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Morning Memo: Vice President Biden to raise money for Kay Hagan

VICE PRESIDENT TO HEADLINE HAGAN FUNDRAISER: Vice President Joe Biden will visit North Carolina on Oct. 21 to help Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan raise campaign cash for her re-election bid in 2014. Biden will speak at a luncheon at the Washington Duke Inn in Durham, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by Dome.

The top ticket costs $10,000 and includes a photo and special host reception. The lowest priced ticket is $500 for the reception. The money will go to Hagan’s joint fundraising committee with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has higher donation limits.

A day earlier, Hagan will hold another fundraiser in Durham at the Deer Chase Gardens hosted by Marcia Angle and Mark Trustin, the property’s owners. The more than two-dozen hosts for the reception are paying $1,000 each. The top ticket is the maximum federal contribution to a candidate, $2,600. The host list includes big local Democratic donors, such as John Replogle, John Sall and Amy Tiemann. The minimum ticket costs $150.

***Read more about the 2014 Senate race and more below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Chief justice candidate's supporters looking for early money lead

Candidates for state Supreme Court are already anticipating expensive campaigns next year, following last year’s record-breaking contest between successful incumbent Justice Paul Newby and challenger Sam Ervin IV from the state Court of Appeals.

Recently, a fundraising letter went out on behalf of Justice Mark Martin, who is running for chief justice on the court, appealing for an early showing of financial muscle to dissuade potential opponents.

“Despite Mark’s accomplishments and his impressive qualifications for this position, there are those who are currently trying to recruit an opponent to run against Mark,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler writes in the letter. “Let’s respond to this effort by sending a strong message of financial support for mark and for his campaign effort.”

No one has yet announced a challenge to the seat being vacated by Chief Justice Sarah Parker, who reaches mandatory retirement age next year.

Two candidates have announced their intentions for Martin’s seat: Ervin and fellow appeals court Judge Robert N. Hunter Jr.

Justice Beasley will run for her seat in 2014

State Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley announced Wednesday she will be a candidate for her current seat next year.

Beasley was a state appeals court judge when Gov. Bev Perdue in December appointed her to the vacant Supreme Court seat created when Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson retired.

Beasley said she will formally file in February for the election in November 2014.

She served on the Court of Appeals from 2009 to 2012, and was a district court judge in Cumberland County from 1999 to 2008.

She received her law degree at the University of Tennessee.

Justice Martin set to get top ABA post

Mark Martin, the senior Associate Justice on the N.C. Supreme Court, is to become chairman of the American Bar Association's Judicial Division on Saturday.

Martin, who is an announced candidate for chief justice in 2014, is scheduled to get the top post at the ABA's annual meeting in San Francisco.

The judicial division is one of six divisions within the ABA. It is dedicated to improving the American judicial system.

NC Bar Association asks governor to veto judicial discipline secrecy bill

CORRECTED: The Senate vote totals have been corrected.

The state’s main professional organization for lawyers on Tuesday asked the governor to veto a bill that would protect from public disclosure judges who are disciplined.

HB652 would take away the authority of the Judicial Standards Commission to issue public reprimands, unless the state Supreme Court agrees and discloses the information. It would also make disciplinary hearings private and keep case records confidential, unless the Supreme Court takes disciplinary action.

The bill would also let the Supreme Court discipline its own members, instead of assigning those cases to the most senior six judges on the state Court of Appeals.

NAACP, Democratic voters appeal redistricting ruling

The state NAACP, a group of Democratic voters and other voter-rights organizations are taking their fight against the legislative and congressional boundaries drawn by Republicans to the state’s highest court.

“We know, without a doubt that the battle for voting rights is one that must be won,” the Rev. William Barber, head of the state NAACP, said on the Wake County courthouse steps on Monday. “We know we’re in a battle for the ballot.”

Their notice of appeal comes two weeks after a panel of three Superior Court judges validated the legislative and congressional districts intended to be used through the 2020 elections. They had 30 days to decide whether to appeal to the N.C. Supreme Court. Read more here.

Senate defeats effort to make judicial reprimands confidential

The N.C. Senate voted down a measure to keep the Judicial Standards Commission's reprimands of judges secret.

In a 13-21 vote, prominent Republicans joined Democrats in a rare move to defeat the bill because it reduced government transparency. Senate Bill 652 was later revived but sent to the Senate Rules Committee where it is expected to remain without further action this session.

Under the legislation, a commission reprimand of a judge would remain confidential unless the N.C. Supreme Court concurs and makes it public.

Appellate court dominoes

Appeals Court Judge Robert N. Hunter Jr. said he will run next year for the state Supreme Court seat held by Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin.

Martin announced last week that he is running to replace Chief Justice Sarah Parker, who reaches mandatory retirement age next year and is not eligible to run.

Hunter was elected to the appeals court in 2008. Hunter used to practice law in Greensboro, but now lives in Morehead City.

This Bob Hunter, a Republican, is not to be mistaken for the other Appeals Court Judge Bob Hunter, who is a Democrat.

Etheridge: GOP power grab 'pretty frightening'

A legislative reunion in honor of the statehouse's 50th birthday brought former lawmakers out of the woodwork. And the difference between the gray-haired Democrats and the Republican young guns was visually apparent.

Former Congressman Bob Etheridge, a Democrat who served two-terms in the N.C. House, said the legislature of the past is nothing like the current one under Republican control. "A lot of folks who were here today remember the days when you would come to this building -- you may argue and we had Democrats and Republicans -- but we were doing things to make a difference to move North Carolina forward," he said. "And what I saw in the paper the other day, the (legislative) proposals give me reason to be very concerned."

GOP moves for partisan judicial elections again

There will be an attempt to make judicial elections partisan again. A pair of Republican senators filed such a bill on Thursday.

SB39 would require state all Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, superior and district court judges to run by party affiliation. That used to be the case until 2002, when the Democratic-controlled General Assembly made them nonpartisan, the rationale being that judges should be elected based solely on qualifications and not politics.

Republicans contended that the real motivation was that voters were electing Republican judges.

Sen. Jerry Tillman of Archdale, a retired school administrator, and Sen. Thom Goolsby of Wilmington, a lawyer, are the co-sponsors.

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