John Arrowood | Candidate Questionnaires - Statewide | Indy Week

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John Arrowood

John Arrowood
  • John Arrowood
Full Legal Name: John Stanley Arrowood
Name as it Appears on the Ballot: John S. Arrowood
Office Sought/District: N.C. Court of Appeals (Martin Seat)
Party: Non-Partisan Race/ Registered as a Democrat
Date of Birth: 11/04/1956
Home Address: 210 North Church Street, Unit 1714 Charlotte, N.C. 28202
Campaign Web Site:
Occupation & Employer: Attorney, James, McElroy and Diehl, P.A.
Home Phone: 704-906-5695 (c)
Work Phone: 704-372-9870
Email: or
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?

The only comment I have made with respect to pledges, positions or how I might rule is: “I pledge to render equal justice fairly without favoritism to any party or to the State.”

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.

My experience as a Court of Appeals and Superior Court Judge, my twenty-three year private practice, and my prior work as a law clerk, staff attorney and head of the central staff at the Court of Appeals makes me uniquely qualified to return the Court. As a Court of Appeals Judge I drafted over 100 opinions. In my previous service at the Court I gained a reputation as someone who worked hard and was timely and did not require a learning curve to do this job. This was aided by fact that I knew how the Court worked from my earlier service as a law clerk, staff attorney and heard of the office of Staff Counsel.

For twenty-three (23) years I have been engaged in private practice representing individuals and businesses in civil and employment disputes in State and Federal Court. I have been privileged to represent a wide variety of clients in complex cases in many different venues including administrative agencies and licensing boards. This experience has given me a greater understanding of how important it is for our appellate courts to render timely, clear and well-reasoned opinions so citizens can understand the law and their rights and responsibilities thereunder.

In my work as a Superior Court Judge I heard a wide range of both criminal and civil matters.

I also have a substantial record of civic involvement as a member of the North Carolina Banking Commission, the North Rules Review Commission, the North Carolina Arts Council and as a Director for the North Carolina Railroad. I have been active in my local community as a Member of the Mint Museum Board of Trustees and the Charlotte Urban Ministry Center.

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

Court of Appeals races are nonpartisan and my only campaign platform is to administer justice equally and without favoritism to any litigant or to the State.

With respect to defining myself politically, I am a registered Democrat and have a long record of active involvement with the Democratic Party together with other organizations such as Lillian’s List and Equality North Carolina

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

I pledge to administer justice fairly and without favoritism to any party or to the State. I do not have any agenda to pursue or any platform to advance other than to dispense equal justice under the law. I pledge to perform my responsibilities with integrity and to the best of my ability.

I believe our courts work best when the judges on the court bring a diversity of life experiences and legal backgrounds to the bench. My early life was lived in rural western North Carolina. My parents were not wealthy, but instilled in me the values hard work, integrity, faith and the need to obtain a good education. They died when I was fifteen, and I was fortunate to be able to go live with my brother and his family in the foothills. I am a product of the public schools, Catawba College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I have had the privilege of living and practicing law in our State’s largest city. Thus, I understand North Carolina and the challenges our citizens face. I have been active in the civic life of my local community and of the State. I bring a wealth of varied legal experience to the bench.

My personal background, work experience and civic involvement provide me a wealth of knowledge and assist me in rending fair and impartial decisions.

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

My pledge is that I will decide each case with respect to the law and the facts without regard to how public opinion might judge it.

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?

The Court of Appeals normally decides approximately 1500 cases per year. Many of those cases, while very important to the individual litigants, may not contain any issues that are unique or require any analysis other than applying current case law to the facts before the Court. In those situations the author of the opinion has the option of not publishing the written opinion in the official reporters; however those cases are still available on the electronic databases such as Lexis, Westlaw and at the NC Courts websites for cases back to approximately 1996. In addition if any party believes that an opinion not selected for publication is noteworthy they may request publication.

