Candidate Questionnaire: David McCarty | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Candidate Questionnaire: David McCarty

Photo courtesy David McCarty

Photo courtesy David McCarty Photo by David McCarty

Fast Facts About David McCarty

Age: 43

Title of Specific District/Position Campaigning for: Court of Appeals, District 4, Place 2

Educational Background: J.D., Mississippi College School of Law, 2004, cum laude; B.A. in Political Science, Mississippi State University

Professional Background: Solo Practitioner, David Neil McCarty Law Firm, PLLC, 2009-present, focusing in appeals to state and federal appellate courts. Adjunct Professor, Mississippi College School of Law, 2005-present, for classes in Pretrial Practice, Evidence, Trial Practice, Legal Writing, and Appellate Advocacy.

Place of Residence: Jackson, Mississippi, in the Belhaven neighborhood

Spouse/children (if applicable): Single.

The Jackson Free Press reached out to all judicial candidates who are running on the Nov. 6 ballot to represent jurisdictions throughout the Jackson Metro Area, regardless of whether they had a challenger or not. Each candidate received the same questionnaire. We've published their responses in full below, with minimal edits for editorial/reader clarity only. The JFP did not copyedit or line-edit candidate responses. The views expressed by candidates do not necessarily reflect the views of the JFP.

If you have run for this judicial seat before, please state when. (If you are an incumbent, please cite years in current position):

First time candidate.

List your endorsements:

I'm proud to say that I've gained the support of elected officials from across Southwest Mississippi and from all parts of the political spectrum. There are 15 counties in my district, and I have reached out to our law enforcement, mayors, circuit clerks, chancery clerks, and supervisors. I am also proud to be supported by four former Supreme Court justices—who understand that my experience makes me the best candidate for the Court of Appeals.

Why do you want to serve on the Mississippi Appellate Court right now?

We need experienced judges with the heart to apply the law fairly and equally to all people, regardless of where they live, where they grew up, or how much money is in their wallet. Once Chief Judge Joe Lee signaled that he would not run for re-election, I saw the opening on the Court as a chance to serve the people of Mississippi.

How do you view the impact of a Mississippi appellate judge, and what would you bring to the role?

The Court of Appeals has a massive impact on our legal system. Last year alone, the Court ruled in 482 cases. Given that this precedent can last for generations, we have to have experienced and compassionate judges on the Court.

I bring a wealth of experience to the Court, both practical and academic. On the courtroom side, I have been counsel in 75 appeals to our Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. This is more than eight times the experience as a lawyer as the other two people in my race combined. These cases also span all types of law—representing families, individuals, defending businesses, spouses in divorces, land disputes, criminal law, civil rights, and employment law. While the vast majority of my law practice has been appeals, I have also tried cases in circuit and chancery court. In fact, I tried one in Rankin County Chancery Court just a couple weeks ago, prevailing for a family who wanted to fly the American flag in their subdivision.

I also served over a decade ago as a law clerk at the Supreme Court, first for then-Justice James E. Graves, Jr., now of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. I saw firsthand how a deep work ethic and sense of fairness is critical for the job.

On the academic side, I have also taught appeals at my law school alma mater of Mississippi College School of Law. Since 2005 I have taught courses in Pretrial Practice, Evidence, Trial Practice, Legal Writing, and Appellate Advocacy. I am also the author of the Evidence chapter for the Encyclopedia of Mississippi Law, and a contributing author to Mississippi Civil Procedure.

Provide one or two examples of your legal and/or judicial experience when you have made an impact in the state, and describe the result.

Of the dozens of appeals I have handled, I remain very proud of a case named In Re J.P., from 2014. A teenager had been illegally jailed by a Youth Court. I represented the father of the child, because the same Youth Court sanctioned the parents for the costs of that illegal incarceration.

After we briefed the case, and presented argument before a panel here in Jackson, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the parents' constitutional rights had been violated. The Supreme Court held that the child's "detention occurred in violation of several sections of the Youth Court Law, violating both his and his parents' rights to due process of law under the federal and state constitutions."

This incredible ruling protected the rights of parents and children in Youth Court proceedings, and can be used to help children and families throughout Mississippi. I am deeply proud to have been part of fighting for equal justice for children and families.

In the past year or so, what has been the most consequential/at-risk issue facing the appellate court, and what do you plan to do about it?

The Court of Appeals has an incredibly high caseload—it is the workhorse of our appeals system. My deep experience in the civil, chancery, and criminal areas of law means that I will be ready on day one to continue moving the docket forward.

What are the characteristics of a good judge, and how do your characteristics compare?

First and foremost, a good judge has to have the right heart. You have to treat every single person who comes in the courtroom with dignity, always recognizing that they are equals in the eyes of the law. This is why temperament matters so much. You cannot go into a case already being biased for one side or the other. More than anything, a judge has to recognize that all people are created equal, and that the law must be applied fairly and equally—every single time.

That's been the cornerstone of my career as a lawyer, and my breadth of experience has helped me understand how important it is. I have represented individuals, families, small businesses, defendants in criminal cases—just about any type of case there is. Throughout it all, I have worked to respect the law and sought justice for my clients.

What sets you apart in this race?

I have the experience to do the job, but also the heart to do it right. Just as important as my deep experience as a lawyer and teacher is the heart to do the work of a judge. Some people may not like that we elect judges in Mississippi, but I think it is critical. Our justice system is accountable to the people. There is a reason we give judges robes, and not crowns—they are never above the people that they serve.

If you are unsuccessful in your race, how specifically will you continue working on behalf of the state?

I will continue practicing law before the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Fifth Circuit, and continue serving as an adjunct professor at MC Law. In doing so, I will keep fighting to protect the constitutional rights of people and their families, and teaching students how to practice law ethically and with a servant's heart.

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