The top of the news this week is SB 10, which appears to have passed the state Senate. (You can see the bill’s progress here.) Readers of this blog will be most interested in section 2.8 of the legislation, which, effective July 1, 2013, would abolish all 12 special superior court judgeships that are not connected to the business courts. Republicans contend that the special superior court judges carry few cases and that judges should in any event be elected, not appointed by the governor. The fiscal note accompanying the bill estimates a savings of at least $2 million annually from the move, less any money spent hiring emergency (retired) judges at $400 per day. The News and Observer lists the 12 potentially affected judges here; all were appointed by Democratic governors. The paper also notes that there are questions about the constitutionality of abolishing occupied judgeships. The legal issues there strike me as fairly complicated; I hope to entice a knowledgeable colleague to weigh in on the question soon.
In other news:
1. Speaking of Democratic governors, Mike Easley has regained his license to practice law after a two-year suspension resulting from his felony conviction under the campaign finance laws. WRAL has the details here.
2. Last week, a vendor of internet sweepstakes obtained a TRO prohibiting the enforcement of G.S. 14-306.4. But this week, a judge dismissed the case, opening the door (again) to enforcement of the law. More here courtesy of the Greensboro News and Record.
3. Nationally, there continues to be significant interest in gun control measures, including new criminal laws. I recently appeared on a (very) local TV show to discuss the issue. The hour-long video is below, and is available at this link.
4. If an hour isn’t enough for you, or if you want a more detailed, legal analysis of Second Amendment issues, I’m planning a free webinar on the law of guns and gun control. We’re still finalizing the details but it will take place on Wednesday, March 20; basic information is available here.
5. The recent suicide of internet activist and federal criminal defendant Aaron Swartz has led Congress and others to focus on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Among other interesting pieces, check out this paper by Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds about the connection between prosecutorial discretion and overcriminalization. I may have something to say on the latter subject myself at a later time.
6. Finally, a bit of blog news. We went over 1,000 posts this week. I use the blog every day in my work, and I’m deeply grateful to my colleagues who contribute posts, and to readers who contribute comments and suggestions.