GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

SESSION 2017

 

SESSION LAW 2018-121

HOUSE BILL 717

 

 

AN ACT TO REVISE THE JUDICIAL divisions; to make certain adjustments to the assignment of counties to the superior court, district court, and prosecutorial districts; to clarify listing of judicial seats on the ballot; and to limit rotation of superior court judges to six months per year.

 

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

 

SECTION 1.(a) G.S. 7A‑41, as amended by S.L. 2018‑5, reads as rewritten:

"ァ 7A‑41. Superior court divisions and districts; judges.

(a) The counties of the State are organized into judicial divisions and superior court districts, and each superior court district has the counties, and the number of regular resident superior court judges set forth in the following table, and for districts of less than a whole county, as set out in subsection (b) of this section:

Superior

Judicial Court No. of Resident

Division District Counties Judges

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First 1 Camden, Chowan, 2

Currituck,

Dare, Gates,

Pasquotank,

Perquimans

First 2 Beaufort, Hyde, 1

Martin,

Tyrrell, Washington

First 3A Pitt 2

Second 3B Carteret, Craven, 3

Pamlico

Second 4A4 Duplin, Jones, Onslow, 12

Sampson

Second 4B Onslow 1

Second 5A (part of New Hanover, 1

part of Pender

see subsection (b))

5B (part of New Hanover, 1

part of Pender

see subsection (b))

5C (part of New Hanover, 1

see subsection (b))

First 6A Halifax 1

First 6B Bertie, Hertford, 1

Northampton

First 7A Nash 1

First 7B (part of Wilson, 1

part of Edgecombe,

see subsection (b))

First 7C (part of Wilson, 1

part of Edgecombe,

see subsection (b))

Second 8A Lenoir and Greene 1

Second 8B Wayne 1

ThirdFirst 9 Franklin, Granville, 2

Person, Vance, Warren

Third 10A (part of Wake, 1

see subsection (b))

Third 10B (part of Wake, 21

see subsection (b))

Third 10C (part of Wake, 1

see subsection (b))

Third 10D (part of Wake, 1

see subsection (b))

Third 10E (part of Wake, 1

see subsection (b))

Third 10F (part of Wake, 1

see subsection (b))

FourthThird 11A Harnett, 1

Lee

FourthThird 11B Johnston 1

FourthThird 12A (part of Cumberland, 1

see subsection (b))

FourthThird 12B (part of Cumberland, 1

see subsection (b))

FourthThird 12C (part of Cumberland, 2

see subsection (b))

FourthSecond 13A Bladen, Columbus 1

FourthSecond 13B Brunswick 1

ThirdFirst 14A (part of Durham, 1

see subsection (b))

ThirdFirst 14B (part of Durham, 3

see subsection (b))

Third 15A Alamance 2

ThirdFourth 15B Orange, Chatham 2

FourthThird 16A Anson, Richmond, 2

Scotland, HokeScotland

FourthSecond 16B Robeson 2

FifthFourth 17A Caswell, Rockingham 2

FifthFourth 17B Stokes, Surry 1

FifthFourth 18A (part of Guilford, 1

see subsection (b))

FifthFourth 18B (part of Guilford, 1

see subsection (b))

FifthFourth 18C (part of Guilford, 1

see subsection (b))

FifthFourth 18D (part of Guilford, 1

see subsection (b))

FifthFourth 18E (part of Guilford, 1

see subsection (b))

SixthFourth 19A Cabarrus 1

FifthThird 19B Montgomery, Randolph 2

SixthFourth 19C Rowan 1

FourthThird 19D Hoke, Moore 12

SixthThird 20A Montgomery, Stanly 12

SixthThird 20B Union 2

FifthFourth 21A (part of Forsyth, 1

see subsection (b))

FifthFourth 21B (part of Forsyth, 1

see subsection (b))

FifthFourth 21C (part of Forsyth, 1

see subsection (b))

FifthFourth 21D (part of Forsyth, 1

see subsection (b))

SixthFourth 22A Alexander, Iredell 2

SixthFourth 22B Davidson, Davie 2

FifthFourth 23 Alleghany, Ashe, 1

Wilkes, Yadkin

EighthFifth 24 Avery, Madison, 2

Mitchell,

Watauga, Yancey

SeventhFifth 25A Burke, Caldwell 2

SeventhFifth 25B Catawba 2

SeventhFifth 26A (part of Mecklenburg, 2

see subsection (b))

