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@NCCapitol

Bar Association to hold less sway in judicial picks

Posted June 27, 2013

— Governors would be able to ignore the recommendation of the the local bar association when filing vacancies on in District Courts under a measure tacked onto an unrelated bill in the House Rules Committee Thursday afternoon. 

The bulk of Senate Bill 321 deals with funding of medical care for prisoners. However, a provision added in during a committee meeting deals with how the governor appoints district judges. 

Under current law, the bar association for the district interviews candidates and offers the governor recommendations. The governor is required to select from among that group. 

The bill Rules Committee members approved would allow the governor to ignore that recommendation. 

"This is giving the governor more flexibility when filling those vacancies," Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanley, said.

There was some question as to whether the measure might allow for politics to hold more influence over those decisions. Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham, said the current system has ensured quality candidates fill vacancies without respect to politics. 

"There's just as much politics in the bar association as there is in this building," Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, said. "It does no harm."

Update: Moore attempted to have the full House hear this bill on Thursday afternoon, raising the ire of some in the chamber.

Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, said that the bill "diminishes the integrity of the governor's appointment" because it would remove the only vetting process in place for district court judges. 

Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry, noted the debate on the issue and asked that it be sent back to the Judiciary Committee.

Moore initially opposed the motion, saying the bill merely gave the governor more latitude and that he knew of no controversy.

But Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, said that as of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday night, the provision wasn't part of the bill. It only showed up in committee at 2:30 p.m.m on Thursday, he said.

""The reason he doesn't know of any controversy is because nobody knew this bill was on the table," Jackson said.

Moore then said he had found a "technical issue" and joined in Stevens' motion to have the bill reviewed by the Judiciary Committee. 

The state House will not return to session until the week after the Fourth of July. 

4 Comments

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  • justiciaporsage Jul 1, 10:41 a.m.

    This is a critical issue and I'm glad to see it being addressed. Attorneys are far from unbiased commentators on judicial picks. They have an overwhelming financial incentive and bias as to the type of judge that is appointed which runs contrary to the desire of the rest of the public to have fair judges dispensing justice.

    The Bar Association should have no say on judicial picks. The Family Section of the Bar, in particular, has opposed laws that promote fairness and equity in family courts because the more things are skewed the more alienated and greedy the parties involved become which generates additional litigation and fees for attorneys even though it wreaks havoc on families and children.

    Of course the attorneys of the Bar would have us believe their only interest is in helping the children and they'd gladly sacrifice their income stream if only a better way existed.

  • Inter Alios Jun 28, 1:57 p.m.

    Sneaky, underhanded politician! Vote him out!!!

  • oakcity Jun 28, 9:12 a.m.

    if the bill deals with prisoners medical care, WHY OH WHY IS THERE ANY LANGUAGE CONCERNING JUDGES!!!!

    this bill has nothing to do with judges, backroom, small print politics.

  • sisu Jun 27, 6:02 p.m.

    Quoting from the article...

    "The bulk of Senate Bill 321 deals with funding of medical care for prisoners. However, a provision added in during a committee meeting deals with how the governor appoints district judges.

    Under current law, the bar association for the district interviews candidates and offers the governor recommendations. The governor is required to select from among that group.

    The bill Rules Committee members approved would allow the governor to ignore that recommendation."

    As church lady from late '80's SNL would say...

    "How conveeeeenient."