We expect the North Carolina General Assembly to convene for a “short session” this month. Peter Bolac is the North Carolina State Bar’s legislative liaison, and I wholesaled his 2017 Legislative Year in Review (available at www.ncbar.gov) to put this together. Thanks to Mr. Bolac for his hard work keeping NCSB members and district bars informed.
The following bills are eligible for consideration in the 2018 short session. There is no guarantee that any bill will be considered. We provide this list for informational purposes. The names of the bills are the “short titles” provided by the sponsors and should be considered in the context of the language of the entire bill. This list is not exhaustive:
- Judicial Redistricting & Investment Act (H717) – Passed House. H717 would revise Judicial Districts as shown in maps provided at https://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/h717maps/h717maps.html
- Increase Voter Accountability of Judges (S698) – An act to amend the constitution to create two-year terms of office for all justices and judges.
- Forfeiture of Retirement Benefits/Judges (H160) – Prohibits retirement benefits for judges who have been impeached and convicted or removed from office.
- GA Appoint for District Court Vacancies (H240) – Shifts the authority to fill district court vacancies from the Governor to the General Assembly.
- GA Appoint for Special Superior Court Judges (H241) – Shifts the authority to appoint special superior court judges from the Governor to the General Assembly.
- Vacancies/NC Sup Ct/Ct of App/Superior Ct/DAs (H335) – Clarifies the manner in which vacancies are filled for Supreme Court justices, judges of the Court of Appeals and Superior Court, and District Attorneys.
- Amend Who Can Serve on a Three-Judge Panel (H677) – Provides that district court judges may be appointed to serve on three-judge panels for actions challenging the validity of acts of the General Assembly.
- Landlord/Tenant – Alias & Pluries Summary Ejectment (H706) – Allows for severance of summary ejectment and monetary claims when service of process doesn’t meet certain standards.
- Amend Arson Law (H325) – Modifies and strengthens the criminal laws regarding arson.The following bills were previously introduced but did not pass the NC House or NC Senate, and are thus ineligible for consideration in the upcoming short session. However, the substance of any of these bills could be inserted into a bill that is eligible for consideration during the short session:
- Attorney Options/IOLTA Funds (S605)
- Reduce Annual State Bar Fees (S633)
- Judicial Standards Commission (S250)
- Eliminate Emergency Recall Judges (Addressed in Budget) (S617)
- Increase Judicial Pay 20% (S636)
- Limit Who May Advertise/Adoption Laws (S433)
- Amend Deferred Prosecution Statute (S457)
- Attorney’s Fees and Costs/State Prevails (S613)
- Conduct and Discipline for Magistrates (H126)
- Independent Redistricting Commission (H674)
- Clerk of Court Notify AOC [if] Judge Ends Early (H675)
- Special Superior Court Judge Assignments (H676)
- Discovery Not Disseminated to Defendant (H122)
- Courts Commission/Study Judicial Districts (H124)
- NC LEAF Funds (H129)
- Legal Services Rendered for Nonprofits (H645)
- Post Crime on Social Media/Enhanced Sentence (H918)
Look to the North Carolina State Bar’s website for periodic updates on General Assembly activity pertaining to the courts or the legal profession. As a reminder, neither the Mecklenburg County Bar nor the NC State Bar endorses or opposes any bill currently under consideration by the General Assembly—but you can. As lawyers, you have unique knowledge about the effects of any legislation upon the courts and the community they serve. There are relatively few attorneys serving in the current General Assembly, and attorneys often can provide special insight or helpful information that can aid legislators as they consider bills that affect the administration of justice. Regardless of your views on these and other bills, consider reaching out to your legislators about issues that matter to you.