Raleigh, N.C. — For the second time this week, lawmakers have overridden a gubernatorial veto, this time reducing the size of the Court of Appeals.
Lawmakers recently approved legislation that would reduce the court from 15 judges to 12 in the next couple of years as three judges hit the mandatory retirement age.
Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill Friday, saying it would add to the workload of the remaining judges and delay appeals.
Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly, cited statistics that the court's workload has gone down in recent years, so the size of the court can be returned to pre-2000 levels.
Rep. Joe John, D-Wake, a former appeals court judge, said Burr and other proponents used "faulty math" to support the bill, noting overall work on the court had risen 16 percent since 2000.
"I would have hoped we'd treat our court system better than this," said Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake.
The House voted 73-44 for the override, while the Senate voted 34-15 with no debate.
The votes didn't come soon enough to stop Cooper from filling a seat on the court, however.
Judge Douglas McCullough retired from the Court of Appeals on Monday, giving Cooper the opportunity to appoint his successor before the override eliminated his position.
McCullough, a Republican, was set to retire later this spring, but he was so irritated by the court-reduction plan that he stepped down early so that his retirement wouldn't impair the court.
Cooper appointed Judge John Arrowood, who previously served on the appeals court in 2007-08, to fill the remaining 20 months of McCullough's term. But since Arrowood is nowhere near the mandatory retirement age, the seat will be up for election in November 2018 and won't be phased out under the new law.
Lawmakers on Tuesday overrode a veto of legislation combining the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission.