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Mann reappointed chief administrative law judge

Julian Mann III has been reappointed to the position of chief Administrative Law Judge by Sarah Parker, the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Mann has held the post since 1989 when he was appointed by Chief Justice Jim Exum. He was later reappointed by Chief Justices Burley Mitchell and I. Beverly Lake Jr. Mann, a Raleigh native, was appointed to a four-year term.

The office of administrative hearings hears cases of complaints involving citizens and their government, state employment issues, and other cases.

Martin to run for NC chief justice, Parker to retire

Justice Mark Martin has announced that he will run for chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court next year, replacing Sarah Parker, who is expected to retire.

Martin, who is the senior associate justice, sent out a letter this week announcing plans to run for chief justice in 2014. Parker, who will turn 72 next year, will not be eligible to run for another term because of age requirements in the law.

Although justices now run in non partisan races, Martin is a Republican and Parker is a Democrat. The legislature is strongly considering making judicial elections partisan again as they were before 2002.

Judge Beasley becomes Justice on Thursday

State Appeals Court Judge Cheri Beasley will officially take a step up and be sworn in as the seventh state Supreme Court justice Thursday afternoon.

Chief Justice Sarah Parker is administering the oath at the Justice building. Gov. Bev Perdue appointed Beasley to replace former Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, who announced her resignation in November.

Beasley will have to run for the seat in 2014 if she wants to keep it.

Analysis: economic pain easing

BEST YET TO COME? Economic stress declined in the nation's most troubled areas in February as unemployment stabilized and the pace of foreclosures eased (AP).

JUDGE SUSPENDED: Mecklenburg District Judge John Totten has been taken off the bench indefinitely by N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker.

The suspension follows reports about inappropriate comments to court employees. (Charlotte Observer)

FORMER SENATOR DIES: John Jay Burney Jr., a former state senator, who left a mark on southeastern North Carolina has died. He was 85. (Wilmington Star-News)

Blue moves over to the Senate

Dan BlueDan Blue became North Carolina's newest state senator Tuesday.

Blue, a former House Speaker, was sworn in to fill the seat of Sen. Vernon Malone, who died last month. He received a hearty welcome from his new colleagues after a swearing-in by Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker and attended by family members.

Several House members slipped into the back of the Senate chamber to watch.

Blue served two terms as speaker in the early '90s. He left the House to run for the U.S. Senate in 2002. He returned to the House in 2006 when he was appointed by Wake County Democratic Party officials to fill the seat of Rep. Bernard Allen, who died in office.

On Tuesday he answered the etiquette question of what to call him. "Senator" is his current title, but as a former speaker, he's still entitled to be called "Mr. Speaker."

"I'd prefer that," he said.

Although he just stepped into a new job, Blue would not rule out getting another one. When he was asked if he might run for the U.S. Senate next year, he responded: "I'm interested in serving the people of North Carolina and have been for three decades."

Dome Memo: Who's in, who's out

FWD: FOX OUT: Doug Fox may want to go back to a typewriter. The chairman of the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission resigned after a reporter with The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer showed Gov. Beverly Perdue a racist e-mail Fox sent about President Barack Obama. The e-mail contained an altered picture depicting the White House lawn as a watermelon patch, with the phrase “There goes the neighborhood…" State Sen. David Weinstein has already said he wouldn't mind taking Fox's former job.

KIND OF BLUE: State Rep. Dan Blue will soon be state Sen. Blue. After winning a behind-the-scenes two-week campaign to get appointed to the seat of former Sen. Vernon Malone, the former House speaker said he wants to finish a few things up before moving to the other chamber. Presumably that means passing bills before next week's crossover that he can then vote on as a senator.

ORDER OF THE LONG LIST: Former Gov. Mike Easley found a lot of worthy North Carolinians. During two terms in office, the Southport Democrat named more than 4,000 people to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state's highest award. That's a rate of more than one a day. Recipients included his wife's parents, members of his Cabinet, the Blue Angels and actor Danny Glover, who is not a Tar Heel.

