Courts and justice

State court system: Unified in name only?

BY: - March 20, 2013

Someone forgot to remind legislators hell-bent on slashing judicial budgets in recent years that a unified court system does not call for one-size-fits-all funding. Rural districts have different concerns than those in the cities, especially those that span across counties. There are more miles to cover and more courthouses to keep open. And the effects […]

Ninety-nine problems, and voter fraud’s not one of them

BY: - March 6, 2013

Here’s one thing we can all agree on: Election 2012 revealed plenty in need of fixing at the polls in North Carolina. Long lines in places ill-equipped to handle the volume, voter frustration and unbridled electioneering were captured in unflattering media reports about pushing and shouting, interrogations by poll observers, and this: “A guy driving […]

Redistricting 2011: A solution in search of a problem

BY: - February 27, 2013

More than a year after the state NAACP and other groups and individuals sued the state and legislative leaders, calling the Republican majority’s 2011 redistricting maps racially-gerrymandered  — after filing mounds of paper,  taking a trip to the Supreme Court for an expedited appeal that took close to nine months for a decision, and presenting […]

Packed and stacked or impartial? Redistricting maps head back to court

BY: - February 21, 2013

As sure as spring follows winter, litigation follows the decennial redistricting plans drawn up by the General Assembly. And so on Monday begins the first phase of the latest dispute, this time arising out of plans approved in 2011. Attorneys for the parties will square off before a three-judge panel then, hoping to persuade the […]

Is the 4th Circuit veering back to the center?

BY: - February 13, 2013

It’s been nearly a decade since the New York Times profiled the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond—the court of last resort for the vast majority of cases filed in federal courts in North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia—as “the most aggressively conservative federal appeals court in the nation.” The […]

Groundhog Day for NC courts

BY: - February 6, 2013

It could be a scene from the movie “Groundhog Day.” Every long session as the budget is being negotiated, judges and other state court employees head down to the legislature to plead their case for more money for the courts. More judges, more staff, more technology – all are needed to keep the judicial system […]

Budget cuts leave justice hurtling towards a tipping point

BY: - January 30, 2013

How many bodies does it take to get a new date for a case on the Durham County court docket? At least three. And that’s no joke to court officials there. “Our system is archaic right now,” said Chief District Court Judge Marcia Morey. “We still rely on paper shucks.” That means, said Clerk of […]

Courting trouble – Budget cuts push Wake County courts back in time

BY: - January 23, 2013

“Must know DOS.” That’s a “help wanted” job description Wake County Superior Court Clerk Lorrin Freeman might post for staff in her office, if she could hire – an infrequent occurrence these past few years. Remember DOS? That’s the computer operating system many of us first worked on during the 1980s. It’s also the operating […]

Budget cuts, recession batter NC courts, threaten justice

BY: - January 16, 2013

Most people don’t think about what it costs to run the courts, or appreciate just how deep the slashes to the judicial budget have been over the past few years, until they find themselves roaming the halls of justice waiting to be heard. Standing on line out the door for hours to appear in traffic […]

Ervin weighs in on recusal, redistricting, and public financing

BY: - December 18, 2012

In a one-sentence order with no underlying rationale, the state Supreme Court yesterday denied a request by groups and individuals suing to overturn the 2011 redistricting plans that Justice Paul Newby recuse himself from that case. That decision came as a disappointment to the plaintiffs, who nonetheless remain confident that they’ll prevail on their challenge […]

Statesville Blues: Are Cross and Shield Restraining Competition?

BY: - December 5, 2012

If you live or work in North Carolina, chances are Blue Cross Blue Shield NC is your health insurer. And chances also are that, as you’ve watched your premiums continue to rise, you’ve found few if any other insurers who can give you a better deal. There aren’t many. According to the American Medical Association, […]

Amendment One and Done?

BY: - November 29, 2012

In May, North Carolina voters easily approved an amendment banning same-sex marriage, but the fate of that amendment may now rest on decisions coming down from the nation’s highest court as early as next week. On Friday, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will take a look at several same-sex marriage cases pending for […]