A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO PHASE OUT THE USE OF SPECIAL SUPERIOR COURT JUDGES, TO PROVIDE FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF BUSINESS COURT JUDGES BY THE GOVERNOR IN CONSULTATION WITH THE CHIEF JUSTICE, AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE RENEWED USE OF EMERGENCY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGES, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH COMMISSION'S COMMITTEE ON JUDICIAL EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
Amends GS 7A-45.1 (Special Judges), adding a new subsection (a8) to provide that regardless of any other provision of this section, any judicial seat established by this section is abolished when any of the following first occurs: the incumbent judge (1) retires, (2) resigns, (3) is removed from office, (4) dies, or (5) the incumbent judge’s term expires. Effective on and after July 1, 2014.
Amends GS 7A-52 to provide that superior court judges who have not reached their seventy-sixth birthday (was, who have not reached mandatory retirement age as specified in GS 7A-4.20), and who meet the additional requirements in this section may apply as provided in GS 7A-53 to become emergency judges of the court from which they retired. Declares that emergency superior court judges are subject to the annual continuing legal education requirements set by the State Bar. Makes a conforming change to GS 7A-53 to provide that a superior court judge’s commission as an emergency judge terminates when the superior court judge reaches that judge’s seventy-sixth birthday.
Amends GS 7A-45.3 to direct the Governor, in consultation with the Chief Justice, to appoint up to three special superior court judges to hear and decide complex business cases as prescribed by the rules of practice (was, authorized the Chief Justice to designate one or more of the special superior court judges to hear and decide complex business cases). Provides that any judge appointed (was, designated) is to be known as a Business Court Judge. Adds new subsection (b) to provide that the three special superior court judges designated by the Chief Justice as of January 1, 2014, are to serve as the business court judges authorized under subsection (a) of this section until one of the following occurs: retirement, term expires, resignation, removal, or death. Directs the Governor, upon any of the specified occurrences, to appoint a successor to the business court as provided in subsection (a) of GS 7A-45.3. Provides that these appointments and future appointments as a business court judge are for eight-year terms.
Declares that it is the intent of the General Assembly that the Judicial Department make use of emergency superior court judges authorized under GS 7A-52 and 7A-53 to perform the duties of each of the special superior court judgeship positions abolished under new GS 7A-45.1(a8), as enacted in Section 1 of this act. Also directs the Judicial Department to evaluate the need for additional regular superior court judges in high need areas of the state and to make any recommendations for the creation of additional judgeships in those areas.
Effective July 1, 2014.
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