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Politics

Mecklenburg Judges Concerned About Bill To Split Up Judicial District

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Lisa Worf
/
WFAE
Chief District Court Judge Regan Miller and other judges voice concern over S306.

A bill that would divide Mecklenburg County into three separate judicial districts has drawn the ire of many judges. 

Mecklenburg County has 21 district court judgeships elected by the whole county. Chief District Court Judge Regan Miller says most, if not, all judges oppose this bill. Several of them showed up to a press conference to voice their concerns. 

Miller said dividing the districts would take away the rights of citizens to vote for 2/3rds of the judges that sit in the county. He and his colleagues also emphasized the racial, gender, and geographical diversity of judges on Mecklenburg County's bench and say they worry that may disappear if the bill passes.

"The change that is being proposed is entirely unnecessary and does nothing to enhance or preserve the impartiality and independence of the judiciary," said Miller.

The judges also spoke out against a new law that puts party affiliation by judges' names on the ballot.

Republican Senator Jeff Tarte of Cornelius says dividing the county into three districts actually counterbalances that law, so that people don't vote just based on party. He sponsored the bill. 

"You have a much better fighting chance to know several of those judges and do your homework. I contend no one's going to do their homework on 30 judges that are running across a four year period.   

Tarte says the districts would correspond to the county's three Superior Court districts and that judges would only hear cases from their geographical region. It's unclear how that would be determined.