GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

SESSION 2011

S                                                                                                                                                     1

SENATE BILL 458

 

 

Short Title:        Judicial Appointment/Voter Retention.

(Public)

Sponsors:

Senators Clodfelter and Hartsell.

Referred to:

Judiciary I.

March 30, 2011

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT TO AMEND THE NORTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION TO REPLACE THE PRESENT PRACTICE of selecting Justices and Judges of the Appellate Division and Judges of the Superior Court GENERALLY by gubernatorial appointment, followed by elections, with a method by which (1) two candidates for Justice and Judge will be nominated by a JUDICIAL nominating commission, the Governor will appoint one of them, and at the next election the voters will choose in a nonpartisan election between the two persons, (2) At the end of the term of a Justice or Judge who has successfully won an election, the question of the Justice's or Judge's retention in office is submitted for approval or disapproval by nonpartisan vote of the people, (3) provision is made for the case of withdrawal of a candidate before the election, and (4) provision is made for appointment of the Chief Justice from among the Associate Justices.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1.  Section 16 of Article IV of the North Carolina Constitution reads as rewritten:

"Sec. 16.(1) Terms of office and election of Justices of the Supreme Court, Judges of the Court of Appeals, and Judges of the Superior Court. Justices of the Supreme Court, Judges of the Court of Appeals, and regular Judges of the Superior Court shall be elected and retained by the qualified voters as provided by this section and shall hold office for terms of eight years and until their successors are elected and qualified. Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Court of Appeals shall be elected and retained by the qualified voters of the State. Regular Judges of the Superior Court may  shall be elected and retained by the qualified voters of the State or by the voters of their respective districts, as the General Assembly may prescribe.districts.

(2)        General principles. Justices and Judges of the Appellate Division and Judges of the Superior Court should be selected for and continue to hold office solely upon the basis of personal and professional fitness to administer justice wisely, according to law, and without favor, denial, or delay to all persons who come into the courts. While their continuation in office should be periodically subject to approval by the people, both their initial selection and continuation in office should be free from the influences and necessities of partisan political activity.

(3)        Nomination, appointment, election, and retention election. Nomination, appointment, election, retention election, and terms of Justices and Judges are as follows:

a.         When a vacancy occurs in the office of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Appellate Division, or Judge of Superior Court, the Governor shall appoint a person to fill the vacancy from among two nominees of the Judicial Nominating Commission. For purposes of this subsection, creation of a new judgeship creates a vacancy.

b.         The term of office by appointment as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Appellate Division, or Judge of Superior Court extends through January 31 after the next statewide election for members of the General Assembly that is held more than 210 days after the vacancy. That election shall be between the two candidates nominated by the Judicial Nominating Commission, with the winning candidate elected to a regular term.

c.         If the person not appointed by the Governor chooses by July 31 of the year of the election not to seek election, the person holding by appointment the office of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Appellate Division, or Judge of Superior Court who desires to continue in office shall be subject to approval by nonpartisan ballot, by a majority of the votes cast on the issue of the Justice's or Judge's retention. An Associate Justice,  Judge of the Appellate Division, or Judge of Superior Court then approved for retention serves a regular term.

d.         If the person appointed by the Governor chooses by July 31 of the year of the election not to seek election, the Judicial Nominating Commission shall nominate to the Governor two persons to hold office beginning the next February 1 as if there were a vacancy occurring on that next February 1, and the Governor shall appoint one of them to fill the vacancy.

e.         An incumbent Justice or Judge who was successful in a contested election, or was successful in a retention election, files for retention by February 1 of the year of election is subject to approval by nonpartisan ballot, by a majority of the votes cast on the issue of the Justice's or Judge's retention for the subsequent term. If the person does not file for retention by that date, the office shall become vacant at the end of the term of office, and it shall be filled by nomination and appointment as prescribed in this section as if the vacancy occurred on February 1 after the election.

f.          The regular terms of office of the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Court of Appeals, and Judge of Superior Court is eight years and expires on January 31.

g.         If the voters fail to approve the retention in office of an Associate Justice, Judge of the Court of Appeals, or Judge of Superior Court serving an appointed or regular term, the office shall become vacant at the end of the term of office and it shall be filled by nomination and appointment as prescribed in this section as if the vacancy occurred on February 1 after the election.

h.         The General Assembly shall implement this Section by general law.

