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State of North Carolina

History of Reform Efforts: North Carolina

Formal Changes Since Inception

1776
All judges appointed for life by the general assembly.

1868
All judges elected by the people to eight-year terms.

1967
Court of appeals created.

1977
Governor Hunt created a merit selection panel by executive order to recommend candidates for mid-term vacancies on the superior court. He utilized the panel until he left office in 1985.

1996
General assembly established nonpartisan elections for superior court judges, effective 1998. Also provided that superior court judges would be elected by voters in their district, rather than statewide.

2001
General assembly established nonpartisan elections for district court judges, effective 2002.

2002
General assembly passed the Judicial Campaign Reform Act, which establishes nonpartisan elections for judges of the supreme court and court of appeals, gives appellate court candidates the option of public financing, provides for a voter guide on appellate court candidates, and lowers the limit on contributions to appellate court candidates to $1,000. The act takes effect in 2004.

2011
Governor Perdue created a merit selection panel by executive order to recommend candidates for mid-term vacancies on the North Carolina Supreme Court, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and the North Carolina Superior Court.