Bill Summary for H 1140 (2021)

Summary date: 

May 31 2022

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 1140 (Public) Filed Thursday, May 26, 2022
AN ACT TO MODIFY VARIOUS PROVISIONS AFFECTING OUR STATE COURT SYSTEM AND TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS.
Intro. by Stevens.

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Bill summary

Section 1

Amends GS 50B-2(c1), which grants authority to the chief district court judge for a magistrate to hear motions for emergency ex parte relief. Requires a magistrate authorized to hear a motion for emergency relief ex parte to also accept for filing a complaint alleging domestic violence and motion for emergency relief ex parte if the office of the clerk is closed, and note thereon the filing date, and issue the summons. Requires the clerk, assistant clerk, or deputy clerk to issue any endorsement or alias and pluries summons. Requires filings accepted and orders entered by the magistrate under the statute to be delivered to the clerk's office for processing as soon as the office is open for business. 

Similarly, amends GS 50C-6(d), which grants chief district court judges authority to designate a judge or magistrate to be reasonably available to issue temporary civil no-contact orders when court is not in session. Requires a magistrate authorized to issue such relief to also accept for filing a complaint for a civil no-contact order and motion for temporary civil no-contact order if the office of the clerk is closed, and note thereon the filing date, and issue the summons. Requires the clerk, assistant clerk, or deputy clerk to issue any endorsement or alias and pluries summons. Requires filings accepted and orders entered by the magistrate under the statute to be delivered to the clerk's office for processing as soon as the office is open for business. 

Effective December 1, 2022. 

Section 2

Amends GS 7A-171.2 to deem eligible for nomination or renomination as a magistrate residents of contiguously bordering NC counties for which the magistrate is appointed (currently limited to county residents only). 

Section 3

Adds to the duties of the chief district court judge prescribed by GS 7A-146 the duty to investigate written complaints against magistrates. Authorizes the chief to discipline a magistrate pursuant to the Rules of Conduct for Magistrates upon investigation and written findings of misconduct. Deems written complaints received and records of investigations of complaints as personnel records. Deems the written complaint and the chief's actions on the complaint no longer confidential personnel records upon issuance of a letter of caution, written reprimand, or suspension by the chief. 

Amends GS 7A-173 to specify that the suspension of a magistrate addressed by the statute, which applies when a judge determines sworn charges, if true, constitute grounds for removal, does not apply to disciplinary suspensions imposed under GS 7A-146. Changes terminology to refer to "suspension pending removal" for instances of suspension under GS 7A-173. Makes language gender-neutral. 

Section 4

Increases the number of Court of Appeals judges included as members of the Judicial Standards Commission (Commission) set out in GS 7A-375 from one to two, thereby increasing the Commission's membership by one. Requires the Court of Appeals judges to act as the Commission's chair and vice-chair (whereas the previous Court of Appeals judge acted as chair). 

Section 5

Amends GS 7A-47.3 to require the senior resident superior court judge to designate a specific judge, resident or assigned to the district, to preside over all proceedings that occur 180 days after filing of medical malpractice actions under GS 90-21.11(2). 

Section 6

Repeals GS 7A-109(e), which requires the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to report to a specified NCGA committee on contracts regarding electronic records and records processing for records of clerks of superior court; and GS 7A-346.2(a), which requires AOC and the Office of Indigent Defense to report to the specified NCGA committee chairs on contracts entered into with local governments for the provision of the services of assistant district attorneys, assistant public defenders, judicial secretaries, and employees in the office of the clerk of superior court.

Section 7

Regarding applications for jury excusals or exemptions, and notifications of their disposition, replaces trial court administrators as points of application and notice under GS 9-6, GS 9-6.1, and GS 9-7.1, as may be assigned under law, to instead refer to judicial support staff. 

Section 8

Amends GS 15A-301, expanding criminal process that can be recalled by a judicial official for good cause prior to service to no longer exclude a warrant or criminal summons. 

Section 9

Revises the sunset of Section 11, SL 2021-47, which authorizes the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to expand the active list of emergency superior court judges to up to 25 emergency superior court judges, and expands the grounds for which the Chief Justice may assign emergency judges to hold regular or special sessions of court to include addressing case management issues created by the COVID‑19 pandemic. Extends the sunset from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023.

Section 10

Appropriates $50,000 from the General Fund to AOC for 2022-23 to educate court system staff and affected public stakeholders on the act's provisions.

Section 11 includes a severability clause.

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