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Chris Kromm has a must-read post today over at Facing South, the blog of the Institute for Southern Studies entitled “How Art Pope killed clean elections for judges in North Carolina.” 

Art Pope 3“On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 11, as the North Carolina House jousted over details of the state budget, Rep. Jonathan Jordan, a Republican attorney from the state’s mountain region, decided to help the legislature reach a compromise on a thorny problem.

At issue was the N.C. Public Campaign Fund, a popular program launched in 2003 to help free judges from relying on deep-pocketed — and potentially compromising — special interest donors to get elected. Eighty percent of eligible judges — conservatives and liberals — used the voluntary program, which awarded candidates a grant to help run their campaign if they raised at least 350 small donations and agreed to strict spending limits. Read More

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

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