Full Legal Name: Vartan Ambar Davidian, III
Name as it Appears on the Ballot: V.A. (Woofer) Davidian III
Seat/ District: Gregory seat/Wake County District Court Judge (10th Judicial District)
Partisan Affiliation: This is a non-partisan race, but I am a registered Republican.
Date of Birth: June 30, 1969
Home Address: 8641 Kings Arms Way, Raleigh, North Carolina
Mailing Address (if different from home): 5617 Departure Drive, Suite 109, Raleigh, NC 27616
Campaign Web Site: www.davidianforjudge.com
Facebook page: Davidian for Judge
Occupation & Employer: Attorney/Partner at Sandlin Davidian P.A.
Bachelor's Degree Year & Institution: 1991, UNC-Chapel Hill
JD Year & School: 1999, Regent University School of Law
Years lived in North Carolina: 38
Home Phone: 919-845-9808
Work Phone: 919-850-9199
1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing the District Court? What are your top priorities or issues of concern for the coming term?
The most important issues facing Wake County District Court are efficient use of the resources we have due to our ever growing population in Wake County and showing respect for all participants in the court system. Wake County is the most populous county in our state and the district court courtrooms directly reflect that. It is essential to provide meaningful access to the legal system to the citizens of our community and afford them the opportunity to have their cases heard. However, as a practical matter, those interests must be balanced with the reality of the sheer number of litigants that pass through the courthouse doors. A number of measures have been implemented in Wake County district court to achieve that balance including the designation of a specific courtroom for DWI trials, family court, and the building of the new courthouse. Dealing with the balancing act between efficiency and access, while at all times providing the public with respect, fairness, impartiality, are issues facing the district court system.
Moreover, respect for the individuals who appear in District Court – including litigants, attorneys, police officers, GAL's, and witnesses among others is imperative. District court is the forum ordinary citizens are most likely to have meaningful contact with an elected official. While folks may not always like or agree with the disposition of their case, at a minimum each person should be treated with courtesy and professionalism by the judge and should leave the courtroom feeling the same way, regardless of the result.
2. What qualifies you to serve?
Quite simply, the extent of my legal experience, the depth of my district court practice and my temperament. Wake County district court has as many as 17 courtrooms in operation on a daily basis. Each courtroom has a distinct function and district court judges are called upon to preside over a myriad of legal matters, including juvenile matters, civil litigation, domestic violence, child support, custody, support and other family law issues, traffic and criminal matters. I have practiced in District Court in all of these areas and represented litigants in each of these courtrooms.
Following graduation from law school, I served in the Navy as a JAG officer in the Naval Legal Services Office. I defended clients facing felony and misdemeanor charges. As the legal assistant department head, I advised over 500 clients on landlord tenant matters, estate planning, domestic relations issues, and consumer law. When I returned to Wake County and entered private practice, I maintained a diverse practice representing clients in family law cases, traffic and misdemeanor charges, juvenile proceedings, and civil matters. If elected, I can be assigned to any district courtroom and participants can be confident that I will be familiar with the law, the process, and the issues I am asked to decide.
I work hard. I treat peers, litigants, and courthouse personnel with respect. I have a reputation among my colleagues and the community for honesty, integrity and diligence. I am mindful of my ethical obligations as a lawyer, the expectation of professionalism on the bench, and the need to keep current on the law. I believe I am considered, insightful, thorough, conscientious, knowledgeable and fair by those with whom I come in contact, both personally and professionally. I know I will be and I believe my peers with agree with me, that I will apply the law fairly and impartially to all who come into the courtroom.
3. How do you define yourself politically? How does that impact your judicial approach?
Judicial elections are non-partisan and that is how I view them. Politics have no place in the judiciary and on the district court bench in particular. I believe in the rule of law as written in the Constitution, of equal protection and due process, and that each person that comes before the Court is entitled to be treated equally and fairly. Every case and every person will be treated with respect and have their case heard by a fair and impartial judge. That is the approach I will bring to the bench.
