Law and the Courts

Law and the Courts

Law and the Courts Top Story

Can North Carolina change the way district court judges are elected without a constitutional amendment?

There’s a new rumor afoot about judicial reform that lawmakers may try to pass a judicial appointment system that only affects district court judges. The plan is apparently premised on the notion that the state constitution allows such action without voter consent. The Senate has been floating “merit” selection for the better part of half a year and evaluating different forms of judicial reform since the latter part of last year. House Republicans prefer judicial redistricting.

...
Read more 0
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Haven’t read yesterday’s 205-page partisan gerrymandering ruling? We’ve got you covered

Three federal judges agree: North Carolina Republican lawmakers drew a congressional map that intentionally discriminated against voters and entrenched their party’s power.

...
Read more 5
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Special master’s maps focus in latest court battle over racial gerrymandering

The best defense is a good offense, and lawmakers are trying that strategy in federal court.

Their attorneys spent Friday attacking the job of special master Nathaniel Persily, who was tasked by a federal court with redrawing several legislative districts to correct unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

...
Read more 0
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Familiar issues likely to highlight NC courts news in 2018

New Year, new … wait a minute. It’s looking more like this year’s legislative motto will be “New Year, same me.”

It’s fully expected that lawmakers will continue building on many of the same themes North Carolinians saw in 2017, starting with their continued vice grip on the courts. Though it’s possible their fingers may be pried open by several court decisions expected in the first half of the year.

...
Read more 0
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

A look back at this year’s top justice news

Determining this year’s biggest justice news is like tip-toeing through a minefield without detonating a bomb.

Republican lawmakers went all in on the state’s judiciary – they worked hard to pass laws that cater to their needs and they worked even harder to make sure judges think twice before overturning those laws.

...
Read more 0
Law and the Courts Top Story

Berger, Moore lob political attacks in response to demise of the death penalty

While North Carolinians inch further from the death penalty, Republican legislative leaders are forward marching toward execution.

The state hasn’t put anyone to death since 2006 because of pending litigation over numerous legal issues – including lethal injection practices and racial bias at trials...

...
Read more 0
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Maps, mayhem and merriment: Where things stand with North Carolina redistricting

If the General Assembly were an army, their troops would be spread too thin. Lawmakers made a tactical decision this year to redraw judicial district boundaries. On another battle front, they’re trying to correct several previous mapmaking mistakes: Unconstitutional legislative and congressional redistricting, the latter of which they’re still disputing in court.

...
Read more 1
Law and the Courts Top Story

Monday numbers

157 – days since the state budget bill became law containing a provision that makes it more difficult for judges to waive fees for indigent defendants (North Carolina General Assembly)

4 – days since the fee waiver provision went into effect (NCGA)

...
Read more 1
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

The sound of silence: Judges all but muzzled in complaints against lawmakers

Judges are considered to be in command of their courtrooms. But when state legislators pass laws attacking them— shortening their terms, shrinking the appellate court — judges are no longer in charge and have few ways to defend themselves.

...
Read more 0
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Updated maps: Where judges land in judicial redistricting bill to be considered by Senate

Few issues in the North Carolina’s contentious policy wars have been more consistently front and center during the past year than the future of the state judiciary.

The battle was first joined during a series of special legislative sessions that were called after the 2016 election and has continued...

...
Read more 3
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Merit selection still cloaked in secrecy as Senate committee takes on ‘judicial reform’

Several North Carolina Senate members have discussed details about what a potential merit selection plan for judges would look like, but few if any have seen anything concrete.

NC Policy Watch obtained copies of proposals that indicate there are at least two merit selection plans drafted to replace Article IV, Section 16 of the North Carolina Constitution. Whether either of those plans will be presented to the public remains to be seen.

...
Read more 2
Law and the Courts Top Story

The untouchables: Legislation targeting judiciary, judges excludes business court

When GOP lawmakers began to dismantle and politicize the judiciary this year, North Carolina's business community and an insulated business court chose to remain silent.

...
Read more 0
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Federal court appoints special master to decide if NC racial gerrymanders remain unconstitutional

A federal court has found it to be likely that lawmakers did not remedy unconstitutional racial gerrymanders in nine state House and Senate districts, and has appointed a special master to help it make a final determination. Stanford Law School professor Nathaniel Persily will “assist the Court in further evaluating and, if necessary, redrawing the [districts in question] by developing an appropriate plan remedying the constitutional violations,” according to an order filed Thursday.

...
Read more 4
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Searching for the ‘Holy Grail’ in partisan gerrymandering standards: An update from the federal trial in Greensboro

A court really shouldn’t shirk away from making a finding about a constitutional violation just because it may be difficult, said the lead judge on a federal panel reviewing two North Carolina partisan gerrymandering cases.

Chief District Judge William Lindsay Osteen Jr., who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, was responding Thursday to an argument by Phil Strach, who represents North Carolina’s legislature in both of the cases, which went to trial at the same time this week.

...
Read more 0
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Experts express concerns about consequences of eliminating judicial primary elections

North Carolinians will lose their “precious right to vote,” as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg calls it, in at least one election next year if lawmakers override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 656.

“The Electoral Freedom Act” eliminates next year’s primary election for...

...
Read more 6
Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Will partisan gerrymandering survive? Our report from yesterday’s argument at the U.S. Supreme Court

The majority of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court made clear Tuesday that partisan gerrymandering is distasteful and does a disservice to voters, but it remains unclear if they will intervene.

“Could you tell me what the value is to democracy from political gerrymandering?” asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “How does that help our system of government?”

...
Read more 7

Send this to a friend