AN ACT TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION OF NORTH CAROLINA TO PROVIDE FOR NONPARTISAN JUDICIAL MERIT COMMISSIONS FOR THE NOMINATION AND RECOMMENDATION OF NOMINEES WHEN FILLING VACANCIES IN THE OFFICE OF JUSTICE OR JUDGE OF THE GENERAL COURT OF JUSTICE AND TO MAKE OTHER CONFORMING CHANGES TO THE CONSTITUTION.
Subject to approval by voters at the statewide general election in November 2018, amends Article IV of the North Carolina Constitution as follows.
Adds new Section 23 requiring that when filling a vacancy in the office of justice or Judge of the General Court of Justice, that the individuals be nominated. Nominations are made by the State's citizens to the Nonpartisan Judicial Merit Commission (Merit Commission) which will evaluate the nominees without regard to partisan affiliation but with respect to the nominee's qualifications. The evaluation of each nominee is then forwarded to the General Assembly, which will recommend at least two nominees for each vacancy to the Governor.
The Merit Commission is to consist of no more than nine members with appointments allocated to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Governor, and the General Assembly. Allows the General Assembly to provide for the establishment of local merit commissions for the nomination of judges of the Superior and District Court.
Requires the Governor, for each vacancy, to appoint the nominee deemed best qualified to serve within 10 days after the nominees are presented to the Governor. If the Governor does not make an appointment within 10 days, the General Assembly must hold a joint session and elect an appointee to fill the vacancy. If the General Assembly has adjourned sine die or for more than 30 days, gives the Chief Justice the authority to appoint a qualified individual to fill the vacancy if: (1) the vacancy occurs during the period of adjournment; (2) the General Assembly adjourned without presenting nominees to the Governor or failed to elect a nominee; or (3) the Governor failed to appointee a recommended nominee. Sets the term of service of the Chief Justice's appointee. Specifies that no appointment by the Governor or election by the General Assembly can occur after an election to fill the vacancy has commenced.
Provides that appointees hold their places until the next election after the election for members of the General Assembly held after the appointment occurs, when elections shall be held to fill those offices. When the vacancy occurs on or after the sixtieth day before the next election for members of the General Assembly and the term would expire on December 31 of that same year, the Chief Justice must appoint to fill that vacancy for the unexpired term.
Amends Section 10 of Article IV as follows. Makes conforming deletion of the provision requiring District judge vacancies to be filled for the unexpired term in a manner prescribed by law. Makes organizational changes.
Amends Section 18 of Article IV by adding that vacancies in the office of District Attorney must be filled by appointment of the Governor and the appointees hold the office until the next election for General Assembly members that is held more than 60 days after the vacancy occurs, when elections must be held to fill the offices. If the unexpired term in which the vacancy occurred expires on the first day of January succeeding the next election of General Assembly members, the Governor must appoint to fill that vacancy for the unexpired term of the office.
Makes a conforming repeal of Section 19 of Article IV which required that all vacancies occurring in the offices provided for by Article IV to be filled by appointment of the Governor, with appointees holding the office for the specified time.
Amends Section 22(5) of Article II by adding that the following bills must be read three times in each house before it becomes law and requiring the signatures of the presiding officers of both houses: (1) bills recommending a nominee or nominees to fill a vacancy in the office of Justice and Judge of the General Court of Justice, in accordance with Section 23 of Article IV of the Constitution; and (2) bills electing a nominee or nominees to fill a vacancy in the office of Justice or Judge of the General Court of Justice, in accordance with Section 23 of Article IV of the Constitution.
Sets out the question to be presented on the ballot.
If a majority of the votes cast on the question are in favor of the Constitutional amendment, requires the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to certify the amendment to the Secretary of State who must enroll the amendment among the office's permanent records. The amendment becomes effective upon certification and applies to vacancies occurring on or after the date of the general election.