4. FOR INCUMBENTS: What have been your most important decisions in your current capacity? FOR CHALLENGERS: What decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with?
The incumbent was only appointed to office in February 2010 and as such, has not been in office long enough to establish any real track record.
5. What do you feel was the U.S. Supreme Court's most important recent decision? Did you agree with the majority?
Given that we are talking about judges, Caperton v. Massey. I agree with the decision in that particular case.
6. Do you feel that North Carolina's current system of judicial elections serves the state well? Are there other forms of selecting judges you feel would function better or worse than the current one?
The North Carolina Constitution requires that judges shall be elected (Article IV, sec. 10. District Courts). This is currently one of the most hotly debated topics among members of the North Carolina bar and unfortunately, there is no perfect answer or system. A purely appointed bench may not be representative of our diverse citizenship and allows merit and qualifications to fall prey to political patronage. A hybrid process, such as the retention system, holds promise in that it would allow for the appointment of technically qualified judges and the checks and balances of voter approval. Indeed, general elections rightfully empower voters and they are the hallmark of our democratic process. Elections require judges to be accountable to the public and responsible for their decisions. However, what is truly needed – and what I strongly support – are elections made by an informed electorate. More attention could be and should be brought to the judicial elections. Information about candidates' background, experience, reputation, and temperament must be widely and impartially disseminated so that voters can make educated and informed decisions. This forum is a good start.
7. Have you ever pled guilty or no contest to any criminal charge other than a minor traffic offense?
8. Is there anything else you'd like to add about yourself or the issues that are important to you?
As a long-time Wake County resident, I have had the opportunity to interact with many members of our diverse community. I have earned a sound reputation among peers and colleagues in my profession. I am considered thoughtful, compassionate, knowledgeable and fair by the people I have encountered in my personal and professional life. I am open-minded, fair-minded and when necessary tough-minded.
As a JAG officer, I developed a strong sense of honor, integrity and commitment. As a husband and father, I have gained the necessary practical insight and perspective to make confident, well-reasoned decisions from the bench. I view service on the District Court bench as an opportunity and privilege to share my skills, knowledge, experience, judgment and temperament with the citizens of Wake County. If elected, I promise to work hard, to honor my oath to support the Constitution, and to administer justice fairly, faithfully, and impartially.
9. 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.
The district court bench is not a popularity contest. Every case is going to have an "unpopular" side, whether it is a DUI, misdemeanor case, a child custody case or equitable distribution case. A judge's job is to listen to the evidence, determine the facts, and apply the law as written to the facts. I pledge to do so in a fair and impartial manner to all persons who come into the courtroom.
10. On the District Court level, what improvements can be made in terms of the juvenile justice system? What are the weaknesses or constraints in the court's handling of juvenile offenders?
Three major improvements need to be made to the juvenile justice system: early intervention, the improvement of community-based alternatives for juvenile offenders, and increasing the age of juvenile justice offenders from 16 to 18. Early intervention means early identification of troubled youth. Keep these kids in school, out of gangs, and out of the court system. If the children are in the court system, then something has gone wrong somewhere else. We need proactive – rather than reactive - remedies such as more placement alternatives, mental health services, and gang prevention resources. Most critically, we need family management. Families are the infrastructure of success and more programs are necessary to encourage and involve parents and assist families as a whole. Finally, North Carolina is perhaps the only state where juvenile jurisdiction does not extend to 16 and 17 year olds. In every other aspect, children are minors until they are 18. The criminal justice system is not the place to make an earlier distinction and to perhaps, allow teenage lapse in judgment to manifest itself as a permanent blemish on that minor's future.
Of course, there is a profound lack of resources available to address these issues and make the necessary changes. So, money and manpower are serious constraints that only an improved economy will change. However, as a community, we can prioritize education; think creatively; and volunteer; as parents, we must stay involved, engaged and informed with our children.
Thank you for your support,