The first meeting of the committee tasked with overhauling the judicial voting districts took an unexpected turn on Tuesday, beginning with a history lesson on the judiciary in the state and turning to conversations about how judges are chosen in the state, rather than where districts lines are located.
This would be the first major revamping of the courts since the 1955 overhaul that ended up in our current judicial system.
An overview of the current judicial administration is included here.
Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly), who chairs the House committee, opened the meeting before passing off the conversation to a couple of speakers who delved into the history of the courts, dating back to the formation of the state, detailing major overhauls to the court system in the time since.
The meeting lasted for more than two hours, the bulk of which was dedicated to discussions on the history of the judiciary and how judges are selected.
The dividing lines for the state’s eight judicial districts are proposed in a report found here.
For comparison the existing court district lines are presented on this map.
Recent changes to the courts include making more judicial races partisan, or rather recognizing on the ballot the political affiliations of judicial candidates.
This year all judicial elections from the state’s district courts on up to the state Supreme Court included the partisan labels of the candidates.
The change to make them non-partisan came in the 1990s and the process to return the partisan labels to those elections has been going on over the last few years under Republican legislative leadership.
On the table for the October legislative session opening Oct. 4, seems to not only be about what the judicial voting lines will be, but whether there will be any voting districts for judges if the state returns to an appointment process for the judiciary.
Burr said that there will be more meetings to come over the rest of the month ahead of the October session and discussions on new maps and the way we choose our judges will both be on the table.