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BOCC proposes resolution to oppose General Assembly's efforts to appoint judges

Board of County Commissioners Nov. 9

The Orange County Board of Commissioners met Nov. 9. 

The Orange County Board of Commissioners is looking to pass a resolution in their meeting on Thursday that will oppose a potential change to how North Carolina judges are selected.

N.C. lawmakers are considering changing how judges are chosen from elections to appointments by the General Assembly. The Commissioners have been outspoken in their opposition to this decision, claiming the amendment would “abridge or impinge upon the right of the people of North Carolina to elect their judges,” as stated in the resolution.

“This resolution is stating that (appointing judges) is really undemocratic in a way, and it makes it unfair because judging is supposed to be hearing cases and judging them based on a marriage of evidence and other criteria, as opposed to being whether you’re Republican or Democrat or libertarian or unaffiliated, and in order to have a really fair hearing, I think judges should really put all that aside,” said Orange County Commissioner Renee Price, co-author of the resolution. 

“If they're going to be hearing cases of the people, then they should really be by the people other than a select part of the legislature, who can appoint their own friends and colleagues rather than appointing people based on their qualifications.”

Orange County Commissioner Barry Jacobs said the Orange County Board of Commissioners think the current NC General Assembly is increasingly becoming a one-party system, and the judiciary needs to remain independent by continuing with the current judicial election process. 

“(The General Assembly is) trying to give us the worst system by making (the judges) run more often, which means they’re more susceptible to political pressures, more susceptible to having to raise money, and therefore more vulnerable to influence," Jacobs said. 

Price said she’s fairly confident the resolution will be passed by the Orange County Board of Commissioners, and she hopes all 100 counties will join in passing a similar resolution to persuade the General Assembly to not move forward with the bill.

“I would hope that the younger generations will also take a look at this because it’s also going to affect your life as well — you’re going to have to deal with the consequences," Price said. "I hope the young people will weigh in and express their opinions, because you’re our future leaders."

The Orange County Board of Commissioners will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Richard Whitted Meeting Facility to further discuss the resolution.