Courts & the Law, News

3-judge panel will hear arguments over constitutionality of 2016 special session

A three-judge panel will hear arguments tomorrow challenging a surprise special legislative session from 2016 in which lawmakers made changes to existing power structures in the state.

Common Cause North Carolina and 10 state residents filed suit last year against Lieutenant Gov. Dan Forest, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger over the constitutionality of the special session, which was called with just two hours notice and no public disclosure on what bills would be considered.

The lawsuit seeks to void two bills that were passed during that special session: Senate Bill 4 — an omnibus measure that changed the structure of state and county boards of elections, created partisan appellate elections and took some appointment power from the governor; and House Bill 17 — a measure transferring power from the State Board of Education to newly elected Republican Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Mark Johnson.

Both of those bills have been challenged separately in unrelated lawsuits.

The three judges assigned to hear the Common Cause v. Forest case are Judge Wayland Sermons, a registered Democrat who serves the first judicial district, which includes Beaufort County; Judge Martin McGee, a registered Republican who serves Cabarrus County; and Judge W. Todd Pomeroy, a registered Republican who serves Cleveland and Lincoln counties.

The hearing will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday in courtroom 303 at Campbell University School of Law, on Hillsborough Street.

Courts & the Law, News

Judge turned lawmaker Morey proposes gun violence restraining order in NC

Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham)

Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham) is calling on her colleagues to pass legislation that would remove guns from individuals who are considered a danger to themselves or others.

A Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) is similar to a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in that it would allow a district court judge to order the removal of all firearms from a person who “by clear and convincing evidence has exhibited threatening, erratic or dangerous behavior,” according to a news release from Morey.

It differs from the domestic violence order in that the petitioner would not have to be in an intimate or familial relationship with the person accused of the dangerous behavior.

Morey’s proposal comes days after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire with an AR-15 assault-style rifle in a South Florida high school and killed 17 people.

There have since been numerous media reports about Cruz’s telling behavior before the mass shooting.

“This gun restraining order proposal is not a solution to gun violence, but can be a step in the right direction to thwart future tragedies as it provides for people who ‘see something’ have the power not only to ‘say something’ but can ‘do something’ by going to court,” Morey states in her release. “As we now know numerous warnings about Nikolas Cruz were missed in Broward County. The FBI received the exact information that would have allowed a citizen to apply for a GVRO.”

Morey was a judge for 18 years before joining the legislature. She said she has presided over hundreds of defendants in criminal court with charges of murder and gun violence.

“Time and time again, I heard co-workers, neighbors and victims testify, ‘He was a time bomb. I knew this was going to happen,'” she wrote.

Time and time again, I heard co-workers, neighbors and victims testify, 'He was a time bomb. I knew this was going to happen.' Click To Tweet

Her proposal would allow anyone — such as a teacher, co-worker or acquaintance — with first-hand knowledge of another person who is in possession of or has access to a firearm, and is behaving in a threatening manner, to petition a district court judge for a GVRO. If granted, a judge would order law enforcement to immediately (and temporarily) take and secure any and all firearms from that person.

There would then be a hearing scheduled within 10 business days to give all parties an opportunity to testify why or why not the firearms should be taken away. If a judge finds “by clear and convincing evidence” that a gun violence threat exists, that person would be prohibited from possessing a firearm for one year. A violation of the civil restraining order would result in a criminal charge.

“Personally, I want to see federal legislation that would ban all AR-15s, semi-automatic military guns and bumpstocks,” Morey said. “A GVRO is not a panacea for stopping gun violence, but it could be a first step. The time to act with common sense legislation is now.”

There are a handful of states (Connecticut, Indiana, Texas, California, Oregon and Washington) that have some version of a law that allows either law enforcement or individuals with a relationship to a person considered to be dangerous to petition a court to remove their firearms.

A federal GVRO law was proposed by Congress last year and there has been a renewed calling for its passage since the Florida shooting.

There have been four mass shootings since mid-2015 in which federal authorities had a chance to intervene before they occurred — the Charleston church shooting, the Orlando nightclub shooting, the Sutherland Springs church shooting and now the Florida high school shooting.

National Review, a conservative editorial magazine, recently wrote at length about GVRO proposals, noting that advocates “have been mostly clustered on the left, but there is nothing inherently leftist about the concept.”