SeventhFifth 26B (part of Mecklenburg, 3

see subsection (b))

SeventhFifth 26C (part of Mecklenburg, 2

see subsection (b))

SeventhFifth 27A Gaston 2

SeventhFifth 27B Cleveland, Lincoln 2

EighthFifth 28 Buncombe 2

EighthFifth 29A McDowell, 1

Rutherford

EighthFifth 29B Henderson, Polk, 1

Transylvania

EighthFifth 30A Cherokee, Clay, 1

Graham, Macon,

Swain

EighthFifth 30B Haywood, Jackson 1

(b1) The qualified voters of District 4 shall elect all judges established for District 4 in subsection (a) of this section, but only persons who reside in Onslow County may be candidates for one of the judgeships and only persons who reside in Duplin, Jones, or Sampson County may be candidates for the remaining judgeship.

."

SECTION 1.(b) The additional judge in District 19D, as established by this section, shall take office on January 1, 2019, with an election in 2018 to be held accordingly.

SECTION 1.(c) The additional judge in District 20A, as established by this section, shall take office on January 1, 2021, with an election in 2020 to be held accordingly.

SECTION 1.(d) Except as provided in this section, this section becomes effective January 1, 2019, and elections in 2018 shall be held accordingly.

SECTION 2.(a) G.S. 7A‑133 reads as rewritten:

"ァ 7A‑133. Numbers of judges by districts; numbers of magistrates and additional seats of court, by counties.

(a) Each district court district shall have the numbers of judges as set forth in the following table:

District Judges County

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1 5 Camden

Chowan

Currituck

Dare

Gates

Pasquotank

Perquimans

2 4 Martin

Beaufort

Tyrrell

Hyde

Washington

3A 5 Pitt

3B 6 Craven

Pamlico

Carteret

4 8 Sampson

Duplin

Jones

Onslow

5 9 New Hanover

Pender

6 4 Northampton

Bertie

Hertford

Halifax

7 7 Nash

Edgecombe

Wilson

8 6 Wayne

Greene

Lenoir

9 5 Granville

(part of Vance

see subsection (b))

Franklin

Person

9B 2 Warren

(part of Vance

see subsection (b))

10 19 Wake

11 11 Harnett

Johnston

Lee

12 10 Cumberland

13 6 Bladen

Brunswick

Columbus

14 7 Durham

15A 4 Alamance

15B 5 Orange

Chatham

16A 64 Scotland

Hoke

Anson

Richmond

16B 5 Robeson

17A 4 Caswell

Rockingham

17B 4 Stokes

Surry

18 14 Guilford

19A 5 Cabarrus

19B 75 Montgomery

Moore

Randolph

19C 5 Rowan

19D 4 Hoke, Moore

20A 23 StanlyMontgomery, Stanly

20B 1 (part of Union

see subsection (b))

20C 2 (part of Union

see subsection (b))

20D 1 Union

21 11 Forsyth

22A 5 Alexander

Iredell

22B 6 Davidson

Davie

23 4 Alleghany

Ashe

Wilkes

Yadkin

24 4 Avery

Madison

Mitchell

Watauga

Yancey

25 9 Burke

Caldwell

Catawba

26 21 Mecklenburg

27A 7 Gaston

27B 6 Cleveland

Lincoln

28 7 Buncombe

29A 3 McDowell

Rutherford

29B 4 Henderson

Polk

Transylvania

30 6 Cherokee

Clay

Graham

Haywood

Jackson

Macon

Swain.

(b) For district court districts of less than a whole county, or with part or all of one county with part of another, the composition of the district is as follows:

(b5) The qualified voters of District 16A shall elect all judges established for District 16A in subsection (a) of this section, but only persons who reside in Anson County may be candidates for one of the judgeships, only persons who reside in Scotland County may be candidates for one of the judgeships, and only persons who reside in Richmond County may be candidates for the remaining judgeships. In order to implement this section the following shall apply in order to transition from at large seats to residency requirements:

(1) In 2020, and every four years thereafter, the district court judgeship requiring a resident of Anson County shall be elected, and a district court judgeship requiring a resident of Richmond County shall be elected.

(2) In 2022, and every four years thereafter, the district court judgeship requiring a resident of Scotland County shall be elected, and a district court judgeship requiring a resident of Richmond County shall be elected.

