Letters to the Editor

Catherine Arrowood: New judge selection system needed

Thank you for reprinting the splendid Charlotte Observer editorial “ Spin the wheel! Win an N.C. judgeship!” on the 19-candidate race for a vacancy on the N.C. Court of Appeals.

The work of our courts is far too important to have judges selected by lottery. Unfortunately, this situation is not unique. Recent vacancies in our Superior Courts have attracted a total of nine candidates for two winner-take-all races. There is, as the writer stated, a better way.

It is time for North Carolina to seriously consider a judicial appointment system featuring a retention election component that permits voters to retain their right to turn judges and justices out of office. Such a system is being championed by Sandra Day O’Connor, former associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the nonpartisan Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.

The O’Connor Judicial Selection Plan calls for the establishment of a judicial nominating commission, gubernatorial appointment of judges and justices, judicial performance evaluation of the appointees and retention elections.

For more than 40 years, the North Carolina Bar Association has supported the appointment and retention system. Now is the time to move forward with this system and do the right thing for North Carolina. Then we can get rid of the spinning wheel.

Catharine Arrowood

President, North Carolina Bar Association, Cary