Lawsuit Challenges Mecklenburg's New Judicial Districts, Seeks Delay In Candidate Filing
Attorneys challenging Mecklenburg County’s new method of electing district court judges are asking a Wake County Court on Friday to delay the start of candidate filing that is set to begin in early December.
Historically, Mecklenburg’s 21 district judges had been elected countywide. But in 2017, the Republican-controlled General Assembly changed that, creating eight new “districts” to elect those judges. Mecklenburg district judges have to run in the district where they live.
As a result, two African American judges – Donald Cureton and Alicia Brooks – were placed into a heavily white district that covers part of south Charlotte, Matthews and Mint Hill. They lost re-election in 2018.
Cureton was appointed to the bench this year by Gov. Roy Cooper to fill a vacancy.
Attorney Bob Hunter is a former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice who is representing Cureton, Brooks and other plaintiffs. He said the new system also devalues some people’s votes.
Because there are 21 judges and eight districts, voters in some districts elect three judges, while most only elect two.
"Different voters in different parts of Mecklenburg have differently weighted votes," Hunter said. "So if you live in a section of Mecklenburg that has two votes, and some people across the street have three votes, then your votes have been devalued."
The lawsuit also says the new districts were “were deliberately segregated along color and racial lines in violation of State law and the State and Federal Constitutions.”