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The national advocacy/watchdog group, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is hosting a panel discussion on Judicial Diversity this afternoon/evening from 4pm – 6:30pm in downtown Charlotte at the Gantt Center. This event is free, and refreshments will be served.

The panel will feature five diverse state and federal judges serving in North Carolina who will share their experiences with students, professionals, and advisors, as well as persons who may be curious about careers on the bench.  Panelists will discuss their own career backgrounds and paths to the bench.  After the panel discussion, the judges will lead break-out sessions where they will engage one-on-one with audience members potentially interested in becoming future judges.

Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee, will be giving opening remarks.

Panelists will include: Yvonne Mims Evans, Resident Superior Court Judge, Judicial District 26; Calvin E. Murphy, Special Superior Court Judge For Complex Business Cases; Regan A. Miller, Chief District Court Judge, Mecklenburg County; Rickeye McKoy-Mitchell, District Court Judge, Mecklenburg County; and Theresa Holmes-Simmons, Judge, United States Immigration Court.

Questions? Please contact the Lawyers’ Committee folks at judicialdiversity@lawyerscommittee.org

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Senator Richard Burr’s secret filibuster of U.S. District Court nominee Jennifer May-Parker  for North Carolina’s Eastern District is not the only judicial obstructionism going on in the U.S. Senate. Republican senators have also been blockading President Obama’s nominees to the nation’s second most important court — the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — as well.

As Ian Millhiser explained in a post this morning at Think Progress entitled “Get Ready for the Filibuster Wars to Resume This Week in the Senate” the blockade is back on the front burner:

“Last July, Senate Democrats backed off their plan to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” and abolish the filibuster on executive branch nominees — but only after their Republican counterparts caved and agreed to fill seven key government jobs they previously held open with filibusters. Since then, the two parties have maintained an uneasy détente in the confirmation wars. A small group of Republicans supplied the exact minimum number of votes required to break a filibuster on Secretary of Labor Tom Perez’s nomination, for example, even though many Republicans bitterly object to the steps Perez took to fight housing discrimination and to protect the right to vote.

That détente is likely to break down as soon as this week, however. Read More

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Richard BurrIf you haven’t already, be sure to check out this morning’s breaking news story on the main NC Policy Watch site by Courts and Law reporter Sharon McCloskey: “Another roadblock for the Eastern District?”

As Sharon reports, Senate Judiciary Committee staff have indicated that Senator Richard Burr is blocking consideration of federal judicial nominee Jennifer May-Parker (a highly qualified African-American federal prosecutor) by refusing to return his “blue slip” — a step required by Senate procedures in order for the nomination to proceed to a hearing next week.

As we have explained before, the vacancy in the Eastern District is the longest standing federal district court vacancy in the country (it has stood vacant for 8 years!). To make matters even more absurd, Read More

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 Pat McCrory 4Among the controversial bills that the Governor attempted (probably successfully) to approve under the news media radar this afternoon was the hugely controversial proposal detailed here by NC Policy Watch reporter Sharon McCloskey last month to establish a secret and unaccountable “star chamber” system for disciplining wayward state judges.

The bill was opposed by both the N.C. Bar Association and the N.C. Advocates for Justice – which represents the state’s trial lawyers.

All in all, this afternoon appears to be shaping up as the icing on the cake of what is, without a doubt, one of the most disastrous years in public policy in state history.

Have a great weekend.

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One of today’s most important “must reads” is reporter Sharon McCloskey’s story about a bill rammed through the General Assembly during the session’s waning hours to drastically alter the state’s system of handling complaints against judges.

“It started out as a simple bill allowing parties in family court to appeal rulings before their cases were finally resolved.

By the time it landed on the House floor for a final vote, one of the last bills on the last day of the long session, it had a new name, a new number and a new purpose: to give the justices of the state Supreme Court the sole authority to discipline judges — including themselves –and allow them to decide if, when and who to discipline in secret.

And the back story of the passage of the bill, H652 — including the rare public lobbying by Republican justices in favor of the bill and opposition from the Democratic Chief Justice — illustrates that, despite claims otherwise, money and politics may in fact be dividing the Court.”

Click here to read this important story and, hopefully, share it with folks you know.