“After all, the GVRO is consistent with and recognizes both the inherent right of self-defense and the inherent right of due process,” the article states. “It is not collective punishment. It is precisely targeted.”

The National Rifle Association and other groups have opposed such laws as violating gun owners’ due process rights, according to a recent Reuters article.

It’s too early to tell where North Carolina lawmakers will stand on the issue.

Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

Which judges are double-bunked in the new maps? Here’s a list

Lawmakers have said they won’t be back until May to take up judicial redistricting, but dropped two new maps before adjourning a special session this week.

The maps this time were released with incumbency information, but not without errors. NC Policy Watch analyzed the information (again) and found that there are more judges double-bunked in the new proposals (Options B and C) than in the Option A map that was dropped two weeks prior.

You can read about the analyses here. The list of double-bunked judges in Options B and C in the district court and superior court maps can be found below. You can read all about the Option A maps here.

It should be noted, as before in other stories, “double-bunking” for the purposes of this data means that there are a smaller number of seats in a judicial district than there are current sitting judges. That means incumbent judges in those areas would either be forced to run against another incumbent in an election or face losing their seat if their term expires after the seats are filled.

District Court Double Bunkings - Option B - Feb 2018

There are 53 African American judges out of 269 total judges, according to Jan. 25 AOC info. There are 17 African American judges double-bunked in these proposed maps.
This information is based on the North Carolina voter registration database.
DistrictCounty(s)NameRaceGenderPartyTerm Expiration
1Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, DareMeader HarrisWhiteMaleRepublican2018
1Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, DareEula Reid African-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
1Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, DareAmber MalarneyWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
1Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, DareEdgar BarnesWhite MaleDemocrat2020
1Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, DareRobert Trivette WhiteMaleDemocrat2018
2Martin, Beaufort, Washington, Tyrrell, HydeDarrell CaytonWhiteMaleUnaffiliated 2018
2Martin, Beaufort, Washington, Tyrrell, HydeMichael PaulWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
2Martin, Beaufort, Washington, Tyrrell, HydeRegina ParkerAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
2Martin, Beaufort, Washington, Tyrrell, HydeChristopher McLendonWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
10DWakeKeith GregoryAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2018
10DWakeNed MangumWhiteMaleRepublican2018
10DWakeJefferson Glenn GriffinWhiteMaleRepublican2020
10DWakeMargaret EaglesWhiteFemale Democrat2018
10DWakeDebra SasserWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
10DWakeLori ChristianAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2020
10DWakeMonica BousmanWhiteFemaleDemocrat 2020
12CNew HanoverRobin Wicks RobinsonWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
12CNew HanoverJ. H. Corpening IIWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
12CNew HanoverMelinda Haynie CrouchWhiteFemaleDemocrat2018
12CNew HanoverJeffery Evan NoeckerWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
12CNew HanoverRichard Russel DavisWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
15BCumberlandEdward PoneAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2020
15BCumberlandCheri Siler-MackAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
15BCumberlandTalmage BaggettWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
15BCumberlandLuis OliveraHispanicMaleRepublican2020
15DCumberlandApril M. SmithAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
15DCumberlandStephen StokesAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2018
15DCumberlandRobert Steihl IIIWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
16 Hoke, MooreJayrene R. ManessWhiteFemaleRepublican 2018
15DCumberlandDavid HastyWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
16 Hoke, MooreDon W. Creed Jr.WhiteMaleRepublican 2020
16 Hoke, MooreStephen Anthony BibeyWhiteMaleRepublican2018
16Hoke, MooreMichael A. StoneWhiteMaleRepublican2020
16 Hoke, MooreRegina M. JoeBlackFemaleDemocrat2018
18ADurhamJames T. HillWhiteMaleRepublican2018
18ADurhamDoretta L. WalkerAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
18ADurhamFrederick S. Battaglia JrWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
18CDurhamPatricia EvansAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
18CDurhamAmanda MarisWhiteFemaleDemocrat2018
18CDurhamShamieka RhinehartAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2020
22CGuilfordSusan R. BurchWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
22CGuilfordBetty BrownWhiteFemaleRepublican2020
22CGuilfordAngela Bullard FoxWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
22CGuilfordTonia CutchinAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2020
22DGuilfordMark Timothy CummingsAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2020
22DGuilfordAngela Cheryl FosterAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2020
22DGuilfordLora C. CubbageAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2020
22DGuilfordJonathan KreiderWhiteMaleRepublican2018
26AMecklenburgRonald L. ChapmanWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
26AMecklenburgRegan Anthony MillerAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2018
26AMecklenburgChristy T. MannWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
26AMecklenburgPaige B. McTheniaWhiteFemaleDemocrat2018
30AForsythDavid Edward SipprellWhiteMaleRepublican2020
30AForsythLawrence J. FineWhiteMale Democrat2020
30AForsythGeorge A. BedsworthWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
30AForsythTheodoros KazakosWhiteMaleRepublican2018
30AForsythLaurie HutchinsWhiteFemaleRepublican2020
30AForsythCarrie VickeryWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
30AForsythVictoria RoemerWhiteFemaleRepublican2020