(4)        Chief Justice. If a vacancy occurs in the office of Chief Justice, the Governor shall appoint to that office an Associate Justice who was elected to that position to serve as Chief Justice. The person appointed to be Chief Justice shall serve in that capacity for the remaining portion of the term to which the person serving was elected as Associate Justice. At the end of the term, the person so appointed shall be subject to a retention election as if the position were Associate Justice under subsection (3) of this Section. If there is no Associate Justice who was elected, the Governor shall appoint an Associate Justice to be Chief Justice, and the person shall be treated as if filling a vacancy as Associate Justice under subsection (3) of this Section. Appointment of an Associate Justice as Chief Justice creates a vacancy in the office of Associate Justice.

(5)        Transition provisions. The term of office of a person who has been elected before January 1, 2013, to the office of Chief Justice, Associate Justice, or Judge of the Appellate Division for a term which extends beyond January 1, 2013, and who is in office on December 31, 2012, is extended through January 31 of the year following the eighth year after the date any such Justice or Judge was last elected to the office. If the person so elected continues to serve for the remainder of the term, that person may stand for retention in the office for a succeeding regular term as provided in this Section, subject to the provisions of law relating to mandatory retirement. If the person continues to serve for the remainder of the term but does not stand for retention election, a vacancy is created in the office upon expiration of the term, and this vacancy shall be filled by nomination and appointment as provided in this Section.

The term of office of a person who has been appointed prior to January 1, 2013, to a vacancy occurring during the period beginning on the sixtieth day before the 2012 general election and ending December 31, 2012, to the office of Chief Justice, Associate Justice, or Judge of the Appellate Division for a term which extends beyond January 1, 2013, and who is in office on December 31, 2012, shall end on January 31, 2015. If the person so appointed continues to serve for the remainder of the term, that person may stand for retention in the office for a regular term as provided by this Section at the statewide election for members of the General Assembly held in 2014.

Upon the death, resignation, removal, or retirement of any incumbent Justice or Judge on or after January 1, 2013, and before the expiration of the Justice's or Judge's term of office, the resulting vacancy shall be filled by nomination and appointment as provided in this Section.

Vacancies in judicial offices in the Appellate Division occurring before January 1, 2012, and not filled by that date, shall be filled by nomination and appointment as provided in this Section.

From the date any incumbent described in this subsection is continued in office by retention vote for a term next succeeding the term in progress on January 1, 2013, or is succeeded in office by another person, the office is held subject to the provisions of this Section.

(6)        The General Assembly shall create by law a Judicial Nominating Commission. Once established, the composition and method of choosing the members of the Commission shall not be changed except by a law approved by two-thirds of the members of each house present and voting. The law may provide for direct appointments by officers and leaders of the General Assembly. Except to fill a vacancy in the office of Chief Justice as provided by this Section, the Judicial Nominating Commission shall recommend two eligible persons to fill the vacancy, and the Governor may only appoint a person so recommended.

(7)        The General Assembly may implement this Section by general law."

SECTION 2.  The amendment set out in Section 1 of this act shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State at an election on November 6, 2012, which election shall be conducted under the laws then governing elections in the State.  Ballots, voting systems, or both may be used in accordance with Chapter 163 of the General Statutes.  The question on the ballot shall be:

"[ ] FOR           [ ] AGAINST

Constitutional amendment to replace the present practice of selecting Justices and Judges of the Appellate Division and Judges of the Superior Court by gubernatorial appointment, followed by elections, with a method by which (i) two candidates for Justice and Judge will be nominated by a nominating commission, the Governor will appoint one of them, and at the next election the voters will choose in a nonpartisan election between the two persons, (ii) at the end of the term of a Justice or Judge who has successfully won an election, the question of the Justice's or Judge's retention in office is submitted for approval or disapproval by nonpartisan vote of the people, (iii) provision is made for the case of withdrawal of a candidate before the election, and (iv) provision is made for appointment of the Chief Justice from among the Associate Justices."

