrity, a thorough understanding of the law, and a commitment to withhold judgement and listen to all of the evidence and arguments of the parties. The three judges I admire most are Chief District Court Judge Robert Rader, Superior Court Judge Carl Fox, and Chief Justice Mark Martin of our North Carolina Supreme Court. I chose these three because they each possess the honor and integrity I look for on the bench.
The INDY’s mission is to help build a more just community in the Triangle. How would your election help further that goal?
My re-election as district court judge would help build a more just community because I have a strong sense of justice, and in every role I have served in the justice system, I have treated people fairly with dignity and respect; I have followed the law; and I have made well-reasoned decisions. I will continue to follow these principles.
What do you think are the three most crucial issues facing the state’s judicial system at the moment? Explain how, if elected, you’d help remedy those issues. And how do you think district courts can play a role?
The three most crucial issues facing our State’s judicial system are (1) outdated technology, (2) insufficient community-based resources for alternatives to incarceration, and (3) the criminalization of behaviors in our schools that, too often, bring our young people into contact with the criminal justice system. I have advocated and will continue to advocate for improvements in our technology, and I fully support the current improvements underway as a result of the leadership of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the Legislature. I have, and I continue to seek out community-based resources to serve as an alternative to detention, incarceration, or imprisonment. I support the current efforts in our schools and law enforcement to move away from involvement of the criminal justice system through in-school and community-based resources. I have been a volunteer with the Teen Court program in Wake County, and I have served as a volunteer judge with several high school mock trial programs, and I will continue to serve in programs such as these that provide our young students with knowledge and understanding of our courts.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the district you’re running in?
The biggest issue facing the tenth judicial district and others is the inability to resolve cases in a fast and efficient manner. Since my election, I have worked very hard to ensure that cases within my span of control are resolved within the time limits set by our local rules. I have also, since taking the bench, attempted to minimize the number of times a defendant and his or her lawyer must appear in court before the case is resolved. I work very hard, every day, to ensure I process our cases in the most efficient manner
Do you think the judicial system is becoming too politicized? Explain.
I would not say the judicial system in our state is becoming too politicized. The majority of judges I know resist political influence in executing their constitutional duties. The judicial system is a distinct branch of our government that must always maintain its independence, and the judges and judicial candidates must remain true to that objective. Every judge upon his or her election takes an oath to “support the Constitution of the United States” and to “be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina and to the constitutional powers which are or may be established for the government thereof” and to “endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of [our] State . . . .” I have taken that oath 10 times throughout my span of service to the citizens of this County, and I have faithfully executed the duties of each of the offices I have held to the best of my ability and will continue to do so.
Some district courts are beginning to implement misdemeanor diversion program for young and/or first-time offenders. What are your thoughts on such programs?
Misdemeanor diversion programs are essential for young and first-time offenders. The diversion programs allow an offender to be held accountable for their criminal behavior while ensuring they will not be saddled by a criminal conviction that will, most likely, negatively affect their ability to obtain a job, be accepted to the school or college of their choice, or even be able to participate in extra-curricular activities while in high school. Diversion programs allow a person to return to the path of success when they have diverted from it after having made a bad choice.
Bails are often issued to ensure that someone suspected of a crime shows up to court. But in some cases the bail amount is so high that the accused―especially those with lower incomes―cannot afford it and thus will remain behind bars without being convicted. How can district courts work to ensure a fair bail system for everyone?
District court judges are required by law to set a reasonable bond for a person charged with a crime, taking into account a number of factors, including the ability of the person to post the bond, the likelihood of the person appearing at all subsequent court proceedings, and the danger to the community presented by the accused if released. To accomplish these objectives, the judge must ask questions regarding all of the factors. Moreover, the best practice would be to conduct a bond review hearing on every occasion where the case is before the judge until the charge is resolved.
What are your thoughts on implementing mental-health treatment courts across the state?
Mental-health treatment courts across this state are a necessity and are a priority for the Governor, our Chief Justice of our State Supreme Court, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and many judicial districts across our state, including here in Wake County. Many of the criminal cases in our district court are driven by underlying mental-health issues, and without addressing these underlying issues, the court is simply a revolving door, accomplishing nothing. Our district is currently in the process of developing a mental health court that will improve the outcomes of cases where mental health issues contribute to the behaviors leading to the criminal charge.