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State of North Carolina

History of Reform Efforts: North Carolina

Unsuccessful Reform Efforts

1974
A merit selection bill passed two readings on the house floor before failing on the third reading.

1977
A merit selection bill failed on the house floor. The measure was endorsed by the chief justice and the North Carolina Bar Association.

1989
The senate passed a bill calling for merit selection of appellate judges. The measure was supported by the state bar and many appellate judges but encountered opposition from trial lawyers and minority attorneys.

1991
The senate approved a bill calling for merit selection of appellate judges with general assembly confirmation. The bill never made it out of committee in the house.

1995
The senate approved a bill calling for gubernatorial appointment of appellate judges, legislative confirmation, and retention elections. The measure fell short of the three-fifths threshold in the house, despite visible support from the governor and the state's appellate judges.

1999
The senate approved a bill calling for merit selection and retention of appellate judges, but the measure was defeated in the house. The proposal was supported by North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry but opposed by the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers.

The general assembly has considered bills to alter the method of selecting judges in almost every legislative session since 1971. Proposed reforms have included merit selection, gubernatorial appointment, and nonpartisan elections.