(b6) The qualified voters of District 20A shall elect all judges established for District 20A in subsection (a) of this section, but only persons who reside in Montgomery County may be candidates for one of the judgeships, and only persons who reside in Montgomery or Stanly County may be candidates for the remaining judgeships.

(b7) Subject to the provisions of this subsection, the qualified voters of District 25 shall elect all judges established for District 25 in subsection (a) of this section, but only persons who reside in Catawba County may be candidates for five of the judgeships, and only persons who reside in Burke or Caldwell County may be candidates for the remaining judgeships. In order to implement this section the following shall apply in order to transition from at large seats to residency requirements:

(1) Transition of seats; regular elections. For any district court judgeship that is held by a resident of Burke or Caldwell Counties on July 1, 2018, at the next general election after July 1, 2018, that district court judgeship shall be filled only by a person who is a resident of Burke or Caldwell Counties. Until such time as three district court judgeships transition under subdivision (2) of this subsection, for any district court judgeship that is held by a resident of Catawba County on July 1, 2018, that district court judgeship shall, at the next general election after July 1, 2018, be filled only by a person who is a resident of Burke, Caldwell, or Catawba County.

(2) Transition of seats; vacancies. Upon each of the first three district court judgeship vacancies occurring in District Court District 25 after July 1, 2018, due to death, resignation, removal, or retirement of a person who is a resident of Catawba County holding a judgeship on July 1, 2018, that vacancy shall be filled according to law for the remainder of the unfilled term. At the next general election held for that district court judgeship, only persons who reside in Burke or Caldwell County may be candidates for that district court judgeship. Any primary associated with that general election for that district court judgeship after the completion of the term shall also be held accordingly, in accordance with this subsection.

(3) Notification to State Board. Upon each of the first three district court judgeship vacancies occurring after July 1, 2018, in District Court District 25 due to the death, resignation, removal, or retirement of a person who is a resident of Catawba County holding a judgeship on July 1, 2018, the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts shall provide written notice of the vacancy to the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. During the filing period for that district court judgeship at the next general election held for that district court judgeship, the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement shall ensure that only persons who reside in Burke or Caldwell County may file as candidates for that district court judgeship in accordance this subsection.

(4) Final transition. If a total of three district court judgeships have not transferred under subdivision (2) of this subsection to be eligible to be held by only persons who are residents of Burke or Caldwell Counties by January 1, 2030, a sufficient number of district court judgeships to total three district court judgeships shall be transferred to be held by only persons who are residents of Burke or Caldwell Counties on January 1, 2031, and the 2030 elections shall be held accordingly.

."

SECTION 2.(b) The additional judge in District Court District 20A, as established by this section, shall take office on January 1, 2019, with an election in 2018 to be held accordingly. In implementing G.S. 7A‑133(b6), as enacted by this section, State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement shall ensure that only residents of Montgomery County may be candidates for the additional judge in District Court District 20A in the 2018 election, and every four years thereafter.

SECTION 2.(c) G.S. 7A‑133(b5) and G.S. 7A‑133(b6), as enacted by this section, become effective January 1, 2021, with elections in 2020 to be held accordingly.

SECTION 2.(d) Except as otherwise provided, G.S. 7A‑133, as enacted by this section, becomes effective January 1, 2019.

SECTION 3.(a) G.S. 7A‑60 reads as rewritten:

"ァ 7A‑60. District attorneys and prosecutorial districts.

(a) The State shall be divided into prosecutorial districts, as shown in subsection (a1) of this section. There shall be a district attorney for each prosecutorial district, as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section who shall be a resident of the prosecutorial district for which elected. A vacancy in the office of district attorney shall be filled as provided in Article IV, Sec. 19 of the Constitution.

(a1) (Effective January 1, 2019) The counties of the State are organized into prosecutorial districts, and each district has the counties and the number of full‑time assistant district attorneys set forth in the following table:

