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.