A plan to remove the power of North Carolina governors to name Special Superior Court Judges (SSCJs) and transfer that power to the legislature itself has been filed in the House.
SSCJs are authorized by the state’s constitution. (“The General Assembly may provide by general law for the selection or appointment of special or emergency Superior Court Judges not selected for a particular judicial district.” Art. VI, Sec. 9)
They are currently appointed by the Governor to 5 year terms and are not required to reside in the district in which they are assigned. Moreover, several SSCJs sit as the state’s Business Court.
Rather than having the Governor select SSCJs, under HB 241 as filed the General Assembly itself would make the selection.
The practice of having the legislature select judges without the state’s governor, while common in the period immediately after the American Revolution, has been effectively abandoned outside of South Carolina and Virginia. North Carolina’s prior history here is a case in point. Under the 1776 state constitution the General Assembly not only picked judges (Art. XII) and justices of the peace (Art. XXXIII) they also picked the Governor (Art. XV). Those judicial selection provisions lasted until 1868 when judges were changed over to an elected position.
HB 241 has been filed in the House Judiciary IV Committee.