SECTION 3.  If a majority of votes cast on the question are in favor of the amendment set out in Section 1 of this act, the State Board of Elections shall certify the amendment to the Secretary of State. The amendment becomes effective upon this certification. The Secretary of State shall enroll the amendment so certified among the permanent records of that office.

SECTION 4.  Chapter 7A of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new Article to read:

"Article 1A.

"Appointment of Justices and Judges; Retention Elections.

" 7A-4.1.  Nomination of justices and judges by Judicial Nominating Commission and appointment by Governor.

Vacancies in the offices of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, and judge of superior court are filled by nomination of two candidates by the Judicial Nomination Commission and appointment of one of the two nominees by the Governor in accordance with Section 16 of Article IV of the North Carolina Constitution.

" 7A-4.2.  Judicial Nominating Commission - creation; membership; terms; administration.

(a)        The Judicial Nominating Commission is created within the Administrative Office of the Courts for budgetary purposes.

(b)        The Commission shall consist of 16 voting members appointed as follows:

(1)        Two persons who are not attorneys, appointed by the Governor.

(2)        One person who is not an attorney, appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

(3)        One person who is not an attorney, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(4)        One person who is not an attorney, appointed by the minority leader of the Senate.

(5)        One person who is not an attorney, appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives.

(6)        One person who is not an attorney, appointed by the majority leader or minority leader of the Senate of the party with which the Governor is not affiliated.

(7)        One person who is not an attorney, appointed by the majority leader or minority leader of the House of Representatives of the party with which the Governor is not affiliated.

(8)        One person appointed by the Governor from a list of three persons authorized to practice law in the courts of this State, submitted by the North Carolina Bar Association.

(9)        One person appointed by the Governor from a list of three persons authorized to practice law in the courts of this State, submitted by the North Carolina Advocates For Justice, Inc.

(10)      One person appointed by the Governor from a list of three persons authorized to practice law in the courts of this State, submitted by the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys.

(11)      One person appointed by the Governor from a list of three persons authorized to practice law in the courts of this State, submitted by the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, Inc.

(12)      One person appointed by the Governor from a list of three persons authorized to practice law in the courts of this State, submitted by the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, Inc.

(13)      One person appointed by the Governor from a list of three persons authorized to practice law in the courts of this State, submitted by the Council of the State Bar.

(14)      One person appointed by the Governor from a list of three persons authorized to practice law in the courts of this State, submitted by the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys.

(15)      One person appointed by the Governor from a list of three persons authorized to practice law in the courts of this State, submitted by the Commission on Indigent Defense Services.

(c)        In addition to the voting members, all retired Chief Justices are nonvoting members, but shall not be considered in determining a quorum, and may serve in addition to any other offices they are authorized to hold under Chapter 128 of the General Statutes.

(d)        Members of the Commission shall serve staggered four-year terms. One-half of the appointees shall serve an initial term of two years, as determined by lot at the first meeting of the Commission. The remainder of the appointees shall serve an initial term of four years. Commission members may not serve more than one full four-year term.

(e)        Vacancies in the membership of the Commission shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by the appointing officer who made the initial appointment under the same process as a regular appointment.

(f)         The Governor shall appoint a chair from among the voting membership to serve a two-year term. The Commission shall appoint from among its membership a vice-chair for a two-year term and shall appoint a Secretary.

(g)        Members of the Commission shall not receive compensation but shall be paid necessary subsistence and travel expenses as provided by G.S. 138-5 and G.S. 138-6 as applicable, paid from funds appropriated to implement this Article and within the limits of those funds.

(h)        No member of the General Assembly shall serve concurrently as a member of the Commission.

