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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.

Morning Roundup: If elected, McCrory could play role in Duke Energy case

Duke Energy’s most recent move to delay filing a rate case with the N.C. Utilities Commission will avoid the Charlotte utility having two complex cases before the commission simultaneously. But some advocacy groups say Duke may be buying time for the state’s new governor to alter the makeup of the commission.

Republican Pat McCrory has emerged as the gubernatorial front-runner. McCrory is a former mayor of Charlotte and also a 29-year veteran employee of Duke Energy, who could fill three of the seven spots and a chairman with 8 months of this election. Full story here.

More political headlines below.

State judges have to stay home

The lack of a budget has forced state court officials to order judges to stay home.

North Carolina's elected Superior Court judges rotate on a circuit every six months. The idea is to avoid favoritism that might result from having a permanent judge in one district

Administrative Office of the Courts Director John W. Smith has suspended the rotation and ordered judges to stay in their home judicial districts. Smith told judicial department employees in a memo that the agency has been granted enough money to make payroll for July. It has no guarantees beyond that.

Our circumstances continue to deteriorate and the uncertainty about our future becomes more problematical for us each day that passes without a budget from the General Assembly.

Smith said the court system will also begin to ration supplies. He urged employees to use e-mail instead of paper when possible.

"Shipments and deliveries may be delayed depending upon the availability of funds or the ingenuity of our employees to arrange for the deliveries," he wrote.

Other measures to cope with the budget crisis include:

* Court-ordered fees for witnesses and experts will be paid, but may be delayed, Smith said.

* Lawyers appointed to represent children in court proceedings may see payments interrupted.

* Smith urged employees to avoid unnecessary travel.

Budget Memo July 9 2009.pdf
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