Dean R. Poirier | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Dean R. Poirier 

Candidate for N.C. Court of Appeals

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Name as it appears on the ballot: Dean R. Poirier
Date of Birth: 11/05/1957
Campaign Web Site:
Occupation & Employer: Appeals Referee, N.C. Employment Security Commission and Adjunct Instructor of Law for Mount Olive College, North Carolina Wesleyan College, Kaplan University and Liberty University
Years lived in North Carolina: 22

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?

I have made no pledges nor taken any positions or otherwise commented on how I might rule in office.

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 N.C. Court of Appeals is a “work horse” environment, requiring judges who are able to properly apply the law to a wide variety of cases in an effective and efficient manner. As an Appeals Referee with the Employment Security Commission I have heard over 10,000 appeals and I have effectively and efficiently rendered as many legal decisions. As an adjunct instructor of law for 4 different colleges and universities, I have helped literally thousands of students deconstruct, analyze and understand thousands of cases, rendered by the N.C. Court of Appeals and other state and federal appellate courts, covering many different areas of law.

3. How do you define yourself politically and how do your political and legal philosophies show in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

Though I am generally not fond of labels because I understand that most individual’s views and beliefs tend to cross the spectrum, I believe that it would be fair to describe me as a “common-sense constitutionalist”, devoted to achieving justice within the limits of the rule of law. I believe that the essential role of a judge is to render a just and impartial decision, based on the facts and the law. However, in addition, I understand a judge must be ever mindful of the fact that his decisions are not mere academic exercises, but that they seriously affect the lives of real people. A judge must therefore demonstrate sincere respect and compassion for all those parties who come before him and for all those people whose rights and welfare will be impacted by his decisions.

I believe in “Judicial Humility” as opposed to “Judicial Arrogance”, “Judicial Restraint” as opposed to “Judicial Activism”. I believe that judges have no popular mandate to act as policy makers; rather, judges should defer to the elected branches of the federal and state governments with respect to policy so long as they stay within the confines of their powers as defined by the U.S. and state constitutions.

I believe that our laws should be a reflection of our highest ideals and not our basest instincts. I also believe that our courts should be used as instruments to uphold the rule of law instead of devices to circumvent it.

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

I acknowledge the obviously truth that there is only one race, the human race, and that all other distinctions are based upon a lie that has been used to perpetuate disparate treatment for centuries. I believe that no person is above the law, and that no person deserves to be excluded from its protection. I believe that all people are created in the image of God, and as such, have inherent value and dignity. I believe that our leaders in all arenas, including the judicial arena, should be servant leaders, dedicated to helping others achieve their fullest, God-given potential.

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

I believe that all human life is sacred, and that no person, no judge, and no government has the right to decide which lives are worth living, based simply upon the perceived quality of that life.

6. What is the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in setting precedent for North Carolina’s appellate courts?

I believe that the North Carolina Appellate Courts should be strongly guided by decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, but not absolutely so, where a decision of that higher court is clearly unconscionable, clearly void of any sound legal reasoning or clearly inconsistent with the dictates of the U.S. or North Carolina Constitutions.

7. 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, but I believe the current system is unnecessarily complicated and unduely burdensome upon judicial candidates. I would favor a simpler system, with lighter qualifications, so that judicial candidates can spend more of their time on educating voters about their experience and judicial philosophies, and less on raising money.

8. How do you view Canon 7 of the N.C. Judicial Code of Conduct regarding the personal solicitation of campaign contributions, taking positions on issues and endorsing candidates for other offices? Please explain.

I believe that these limitations are inappropriate and unnecessary. Judges are human beings with their own feelings, views and prejudices. It is absurd to perpetuate the fiction that they are not, or that they must not be. What we should instead expect in a judge is that they be able to set aside those feelings, views and prejudices and render decisions based strictly upon the facts and the law in each individual case.

9. Have you ever recused yourself from a case or, as a lawyer, faced a conflict of interest? Please explain.

Yes where cases involved colleges for whom I have taught classes.

10. Sometimes state laws conflict with personal beliefs. Please list the two laws with which you are most uncomfortable personally. How do you deal with those conflicts?

I don’t think this is an appropriate question for a judge to answer. It’s one thing to take a general position on an issue, but it’s quite another to make a public pronouncement regarding a particular law or laws.

11. 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.

I believe that, in the interest of justice, judges and prosecutors should have more flexibility to exercise their discretion, because no 2 cases are alike. However, I also think that these officials should be held to account for obvious abuses of their discretion, because they are acting under a public trust.

12. 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.

I do not favor applying plain error review to all alleged errors in capital cases. Efficiency should not be given priority where an individual’s life is on the line. Though I do not necessarily favor mandating appellate review, I would not be greatly opposed to it, for essentially the same reason.

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