No. of Full‑Time

Prosecutorial Asst. District

District Counties Attorneys

1 Camden, Chowan, Currituck, 11

Dare, Gates, Pasquotank,

Perquimans

2 Beaufort, Hyde, Martin, 8

Tyrrell, Washington

3 Pitt 12

4 Carteret, Craven, Pamlico 13

5 Duplin, Jones, Onslow, Sampson 19

6 New Hanover, Pender 19

7 Bertie, Halifax, Hertford, 11

Northampton

8 Edgecombe, Nash, Wilson 19

9 Greene, Lenoir, Wayne 14

1011 Franklin, Granville, Person 1415

Vance, Warren

1110 Wake 42

12 Harnett, Lee 11

13 Johnston 10

14 Cumberland 25

15 Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus 14

16 Durham 18

17 Alamance 12

18 Orange, Chatham 10

19 Scotland, Hoke 7

20 Robeson 12

21 Anson, RichmondRichmond, Scotland 69

22 Caswell, Rockingham 98

23 Stokes, Surry 8

24 Guilford 34

25 Cabarrus 9

2637 Montgomery, Randolph 10

27 Rowan 9

2829 Hoke, Moore 59

2928 Montgomery, Stanly 56

30 Union 11

31 Forsyth 27

32 Alexander, Iredell 12

33 Davidson, Davie 12

34 Alleghany, Ashe, Wilkes, Yadkin 9

35 Avery, Madison, Mitchell, 8

Watauga, Yancey

36 Burke, Caldwell, CatawbaCaldwell 199

3726 Mecklenburg 58

38 Gaston 15

39 Cleveland, Lincoln 12

40 Buncombe 14

41 McDowell, Rutherford 8

42 Henderson, Polk, Transylvania 9

43 Cherokee, Clay, Graham, 12

Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain.

44 Catawba 10

."

SECTION 3.(b) The office and term of the district attorney for Prosecutorial District 19 formerly consisting of Hoke and Scotland Counties is terminated upon the expiration of the current term, December 31, 2020. Effective January 1, 2021, District 19 formerly consisting of Hoke and Scotland Counties is reassigned as provided in this section. All open investigations and pending cases for Prosecutorial District 19 formerly consisting of Hoke and Scotland Counties shall be transferred to either District 21 or District 29, as enacted by this section. Hoke County is added to District 29, as enacted by this section, and the total number of ADAs in that district is nine. Scotland County is added to District 21, and the total number of ADAs in that district is nine.

SECTION 3.(c) The merging of Montgomery County into Prosecutorial District 28, as enacted by this section, becomes effective January 1, 2019. All open investigations and pending cases in Montgomery County are transferred to Prosecutorial District 28, effective January 1, 2019. The total number of ADAs in District 28 is nine.

SECTION 3.(d) The office and term of the district attorney for Prosecutorial District 36 formerly consisting of Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties is terminated upon the expiration of the term expiring December 31, 2022. Effective January 1, 2023, District 36 formerly consisting of Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties is reassigned as provided in this section. All open investigations and pending cases for Prosecutorial District 36 formerly consisting of Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties shall be transferred to either District 36 or District 44, as enacted by this section. Burke and Caldwell Counties remain in District 36, as enacted by this section, and the total number of ADAs in that district is nine. Catawba County is added to District 44, and the total number of ADAs in that district is 10.

SECTION 4.(a) G.S. 163A‑1112(a) reads as rewritten:

"(a) Except as provided in this section, each official ballot shall contain all the following elements:

(1) The heading prescribed by the State Board. The heading shall include the term "Official Ballot".

(2) The title of each office to be voted on and the number of votes allowed in each ballot item.

(3) The names of the candidates as they appear on their notice of candidacy filed pursuant to G.S. 163A‑972, 163A‑973, 163A‑974, 163A‑975, 163A‑976, 163A‑977, and 163A‑978, or on petition forms filed in accordance with G.S. 163A‑1005. No title, appendage, or appellation indicating rank, status, or position shall be printed on the official ballot in connection with the candidate's name. Candidates, however, may use the title Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. Nicknames shall be permitted on an official ballot if used in the notice of candidacy or qualifying petition, but the nickname shall appear according to standards adopted by the State Board. Those standards shall allow the presentation of legitimate nicknames in ways that do not mislead the voter or unduly advertise the candidacy. In the case of candidates for presidential elector, the official ballot shall not contain the names of the candidates for elector but instead shall contain the nominees for President and Vice President which the candidates for elector represent. The State Board shall establish a review procedure that local boards of elections shall follow to ensure that candidates' names appear on the official ballot in accordance with this subdivision.

(4) Party designations in partisan ballot items.

(5) A means by which the voter may cast write‑in votes, as provided in G.S. 163A‑1006. No space for write‑ins is required unless a write‑in candidate has qualified under G.S. 163A‑1006 or unless the ballot item is exempt from G.S. 163A‑1006.

(6) Instructions to voters, unless the State Board allows instructions to be placed elsewhere than on the official ballot.

(7) The printed title and facsimile signature of the chair of the county board of elections.