IN OTHER NEWS: Durham attorney Kenneth Lewis is the first Democrat to say he'd like to run against U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in 2010. Attorney General Roy Cooper is widely expected to run as well. ... U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan would prefer that President Obama name a woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, while Burr is looking for a "non-activist" judge. ... Under pressure by Governor Perdue and Chief Justice Sarah Parker, statewide elected officials and elected judges have all volunteered to take a half a percent pay cut in line with one faced by state workers.

Elected officials, judges take pay cut

Elaine MarshallElaine Marshall will also take a voluntary pay cut.

In a press release today, the secretary of state said she would ask that her annual salary be reduced by half a percent, in line with cuts proposed by Gov. Beverly Perdue.

"This is a significant step toward making hard choices to balance the State Budget," she said. "It affects all of us, including myself. I have taken the steps necessary to ensure the pay reduction applies to me as well."

Under state law, Perdue does not have the authority to reduce the pay of Council of State members such as Marshall.

Schools Superintendent June Atkinson and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker have also volunteered for a pay cut.

Update: Marshall and Atkinson's pay cuts are worth about $616 a year.

Second Update: Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin has also volunteered.

"Balancing our state’s budget will not be an easy task, and I certainly want to do my part in supporting my employees at the Department of Insurance and this portion of the state budget solution," he said in a statement.

Third Update: A spokeswoman for the governor says that all of the members of the Council of State and elected judges will take the cut.

Parker asks judges to cut own pay

Sarah ParkerWhich judges will volunteer for a pay cut?

N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker sent out a request this week to elected judges asking them to consider taking a proposed pay cut in solidarity with other state workers who are facing slightly lighter paychecks as a result of the recent budget woes.

Under state law, Gov. Beverly Perdue doesn't have the ability to take away from the paychecks of the elected judges as well as members of the Council of State.

Parker announced she'd be taking the cut, as well as Judge John Smith, head of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.

Dome will be checking in with judges around the state next week, to see who is going to take the half of one percent cut.

Judges: If you want to tell us directly, e-mail sarah.ovaska@newsobserver.com.



Document(s):
parker-judges-pay.pdf

Supreme Court: Doctors can be present

The N.C. Supreme Court has ruled that doctors can be present at executions.

In a 4-3 decision authored by Justice Edward Thomas Brady, the court found that the N.C. Medical Board could not prohibit physicians from participating in the state's capital punishment procedures.

A state statute, "by its plain language, envisions physician participation in executions in some professional capacity," Brady wrote.

The medical board, a professional group that sets ethics rules for doctors, had barred doctors from monitoring inmates who were being put to death. In a lawsuit, the state Department of Correction argued that state law requiring doctors trumped the board's decision.

A Wake County Superior Court judge sided with the state in 2007, but executions remained in limbo while the case was being resolved. In today's ruling, the majority of the state Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's ruling.

In a dissent, Justices Robin Hudson and Patricia Timmons-Goodson and Chief Justice Sarah Parker argued the court should have let the legislature decide the issue.

House sworn in, Hackney picked

The state House of Representatives has been sworn in by Chief Justice Sarah Parker.

State Rep. Verla Insko, an Orange County Democrat, then formally nominated House Speaker Joe Hackney to remain in his leadership position, Ben Niolet reports.

"Joe Hackney has ably led us for the past two years," she said. "His most valuable contribution through this time was to the institution."

She praised his leadership during a time "when we lost our way."

Update: Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, nominated Rep. Paul Stam for speaker.

Lewis cited a host of problems from inadequate roads to struggling schools and years of corruption in state government as reasons to back the Apex Republican.

"We ourselves, the elected leaders, are unable to bring true change sought by the voters," he said.

Lewis added that Stam would bring free-market principles to government.

"He understands that parents are better able to make educational decisions than a Raleigh bureaucrat," he said.

Second Update: Hackney won with 68 votes on a party-line vote.

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