Message from State Bar President Regarding SB 698

Dear Colleagues:

A bill has been introduced in the Senate that seeks to amend the North Carolina Constitution to provide for two-year terms of office for justices and judges. Today, Chief Justice Mark Martin released the following statement opposing that legislation:

Nowhere in America do voters elect their general jurisdiction judges for two-year terms of office. This is as it should be. Electing judges for two-year terms would force judges to campaign and raise money constantly, and would disrupt the administration of justice.

Judicial terms of office are longer than executive and legislative terms of office because judges have a different function. Judges are accountable, first and foremost, to the federal and state constitutions and to the law. They apply the law uniformly, and equal justice under law is the ultimate goal of any court system.

The people of North Carolina should have a meaningful role in the judicial selection and retention process, just as citizens of states around the country do. But two-year terms are not the answer.

I urge every lawyer to pay attention to this important issue.

With best regards,

Mark W. Merritt
President, North Carolina State Bar