2023 Appropriations Act Enacts Significant Court-Related Changes

Several provisions of the 2023 Appropriations Act (H 259) ratified by the General Assembly last week (which is expected to become law on October 3 without the Governor’s signature) affect the judiciary. The biggest news item for judges may be the substantial salary increases included in the two-year budget. At the end of the biennium, salaries for district court judges will have increased by 24 percent (to $162,620) and salaries for superior court judge by 13 percent to ($169,125). The salary for the Chief Justice will increase by 20 percent over this period (from $168,980 to $203,073), and salaries for associate justices and court of appeals judges will have the same percentage increase. Many argue that those kinds of adjustments are long overdue. A 2020 ranking of judicial salaries by the National Center for State Courts placed North Carolina judicial salaries in the bottom half of all states and the District of Columbia. Supreme court associate justice salaries were the lowest of those measured, coming in at number 44. But this post is not about salaries; instead it will focus on other court system changes enacted by H 259.

I’ll start with some different numbers.

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Frisking a Person for a Weapon When a State Allows Carrying a Concealed Weapon with a Permit

Sometimes a legislature enacts a statute that has consequences beyond the direct impact of the statute’s provisions. West Virginia’s statute allowing the carrying of a concealed weapon with a permit may be such an example, based on the February 23, 2016, ruling of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Robinson. The court ruled that a West Virginia officer did not have reasonable suspicion to conduct a frisk because there was insufficient evidence of dangerousness, relying in part on a person’s right in West Virginia to carry a concealed weapon with a permit. And this ruling may impact cases in other states, such as North Carolina, that have a statute similar, although not identical, to West Virginia’s. This post discusses this ruling and its potential impact in North Carolina state courts.

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Guns at the State Fair

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has stated that firearms, even those carried pursuant to a concealed carry permit, will be prohibited at the North Carolina State Fair, which opens next week. Grass Roots North Carolina, a gun-rights group, contends that the Commissioner’s policy is unlawful. In the post, I’ll explore the legal issue.

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Concealed Carry in Parks and on Playgrounds

Can a concealed carry permit holder carry a concealed handgun in a park? On a playground? The legislature has changed the law in this area twice in recent years and I get lots of questions about it. This post summarizes the basics. Concealed weapons generally are forbidden. Carrying a concealed weapon of any kind, including … Read more

Open Carry

Do law-abiding North Carolina residents have a right to carry a gun openly in public? Generally, yes. Federal constitutional right? The Supreme Court has recently ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms, including handguns, District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), and that it protects that right from … Read more

Guns in Parks

I’ve had a huge number of calls about one particular aspect of S.L. 2011-268, the omnibus gun rights bill enacted during the recently completed legislative session. The provision in question is Section 21.(b) of the bill, which limits municipalities’ authority to regulate guns in parks. Specifically, Section 21.(b) amends G.S. 14‑415.23 as follows: 14‑415.23.  Statewide … Read more