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Governor could ignore local bar in appointing judges, under bill

The governor could appoint whoever he wants to fill district court judge vacancies, under a bill the House tentatively approved Wednesday.

Currently, the governor must choose from a list of three nominees the local bar presents. This bill, SB321, would allow but not require the governor to choose from five nominees.

The House passed the bill 70-40, mostly along party lines with a majority of Republicans favoring the bill. Some Republicans voted against it and some Democrats voted in favor of it. Third and final reading is expected Thursday, and then the bill returns to the Senate.

Last-minute attempt to change how judges appointed stalls bill

A last-minute attempt to change the way the governor fills district court judge vacancies has been sidelined after House members questioned why it was suddenly so urgent.

Currently, the governor must choose a replacement from nominations by lawyers in that district’s bar. The change would free up the governor to choose from the bar’s recommendations or select someone else.

The provision was inserted into an unrelated bill during a House recess Thursday in a hastily called session of the Rules Committee.

Bill would allow non-lawyer district court judges

If you want to be a judge, should you have to know enough about the law to pass that little thing called the bar exam and be an actual lawyer? You wouldn’t if a group of Republican legislators get their way.

A bill filed Wednesday would allow court clerks, sheriffs or magistrates with at least 10 years experience, and any law enforcement officer with at least 25 years experience, to be a district court judge.

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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