Our entire system of justice is being put at risk:
According to the latest lists released by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), there are now only 10 active emergency superior court judges and 25 emergency district court judges. Prior to the July 1 effective date of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, there were 42 emergency superior court judges and 72 emergency district court judges. The new list reflects an overall reduction of 69.2%.
According to emails obtained by NC Policy Watch, the cuts were causing concerns in the court system even days after the budget was passed.
I'm sure they were. In any given month, NC's Superior and District Courts handle over 15,000 cases. And they've been doing so under an ever-shrinking budget since Republicans took over the General Assembly. Understand, these are both civil and criminal cases, and some of the latter deal with violent criminals. When you refuse to fund the system properly, the number of violent criminals who plea bargain their case down increases, and the number of victims who never get their day in court increases also. Making this a public safety issue, put in the irresponsible hands of unqualified politicians and their lackeys:
It remains unclear who exactly asked for the reduction in emergency judges but it appears from emails that Sen. Shirley Randleman (R-Stokes, Surry, Wilkes) is behind the budget provision. In one email, in which Warren is cc’d, she directs Kristine Leggett, of the General Assembly Fiscal Research team, to “modify the emergency judge provision to add an allowance, in an emergency situation …”
The emails obtained by NC Policy Watch date back to April 6 with AOC legislative liaison Mildred Spearman first telling Hoke and another employee about a request she received. “I have a request for the number of emergency judges with active or pending cases at this time. Can you let me know?,” she asked. “This probably is related to the bill seeking to eliminate emergency judges (S617).”
Randleman introduced Senate Bill 617, which would have eliminated emergency judges altogether.
Not sure why Randleman has a bee in her bonnet about emergency judges, but after spending some thirty years as a clerk of court, there's probably some old grudges banging around in that superannuated head. Whatever the case, these judges appear to be critical to the continuing function of our courts, and doing away with them completely, especially without funding more full-time positions, is beyond reckless.