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Here’s a quick rundown of courts-related bills filed in the General Assembly this session:

HB 161 Provides magistrates are subject to same mandatory retirement age as judges, but applies only to those becoming magistrates after January 2015. Passed House, in Senate Committee on Pensions.

HB 199 Increases district court civil jurisdiction from $10,000 to $25,000. Passed House, in Senate Rules Committee.

HB 246 (Constitutional Amendment) Provides a person with concealed carry permit may carry anywhere in state except in limited, specified locations including a courthouse. In House Rules Committee.

HB 397  Expands eligibility for District Court Judgeship to include elected sheriffs with 10 year experience; clerks of superior court with 10 years experience; magistrates with 10 years experience; anyone with 25 years law enforcement experience. In House Rules Committee.

HB 405 Allows judges to carry firearms Read More

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Just released this afternoon….

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
21 February 2013

The NC NAACP once again urges Senators Burr and Hagan to help put an end to the historic exclusion of African American judges from the US District Court for the Eastern District in North Carolina with the pending appointment by the President. There has never been, in our history, a African American Judge on the bench in US District Court for the Eastern District of NC. The NC NAACP issued a letter to the Senators on October 25, 2011 urging the Senators to do the same. And on January 23, 2013 we wrote a private letter to the Senators, this time requesting a meeting to discuss the issue further. Senator Hagan has responded. However we are respectfully awaiting a response from Senator Burr’s office to schedule a meeting. We are now writing Senator Burr publicly with hopes that he will take the time to meet with civil rights leaders representing many of his constituents in NC before any decisions are made

We look forward to both a response for a meeting and for your efforts to right the historic wrongs when it comes to appointments to the US District Courts in North Carolina.

You can read the January letter by clicking here.

 

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With the in-state news so universally dreadful this week, a body is forced to look elsewhere to find some shreds of hope.

Here’s at least one non-NC item that might even portend something good for our state: Today, President Obama appointed an excellent lawyer named Jane Kelley to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. As you may or may not already know, the Eighth Circuit is headquartered in Kansas City and covers seven Midwestern states: Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Here’s another fact about the Eighth Circuit: In the history of that court, there have been 57 justices. Of that number, 56 have been men. We’re not making this up. 

The President’s selection of Kelly will make it two out of 58 — still awful, but, hey, 3.4% is better than 1.8%. It’s a start, anyway.

And what is the implication for North Carolina, you ask? Read More

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In a ruling that may push the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider earlier gun rights decisions, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago held yesterday that the Second Amendment right “to keep and bear arms” includes a right to carry a fully-loaded and ready-to-use gun in public.

Writing for the 2-1 majority in Moore v. Madigan, Judge Richard Posner acknowledged that the Supreme Court had not yet extended the right to carry beyond the home but said that the Illinois law in question – which strictly limited that right – was inconsistent with the history of the amendment and did not reflect the reality that people were more likely to need a gun for self-defense when in public.

The court gave the Illinois legislature 180 days to come up with a licensing scheme that would impose “reasonable limitations” on publicly carrying a gun consistent with the Second Amendment.

The Seventh Circuit’s decision may conflict with a Second Circuit decision just weeks earlier which recognized a strictly-limited public right to carry. In Kachalsky v. County of Westchester, the court upheld New York’s requirement that anyone seeking a license without restrictions – a full carry permit – must show “a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession.” Read More

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In addition to reading Sharon McCloskey’s excellent summary, you can read all 42 pages of the Motion for Recusal of Justice Paul Newby in the legislative redistricting case by clicking here.  

It’s a pretty remarkable and damning story when all the dots get connected.

There are also 42 exhibits in a huge file that we’ll try to make available as soon as possible.