Superior Court Double Bunkings - Option B - Feb 2018

There are 18 African American judges out of 95 total judges, according to Jan. 25 AOC info. There are six African American judges double-bunked in these proposed maps.
This information is based on the North Carolina voter registration database.
DistrictCounty(s)NameRaceGenderPartyTerm Expiration
12CNew HanoverPhyllis GorhamAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2024
12CNew HanoverJay HockenburyWhiteMaleRepublican2018
15DCumberlandMary Ann TallyWhiteFemaleDemocrat2018
15DCumberlandClaire HillWhiteFemaleUnaffiliated2018
15DCumberlandJames Ammons Jr.WhiteMaleUnaffiliated2018
18BDurhamElaine O'NealAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
18BDurhamMichael O’FoghludhaWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
19OrangeCarl FoxAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2022
19OrangeR. Allen BaddourWhiteMaleDemocrat2022
21Rockingham, CaswellStanley AllenWhiteMaleDemocrat2022
21Rockingham, CaswellEdwin WilsonWhiteMaleDemocrat2022
21Rockingham, CaswellWilliam O. Smith IIIWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
22CGuilfordLindsay DavisWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
22CGuilfordSusan BrayWhiteFemaleUnaffiliated2020
24Union, Anson, Richmond, ScotlandChristopher BraggWhiteMaleRepublican2018
24Union, Anson, Richmond, ScotlandJeffery CarpenterWhiteMaleRepublican2024
24Union, Anson, Richmond, ScotlandRichard BrownWhiteMaleDemocrat2024
24Union, Anson, Richmond, ScotlandTanya WallaceWhiteFemaleDemocrat2024
26EMecklenburgLisa BellWhiteFemaleRepublican2022
26EMecklenburgDonnie HooverAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2020
26FMecklenburgCarla ArchieAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2022
26FMecklenburgKaren Eady-WilliamsAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2020

