Name: Tom Langan
Family: Widowed (Katie Lee)
Education: Wake Forest University School of Law, J. D., 1998; Duke University, A. B., 1995
Work activity: Assistant District Attorney, 2000 to present; Member of Surry County Bar Association; Admitted to U. S. Supreme Court Bar, 2008
Civic/church activity: King Moravian Church; Surry/Stokes Friends of Youth Board of Directors; SECU Advisory Board, Pilot Mountain & King; Walnut Cove Masonic Lodge
1. Do you feel the court system operates fairly? What changes would you favor to ensure fair trials?
There is always room for improvement. The American system of justice is the envy of the world. The United States Constitution is the single best guarantor of liberties conceived by man. However, we can always work to make it better.
To ensure fairness, judges must be careful not to inject their personalities, personal opinions, or moods into individual cases. Most of all, I would like to see cases move through the court system more efficiently. Endless continuances are unfair to all parties. “Justice delayed is justice denied,” goes the old saying and it still rings true. Memories fade and witnesses are harder to track down when cases are postponed for months and even years. Most importantly, there are not immediate consequences for one’s actions. This is especially critical in cases involving children when acting quickly and decisively may save a child’s life and future.
2. How would you handle cases involving opioid misuse, in order to help address the addiction crisis?
When addressing the opioid problem, the biggest challenge for our courts is to distinguish between those who are struggling with addiction and those who profit from it. Drug dealers who prey on children must be sent to prison where they can no longer continue to destroy lives, families and our communities. Those who are struggling with addiction, especially opioid painkillers, should have access to resources to overcome addiction and lead productive lives once again.
As a prosecutor for the past 18 years, I am experienced at making those distinctions. I have sent many drug dealers to prison, and have also watched others rebuild their lives. My work with the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and the Child Fatality Prevention Team provides me with insight into the devastating effects that drug addiction has on children and families. The impact is universal and touches every aspect of our court system. Drug crimes are not isolated events. Addiction has consequences that are felt across the board — in divorce proceedings, child custody, child neglect, and domestic violence. Judges must see the “big picture” in order to address the issue effectively.
3. What do you feel are the most concerning cases in the 17B district, and how will you guide defendants to become better contributing citizens?
Cases involving the abuse of children are our most important cases at the District Court level. At the District Attorney’s Office, I focus on the prosecution of sexual and physical abuse crimes against children. These complex cases involve working closely with child victims, social workers, psychologists, and medical professionals. I am proud of my record of protecting children from predators.
Criminal defendants are always presumed innocent. They must be treated fairly and given the right to be heard. Once convicted, judges can better direct offenders to lead better lives by holding them accountable for their actions. The rule of law is the most important concept in American justice. No one is above it, nor beneath it. I believe in second chances but a line must be drawn at allowing career criminals to walk away without real consequences.
This election is the first time that voters in Surry/Stokes counties will get to decide who will replace Judge Chuck Neaves. I am a prosecutor with 18 years’ experience in district, superior and juvenile courts. I have tried cases before judges and juries that have resulted in hundreds of convictions and prison sentences including those for sex offenders and habitual felons. I have the support of law enforcement officers across both counties and I am formally endorsed by the NC Troopers Association and Stokes Sheriff Mike Marshall. I have earned the respect of my colleagues in the Surry/Stokes Bar who nominated me twice to the Governor as their top choice to serve as judge. In addition, the Republican parties in both counties endorse me in this election.
I work closely with court personnel in both counties and have longstanding working relationships with community leaders. As an Assistant District Attorney, I am accustomed to making important decisions on a regular basis. Those decisions range from managing large caseloads to deciding whether to seek the death penalty. I understand the impact that all decisions have on the lives of the accused, the victims and their respective families.