Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Jacqueline L. Brewer
Date of Birth: March 17, 1954
Campaign Web Site: www.keepjudgebrewer.com
Occupation & Employer: Wake County District Court Judge
Years Lived in Wake County: 22 ½ years
1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing your judicial district? What are your top three priorities in addressing these issues?
Two important issues facing our judicial district are overcrowded dockets and the rising crime rate. The courts also need more resources. Since I have been on the district court bench, I have worked diligently as well as long courtroom hours to help move cases through our system so that every citizen's case may be resolved in a timely manner without compromising the administration of justice.
One reason for our rising crime rate is the current status of our economy and the increasing number of substance abusers. This issue should be addressed by our continuing to fund a drug treatment court, maintaining and creating more substance abuse treatment programs both within the Department of Corrections and in the community, and bolstering programs to enable our citizens develop job skills.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be an effective district court judge? This mighty include career or community service; be specific about it's relevance to this office.
District Court is a trial court. Prior to becoming a District Court Judge, I had been in private practice for approximately 1 year and served as an assistant district attorney for nearly 27 years. Consequently, I have 28 years of actual trial experience. During those 28 years, I have tried cases on a daily basis in nearly every district courtroom. Based on this experience I have been able to make a very quick transition into the role of a district court judge and I have first hand knowledge of the issues that are confronted in our courts.
3. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
Judges are non-partisan elected officials. This is extremely important because of the work we perform. We must and are required to judge each case that comes before us on an individual basis and apply the law to each case without regard to political considerations.
4. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I have and will continue to listen to every case with an open mind, determine the facts and apply the law to those facts as I find them and render a decision without regard to the popularity of those decisions.
5. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election help further that goal?
By being elected to continue my position of a district court judge, I will continue to apply the law in a fair and just manner. I will continue to strive to be the kind of judge that renders justice impartially to all parties.
6. How long do you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?
I plan to and will serve my full four year term.
7. North Carolina prosecutes 16-year-olds as adults. (Thirteen-year-old juveniles who are charged with felonies can also be prosecuted as adults, if transferred from juvenile court.) Do you support the raising of the juvenile jurisdiction to 18? Please explain why or why not.
Juvenile cases like adult cases need to addressed on a case by case basis. Because some are more serious and more egregious than others, there is the need for judges to have some discretion in determining if individuals in a particular age range should be treated as adults. However, setting the age for juvenile jurisdiction is a legislative function and not a judicial function. It is the duly of a judge to apply the law as enacted by the legislature.
8. Are you in favor of raising suggested bond guidelines for serious felonies? Are you in favor of unsecured bonds for Class 2 and 3 misdemeanors? Please explain why or why not.
Suggested bond guidelines are just that -- suggested. As an elected judicial official a district court judge is not bound to a specific bond amount or a specific condition of bond. Chapter 15A of the North Carolina General Statutes set forth the criteria that a judge is to consider when determining the amount and conditions of pretrial release. One of those criteria is the nature and classification of the offense alleged. I have and will continue to base bond amounts and conditions using those criteria as set out in Chapter 15A of our General Statutes.
9. What is your experience in juvenile court? What can be done to prevent delinquency and gang involvement?
I have previously represented the State of North Carolina in the prosecution of cases in juvenile court, so I am very familiar with juvenile law and procedure and am able to quickly make the transition of presiding over juvenile proceedings. Many of the issues of delinquency and gang involvement can be addressed by more community involvement in areas such as the mentoring programs. Also more programs need to be implemented to provide juveniles with alternative outlets for the time and energy.
10. District court judges do not continue cases past 120 days after the first appearance. Is that too long, or too short? Why?
There is currently no statutory speedy trial statute. There is a constitutional requirement for a speedy trial. Cases should be heard and resolved as expeditiously as possible with all parties having a chance to be heard. However, the administration of justice should never be sacrificed for expediency.
11. Do you favor or oppose public financing of judicial races? Please explain. What changes would you make to the current system?
I favor public financing of judicial races. Public financing allows individuals to run for judicial positions without having to be concerned about raising money, except for the threshold amount. This helps to avoid conflicts of interest. The change that I would make would be to allow Superior and District Court Judges to participate in the public financing since public financing currently does not apply to the trial level. However, for judges at this level, particularly the district court level, the threshold should be lower.
12. The state Court of Appeals recently overturned a conviction of a man sentenced to more than 60 years in prison, citing the district attorney's delaying of his trial for nearly five years. If elected, what will be your procedure for ensuring that defendants receive a speedy and fair trial? What is your opinion of upholding the right to a speedy trial, when the consequence of doing so might be that a person guilty of a serious crime goes free?
As a trial judge it is my responsibility to ensure that every person charged with a criminal offence receives a fair and impartial trial as well as a speedy trial. I would continue to rule on continuances individually as they came before me depending upon the length of the delay and the reason for the delay.
13. North Carolina's Habitual Felon Act mandates that repeat felony offenders receive more punitive sentences. Should judges be given more discretion to impose sentences tailored to each individual case? Please explain your answer.
Habitual felon sentencing does not occur at the district court level. Our current sentence structure, including the Habitual Felon Act, allows for judges to have some discretion in sentencing individuals. That discretion is based upon a grid that classifies crimes and also creates various sentencing levels depending upon the defendant's prior record level. Also, within the classification and sentencing level for criminal offenses, judges have some additional discretion based upon aggregating and/or mitigating factors.