With respect to oral arguments, any party may request oral argument on their appeal information statement. If they do so it would be my recommendation to the head of the panel to schedule argument. When I was at the Court we also scheduled for argument any case where it appeared that argument would be of assistance in supplementing the written argument. In cases where the law is well settled and the record is clear deciding cases on the briefs saves the litigants the attorney fees for the time spent for argument preparations, and attorney travel and argument time. Thus it is a balancing act that many clients and attorneys weigh when determining whether to seek oral arguments. Many times they do not ask for argument, and unless the panel feels that arguments may clarify issues not clear in the briefs the cases are decided on the papers.

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

The United States Supreme Court sets precedent on all issues related to Federal Constitutional Law and Rights. The North Carolina Constitution governs rights set forth therein and there is a body of case law that holds that North Carolina Constitutional Rights are different and more expansive than rights under the United States Constitution. Thus, the role of the U.S. Supreme Court varies depending upon the issues raised by an appeal.

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

I favor public financing and participated in it when it was available in my previous race. However, as you are aware our current Legislature has repealed the system that was in place and some had used as a model in the nation. The system only works when it has sufficient funds for a candidate to run a credible campaign and there is some incentive to keep dark money independent expenditures out of the races of the candidates. Unfortunately the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional the use of rescue funds which was the best deterrent to outside funds. I would like to see some system reinstated.

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

When I was on the bench, I consistently recused myself from any case that involved my former firm for the entire two years of my judgeship even though I had not connection with the case when I was at the firm or the case came to the firm after I left. I also recused myself from any cases that related to Lawyer’s Mutual because at the time the Judge for whom I had clerked was there and was very involved in my race to retain my seat.

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 an LGBT citizen I am most uncomfortable with the Constitutional Amendment that prohibited same sex marriages and that line of cases where our State Supreme Court has held that second parent same sex adoptions are not permissible in North Carolina. The marriage amendment issue will be resolved shortly by litigation in the federal court system. The second parent adoption issue is now settled precedent and Court of Appeals Judges are bound thereby.

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 legislative issue on which Judges have no ability to effect change and I do not feel I should comment on the substance of the statute. I generally feel Courts should have flexibility to explore options to fit the situation with alternative courts such as drug courts; however, we must be careful that this discretion is not abused so that our minority communities are disadvantaged by systemic bias or prejudice. In this new technological world, do you perceive a conflict between government surveillance and the need to protect an individual’s privacy?

I expect there will be numerous issues arise with respect to expectation of privacy as our technology becomes more pervasive in its ability to track and store, sometimes without our knowledge, information about our movements and habits. Given that these are questions that may come before the Court in the context of search and seizure and probable cause, based on Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, I do not feel that I should comment more on the specifics of this issue.

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

It is critical that our juvenile justice system be well funded and that young people who interact with the system have adequate counsel to assist them. We need to make sure that we have adequate alternative punishment programs available to allow young people who make one non-violent mistake to pay for this mistake in a manner that does not permanently affect their record. Once a criminal record is established on many occasions it prevents one from obtaining both the educational and employment opportunities necessary in life. Our system needs to have available punishment options that do not have such life-time and life altering negative effects.

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

The Court of Appeals does not handle any cases in which the death penalty is rendered as a judgment. As a Superior Court Judge I did not have any cases in which the State was seeking the death penalty. In addition, because my practice is based in the civil arena it does not impact this area of the law. I have not studied the financial impact of this issue; however, I would hope that if the State is attempting to put someone to death that person would be afforded the best counsel and other experts possible to defend themselves and would be afforded extensive review. It is critical that if the State wishes to implement the ultimate punishment the State be able to prove their case and defend the punishment.

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?


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


Has the current processing for redistricting served the State well?


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

The Legislature is not meeting the financial needs of the Court System. The Legislature should not engage in actions that could be seen as an attempt to intimidate the trial or appellate courts by use of budgetary or other means related to jurisdictional restrictions on review of legislative acts.

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?

The Legislature has the responsibility to provide sufficient funding for the Courts to operate in an efficient and fair manner throughout the State with all the alternative or specially courts necessary for the fair administration of justice.

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