In what is a truly idiotic move two legislators in the General Assembly have proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would allow non-lawyer District Court judges.
Currently, judges in District Court and Superior Court must be lawyers. Magistrates can be non-lawyers. But magistrates have limited power – to set bond, to authorize search warrants, and to decide civil matters of up to $5,000.
The bill would allow sheriffs, magistrates, and police officers with at least 10 years of experience to run for District Court judge.
This is insane. A judge is supposed to be fair and impartial, but this bill would allow people with a built in preferences for law enforcement be appointed as judges. Magistrates who regularly sign search warrants for law enforcement, law enforcement officers themselves, and sheriffs.
The Republican legislature has been catastrophically bad for North Carolina, with all of the overweening interest in personal lives and pro-law enforcement biases, and none of the skepticism for individual liberties that characterizes the Goldwater wing of the Republican party.