NC’s Changes to Judicial Appointment Process

   Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner was likely happy to see the news of Governor Perdue’s Executive Order 86 which established the North Carolina Judicial Nominating Commission.  In 2010, former Justice O’Connor highlighted that the U.S. was the only nation in the world that had elections for its judges (at the state level) and admonished: “I know you have some public funding of elections, and it’s nonpartisan, but that doesn’t do enough. So I hope that someday you’ll think about something else in North Carolina.”  See here for former Justice O’Connor’s remarks.  Although judicial elections have not been eliminated, Governor Perdue decided that it was time to do something else inNorth Carolina about the selection of judges and issued Executive Order 86 in April 2011.  The commission was established to serve as a non-partisan advisory group that will seek and identify three qualified candidates to fill judicial vacancies in the offices of Chief Justice and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Court of Appeals, and Judge of the Superior Court.  The Governor will select an appointee from the candidates identified by the commission.   

   Throughout this month, public hearings are being conducted by the Judicial Nominating Commission seeking comment on the best qualifications and methodology to use for identifying candidates and selecting judges.  One hearing took place on March 5th, with two more scheduled for March 13th and March 22nd.  The remaining hearings are scheduled to take place as follows:

   Tuesday, March 13, Greenville, NC: 2-4 p.m. at the ECUMurphyCenter, Harvey Hall (enter through Maynard Lobby).  For directions click here – the Murphy Center is just behind the Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

   Thursday, March 22, Chapel Hill, NC: 2-4 p.m. at the UNC Center for School Leadership, Room 111.  For directions click here.

   This is an opportunity for N.C. citizens to impact the manner in which our judges will be selected by the Governor going forward.  The implementation of the Judicial Nominating Commission is an important change in the North Carolinacourt system.

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