When I wrote about down-ballot election results a few weeks ago, I said that the election for Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court was too close to call. That remains the case. Current Associate Justice Paul Newby has a 409 vote lead over current Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and a recount is underway.
Most people know that the Chief Justice is one of seven jurists on the North Carolina Supreme Court and that, like his or her fellow Associate Justices, the Chief Justice is elected to serve an eight-year term. Given the pandemic, many may also be familiar with the Chief Justice’s authority in response to catastrophic conditions to extend deadlines and periods of limitation and to issue emergency directives necessary to ensure the continuing operations of the courts. G.S. 7A-39. Readers may, however, be less familiar with other aspects of the Chief Justice’s authority and responsibilities that are essential to the administration of justice. The remainder of this post will highlight some of these lesser known roles and responsibilities, particularly as they relate to criminal proceedings.