(i)         In making appointments to the Commission from among lists of three nominated persons, the Governor shall consider and give due regard to the following:

(1)        An even balance of party affiliation.

(2)        Law practice background, practice area, and practice setting.

(3)        Race and ethnicity.

(4)        Gender.

(5)        Geography.

" 7A-4.3.  Judicial Nominating Commission; duties.

The Commission shall do the following:

(1)        Establish operating procedures for the Commission.

(2)        Solicit judicial nominations from interested persons and members of the general public to fill appellate and superior court vacancies.

(3)        Establish and publicize the procedures for submitting a candidate to be considered by the Commission.

(4)        Interview and investigate candidates for judicial appointment to the appellate courts.

(5)        Nominate persons to the Governor for appointment to the appellate and superior courts.

(6)        Review and evaluate the tenure of justices and judges who must stand for a contested or retention election.

(7)        Issue a report on justices and judges standing for a contested or retention election 90 days before the election. The report shall include (i) information the Commission believes would be helpful to the citizens of North Carolina and (ii) information regarding any disciplinary action taken against a justice or judge during tenure. The report may include a recommendation by the Commission for or against the justice's or judge's retention.

(8)        Perform any other duties the Commission deems necessary to carry out the mandate of this Article.

" 7A-4.4.  Nomination procedures.

(a)        The Commission shall conduct an investigation of a candidate for nomination based on criteria it establishes, including the following at a minimum:

(1)        Integrity.

(2)        Legal knowledge and ability.

(3)        Professional experience demonstrating excellence in the profession.

(4)        Judicial temperament.

(5)        Diligence.

(6)        Health.

(7)        Personal financial responsibility.

(8)        Public service.

(b)        In choosing nominees, the Commission shall foster diversity in race, sex, ethnicity, geography, and professional experience.

(c)        The Commission shall establish a procedure for eligible persons to submit themselves as candidates for nomination. If fewer than two eligible persons apply, the Commission shall reopen the process one time.

(d)        A candidate for nomination shall be given an opportunity to present to the Commission any information that the candidate determines to be appropriate.

(e)        The commission shall not investigate any candidate for nomination who is not eligible to hold the office.

(f)         Notwithstanding G.S. 7A-377, the Commission may inspect the files of the Judicial Standards Commission by request of the chair of the Commission. Testimony and other evidence presented to the Commission are privileged in any action for defamation.

(g)        The Commission shall nominate two persons to be considered by the Governor for judicial appointment within 60 days of any vacancy in office. The Governor shall appoint one of the persons nominated by the Commission.

(h)        The internal files and information obtained by the Commission during the examination of a potential judicial nominee are not public records until such time as the candidate is recommended to the Governor for a judicial appointment. Nominations, the Commission's vote on judicial nominees, and reports made by the Commission are public records.

" 7A-4.5.  Governor to issue commissions to justices and judges.

Every person duly nominated by the Judicial Nomination Commission and appointed by the Governor as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, or judge of superior court shall procure from the Governor a commission attesting that fact."

SECTION 5.  G.S. 7A-10(a) reads as rewritten:

"(a)       The Supreme Court shall consist of a Chief Justice and six associate justices, elected by the qualified voters of the State for terms of eight years.selected as provided by Article 1A of this Chapter. Before entering upon the duties of his office, each justice shall take an oath of office. Four justices shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of the business of the court. Sessions of the court shall be held in the city of Raleigh, and scheduled by rule of court so as to discharge expeditiously the court's business. The court may by rule hold sessions not more than twice annually in the Old Chowan County Courthouse (1767) in the Town of Edenton, which is a State-owned court facility that is designated as a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior."

SECTION 6.  G.S. 7A-16 reads as rewritten:

" 7A-16.  Creation and organization.

The Court of Appeals is created effective January 1, 1967. It shall consist initially of six judges, elected by the qualified voters of the State for terms of eight years. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall designate one of the judges as Chief Judge, to serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the Chief Justice. Before entering upon the duties of his office, a judge of the Court of Appeals shall take the oath of office prescribed for a judge of the General Court of Justice.

