RALEIGH, N.C. — The chief judge of North Carolina's Court of Appeals for more than a decade is stepping down in a few weeks.
Judge John Martin told court staff by email of his decision to retire Aug. 1. Martin sent a retirement letter Tuesday to Gov. Pat McCrory. The retirement means there will be a November election for his seat.
The 70-year-old Durham County native initially joined the appeals court in 1985 after seven years as a Superior Court judge. He served until 1988, then returned to the court in 1993. Martin, a registered Democrat, was named chief judge in 2004, succeeding the retired Sid Eagles.
The 15-judge court meets in three-judge panels to hear appeals mostly on trial court cases, as well as appeals from the state Industrial Commission. Some of those cases are ultimately appealed to the state Supreme Court.
In his email to staff, Martin praised workers for essentially eradicating a backlog of cases "despite dwindling support from the budget, increasing caseloads and increasingly complex cases."
The chief justice appoints the chief judge from among the court's judges. Current Chief Justice Sarah Parker also is retiring, on Aug. 31, as she reaches the mandatory retirement age of 72.
With the May primary already completed, Martin's resignation means the State Board of Elections will have to create a short filing period for candidates for Martin's seat. The candidate with the most votes, regardless of the percentage, will serve on the court starting in 2015.
McCrory also can choose someone to serve in Martin's seat through the end of the year.
In the judge's retirement letter, Martin asked McCrory to choose someone "who will be diligent, fair, without ideological agenda, collegial and of good temperament to succeed me as a member of the court."