A few weeks ago I wrote about provisions of the 2023 Appropriations Act that affect the judiciary. A، t،se changes was the creation of ten new special superior court judge،ps to be filled by legislative appointment. The General Assembly made seven of t،se appointments last week. See S.L. 2023-148 (S 761). The list of special superior court judges w، are appointed to eight-year terms effective January 1, 2024, follows.
Three appointees were nominated by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. They are:
- The Honorable Beth Freshwater Smith of the First Judicial Division. Judge Freshwater Smith currently serves as a district court judge in District 7 (Edgecombe, Nash, and Wilson Counties);
- Matthew T. Houston of the Third Judicial Division; and
- The Honorable Clifton H. Smith of the Fifth Judicial Division. Judge Smith currently serves as a district court judge in District 25 (Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties).
Because there must be one appointee from each of the five superior court judicial divisions, the President Pro Tempore’s remaining two nominations must be selected from residents of the Second and Fourth Judicial Divisions.
Four appointees were nominated by the Speaker of the House. They are:
- Clayton Somers of the First Judicial Division;
- Jessica Locklear of the Second Judicial Division;
- Hoyt G. Tessener of the Third Judicial Division; and
- William Stetzer of the Fifth Judicial Division.
The Speaker of the House’s last nomination must be from the Fourth Judicial Division.
Appointees to the Judicial Standards Commission. The 2023 Appropriations Act also altered the composition of the Judicial Standards Commission, the en،y charged with investigating complaints and making recommendations to the North Carolina Supreme Court for the censure or removal of a judge or justice. See S.L. 2023-134, Section 16.20. The four seats formerly filled by election of the State Bar Council now are filled by four judges appointed by the General Assembly. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Speaker of the House each select one district court judge and one superior court judge. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate appointed District Court Judge Rashad Hauter of Wake County and Superior Court Judge Ashley Gore of Columbus County. The Speaker of the House appointed District Court Judge Justin Brackett of Cleveland County and Superior Court Judge Andrew Womble of Pasquotank County. The terms of these four new members expire on December 31, 2029.
Congratulations to all of the appointees!