The Governor on or after July 1, 1967, shall make temporary appointments to the six initial judgeships. The appointees shall serve until January 1, 1969. Their successors shall be elected at the general election for members of the General Assembly in November, 1968, and shall take office on January 1, 1969, to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term which began on January 1, 1967.

Upon the appointment of at least five judges, and the designation of a Chief Judge, the court is authorized to convene, organize, and promulgate, subject to the approval of the Supreme Court, such supplementary rules as it deems necessary and appropriate for the discharge of the judicial business lawfully assigned to it.

Effective January 1, 1969, the number of judges is increased to nine, and the Governor, on or after March 1, 1969, shall make temporary appointments to the additional judgeships thus created. The appointees shall serve until January 1, 1971. Their successors shall be elected at the general election for members of the General Assembly in November, 1970, and shall take office on January 1, 1971, to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term which began on January 1, 1969.

Effective January 1, 1977, the number of judges is increased to 12; and the Governor, on or after July 1, 1977, shall make temporary appointments to the additional judgeships thus created. The appointees shall serve until January 1, 1979. Their successors shall be elected at the general election for members of the General Assembly in November, 1978, and shall take office on January 1, 1979, to serve the remainder of the unexpired term which began on January 1, 1977.

On or after December 15, 2000, the Governor shall appoint three additional judges to increase the number of judges to 15.

The Court of Appeals shall consist of 15 judges, selected as provided in Article 1A of this Chapter. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall designate one of the judges as Chief Judge to serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the Chief Justice. Before entering upon the duties of his office, a judge of the Court of Appeals shall take the oath of office prescribed for a judge of the General Court of Justice.

The Court of Appeals shall sit in panels of three judges each. The Chief Judge insofar as practicable shall assign the members to panels in such fashion that each member sits a substantially equal number of times with each other member. He shall preside over the panel of which he is a member, and shall designate the presiding judge of the other panel or panels.

Three judges shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of the business of the court, except as may be provided in G.S. 7A-32.

In the event the Chief Judge is unable, on account of absence or temporary incapacity, to perform the duties placed upon him as Chief Judge, the Chief Justice shall appoint an acting Chief Judge from the other judges of the Court, to temporarily discharge the duties of Chief Judge."

SECTION 7.  G.S. 163-1 is amended in the table by deleting the entries for "Justices and Judges of the Appellate Division."

SECTION 8.  G.S. 163-9 reads as rewritten:

" 163-9.  Filling vacancies in State and district judicial offices.district court.

(a)        Vacancies occurring in the offices of Justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, and judge of the superior court for causes other than expiration of term shall be filled by appointment of the Governor. An appointee to the office of Justice of the Supreme Court or judge of the Court of Appeals shall hold office until January 1 next following the election for members of the General Assembly that is held more than 60 days after the vacancy occurs, at which time an election shall be held for an eight-year term and until a successor is elected and qualified.

(b)        Except for judges specified in the next paragraph of this subsection, an appointee to the office of judge of superior court shall hold his place until the next election for members of the General Assembly that is held more than 60 days after the vacancy occurs, at which time an election shall be held to fill the unexpired term of the office.

Appointees for judges of the superior court from any district:

(1)        With only one resident judge; or

(2)        In which no county is subject to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,

shall hold the office until the next election of members of the General Assembly that is held more than 60 days after the vacancy occurs, at which time an election shall be held to fill an eight-year term.

(c)        When the unexpired term of the office in which the vacancy has occurred expires on the first day of January succeeding the next election for members of the General Assembly, the Governor shall appoint to fill that vacancy for the unexpired term of the office.

(d)        Vacancies in the office of district judge which occur before the expiration of a term shall not be filled by election. Vacancies in the office of district judge shall be filled in accordance with G.S. 7A-142."

