Full Legal Name: Damion Lavon McCullers
Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Damion McCullers
Party: Democrat (race is non-partison)
Date of Birth: 2/7/1978
Campaign Web Site: www.mccullersforjudge2012.com
Occupation & Employer: Attorney, McCullers & Whitaker PLLC
Years lived in Wake County: 34
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?
There are a number of issues facing the 10th Judicial District. However, I still believe the most important is the scores of young people coming through the criminal justice system as defendants. Our county has a pandemic gang issue and rising alcohol and drug issues surrounding youth and very young adults. My priorities as District Court judge will be protecting the citizens of Wake county, ensuring the administration of justice is done fairly without any favoritism or bias toward anyone, and making sure that we not only focus on punishment but also the community resources that may be a tool to combat these issues before they become opportunities for repeat behavior.
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.
I have had the unique blend of perspective and experience of having dealt with District Court from each attorney vantage point. I have prosecuted criminal cases and defended criminal (adult and juvenile) cases. I have done civil and domestic work as a plaintiff's attorney and a defendants attorney. I have dealt with every type matter I will hear from each perspective. This is important in making me an effective District Court judge because I have developed the tools that will allow me to analyze each citizens case and make a sound, well reasoned ruling.
I also have been in active in the community I will serve. I have volunteered with Helping Hand Mission, True Outreach Addiction and Behavioral Services and other community oriented programs. My involvement has given me the opportunity to see firsthand the obstacles and stumbling blocks that our citizens may face. This experience will assist me being an effective District Court Judge as I know that behind each case there is a person, family, and or citizen that will be affected.
3. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
Politically I define myself as a candidate who believes that regardless of party affiliation there are common threads in our fabric of humanity that should guide each of us, especially those in positions of authority and trust. Respect, fairness, honesty, and integrity are a number of those. My philosophy shows validity in past achievements. An example is that my peers in the 10th Judicial District Bar voted to have my name submitted to the Governor as a potential appointee (in the interim) to the seat I am currently running for. I was very humbled and feel this is a testament to their belief that I am and will continue to be committed my philosophy.
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.
One principled stand I would take if elected is to follow the law even on "hot button issues". I will follow the Statutes and Constitution. In doing so, I will make the hard decision. For example, in a criminal case, if the state meets it burden of proof I will make a finding of guilty. However, if the burden is not met, even if the crime is one the that may cost me popularity points with voters I must follow the law and make a finding of not guilty.
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?
I am uniquely qualified for the position I am seeking. I earned a bachelor of science in Criminal Justice from North Carolina Central University. I am a graduate of the Campbell University's Norman A. Wiggins School of Law. I have been licensed in North Carolina State Court as well as the Middle District of North Carolina Federal Courts. I have practiced in Wake County since becoming licensed in 2004. I have had the opportunity to touch on every facet of district court representation. I have prosecuted (3rd year practice rule) with the Wake county District Attorney's Office, worked as a private defense attorney(McCullers & Whitaker PLLC), handled a myriad of civil matters, and worked as an attorney for Legal Aid of North Carolina . These experiences have equipped me with tools that will ensure I am a fair and effective District Court Judge. Further, I possess the temperament to deal with the successes and opportunities for improvement in our district court. I am committed to, as the oath states, administering justice without favoritism to anyone or the state and faithfully and impartially discharging the duties of District Court Judge staying consistent with the Constitution and laws of the state.
6. How long do you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?
I plan to serve as long as the citizens of Wake County will have me. This is an opportunity for me to give back and serve the county that has shaped and molded the person I am today. I will be able to serve for the remainder of my career.
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.
I support a possible increase in the age for juvenile jurisdiction. While involved in defending juvenile cases I have had the opportunity to interact and speak with juveniles in this very situation. While some of the accusations in the petitions were very serious, some of my clients even though they understood what they were charged with simply were not mature enough to appreciate the gravity of the consequences they were facing.
8. What is your experience in juvenile court? What can be done to prevent delinquency and gang involvement?
I have experience dealing with juvenile petitions. Prevention of delinquency and gang involvement is key. Reaching out to our youth through resources in the community such as after school programs (i.e. Boys and Girls Clubs), marching bands (Helping Hand Mission), and basketball leagues (i.e. Raleigh Police Department Summer League) are a good start. We must also reach out to parents to let them know what is available. Further, we as citizens should take an opportunity to talk with our youth and tell them why gang involvement and delinquency are not roads they want to travel as opposed to simply saying "don't do this". One last key is showing youth examples of people who are positive that came from similar or the same situation (neighborhood, socio-economic, etc.) that they are in now. As with any form of interaction effective communication of information is critical. Effective communication of resources, reasons not to participate, and examples of positive similarly situated persons are what I believe to be key in combating our juvenile delinquency and gang challenges.
9. What improvements could be made in the Wake County judicial system to expedite the trying of cases and ease caseloads?
Each component of the 10th Judicial District (judges,attorneys,clerks,etc) do their best daily to move dockets and serve the citizens. However, there are opportunities for improvement in expediting the trying of cases and easing caseloads. Communication between counsel may be an area that can be improved. Each side letting the other know if cases are ripe for trial would assist in moving cases through the docket. One final improvement may be making citizens aware of the resources already in place to assist them. An example is the administrative office of the courts website where citizens can find information such as court dates and times. This will cut down on the number of missed court dates, orders for arrest, and motions for new court dates. In turn, the docket will move along and ease some of the congestion.