Hurricane Florence has brought flooding and other forms of misery to much of North Carolina, especially in the coastal and southeastern counties.

On Thursday, 13 September 2018, Chief Justice Martin issued a helping hand to attorneys in those areas. Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 7A-39(b)(1) the Chief issued an emergency order  finding that “catastrophic conditions” existed in Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Sampson, and Tyrrell Counties. … Continue Reading

There is perhaps no truer aphorism of appellate jurisdiction than this: The substantial right doctrine is more easily stated than applied.  In light of the Court of Appeals’ opinion last Tuesday in Beasley v. Beasley, litigants should consider how (or even whether) the substantial right test interacts with other jurisdictional statutes authorizing interlocutory appellate review.

By way of background, N.C.Continue Reading

On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, Chief Justice Mark Martin issued the following statement about Senate Bill 698, which seeks to amend the North Carolina Constitution to provide for two-year terms for all judges and justices in North Carolina:

Statement of Chief Justice Mark Martin on Senate Bill 698

Nowhere in America do voters elect their general jurisdiction judges for two-year terms of office.

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The 2018 judicial primaries–including those for open Court of Appeals and Supreme Court seats–have been eliminated.  With the senate and the house voting to override the Governor’s veto by substantial margins, Senate Bill 656, the “Electoral Freedom Act of 2017,” has become law.

The law (Session Law 2017-124) provides:

No 2018 Primary for Judicial Offices. – Notwithstanding G.S.

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The Governor has vetoed** a bill that would eliminate the 2018 judicial primaries–including those for open seats on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.  It is not clear if the bill has sufficient support to overcome the veto.

Senate bill 656, if it becomes law, would instead allow candidates to file their notices of candidacy between June 18 and June 29, 2018, and then be listed on the ballot in the general election.… Continue Reading

In this era rife with internecine conflict in state government, we shouldn’t forget a less publicized line in the sand.  Our state constitution grants plenary appellate authority to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, ascribing no role to the General Assembly to modify that jurisdiction.

The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is set forth in Article IV, Section 12(1) of our state constitution:

(1)  Supreme Court. 

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On Wednesday, the General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto of House Bill 239.  Against opposition from the bench and the bar, the legislature pushed the court-shrinking bill through on a mostly partyline vote.  The override votes came on the heels of a remarkable move by retiring Judge Douglas McCullough–a registered Republican–who reportedly retired a month early to avoid having his seat eliminated by the bill.… Continue Reading

UPDATE:  House Bill 239 was vetoed by the Governor on Friday.  Read the Governor’s statement here.  The override vote has been calendared in the house for Wednesday.

A bill to downsize the Court of Appeals—from 15 judges to 12—has been sent to the Governor.  The bill may have just enough partisan support to override a veto, although the override votes may be very close.… Continue Reading

Under current law, the Governor may appoint a replacement whenever a judicial or district attorney position becomes open, which occurs from time to time due to resignation, mandatory retirement, or otherwise.  The pool of persons from whom the Governor can choose is wide open.  An appointed replacement then holds the office until the next election (more or less).

House Bill 335, introduced Monday, would change that system. … Continue Reading

Last week, we wrote about a bill that was introduced in the legislature that would shrink the Court of Appeals to 12 judges while tweaking the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to cover direct appeals from orders on class action certification and to provide another pathway for consideration of “Bypass PDRs.”

We had a hard time understanding two things about the bill: (1) why did the bill also give an appeal right to the Supreme Court from decisions regarding an attorney’s scheduling conflicts under Rule 3.1… Continue Reading