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Mark MartinThe Charlotte Observer has reprinted the remarks that new state Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin made at his swearing-in ceremony on Monday.

Lots of it was fairly standard stuff about improving efficiency and civics education, but at least two sections amount to direct repudiations of the state’s conservative political leaders on critically important topics — courts funding and transparency.

According to Martin, current funding for and transparency in the state judiciary are both inadequate. And on these points — if he’s really serious, that is — he’s dead on.

As Policy Watch reporter Sharon McCloskey has reported repeatedly, funding for the state courts system has fallen to crisis levels under the current General Assembly and Governor and has reached the point at which citizens are simply being denied access to justice because the courts can’t afford basic things.

As McCloskey has also reported, the same can be said for the issue of transparency — most notably and egregiously in the enactment of the new “star chamber” law that allows the Supreme Court members to consider complaints against their own members (and mete out discipline) in complete secrecy.

Martin’s comments were fairly general  in nature, but let’s fervently hope that he was just being, ahem, judicious with his language, really means what he said and that he’s got the guts to talk back to his fellow Republicans on these critically important issues in the coming weeks.

 

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The next time you find yourself wandering the halls of the Wake County Courthouse (or courthouses elsewhere around the state), wondering why your day in court is delayed yet again, you might want to give state Senator Bill Rabon — or his colleagues Sens. Tom Apodaca and Neal Hunt — and thank them personally.

Together they’re the sponsors of Senate Bill 10, the proposal which among other things (like ridding the state of certain boards and commissions and replacing members of others with people whose thinking is more akin to that of the Republican majority), calls for the elimination of 12 special superior court judgeships.

Here’s the list of those on the chopping block (the cuts don’t include the business court judges):

20130206--Special_Superior_Court_Judges

Why the judges? Read More