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Monday, April 24, 2017

Roy Cooper's Snapchat judge: appointed Monday, out of office by Friday

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has tossed a bone to the state's LGBT community today, and it's about as bogus as his tortured explanations of how his cave-in on HB2 was last month.

Cooper has appointed a former superior court judge and Charlotte lawyer, John Arrowood, to the NC Court of Appeals. Arrowood becomes the first LGBT appellate judge in the state's history for the second time.

Arrowood was appointed to the Court in 2007- to fill a vacancy- and lost the seat in the 2008 elections in November. He ran for the court again in 2014 and lost.

Arrowood replaces a Republican, Douglas McCullough, who was required to leave office upon turning 72 in May. McCullough served from 2001 to 2008, then lost his re-election bid after a DWI stop. Elected to a different seat in 2010, his term ends in 2018 but a state age limit requires him to leave office.

That age limit has given Raleigh Republicans a handy pretext for denying Governor Cooper three coming appointments to replace judges on the fifteen-member court. US News & World Report's story explains,
The Republican-backed measure would phase out the three judgeships as vacancies arise through retirements or resignations, and it would allow more matters be appealed directly to the state Supreme Court. 
The appeals judges are elected to serve eight-year terms, but they must retire at age 72. Court of Appeals Judge Doug McCullough is a registered Republican who's set to retire in May. Without the new measure Cooper would have been able to choose his replacement.
HB 239 provides that the seat Cooper appointed Arrowood to will cease to exist:
On or after January 1, 2017, whenever the seat of an incumbent judge becomes vacant prior to the expiration of the judge's term due to the death, resignation, retirement, impeachment, or removal pursuant to G.S. 7A-374.2(8) of the incumbent judge, that seat is abolished until the total number of Court of Appeals seats is decreased to 12.
The bill passed the state senate April 11, and Governor Cooper vetoed it on April 20.

House Speaker Tim Moore has placed the veto on the calendar for an override vote Wednesday. With supermajorities in both houses, the veto will not stand, and the abolition of Judge Arrowood's seat will occur automatically after the Senate concurs in the override.

Hopeless appointments are useful ways to score political points at little or no cost. In 1995, Washington Governor Mike Lowry appointed that state's first openly LGBT judge to the Superior Court when the incumbent retired before the election but after the primary. Tim Bradbury took office October 10 and was defeated in a multi-candidate race 28 days later (he lost to a chronic right-wing candidate, Jeannette Burrage, who was rated unqualified by everyone in sight. Burrage lost her second term bid after threatening to fine women lawyers who appeared in her court wearing pants suits; last year she was acquitted of slapping an autistic grade schooler on her Seatac, Washington school bus route).

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