District Court Double Bunkings - Option C - Feb 2018

There are 53 African American judges out of 269 total judges, according to Jan. 25 AOC info. There are 15 African American judges double-bunked in these proposed maps.
This information is based on the North Carolina voter registration database.
DistrictCounty(s)NameRaceGenderPartyTerm Expiration
1Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, DareMeader HarrisWhiteMaleRepublican2018
1Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, DareEula Reid African-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
1Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, DareAmber MalarneyWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
1Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, DareEdgar BarnesWhite MaleDemocrat2020
1Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, DareRobert Trivette WhiteMaleDemocrat2018
2Martin, Beaufort, Washington, Tyrrell, HydeDarrell CaytonWhiteMaleUnaffiliated 2018
2Martin, Beaufort, Washington, Tyrrell, HydeMichael PaulWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
2Martin, Beaufort, Washington, Tyrrell, HydeRegina ParkerAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
2Martin, Beaufort, Washington, Tyrrell, HydeChristopher McLendonWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
10DWakeKeith GregoryAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2018
10DWakeNed MangumWhiteMaleRepublican2018
10DWakeJefferson Glenn GriffinWhiteMaleRepublican2020
10DWakeMargaret EaglesWhiteFemale Democrat2018
10DWakeDebra SasserWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
10DWakeLori ChristianAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2020
10DWakeMonica BousmanWhiteFemaleDemocrat 2020
12CNew HanoverRobin Wicks RobinsonWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
12CNew HanoverJ. H. Corpening IIWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
12CNew HanoverMelinda Haynie CrouchWhiteFemaleDemocrat2018
12CNew HanoverJeffery Evan NoeckerWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
12CNew HanoverRichard Russel DavisWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
15BCumberlandEdward PoneAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2020
15BCumberlandCheri Siler-MackAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
15BCumberlandTalmage BaggettWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
15BCumberlandLuis OliveraHispanicMaleRepublican2020
15DCumberlandApril M. SmithAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
15DCumberlandStephen StokesAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2018
15DCumberlandRobert Steihl IIIWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
16 Hoke, MooreJayrene R. ManessWhiteFemaleRepublican 2018
15DCumberlandDavid HastyWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
16 Hoke, MooreDon W. Creed Jr.WhiteMaleRepublican 2020
16 Hoke, MooreStephen Anthony BibeyWhiteMaleRepublican2018
16Hoke, MooreMichael A. StoneWhiteMaleRepublican2020
16 Hoke, MooreRegina M. JoeBlackFemaleDemocrat2018
18ADurhamJames T. HillWhiteMaleRepublican2018
18ADurhamDoretta L. WalkerAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2018
18ADurhamFrederick S. Battaglia JrWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
22CGuilfordSusan R. BurchWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
22CGuilfordBetty BrownWhiteFemaleRepublican2020
22CGuilfordAngela Bullard FoxWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
22CGuilfordTonia CutchinAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2020
22DGuilfordMark Timothy CummingsAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2020
22DGuilfordAngela Cheryl FosterAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2020
22DGuilfordLora C. CubbageAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2020
22DGuilfordJonathan KreiderWhiteMaleRepublican2018
26AMecklenburgRonald L. ChapmanWhiteMaleDemocrat2020
26AMecklenburgRegan Anthony MillerAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2018
26AMecklenburgChristy T. MannWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
26AMecklenburgPaige B. McTheniaWhiteFemaleDemocrat2018
30AForsythDavid Edward SipprellWhiteMaleRepublican2020
30AForsythLawrence J. FineWhiteMale Democrat2020
30AForsythGeorge A. BedsworthWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
30AForsythTheodoros KazakosWhiteMaleRepublican2018
30AForsythLaurie HutchinsWhiteFemaleRepublican2020
30AForsythCarrie VickeryWhiteFemaleDemocrat2020
30AForsythVictoria RoemerWhiteFemaleRepublican2020

Superior Court Double Bunkings - Option C - Feb 2018

There are 18 African American judges out of 95 total judges, according to Jan. 25 AOC info. There are six African American judges double-bunked in these proposed maps.
This information is based on the North Carolina voter registration database.
DistrictCounty(s)NameRaceGenderPartyTerm Expiration
12CNew HanoverPhyllis GorhamAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2024
12CNew HanoverJay HockenburyWhiteMaleRepublican2018
15DCumberlandMary Ann TallyWhiteFemaleDemocrat2018
15DCumberlandClaire HillWhiteFemaleUnaffiliated2018
15DCumberlandJames Ammons Jr.WhiteMaleUnaffiliated2018
18CDurhamOrlando HudsonAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2020
18CDurhamMichael O’FoghludhaWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
19OrangeCarl FoxAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2022
19OrangeR. Allen BaddourWhiteMaleDemocrat2022
21Rockingham, CaswellStanley AllenWhiteMaleDemocrat2022
21Rockingham, CaswellEdwin WilsonWhiteMaleDemocrat2022
21Rockingham, CaswellWilliam O. Smith IIIWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
22CGuilfordLindsay DavisWhiteMaleDemocrat2018
22CGuilfordSusan BrayWhiteFemaleUnaffiliated2020
24Union, Anson, Richmond, ScotlandChristopher BraggWhiteMaleRepublican2018
24Union, Anson, Richmond, ScotlandJeffery CarpenterWhiteMaleRepublican2024
24Union, Anson, Richmond, ScotlandRichard BrownWhiteMaleDemocrat2024
24Union, Anson, Richmond, ScotlandTanya WallaceWhiteFemaleDemocrat2024
26EMecklenburgLisa BellWhiteFemaleRepublican2022
26EMecklenburgDonnie HooverAfrican-AmericanMaleDemocrat2020
26FMecklenburgCarla ArchieAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2022
26FMecklenburgKaren Eady-WilliamsAfrican-AmericanFemaleDemocrat2020
Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

Republicans denounce partisan judicial elections in merit selection discussion

Buddy Wester

The Federalist Society’s Triangle Lawyers Chapter hosted a discussion Thursday on merit selection, but panelists instead focused on the pros and cons of partisan judicial elections.

