Former state Rep. Tom Murry of Morrisville was voted out of office in November, but he’s returning to the General Assembly after the state’s courts system hired him this week as a key lobbyist.
Murry will become chief legal counsel for governmental affairs for the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
The hire comes as courts leaders, including new Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin, are pressing for technology upgrades in a paperwork-driven system and for more funding for staffers to move cases more quickly. AOC director John Smith announced the hire.
“The director and I look forward to working with Tom, as he comes to the judicial branch with a wealth of experience and understanding of legal and policy issues,” Martin said in a news release. “Tom also has great experience in the North Carolina legislature and will continue to serve the state well as the judicial branch moves through challenging times.”
Murry will be paid $89,000. The new role replaces a vacant legal counsel position that had a higher pay grade, AOC spokeswoman Sharon Gladwell said Friday.
Murry, 37, is a Republican who served two terms in the state House before losing in November to Democrat Gale Adcock, a Cary Town Council member. Murry is a pharmacist and attorney who had worked at “various pharmacies across the Triangle and North Carolina,” according to his campaign website.
Murry’s main task: Using his relationships with legislative leaders to secure more funding for the court system.
“The top priority for the judicial branch is for legislators to restore operating funds that sustained significant cuts during the recession,” Gladwell said in an email. “The judicial branch’s operating budget ... is at the lowest point in the last decade.”
Gladwell said the court system is running a deficit in accounts that pay jurors and expert witnesses. More than 550 positions have been cut, she said.
Murry also joins AOC amid tension between lawmakers and the courts system after a sharp exchange between Smith and Senate leader Phil Berger over whether magistrates should be exempt from performing same-sex weddings.
Murry did not return calls seeking comment Friday. His campaign last year did not show an interest or concern in the courts system or its funding, instead highlighting his efforts to fund education, give teachers pay raises, protect Jordan Lake and help businesses grow.