SECTION 9.  G.S. 143-318.11(a) is amended by adding the following new subdivision to read:

"(10)    To consider the qualifications, competence, performance, character, and fitness of a candidate who is seeking a judicial nomination to the Governor by the Judicial Nominating Commission."

SECTION 10.  The title of Subchapter X of Chapter 163 of the General Statutes reads as rewritten:

"SUBCHAPTER X. ELECTION and retention election OF APPELLATE, SUPERIOR, appellate and superior court judges, and election of AND DISTRICT COURT JUDGES."

SECTION 11.  G.S. 163-321 reads as rewritten: 

" 163-321.  Applicability.

The nomination and election and retention election of justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the Court of Appeals, and superior court judges and the nomination and election of district court judges of the General Court of Justice shall be as provided by this Article."

SECTION 12. G.S. 163-323 reads as rewritten:

" 163-323.  Notice of candidacy.

(a)        Form of Notice. - Each person offering to be a candidate for election as district court judge shall do so by filing a notice of candidacy with the State Board of Elections in the following form, inserting the words in parentheses when appropriate:

 

                                                                Date: ______________________________

 

    I hereby file notice that I am a candidate for election to the office of __________ district court judge in the regular election to be held _____________, ____.

 

                                                                Signed: _____________________________

                                                                                        (Name of Candidate)

 

Witness: _______________________________________________________________

 

The notice of candidacy shall be either signed in the presence of the chairman or secretary of the State Board of Elections, or signed and acknowledged before an officer authorized to take acknowledgments who shall certify the notice under seal. An acknowledged and certified notice may be mailed to the State Board of Elections. In signing a notice of candidacy, the candidate shall use only the candidate's legal name and, in his discretion, any nickname by which commonly known. A candidate may also, in lieu of that candidate's first name and legal middle initial or middle name, if any, sign that candidate's nickname, provided the candidate appends to the notice of candidacy an affidavit that the candidate has been commonly known by that nickname for at least five years prior to the date of making the affidavit. The candidate shall also include with the affidavit the way the candidate's name (as permitted by law) should be listed on the ballot if another candidate with the same last name files a notice of candidacy for that office.

A notice of candidacy signed by an agent or any person other than the candidate himself shall be invalid.

(b)        Time for Filing Notice of Candidacy. - Candidates seeking election to the following offices shall file their notice of candidacy with the State Board of Elections no earlier than 12:00 noon on the second Monday in February and no later than 12:00 noon on the last business day in February preceding the election:

Justices of the Supreme Court.

Judges of the Court of Appeals.

Judges of the superior courts.

Judges of the district courts.

(c)        Withdrawal of Notice of Candidacy. - Any person who has filed a notice of candidacy for an office shall have the right to withdraw it at any time prior to the date on which the right to file for that office expires under the terms of subsection (b) of this section.

(d)        Certificate That Candidate Is Registered Voter. - Candidates shall file along with their notice a certificate signed by the chairman of the board of elections or the supervisor of elections of the county in which they are registered to vote, stating that the person is registered to vote in that county, and if the candidacy is for superior court judge and the county contains more than one superior court district, stating the superior court district of which the person is a resident. In issuing such certificate, the chairman or supervisor shall check the registration records of the county to verify such information. During the period commencing 36 hours immediately preceding the filing deadline, the State Board of Elections shall accept, on a conditional basis, the notice of candidacy of a candidate who has failed to secure the verification ordered herein subject to receipt of verification no later than three days following the filing deadline. The State Board of Elections shall prescribe the form for such certificate, and distribute it to each county board of elections no later than the last Monday in December of each odd-numbered year.

(e)        Candidacy for More Than One Office Prohibited. - No person may file a notice of candidacy for more than one office or group of offices described in subsection (b) of this section, or for an office or group of offices described in subsection (b) of this section and an office described in G.S. 163-106(c), for any one election. If a person has filed a notice of candidacy with a board of elections under this section or under G.S. 163-106(c) for one office or group of offices, then a notice of candidacy may not later be filed for any other office or group of offices under this section when the election is on the same date unless the notice of candidacy for the first office is withdrawn under subsection (c) of this section.