Buddy Wester, a business attorney from Charlotte, and Bob Orr, a former state Supreme Court justice — both of whom are registered Republicans — denounced partisan labels for judges, which were recently reinstated by GOP lawmakers.

“Of the vast majority of the voters considering judicial candidates, affiliation is the only sure thing the voter can know on that candidate and expresses, indeed, it assures, this unequivocal: this candidate will be allegiant to the platform and ideology of his or her party when he or she hears evidence and makes rulings in cases,” Wester said. “Never mind what the cases concern and that 90 percent plus of them have no political cast whatsoever to them.”

He added that the purpose of partisan labels is to lock all the judicial candidates “arm-in-arm” with candidates for other offices.

Orr said he considered himself an expert in statewide partisan judicial elections after running in five of them.

“In reality, in a state that now has 10 million residents with, I think, around 5.5 million registered voters, a partisan judicial race is a $1,400 lottery ticket for an eight-year term on one of our state’s two highest courts,” he said. “As you know, all you need is a law license and the filing fee and you can run for judicial office for the Court of Appeals or the state Supreme Court.”

He described challenges, including the tension partisan races creates within a court when colleagues of the opposite parties are running for office and ask each other for support.

Voters, he said, and often many lawyers, are clueless or poorly informed about how good a job any particular justice or judge is doing anyone running against them in a race.

“I don’t think partisan elections are any more transparent, and in some respects, work against it than reform systems,” he said.

The third panelist, Chris Bonneau, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh, tried to make a case for partisan elections, noting they weren’t “as bad as people say.”

“There’s no perfect way to select judges,” he said.

He said that partisan labels give voters more information about the candidates they vote for and increases transparency.

He added that North Carolina’s reputation for passing bills regarding judicial selection may be harming the public perception of the courts.

“Every year in states across the country, bills are introduced to change how judges are selected,” Bonneau said. “North Carolina is unique in that you guys actually pass them, and you pass them all the time. … If you’re concerned about the legitimacy of the courts, pick something and stick to it for awhile, and don’t keep changing it every time there’s a new political party in power, because that will do more to revoke the legitimacy of the courts than anything else you do.”

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin moderated the panel discussion. He endorsed merit selection last year before it was made known lawmakers were considering such a plan.

“My hope, as a part of this discussion today, is to help increase public interest in and understanding of the different methods of judicial selection,” he said. “I have personally been appointed to judicial office twice and I have run for judicial office four times — two partisan races and two non partisan races.”

Wester said toward the end of the meeting that he believed North Carolina could become the beacon for the best judicial selection model in the country if done right.

Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

State court refuses new districts in Wake, Mecklenburg; recommends new lawsuit

A state court has refused to order new districts in Wake and Mecklenburg counties after the U.S. Supreme Court stayed a special master’s plan for those areas, likely because of jurisdictional issues with state constitutional violations vs federal ones.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling last week in North Carolina v. Covington, a three-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court was asked to review a similar racial gerrymandering case challenging the same maps.

The panel concluded that “significant practical difficulties, if not jurisdictional impediments, exist when one court is called upon to construe and enforce another court’s order that was made upon a distinct and separate record by distinct and separate plaintiffs.”

The panel thought the new state constitutional claims in Covington’s remedial maps best be asserted in new litigation.

“We are reviewing what the next steps are for the plaintiffs in the case who have been seeking justice since 2011 and still have not found it,” said Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and attorney for the plaintiffs in the case. “We are concerned by the precedent set in today’s order. When a plan is found to be unconstitutional, it’s only right for the court to review the remedy enacted to make sure that it is legal and fair.”

Dickson v. Rucho_Filed Order on Remand by NC Policy Watch on Scribd