Putting McCrory's darling boy in charge of the courts:
State Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby appointed Andrew T. Heath to lead the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts, according to a North Carolina Judicial Branch press release today. Heath served as a superior court judge with statewide jurisdiction, where he heard both civil and criminal cases. He replaces McKinley Wooten Jr., who was appointed by former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley as the interim director of the Administrative Office of the Courts in 2019 and later took the permanent spot.
Then-Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Heath for a five-year term as a special superior court judge in December 2016 to fill a vacancy, right before leaving office following his loss to Gov. Roy Cooper in the election.
And that appointment was a plum offered to Heath because of his faithful service (dog) behavior. Apparently Newby is "cleaning house" at the admin offices of the court system, including experienced attorneys:
BREAKING in NC: I'm told the new GOP state supreme court Chief Justice Newby has fired top court administrative officials including executive directors and general counsel. Described as "unprecedented and unparalleled" power grab to remake NC courts.
— David Daley (@davedaley3) January 10, 2021
And goal number one is to thumb his nose at Cheri Beasley and reopen the courts, regardless of the pandemic consequences:
Newby welcomed the new director in the press release, “His broad experience and in-depth wisdom gained in the Judicial Branch and throughout state government make him an excellent choice for this important work.”
Heath challenged Judge John Arrowwood for his seat at the Court of Appeals in the 2018 election, but lost.
Heath’s appointment comes at a time when the new chief justice stressed the importance of the “Constitutional mandate that courts shall be open.”
A directive by Beasley halting most in-person court proceedings because of the COVID-19 pandemic is scheduled to expire Jan. 14. As of today, 24 counties reported closings and modifications of their court sessions.
Elections have consequences, and Newby is just itching to bring them about.