Judicial Redistricting Review
CHARLOTTE, NC – The Senate Select Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting met on Wednesday to discuss changes to the judiciary selection process. The judicial redistricting proposal could divide Mecklenburg County into nine judicial districts. Republican lawmakers revealed four plans to overhaul the state’s popular judicial elections and start an appointment process in which the General Assembly would have a role in appointing judges.
One of the hotly contested plans, dubbed the “Purple Plan: Balanced judicial selection plan,” allows the chief justice of the state Supreme Court to appoint an Independent Merit Selection Commission. The Commission would consist of seven or nine members to evaluate all statewide judicial candidates. The candidates would receive a rating of “qualified” or “not qualified at this time.” The qualified nominees would be forwarded to the Republican-led General Assembly to narrow the list down to three names for the Governor to consider for a provisional term. Following the Governor’s appointments, North Carolina voters would elect or reject the judge for a 10-year term at the second general election. Judges are only permitted to serve one term on that court.
The Senate committee members decided to create a new joint House-Senate committee to study judicial reform efforts further.
“The changes to judicial reform need further study before any new actions are taken. Citizens should have the right to select their own judges rather than giving that right to legislators. We have to make wise decisions that will protect the rights of our voters instead of making matters unfair and complicated,” said Senator Joyce Waddell.