Mark Davis | Candidate Questionnaires - Statewide | Indy Week
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Mark Davis 

Full Legal Name: Mark Davis
Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Mark Davis
Office Sought/District: North Carolina Court of Appeals, statewide
Party: This is a non-partisan office; I am a registered Democrat
Date of Birth: 1966
Home Address: PO Box 62, Raleigh, NC 27602
Mailing Address (if different from home): PO Box 62, Raleigh, NC 27602
Campaign Web Site:
Occupation & Employer: Attorney; Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals
Years lived in Durham: I’ve lived in Raleigh since 1991
Home Phone: (919) 218-0505
Work Phone: (919) 218-0505

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?

My top three priorities continue to be fairness, using my experience to serve the people of North Carolina, and upholding our North Carolina values.

1. Fairness.

As voters get to know the candidates on the statewide Court of Appeals ballot, I make this pledge: I will be fair to everyone who comes to my court.

I’ve served on the Court of Appeals since 2012. By election day I will have decided more than 600 cases. In each case, I’ve worked hard to study all the legal issues, to listen carefully to every person in the courtroom, and to fairly decide all the matters brought before me. At no time should a personal or political agenda enter into a judge’s decision-making.

For me, fairness also means working to:

• protect the quality of life for all North Carolinians;

• protect the rights of our people and businesses; and

• ensure that the judicial system works fairly and impartially for everybody, according to the law.

2. Experience.

I bring almost two decades of prior experience to the court. Before I became a judge on the Court of Appeals, I had 19 years of experience as an attorney, serving as a Special Deputy Attorney General for four years, working in private practice for 13 years, and serving as General Counsel to the Governor for two years. Before I joined the court, I handled hundreds of cases in state and federal courts.

3. North Carolina values.

I was born in Jacksonville and grew up in Fayetteville. I’ve lived my whole life in North Carolina. So has my wife Marcia, who was born and grew up in Wilmington. We’ve been married 21 years and have three children: Jack, Ted, and Lea. They’re 15, 11, and 6.

You learn the values of a place when you and your family live in it and grow with it. My wife and I learned the values of hard work and giving back to the community. For me, a great source of satisfaction -- and hope for our future -- comes from spending time with my family and watching my kids and their friends grow up.

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.

As I mention above, my fairness, my experience serving the people of North Carolina, and my North Carolina values combine to provide me with the ability to be effective on the bench.

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

I firmly believe that no judge should bring a political or personal agenda into the courtroom. My job as a judge is to apply the law carefully and fairly for everyone -- no matter who they are.

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

Justice means fairness. That’s my job and my commitment to the Triangle community and to people throughout North Carolina. My experience and my values help me work for justice and fairness in our state.

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

My responsibility is to decide every case fairly. That’s different from the responsibility of those in the political branches of government -- the executive and the legislative. We’ve all seen the growing influence of politics in our courts, and in my judgment that’s an unwelcome development. I’m just going to keep doing my job -- running a fair courtroom, with no politics involved.

6. The Court of Appeals does not hold oral arguments for a large portion of cases, and a large portion of opinions go unpunished. Is this an adequate way to build a body of case law?

I believe the Court of Appeals makes an extremely valuable contribution to our court system. Most cases in our state are decided at the Court of Appeals level, and our body of case law is substantial, sound, and widely respected.

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

It is very important. As a judge, my job is to apply the law, and there is no higher legal authority than the Supreme Court.

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

The public financing system that was in effect in North Carolina until recently had many proponents. However, the decision to do away with that system was a policy decision reserved under our Constitution to the General Assembly. I am disturbed by the recent trend toward negative advertisements in judicial races.

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

On several occasions, I have recused myself from cases in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

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?

As I’ve said repeatedly, my personal beliefs don’t matter. What people should expect -- and demand -- is a fair and impartial courtroom and judge. That’s what I will continue to provide.

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.

This is a policy question -- a question for our political branches of government. My job is to fairly apply the laws as written. It is the job of voters to elect legislators and governors to create the laws they prefer.

Questions 12 - 19 are policy questions as well.

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

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

14. Does the death penalty place an undue financial burden on the courts?

15. 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?

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

17. Has the current processing for redistricting served the State well?

18. Have the legislative branch unduly depleted the power of the judicial branch in terms of civil procedure?

19. 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?


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