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There will be two great opportunities today to hear from one of the nation’s experts on the state of the judiciary — and particularly the right’s intentional and successful effort to gain control of it.

Who: Michael Avery, author of “The Federalist Society: How Conservatives Took the Law Back from Liberals.”  Click here to read about the book.

Where/When: Offices of the N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh (Click here for directions and parking informationTODAY at 3:00 pm — The author will also be speaking at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill tonight at 7:00 pm. Read More

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Close to 100 attorneys, progressive advocates and Triangle-area residents gathered today to discuss the continuing judicial vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, growing numbers of federal judicial vacancies elsewhere, delayed U.S. Senate confirmations of presidential nominees and the ongoing need for increased diversity on the bench.

Speakers at the event, “Why Courts Matter,” included 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James A. Wynn, Jr., and Andrew Blotky, director of Legal Progress at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.

As Blotky pointed out, there are 82 current vacancies on the federal bench, with an additional 20 vacancies that will occur this year—meaning that nearly 65 percent of the population lives in a community with a courtroom vacancy.

And while it took roughly 35 days for the Senate to get George W. Bush’s nominees to a vote, it’s taken 150 days for Barack Obama’s to get to that point.

Both Wynn and Blotky called for the quick confirmation of fair, impartial, clear-thinking and diverse judges to fill those vacancies—which even when filled, Wynn added, would only solve the backlog. The U.S. Judicial Conference has called for the creation of additional judgeships to meet caseload demand.

The judges who sit on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina handle one of the heaviest caseloads in the country, approaching nearly 800 cases per judge in 2012. And they’ve been waiting for help for close to eight years now.

The court, based in Raleigh but with courtrooms elsewhere along the eastern part of the state, now has the dubious distinction of having the oldest federal judicial vacancy in the country. The seat&mdashh;opened up on Dec. 31, 2005, when Judge Malcolm J. Howard took senior status—has been unfilled for more than 2,500 days. Read More

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Judge WynnA few seats remain for tomorrrow’s luncheon: Why courts matter (and why North Carolinians should be paying a lot more attention to them): Featuring the Honorable James A. Wynn, Jr., Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Please join us as one of North Carolina’s most distinguished jurists shares his thoughts on this and other related questions.

When: Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 12 noon – (Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.)

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. at the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s Streets).

Cost: $10 – includes a box lunch (lunches will be available at 11:45).
Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Click here to register.

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com.

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As the recent controversial actions of the North Carolina General Assembly make abundantly clear, the future of the courts in this country has rarely been more important. Please join us for a special NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon:

Judge WynnWhy courts matter (and why North Carolinians should be paying a lot more attention to them)

Featuring the Honorable James A. Wynn, Jr., Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

When: Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 12 noon – (Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.)

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. at the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s Streets).

Cost: $10 – includes a box lunch (lunches will be available at 11:45).
Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Click here to register.

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com.

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Don’t forget to RSVP for next Tuesday’s N.C. Policy Watch Crucial Conversation, “Why courts matter (and why North Carolinians should be paying a lot more attention to them)” – featuring the Honorable James A. Wynn, Jr., Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

If there’s one branch of modern government that’s, at once, more important and more neglected by caring and thoughtful Americans than the federal judiciary, it’s hard to say what that would be. Despite its enormous importance and influence in shaping our society, the judiciary – the cases before it, the decisions it renders, and the people who comprise it – receives far less attention than it (and they) deserve.

Here in North Carolina, a seat on the Federal District Court for the Eastern District has remained vacant for seven years with scarcely a ripple of public attention.

Why is this the case? More importantly, what are the prospects for changing this dynamic and how might we go about it?

Please join us as one of North Carolina’s most distinguished jurists shares his thoughts on these and other related questions.

Click here to register. Read More