Bill Summaries: H126 (2017-2018 Session)

  • Summary date: Mar 1 2017 - View summary

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

    Clarifies that Section 4 of the act, which amends GS 7A-171, applies to all magistrates appointed to office on or or after January 2018.

  • Summary date: Feb 16 2017 - View summary

    Directs the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to develop a Code of Conduct for all magistrates, the purpose of which is to create uniformity among all districts. Requires the Code of Conduct to provide guidance to magistrates regarding: (1) standards of professional conduct and timeliness, (2) required duties and responsibilities, (3) methods for ethical decision making, and (4) any other information deemed relevant by the AOC. Directs the AOC to establish the Code of Conduct for Magistrates by July 1, 2018.

    Amends GS 7A-146, which sets out the administrative authority and duties of chief district court judges, as follows. Makes it the duty of the chief district court judge to designate a full-time magistrate in each county to serve as chief magistrate for that county, and eliminates the provision limiting appointment of a chief magistrate only if the chief district court judge determines it would be in the interest of justice. Makes conforming changes. Allows magistrates to be assigned to temporary duty in another county, which was previously only authorized during an emergency. Creates a new responsibility of chief district court judges to investigate complaints against magistrates. Authorizes a chief district court judge, upon investigation and written findings of misconduct, to issue a letter of caution, a written reprimand, or suspend a magistrate without pay for no longer than 10 days within one pay period.

    Makes clarifying changes to GS 7A-173, which contains provisions regarding the suspension, removal and reinstatement of magistrates, by removing the "suspension" language throughout the statute and replacing that language with "suspension pending removal." Creates a new subsection to limit the application of the statute to suspensions pending removal from office, and clarifies that the statute does not apply to disciplinary suspension pursuant to GS 7A-146, as amended by this act. Additionally, makes the language throughout the statute gender-neutral.  Effective December 1, 2017, and applies to all current and future magistrates.

    Amends GS 7A-171, which provides for the appointment and terms of magistrates. Establishes that the magistrate’s term of office begins on the first day of February (previously, January) of the even-numbered year (previously, of the odd-numbered year) after appointment. Makes conforming changes. Effective December 1, 2017, and applies to all magistrates appointed to office in January of 2018. Provides that currently appointed magistrates will finish their term as set at their appointment.