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Berger appoints mostly GOP committee to look at judicial reform, redistricting

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, whose chief of staff has been pushing a “merit” judicial section plan, has named a majority Republican committee to review judicial reform and redistricting.

Senators Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Warren Daniel (R-Burke) and Bill Rabon (R-Bladen) are co-chairs of the select committee on judicial reform and redistricting.

Rabon introduced a Constitutional amendment last week that would reform the judiciary by cutting all judgeship terms to two years and forcing all of the state’s judges to run for re-election next year.

The co-chairs are three of 10 Republican Senators names to the committee. The others are Dan Barrett (R-Davie), Chuck Edwards (R-Buncombe), Ralph Hise (R-Madison), Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland), Paul Newton (R-Cabbarrus), Shirley Randleman (R-Stokes) and Norman Sanderson (R-Carteret).

Hise is currently under investigation for irregularities in his campaign finance reports.

There were five Democratic Senators appointed to the committee. They are Dan Blue (D-Wake), Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake), Joel Ford (D-Mecklenburg), Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) and Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe).

In a statement, Berger said that the last 60 years has provided “haphazard and sometimes contradictory changes” to the state’s judiciary, and that he hopes Senators can have “thoughtful dialogue” on how to modernize, reform and strengthen the system.

”The judiciary touches every North Carolinian, so the conversation needs to include Republicans and Democrats, judges, legislators, district attorneys, clerks of court, executive branch officials, men and women of all races, and yes, even lawyers,” Berger wrote. “This committee will carefully consider all options on how we select judges, including the House’s judicial redistricting bill, merit selection models, retention elections, and, if we maintain a system of elections, their frequency and partisan structure.”

His hope is that the committee will meet a consensus on a recommendation to “modernize and strengthen” the courts.