NC Supreme Court

Newby moves quickly to take over court system

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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:

Bias has no place in NC's criminal justice system

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Chief Justice Cheri Beasley plants a seed on her way out:

Outgoing North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley on Wednesday detailed a commission that will recommend how to discourage and ultimately eliminate unfair treatment in the judicial system based on race, gender or other factors.

The text of the order acknowledged inequalities in the judicial system “that stem from a history of deeply rooted discriminatory policies and practices and the ongoing role of implicit and explicit racial, gender, and other biases.” Beasley, the first Black woman serving as chief justice, also delivered an address following the death of George Floyd that acknowledged enduring racial inequalities in North Carolina’s system.

There are many issues that need to be dealt with, and wealth disparities are at the top of that list:

Contemptible Icons: Thomas Ruffin portrait removed from Orange County courthouse

There are heroes, and there are villains:

The defendant in the case was John Mann, a North Carolinian who had been renting a slave named Lydia. When she committed a trifling offense, Mann whipped her. During the whipping, Lydia attempted to escape, so Mann shot her, gravely wounding her. North Carolina authorities deemed his response to her escape attempt disproportionate and charged him with assault and battery. In the criminal trial, the jury ruled against him. He appealed, claiming that assault on a slave by her master could not be indictable since a slave was property of her master.

Ruffin concluded that “the power of the master must be absolute, to render the submission of the slave perfect.” He argued that inhuman punishment of slaves was indeed legal in North Carolina.

Before you say, "But that was the law of the land back then" or something along those lines, both the local authorities *and* a jury deemed his actions were criminal. There is some evidence that suggests Mann was not well respected in the community, and his jury conviction may have had more to do with getting rid of a local nuisance than concern over the slave's injuries. But I also can't help noticing that John Mann was *not* the owner of Lydia, he was merely renting her. Which sounds absurd enough. The slave's real owner was a teenage girl, whose uncle rented out Lydia to whoever could pay. But apparently none of that mattered to Ruffin, which is one more reason to pull those portraits down. Note: the portrait hanging right behind Chief Justice Beasley in the above photo is of Thomas Ruffin...

Strange times: Should the NC Supreme Court get involved in veto-gate?

Depending on whom you talk to and when, North Carolina is

a. on the cusp of a constitutional crisis
b. an object lesson in how to cheat and get away with it
d. yes, and then some

No matter what you call it, these are strange times. A week ago, a trial court declared the districts that gave us the current legislature to be illegal and ordered new maps. This was an extraordinary ruling, appropriate to extraordinary circumstances. The GOP legislature began cheating out of the blocks, using forbidden maps to guide their work. The court will need to intervene again.

And this week, our illegally constituted Republican assembly has used deception and trickery to override the governor's veto. It's brass-knuckled politics, straight from the party of Trump. Maybe not criminal, definitely sleazy. So now what.

First and foremost, uphold the veto in the Senate. It's going to be a close vote, with every Republican voting to cheat.

Next, litigation, Take Tim Moore to court, even if we stop things in the Senate.

Why Barbara Jackson is not fit to serve on NC's Supreme Court

Her complete obeisance to Republicans in the General Assembly is distressing:

The General Assembly can waive its common law rights in addition to its statutory rights, and whether it chooses to do so is not within the purview of this Court. Nevertheless, we will not lightly assume such a waiver by a coordinate branch of government. Therefore, without a clear and unambiguous statement by the General Assembly that it intends to waive its attorney-client privilege or work-product doctrine, we are compelled to exercise judicial restraint and defer to the General Assembly‟s judgment regarding the scope of its legislative confidentiality.

In a nutshell, Justice Jackson blocked the plaintiff's discovery of e-mails associated with the GOP's gerrymandering plot after they took over the General Assembly in 2011. And she did this because she knew that during the back-and-forth between lawmakers and mapmakers and consultants, the true nature of their racial gerrymandering would be revealed. It was not about "complying" with the VRA, it was about abusing those Federal guidelines in order to pack African Americans into districts and greatly reduce the value and impact of their votes. In the absence of such damning proof, Republicans were free to keep their little charade afloat. Read the whole decision and you will see Jackson dug up the worst collection of Precedent I've seen in a while to back up her argument. Irrelevant and inappropriate don't even cover it. But at least read Robin Hudson's dissent, because it demonstrates why the GOP worked so hard to steal her seat:

Meet Supreme Court candidate Anita Earls

NC Supreme Court's mystery "rule" needs more scrutiny

And the timing is very suspect:

Some legal experts find the change curious in its timing and mysterious in its intent. Certainly it prompts questions: Will this allow Chief Justice Mark Martin, who is now to be in the conservative minority, to pick retired justices to break ties who agree philosophically with him? Is the change even legal under the state constitution?

NC Supreme Court thoughts

If you haven't read this important article by Bob Geary, take time to do that now. It about the NC Supreme Court race. From what I can tell, the only unknown in the system is whether Sabra Jean Faires or Mike Morgan ends up running against Edmunds.

http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-quiet-battle-for-the-nc-supreme-court-matters-more-than-you-thi...

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