Vetting Interview Summary- Robert (Bob) Edmunds, NC Supreme Court Associate Justice

Candidate Vetting Interview Summary
                               
Interview questions were developed by a Vetting Committee of 10 members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association. All candidates for a particular office were asked the same questions. Interviews were conducted by 3 rotating members of the Vetting Committee. Summaries are the agreed-upon consensus of each 3-member group. Candidates were asked to interview in-person, but phone interviews were offered for candidates living outside Craven County if schedules would not allow travel.
Name, Candidate Position: Robert (Bob) Edmunds,
NC Supreme Court Associate Justice
Interview Date: 10-14-16
Party Affiliation: Republican
Interviewed: On Phone
Name: Bob Edmunds
Phone:   919-230-1589
Email: justiceedmunds@justiceedmunds.com
Address: P.O. Box 1802, Raleigh, North Carolina
Educational Background:
1967 – Started college at Williams College in Massachusetts.
After 2 years, transferred to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Graduated with honors with a degree in English.
Went to law school at UNC Chapel Hill, and graduated in 1975. While a student, served in Holderness seat on moot court.
Earned a master’s degree from University of Virginia School of Law.
Experience:
Did not particularly enjoy law school, but there were a lot of vets in school at the same time, and I admired what they brought in terms of maturity and experience, so after school, I passed the bar, and then joined the Navy. I went to flight school in Pensacola, Florida. I’m clumsy, so after 2 years, the Navy said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and I was honorably discharged.
I came back to Greensboro and became an Assistant District Attorney in Guilford County. I started in traffic. After 3 years, I was prosecuting career felons.
I was next hired as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, and prosecuted perpetrators of bank robberies, frauds, and things of that nature.
In 1986, President Ronald Reagan appointed me United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina. (The district runs from Salisbury to Durham.) I tried international heroin smuggling and public corruption cases until 1993.
I then entered private practice with a firm in Greensboro, and did mostly state and federal criminal defense work.
I’m Board certified as a specialist in state and federal criminal law and also as a specialist in appellate practice.
I received the highest rating from Martindale-Huddell.
In 1998, I was elected to the NC Court of Appeals.
In 2000, I was elected to the NC Supreme Court, and in 2008, I was re-elected to that court.
Demonstrations of Leadership:
In August, I was named Chairman Elect of the American Bar Association’s Appellate Judges Conference by the 1,100 state and federal appellate judges and practitioners who are members.
Memberships and Associations:
NC Bar Association
American Bar Association
Virginia State Bar
Federalist Society
American Law Institute
Guilford Inn of Court
Rotary Club of Greensboro
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Greensboro (where my parents were married after WWII)
Why are you running for this office?
I love the work, and I’m told I’m good at it. As a matter of fact, I have the endorsements of several groups I value.
I’m endorsed by:
            Four former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court (2 Republicans and 2 Democrats),
            Most former Presidents of the NC State Bar,
            Former Presidents of the NC Bar Association,
            Over 90 of North Carolina’s 100 sheriffs.
Having the endorsements of these people who pay attention to the workings of the court is gratifying.
What is the organizational structure of your campaign, fund raising capability, etc.?
Mine is a down ballot, low budget campaign. It pretty much consists of me and a recent college graduate (who is paid). I also work with a fund raiser, but that’s it.
Which of the Founding Fathers do you most admire? Why?
That’s a tough call. Probably Madison because of his views on political science and political democracy. Also, because of his work in shepherding the Constitution through the Convention and getting it ratified.
I’m also a big fan of Hamilton for his work in putting the nation on a sound financial footing.
And of course, George Washington was the indispensable man.
Margaret Thatcher once said, “Consensus is a lack of leadership.” Do you agree? Why, or why not?
I have some disagreement with that point of view because the Supreme Court consists of 7 people who have to work together. However, sometimes consensus is avoidance of critical issues.
A lot of my work is behind closed doors working so the court can issue a single opinion. This is true because we often initially have different ideas, or we agree on what the outcome should be but have different ideas about why – what points of law support the outcome. We strive to make the reasoning clear so that attorneys can work with it with clarity.
Which President do you most admire? Why?
Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln was a genius who saved the nation and left us a legacy we can all be proud of.
Do you believe the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be:
            a. An evolving document whose meaning changes with time, or
            b. A permanent set of rules to limit the power of the federal government?
It’s pretty clear the answer is “b.” They set up an amendment process to regularize the process and make it clear.
Discuss an ethical dilemma you faced. What happened? How did you resolve it?
A very recent one involved a General Assembly bill that made my race a retention election. North Carolina courts threw the law out. A 3 judge panel of trial judges said it was unconstitutional. It then went to the North Carolina Supreme Court where it became an ethical issue for me.
It can be argued that I should have been involved in the decision because it is a decision that will affect all 7 judges, not just me. However, since I am running in this election, it affected me immediately, and I did not participate. I felt I couldn’t do it ethically, and that has resulted in my being in a contested election.
Where do individual rights come from?
They come from God.
What do you know about Common Core? What is your position on it and why?
Very little. My children are not of an age for me to have been directly involved with it.
Apart from that, I’ve kinda’ steered away from Common Core questions because it may come before the court.
What is your opinion on gun ownership, registration, and gun free zones?
Once again, we’re dealing with an issue that may come before the court, so I’ll respectfully decline to speak on it other than mentioning that I’m a member of the NRA.
What does the phrase “Separation of Church and State” mean to you?
This is another issue that could come before the court.
If elected, what would be your number one priority item during your term in office?
Since I already serve on the court, I think what concerns me most is access to justice. Men and women of limited means have difficulty securing adequate representation and having their cases litigated. It’s of concern and needs work.
This interview was conducted by Kathryn Blankley, Hal James, and Raynor James.

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