Mark Martin | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Mark Martin 

Candidate for NC Supreme Court

Name as it appears on the ballot: Mark Martin

Party: Nonpartisan

Date of Birth: April 29, 1963

Mailing address: Martin for Chief Justice, PO Box 2087, Raleigh, NC 27602

Campaign Web Site: www.martinforchiefjustice.com

Occupation & Employer: Senior Associate Justice, NC Supreme Court

Years lived in Durham: n/a (have taught law students at NC Central and Duke law schools)

Work Phone: 919-831-5712

Email: martinforsupremecourt@gmail.com


1. If you have made pledges, taken positions or otherwise commented on how you might rule in office, what are your top three priorities or issues of concern for the coming term?

Judges should conduct themselves in a manner that promotes public trust and confidence in the fairness, impartiality, and integrity of the judiciary. Although I cannot forecast how I might rule in future cases, I can say that legal rules work best when they are applied with consistency and predictability. Because I have served 15 years on the NC Supreme Court and 4 years on the NC Court of Appeals, there is an extensive public record of my appellate decisions. The cases I have authored and participated in since 1996 are available on the NC Courts website at http://appellate.nccourts.org/opinions/. You may also learn more about me at my campaign website: www.MartinforChiefJustice.com

2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the bench? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.

The Chief Justice leads the NC Supreme Court and supervises the administration of justice in all 100 North Carolina counties. Every person in our State’s history who has been elected as the NC Chief Justice has first served as an Associate Justice on the NC Supreme Court. I am the only candidate in this race who has served on the Supreme Court, the Court I hope to lead. I am the only candidate in this race who has authored an appellate decision, the core duty of Supreme Court Justices. I have authored over 400 appellate decisions during my 19-year tenure on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. I am the only judge in North Carolina who has served on the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Superior Court. I have worked diligently to promote the rule of law in North Carolina and across the country. I have served as Vice-President of the North Carolina Bar Association. I currently serve as Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Judicial Division, which is comprised of nearly 5,000 judges and lawyers across the country. I previously served as Chair of the ABA Appellate Judges Conference and Chair of the Appellate Judges Education Institute. In recognition of my efforts to strengthen the rule of law in the United States, I am one of only 123 individuals to be inducted into the Burger Society of the National Center for State Courts. I have issued a comprehensive plan to strengthen the administration of justice in North Carolina as follows: (1) apply innovation to strengthen our courts; (2) pursue adequate and sustainable funding; (3) incorporate improved use of technology; (4) promote civics education; (5) improve justice system mental health resources for individuals and families; (6) strengthen the rule of law; and (7) promote institutional transparency and accountability.

3. The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

Every person is a stakeholder in our system of justice. Fair and impartial courts are an important component of a just society. When a justice system is working optimally, people have equal access to justice and are accorded the equal protection of the law. My extensive justice system experience both as a trial and appellate judge will help ensure that a knowledgeable person serves as our next Chief Justice and advances the goal of strengthening our justice system in the Triangle and in all 100 North Carolina counties.

4. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

Judges take an oath to uphold our Constitution and laws. During my 21 years of judicial service, I have endeavored to uphold my oath of office and make the legally correct decision in every case without regard to the popularity of those decisions.

5. Do you favor or oppose public financing of judicial races? Please explain. What changes would you make to the current system to improve it?

There is no perfect way to select and retain judges. State justice systems should use a process that selects judges based on fairness, impartiality, and integrity. The people of North Carolina prescribe in our Constitution that judges and justices shall be elected. I favor a continuing dialogue on ways to improve our judicial selection and retention procedures, with the caveat that voters should continue to have a role in this process. To the extent we retain an elective system for selecting our statewide appellate judges and justices, there will be the associated need for resources to communicate with an ever-expanding statewide electorate of over 6.4 million voters.

6. Have you ever recused yourself from a case or, as a lawyer, faced a conflict of interest? Please describe the case.

I have recused myself on several occasions during my 21 years of judicial service. I have done so, and will continue to do so, in proceedings where my impartiality could reasonably be questioned.

7. The passage of mandatory minimum sentencing laws has removed some of the discretion judges, juries and prosecutors used to exercise in the sentencing phase of criminal trials. Should judges have more or less flexibility in the sentencing phase than currently allowed under North Carolina law? Please explain.

As a policy matter, I believe that judges should have more flexibility in sentencing. When I served as a superior court judge, judges had more flexibility and could increase or reduce punishment based upon the evidence presented in court and the existence of aggravating and mitigating factors.

8. In this new technological world, do you perceive a conflict between government surveillance and the need to protect an individual’s privacy?

Yes. Balancing these interests in our post-911 world is one of our country’s greatest challenges.

9. What are your thoughts about criminal culpability for young people? Is the North Carolina criminal justice system treating them appropriately?

Issues relating to this policy issue are reasonably likely to be litigated in our courts and, therefore, I am constrained to avoid commenting on this issue.

10. Does the death penalty place an undue financial burden on the courts? If so, assess the impact.

Issues relating to this policy issue are reasonably likely to be litigated in our courts and, therefore, I am constrained to avoid commenting on this issue.

11. Justice Department Officials had instructed federal prosecutors across the country not to focus federal resources on individuals who were complying with state laws regarding the use of medical marijuana. As a judge, do you find this philosophy confusing?

Issues relating to this policy issue are reasonably likely to be litigated in our courts and, therefore, I am constrained to avoid commenting on this issue.

12. The law offers special protections to racial and ethnic minorities. Are members of the LGBT community sufficiently protected?

Issues relating to this policy issue are reasonably likely to be litigated in our courts and, therefore, I am constrained to avoid commenting on this issue.

13. Has the current process for redistricting served the State well?

Issues relating to this policy issue are reasonably likely to be litigated in our courts and, therefore, I am constrained to avoid commenting on this issue.

14. Has the current process for redistricting served the State well?

As Chief Justice, I will do all I can to ensure that the judicial department of state government is accorded the respect appropriate for a co-equal branch of government.

15. There is not complete judicial uniformity across the state; some jurisdictions, for example, have family and drug courts while others do not. Are we meeting the needs of the entire state?

No. Consistent with budgeting limitations, I will work to increase uniformity of these and other programmatic structures across the State.

  • Candidate for NC Supreme Court

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