(f)         Notice of Candidacy for Certain Offices to Indicate Vacancy. - In any election in which there are two or more vacancies for the office of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, or district court judge to be filled by nominations, each candidate shall, at the time of filing notice of candidacy, file with the State Board of Elections a written statement designating the vacancy to which the candidate seeks election. Votes cast for a candidate shall be effective only for election to the vacancy for which the candidate has given notice of candidacy as provided in this subsection.

A person seeking election for a specialized district judgeship established under G.S. 7A-147 shall, at the time of filing notice of candidacy, file with the State Board of Elections a written statement designating the specialized judgeship to which the person seeks nomination.

(g)        No person may file a notice of candidacy for superior court judge unless that person is at the time of filing the notice of candidacy a resident of the judicial district as it will exist at the time the person would take office if elected. No person may be nominated as a superior court judge under G.S. 163-114 unless that person is at the time of nomination a resident of the judicial district as it will exist at the time the person would take office if elected. This subsection implements Article IV, Section 9(1) of the North Carolina Constitution which requires regular Superior Court Judges to reside in the district for which elected."

SECTION 13. G.S. 163-325 reads as rewritten:

" 163-325.  Petition in lieu of payment of filing fee.

(a)        General. - Any qualified voter who seeks election as district court judge under this Article may, in lieu of payment of any filing fee required for the office he seeks, file a written petition requesting him to be a candidate for a specified office with the State Board of Elections.

(b)        Requirements of Petition; Deadline for Filing. - If the candidate is seeking the office of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, or superior or district court judge, that individual shall file a written petition with the State Board of Elections no later than 12:00 noon on Monday preceding the filing deadline before the primary. If the office is justice of the Supreme Court or judge of the Court of Appeals, the petition shall be signed by 10,000 registered voters in the State. If the office is superior court or district court judge, the  The petition shall be signed by ten percent (10%) of the registered voters of the election area in which the office will be voted for. The board of elections shall verify the names on the petition, and if the petition and notice of candidacy are found to be sufficient, the candidate's name shall be printed on the appropriate ballot. Petitions must be presented to the county board of elections for verification at least 15 days before the petition is due to be filed with the State Board of Elections. The State Board of Elections may adopt rules to implement this section and to provide standard petition forms."

SECTION 14. G.S. 163-326(b) reads as rewritten:

"(b)      Notification of Local Boards. - No later than 10 days after the time for filing notices of candidacy under the provisions of G.S. 163-323(b) has expired, the chairman of the State Board of Elections shall certify to the chairman of the county board of elections in each county in the appropriate district the names of candidates for nomination to the offices of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, and superior and district court judge who have filed the required notice and paid the required filing fee or presented the required petition to the State Board of Elections, so that their names may be printed on the official judicial ballot for justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, and superior and district court. ballot."

SECTION 15. G.S. 163-328(e) is repealed.

SECTION 16.  G.S. 163-329(a) is repealed.

SECTION 17.  G.S. 163-329(b1) is repealed.

SECTION 18. G.S. 163-332(b) reads as rewritten:

"(b)      Ballots to Be Furnished by County Board of Elections. - It shall be the duty of the county board of elections to print official ballots for the following offices to be voted for in the primary:

Justice of the Supreme Court.

Judge of the Court of Appeals.

Superior court judge.

District court judge.

In printing ballots, the county board of elections shall be governed by instructions of the State Board of Elections with regard to width, color, kind of paper, form, and size of type.

Three days before the election, the chairman of the county board of elections shall distribute official ballots to the chief judge of each precinct in his county, and the chief judge shall give a receipt for the ballots received. On the day of the primary, it shall be the chief judge's duty to have all the ballots so delivered available for use at the precinct voting place.

