May 3, 2022
Three pairs of judicial hopefuls addressed the Forum this morning about their goals in running for District Court judge, the state of systemic racism and inappropriate treatment within the judicial system, and their thoughts on how the courts can be better prepared to maintain their momentum during the next pandemic.
A few questions submitted by participants were not asked or answered. The text of those questions are posted below the video. The Forum invites the candidates to e-mail how they would answer any of those questions, for posting with the question below. A few candidates offered answers in the chat box. They will be posted Wednesday.
Under current state law, all District Court judges sit on cases from all of Mecklenburg County. Seats are numbered as in the graphic above. A number of other District Court seats, which are uncontested, will be on the November ballot.
At the conclusion of the session, facilitator Mary Johnson prompted a short search for ideas on how to promote voter participation. The video from that inquiry is here.
From the chat box
Can you each talk about the role of politics in the judicial race? is there a place for it?
Jackie Edwards Walton:
What are your thoughts on bail?
Response from Chris Bazzle:
Bail and conditions of release must focus on dangerousness and likelihood of returning to court. It can NOT be driven by wealth and race. We need to continue taking steps like how we have changed and continue to implement our local bail policy to reflect these ideals embodied in our laws. We need to continue using data that removes the impact of race and wealth to make these decisions. We need to continue using tools like PreTrial services that allow for non-monetary conditions that can also provide supervision. I am proud to be taking these steps to a better system.
Response from Keith Smith:
I am a proponent of expanding pretrial release especially for non-violent offenders. Bail determinations must consider the severity of the offense, public safety, and flight risk while taking into consideration the fundamental principle that everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty.
What will be your judicial philosophy?
Dr. Sylvia Bittle-Patton:
Despite the importance of each of your offices, they tend to be the ones that are the most unfamiliar to the public. All judicial candidates typically say that they will be “impartial and fair,” among other promises, but the data, particularly for Black and Brown communities don’t always support the promises. As a current judge or member of the legal community, what are two criteria that you use (or tell your family and friends to use) to determine which judicial candidates get your vote?
Jackie Edwards Walton:
Could you please send answers to the questions regarding bail and diversity training for judges?