RALEIGH — Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) this week announced the creation of the Senate Select Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting.
The General Assembly made news recently by announcing that the spring primaries for the judicial races would be canceled. Some GOP members at the time said it was so the party would have time to consider whether judges should be elected at all or whether it would be better to have them appointed by politicians.
The committee formed by Berger is a step toward studying this issue more closely.
He made several appointments to the committee, including Sen. Shirley Randleman, a Wilkesboro Republican whose 30th Senate district includes Surry, Wilkes, and Stokes counties.
“After 60 years of haphazard and sometimes contradictory changes to our judicial system, I hope our state can have a thoughtful dialogue on how to modernize, reform and strengthen it in the coming months,” Berger said in announcing the appointments.
”The judiciary touches every North Carolinian, so the conversation needs to include Republicans and Democrats, judges, legislators, district attorneys, clerks of court, executive branch officials, men and women of all races, and, yes, even lawyers.
“This committee will carefully consider all options on how we select judges including the House’s judicial redistricting bill, merit selection models, retention elections, and, if we maintain a system of elections, their frequency and partisan structure,” he said.
Already two pieces of legislation have been pushed to adjust the judiciary, the first HB717, approved only in the House, would install new maps for the judiciary and the second SB656, vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper and then overturned by the legislature.
Randleman, who retired as a clerk of superior court before taking a seat in the State Senate vacated by the late Don. East, will be joined on the committee by Sen. Dan Bishop, co-chair; Sen. Warren Daniel, co-chair; Sen. Bill Rabon, co-chair; Sen. Dan Barrett, Sen. Dan Blue, Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, Sen. Chuck Edwards, Sen. Joel Ford, Sen. Ralph Hise, Sen. Floyd McKissick, Sen. Wesley Meredith, Sen. Paul Newton, Sen. Norm Sanderson and Sen. Terry Van Duyn.