Ballots for justice of the supreme court, judge of the Court of Appeals, and superior court judge shall be either (i) between the two candidates nominated by the Judicial Nominating Commission in accordance with Section 16 of Article IV of the North Carolina Constitution, G.S. 7A-4.4, and G.S. 163-331.1 or (ii) on the question of retention of the justice or judge in accordance with Section 16 of Article IV of the North Carolina Constitution and G.S. 163-331.2."

SECTION 19.  Article 25 of Chapter 163 of the General Statutes is amended by adding new sections to read:

" 163-333.1.  Contested election after appointment by the Governor.

(a)        When two persons have been nominated by the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Governor to appoint to fill a vacancy, and an election is to be held in accordance with  Section 16 of Article IV of the North Carolina Constitution between the person appointed by the Governor and the person not appointed by the Governor, it shall be held under the applicable provisions of this Chapter. The ballot shall allow the voter to choose between the two candidates, and the party affiliation of the two candidates shall not appear on the ballot.

(b)        If the nominee of the Judicial Nominating Commission not appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy files with the State Board of Elections prior to August 1 of the year of the election notice that the person does not seek election, no election shall be held under this section, but a retention election shall be held under G.S. 163-331.2.

(c)        If the person appointed by the Governor prior to August 1 of the year of the election files notice with the State Board of Elections that the person chooses not to seek election, no election shall be held under this Article that year, and the Judicial Nominating Commission shall nominate to the Governor two persons to hold office beginning the next February 1 as if there were a vacancy occurring on that next February 1, and the Governor shall appoint one of them to fill the vacancy.

(d)        Any notice under this section shall be on a form prescribed by the State Board of Elections.

" 163-331.2.  Retention elections.

(a)        As provided by Section 16 of Article IV of the North Carolina Constitution, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, or judge of superior court desiring to continue in office shall be subject to approval by nonpartisan ballot, by a majority of votes cast on the issue of the justice's or judge's retention. This section applies (i) when the incumbent was elected to that term under G.S. 163-331.1(a), (ii) when the person not appointed declines candidacy under G.S. 163-331.1(b), (iii) where an Associate Justice has been appointed Chief Justice under Section 16(4) of Article IV of the North Carolina Constitution and seeks retention at the end of the term as provided therein, or (iv) in the case of a person holding office on December 31, 2012, where the provisions of Section 16(5) of Article IV of the North Carolina Constitution provides for a retention election in 2014.

(b)        A person subject to subsection (a) of this section shall indicate the choice to continue in office by filing a notice to that effect with the State Board of Elections no later than 12:00 noon on February 1 in the year of the election. The notice shall be on a form approved by the State Board of Elections. Notice can be withdrawn at any time prior to the deadline for filing notice under this subsection.

(c)        Retention elections shall be conducted and canvassed in accordance with rules of the State Board of Elections in the same general manner as general elections under Chapter 163 of the General Statutes, except that the retention election is nonpartisan. The form of the ballot shall be determined by the State Board of Elections. The ballot shall ask whether the named justice or judge shall continue in an office for another term.

(d)        If a person who has filed a notice calling a retention election dies or is removed from office prior to the time that the ballots are printed, the retention election is cancelled. If a person who has filed a notice calling a retention election dies or is removed from office after the ballots are printed, the State Board of Elections may cancel the election if it determines that the ballots can be reprinted without significant expense. If the ballots cannot be reprinted, then the results of the election shall be ineffective."

SECTION  20.  G.S. 163-182.16 reads as rewritten:

" 163-182.16.  Governor to issue commissions for certain offices.

The Secretary of State shall send a notice to the Governor that a certificate of election has been issued for any of the following offices, and upon receiving the notice, the Governor shall provide to each such elected official a commission attesting to that person's election: election or retention:

(1)        Members of the United States House of Representatives.

(2)        Justices, judges, and district attorneys of the General Court of Justice."

SECTION 21.  Sections 4 through 20 of this act are effective only if the constitutional amendment proposed by Section 1 of this act is approved by the qualified voters in accordance with Section 2 of this act.

SECTION 22.  Except as otherwise provided for herein, this act is effective when it becomes law.