Earlier this week, we posted that Justice Mark Martin was being elevated to retiring Chief Justice Parker’s seat on September 1. That means that Justice Martin’s associate justice seat will open up effective September 1.
On Wednesday, Governor McCroy announced that he would appoint Court of Appeals Judge Robert N. Hunter to fill Justice Martin’s seat effective September 6. Soon-to-be-Justice Hunter and his Court of Appeals colleague Judge Sam J. “Jimmy” Ervin IV are running to fill Martin’s associate justice seat in the November 2014 election. Justice Hunter’s elevation means that all four Supreme Court Justices running in the November general election–Chief Justice Martin, Justice Hunter, Justice Robin Hudson, and Justice Cheri Beasley–will now be running as incumbents.
Hunter’s elevation to the Supreme Court also creates a new opening at the Court of Appeals. Because that opening will occur on September 6–less than 60 days before the November 4 general election (59, in fact)–the Governor’s appointee to Hunter’s old seat will not have to stand for election until 2016.
That creates a very different scenario that what happened with Chief Judge John Martin’s (not to be confused with Chief Justice Mark Martin) seat on the Court of Appeals earlier this month. Judge John Martin retired from his Court of Appeals seat more than 60 days before the November election, but after the 2014 primaries. That triggered a special filing period in which 19 candidates emerged to compete for Judge Martin’s empty Court of Appeals seat in the November 2014 election.
I would not be surprised to see an announcement soon regarding a new appointee to the Court of Appeals. We will keep you posted as this story continues to develop.