Daniel T. Barker
Candidate for District Court Judge, District 10
Full Legal Name: Daniel Thomas Barker
Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Daniel T. Barker
Party: Judicial Races are Non-Partisan
Date of Birth: July 27, 1965
Campaign Web Site: www.BarkerForJudge.com
Occupation & Employer: Attorney, Law Offices of Daniel T. Barker, PLLC
Years lived in Wake County: 24+
1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing the District 10 District Court? What are your top three priorities in addressing these issues?
The most important issues currently facing our District Courts in Wake County are the inefficiency of the system and the high volume of cases. While these issues are distinct, successfully addressing the first issue, will ease the difficulties caused by the second. Historically, efforts to solve problems in government have typically begun with community leaders asking for more resources. In our current economic climate, requesting larger budgets is neither fiscally possible nor politically popular. In short, we are going to have to figure out a way to solve the problems of overcrowded and inefficient courtrooms without spending more money. As a district court judge, I would address these important issues in three ways. First, I will be efficient with the resources we have, starting with time in the courtroom. Arriving and beginning Court on time is critical to the efficient administration of justice when we have such busy dockets. Second, I will advocate for the smart use of technology to improve efficiencies within the district court where the same can be done without interfering with the fairness of proceedings to the parties. For example, expanding the use of web-based scheduling systems currently used in our domestic courts. Lastly, within a given court session, I will schedule matters in a way that will most effectively use the court's resources while being respectful of everyone's time.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be an effective district court judge? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
For over 18 years, I have practiced law in the Court where I now seek election.
As a general practitioner with a broad legal background, I serve a wide array of clients in my law practice. I have tried cases, negotiated settlements, worked out plea agreements in criminal cases, won and lost criminal trials, and represented clients with estate issues before the Clerk of Court. I have the courthouse experience in District Court to serve as your Judge.
I am a member of the NC State Bar, North Carolina Bar Association, Wake County Bar Association (Communications / Technology Committee), and the Wake County Academy of Criminal Trial Lawyers. From 1999 to 2009, I was certified by the NC State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Specialist in the area of Real Property Law, Residential Transactions.
Among my clients and colleagues, I am known as an attentive listener, open-minded, insightful and caring. I am dedicated to the law and have a genuine concern for fairness, a strong sense of professionalism, and respect for all those who participate in the judicial system.
I am the father of two school-aged children, a leader in my church, a trustee at my children's school, and participate in community activities including Scouting, Y-Guides, and the Appalachia Service Project.
I have the legal and life experience to be an effective Judge in District Court. I believe that my service in our community is indicative of my commitment to the people of Wake County and my successful career as an advocate indicates my preparedness to serve you as a District Court Judge.
3. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
Judicial races in Wake County are designated "non-partisan." They are so designated to keep politics out of the judicial selection process. The Code of Judicial Conduct limits my ability to comment on my "political philosophy." My belief and commitment is that if given the chance to serve on your Court, I will administer justice with a sense of fairness and impartiality that transcends political labels.
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.
Judges make decisions every day that leave someone unhappy. It is the nature of the work. Given that someone is always going to be unhappy, a judge must be, and I am, willing to stand strong against the winds of popularity and follow the law.
5. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
The dictionary defines "just" as "fair and impartial; acting with fairness and impartiality; morally correct; reasonable." The adjective goes to the very essence of serving as a judge in a court of law. While on a subjective level it is difficult for a criminal defendant or civil litigant to accept "losing" her case, I believe on an objective level, we all share an understanding of what "fair" means. In court, "fair" can seem complicated because there are very specific rules that govern the "field of play." I will endeavor to administer justice in a fair and impartial way, and to do so with kindness and respect for all who appear before me. My experience as an advocate has always been that everyone appreciates the chance to tell his story. As long as a Judge acts fairly and impartially, exhibits kindness to all in the courtroom, and treats every person with respect, while a party may disagree with a ruling or judgment, at least they can accept it, knowing that they received a fair hearing.
6. How long do you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?
I will be 47 if elected in November and plan to serve as long as the people of Wake entrust me with the office.
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.) A bill to raise the juvenile jurisdiction age to 18 is expected to be considered in the 2012 legislative session. Do you support the age increase? Please explain why or why not.
My job, if elected, will be to follow the laws as enacted by the Legislature and as interpreted by the Courts of NC and the United States. The essence of the Code of Judicial conduct, as I interpret it, limits my ability to speculate on bills that have not yet become law in North Carolina.
8. What is your experience in juvenile court? What can be done to prevent delinquency and gang involvement?
While I have had a diverse practice over my legal career, including both civil and criminal cases, I have had limited experience in the juvenile courts. Nonetheless, I am a proud and engaged parent of two elementary age children, serve on the Board of Trustees of my children's school, and have an opportunity to engage with children through Scouting, my church and the Y-Guides program. My experiences in these organizations, and as a parent have taught me the value of proper parenting and the paramount importance of active positive involvement in the lives of children. In my opinion, the best way to prevent delinquency and gang involvement among youth is to be actively involved in all aspects of their lives, to put the tools of positive parenting to work in our homes, and above all, to be an example of what we as parents want those children to become. Gangs and juvenile delinquency exist in part, because some children are not receiving the required nurturing. I recognize that with the demands of life, not every parent is capable, or sadly even willing, to be as involved as necessary in their children's lives for those children to be successful. In those cases, mentoring programs and positive, after-school programs are instrumental in redirecting their lives. As a community, we all share in the responsibility of raising children to be responsible adults.
9. What improvements could be made in the Wake County judicial system to expedite the trying of cases and ease caseloads?
Leveraging technology, peremptorily scheduling cases, and creating specialized courtrooms are, in my opinion, the best ways to address overcrowded courtrooms and expedite matters before the Wake District Court. The problem of overcrowded dockets has existed in Wake County for at least the 18 plus years that I have practiced law in those courts. I do not want to give the impression that the problem is easy to solve or that I have all the answers. I will share one example of how I initiated a small change that made a beneficial difference in the courthouse for all those who use it. Several years ago the procedure for attorneys and litigants to confirm which judge was assigned to their trial courtroom was to obtain a copy of the updated courtroom schedule from the District Court Judges' office in the courthouse. The result was that many people had to physically appear at the office to obtain the information. I coordinated people and resources from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and the judges' office so that the information could be posted on the AOC website by judicial office personnel. The result is beneficial in two ways. The public can now retrieve the information through the AOC website and the judges' office personnel are freed up to deal with other issues.