Article 26A.

Three-Judge Panel for Redistricting Challenges and for Certain Challenges to State Laws.

1-267.1. Three-judge panel for actions challenging plans apportioning or redistricting State legislative or congressional districts; claims challenging the facial validity of an act of the General Assembly.

(a) Any action challenging the validity of any act of the General Assembly that apportions or redistricts State legislative or congressional districts shall be filed in the Superior Court of Wake County and shall be heard and determined by a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Wake County organized as provided by subsection (b) of this section.

(a1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (a) of this section, any facial challenge to the validity of an act of the General Assembly shall be transferred pursuant to G.S. 1A-1, Rule 42(b)(4), to the Superior Court of Wake County and shall be heard and determined by a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Wake County, organized as provided by subsection (b2) of this section.

(b) Whenever any person files in the Superior Court of Wake County any action challenging the validity of any act of the General Assembly that apportions or redistricts State legislative or congressional districts, a copy of the complaint shall be served upon the senior resident superior court judge of Wake County, who shall be the presiding judge of the three-judge panel required by subsection (a) of this section. Upon receipt of that complaint, the senior resident superior court judge of Wake County shall notify the Chief Justice, who shall appoint two additional resident superior court judges to the three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Wake County to hear and determine the action. Before making those appointments, the Chief Justice shall consult with the North Carolina Conference of Superior Court Judges, which shall provide the Chief Justice with a list of recommended appointments. To ensure that members of the three-judge panel are drawn from different regions of the State, the Chief Justice shall appoint to the three-judge panel one resident superior court judge from the First through Fourth Judicial Divisions and one resident superior court judge from the Fifth through Eighth Judicial Divisions. In order to ensure fairness, to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and to avoid political bias, no member of the panel, including the senior resident superior court judge of Wake County, may be a former member of the General Assembly. Should the senior resident superior court judge of Wake County be disqualified or otherwise unable to serve on the three-judge panel, the Chief Justice shall appoint another resident superior court judge of Wake County as the presiding judge of the three-judge panel. Should any other member of the three-judge panel be disqualified or otherwise unable to serve on the three-judge panel, the Chief Justice shall appoint as a replacement another resident superior court judge from the same group of judicial divisions as the resident superior court judge being replaced.

(b1) Any facial challenge to the validity of an act of the General Assembly filed in the Superior Court of Wake County, other than a challenge to plans apportioning or redistricting State legislative or congressional districts that shall be heard pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, or any claim transferred to the Superior Court of Wake County pursuant to subsection (a1) of this section, shall be assigned by the senior resident Superior Court Judge of Wake County to a three-judge panel established pursuant to subsection (b2) of this section.

(b2) For each challenge to the validity of statutes and acts subject to subsection (a1) of this section, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall appoint three resident superior court judges to a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Wake County to hear the challenge. The Chief Justice shall appoint a presiding judge of each three-judge panel. To ensure that members of each three-judge panel are drawn from different regions of the State, the Chief Justice shall appoint to each three-judge panel one resident superior court judge from the First, Second, or Fourth Judicial Division, one resident superior court judge from the Seventh or Eighth Judicial Division, and one resident superior court judge from the Third, Fifth, or Sixth Judicial Division. Should any member of a three-judge panel be disqualified or otherwise unable to serve on the three-judge panel or be removed from the panel at the discretion of the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice shall appoint as a replacement another resident superior court judge from the same group of judicial divisions as the resident superior court judge being replaced.

(c) No order or judgment shall be entered affecting the validity of any act of the General Assembly that apportions or redistricts State legislative or congressional districts, or finds that an act of the General Assembly is facially invalid on the basis that the act violates the North Carolina Constitution or federal law, except by a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Wake County organized as provided by subsection (b) or subsection (b2) of this section. In the event of disagreement among the three resident superior court judges comprising a three-judge panel, then the opinion of the majority shall prevail.

(d) This section applies only to civil proceedings. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to apply to criminal proceedings, to proceedings under Chapter 15A of the General Statutes, to proceedings making a collateral attack on any judgment entered in a criminal proceeding, or to appeals from orders of the trial courts pertaining to civil proceedings filed by a taxpayer pursuant to G.S. 105-241.17. (2003-434, 1st Ex. Sess., s. 7(a); 2014-100, s. 18B.16(a).)