(8) The designation of vacancy sought, for any vacancy for the office of Justice or judge of the courts. The designation shall not be the name or names of any incumbent or other individual but shall be designated as determined by the State Board."

SECTION 4.(b) G.S. 163A‑975 reads as rewritten:

"ァ 163A‑975. Notice of candidacy for certain offices to indicate vacancy.

In any primary in which there are two or more vacancies for associate justices for the Supreme Court, two or more vacancies for the Court of Appeals, two or more vacancies for superior or district court judge, or two vacancies for United States Senator from North Carolina, each candidate shall, at the time of filing notice of candidacy, file with the State Board a written statement designating the vacancy to which the candidate seeks nomination. The designation shall not be the name or names of any incumbent or other individual but shall be designated as determined by the State Board. A person seeking election for a specialized district judgeship established under G.S. 7A‑147 shall, at the time of filing notice of candidacy, file with the State Board a written statement designating the specialized judgeship to which the person seeks nomination. Votes cast for a candidate shall be effective only for nomination to the vacancy for which the candidate has given notice of candidacy as provided in this section."

SECTION 4.(c) This section is effective when it becomes law and applies to elections held on or after that date.

SECTION 5. G.S. 7A‑47.3 reads as rewritten:

"ァ 7A‑47.3. Rotation and assignment; sessions.

(a) To effect the intent of Article IV, Section 11 of the North Carolina Constitution, each regular resident superior court judge may, upon each rotation, be assigned to hold the courts either of one of the districts or of one of the sets of districts, as defined in G.S. 7A‑41.1(a), districts in that judge's judicial division.

(b) All sessions of superior court shall be for an entire county, whether that county comprises or is located in a district or in a set of districts as defined in G.S. 7A‑41.1(a), and at each session all matters and proceedings arising anywhere in the county shall be heard.

(c) In making assignment of the judges of the superior court, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall strive to allow each regular resident superior court judge to be assigned to the district or set of districts from which that regular resident superior court judge was elected or appointed no less than one‑half of the calendar year.

(d) For purposes of this section, "district or set of districts" shall have the same meaning as in G.S. 7A‑41.1(a)."

SECTION 6. Other than the filing period, the election for the office of judge for Superior Court District 19D and District Court District 20A shall be held in accordance with Section 4 of S.L. 2017‑214, as amended. Candidates seeking the office of judge for Superior Court District 19D or District Court District 20A shall file their notice of candidacy with the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement no earlier than 12:00 noon on July 9, 2018, and no later than 12:00 noon on July 13, 2018.

SECTION 7. Subsection 18B.6 of S.L. 2018‑5 reads as rewritten:

"SECTION 18B.6. Effective January 1, 2019, G.S. 7A‑41(a1) G.S. 7A‑60(a1) reads as rewritten:

(a1) The counties of the State are organized into prosecutorial districts, and each district has the counties and the number of full‑time assistant district attorneys set forth in the following table:

."

SECTION 8. The Director of the Budget shall increase the budget of the Administrative Office of the Courts from the unreserved fund balance set forth in S.L. 2018‑5 in an amount sufficient to cover the costs of the judgeships created by this bill. These funds are hereby appropriated.

SECTION 9. If Senate Bill 757, 2018 Regular Session, becomes law, then Section 1(c) of that act reads as rewritten:

"SECTION 1.(c) In order to implement the superior court districts as enacted by this section, in 2018 and every eight years thereafter, elections shall be conducted for Districts 5A, 5B, 26C, 26E, 26F, and 26H; in 2020 and every eight years thereafter, elections shall be conducted for District 26A; and in 2022 and every eight years thereafter, elections shall be conducted for Districts 26B, 26D, and 26G; and in 2024 and every eight years thereafter, elections shall be conducted for District 5C.Districts 5A and 5C."

SECTION 10. If Senate Bill 757, 2018 Regular Session, becomes law, the assignment of judicial divisions in G.S. 7A‑41(a), as enacted by that act, shall be repealed.

SECTION 11. Except as otherwise provided, this act is effective when it becomes law.

In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 15th day of June, 2018.

 

 

s/ Bill Rabon

Presiding Officer of the Senate

 

 

s/ David R. Lewis

Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives

 

 

VETO Roy Cooper

Governor

 

 

Became law notwithstanding the objections of the Governor at 5:42 p.m. this 28th day of June, 2018.

 

s/ Sarah Lang Holland

Senate Principal Clerk