North Carolina may let non-attorney sheriffs & other law enforcement plus clerks of court serve as District Court Judges

March 28th, 2013 by Bill Raftery Leave a reply »

While numerous states are considering making it harder for non-attorneys to serve as judges, North Carolina’s House is considering making it easier.

The state’s current constitutional provision requires all judges of all courts be attorneys (“Only persons duly authorized to practice law in the courts of this State shall be eligible for election or appointment as a Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Court of Appeals, Judge of the Superior Court, or Judge of District Court.”) There is a single exception: those judges serving as of January 1, 1981 (when the provision went into effect) may continue to serve.

HB 397 would add 4 exceptions for a District Court Judgeship:

  • 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

This appears to be the first time in decades that anyone has introduced a bill to amend the qualifications for a judgeship in the state.

HB 397 is currently pending in the House Rules Committee.

1 comment

  1. Andrew D. Jackson says:

    There was a movement of sorts years back to eliminate non-attorney Justices of the Peace and lower court judges. One of the reasons stated was that they should have the same level of competence as the attorneys practicing before them. Attorney judges do not in some instances ensure due process and fundamental fairness as many of us are aware, but theoretically the chance of a fair outcome is improved.

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