Law and the Courts

Law and the Courts

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)

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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?”

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Law and the Courts Top Story

First Monday in October

The United States Supreme Court opens its new term on Monday, already loaded with blockbuster cases headed for argument in the first several weeks.

Some familiar issues -- voting rights, same-sex marriage, cell phone privacy, employee arbitration -- will all make an appearance early in the term.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Lawmakers refuse to say how incumbent judges and D.A.’s fare in new maps; so we did it for you

Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly, Montgomery) said last week that the North Carolina House will pass legislation redrawing the maps under which state judges and district attorneys are elected without any information being made available to the public about ...
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Law and the Courts Top Story

NC’s gerrymandering saga: Where things stand and what’s next

The 2011 state legislative maps – which have been used in three separate election cycles and six statewide elections – are among the largest racial gerrymanders ever encountered by a federal court.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Board of Education gets more time before possible transfer of power to Superintendent Mark Johnson

It will be at least another month before state Superintendent Mark Johnson can take over at the helm of the Department of Public Instruction, which leaves the Board of Education in charge of the state’s 1.5 million students and $10 billion budget.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

More with less: With $3 million in the balance, initial AG cuts take effect

Changes from a $7 million budget cut to the North Carolina Department of Justice went into effect Sept. 1 and as expected, people are making do with less.

“The work is still getting done,” said Laura Brewer, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, adding that employees are committed to doing the work and serving the public.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

North Carolina voters give lawmakers tongue-lashing over new proposed legislative maps

North Carolina voters’ message to lawmakers Tuesday evening was clear: they’re unhappy with their representatives and they’re unhappy with the new proposed legislative maps.

Hundreds of speakers across the state attended public input hearings to speak about the maps, which were released over the weekend as a remedy to correct unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Merit or maps? Judges’ futures could come down to clashing legislative proposals

Senate favors form of merit selection for judges as alternative to House judicial redistricting bill

The fate of judicial selection in North Carolina may come down to a clash between the House and Senate.

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