A New Superior Court Judge!

In the newly ratified version of the state appropriations bill, the Orange-Chatham Judicial District (15B) is slated to get a new, second superior court judge. Here's the language:

"The Governor shall appoint a superior court judge for the additional judgeship in Superior Court District 15B as authorized by subsection (b) of this section to serve until December 31, 2006. The successor to that judge shall be elected in the 2006 election to serve an eight-year term."

The way I've seen it interpreted, this means that the governor has to make an appointment quickly. Rumors are, of course, flying around the courthouses in Orange and Chatham. Who will want this new job? My unscientific poll leads me to the conclusion that, by general agreement, there are three leading contenders and one dark horse:

Leading contenders:

1. Joe Buckner
2. Joe Hackney
3. Lunsford Long

And, as disturbing as this might be, the dark horse:

1. Jill Cheek

The Buckner/Hackney/Long group isn't that surprising. These are names that have been tossed around for a long time, especially recently since Judge Barber has sent some signals that he might step down at the end of his term.

Therefore, let me explain the Cheek theory:

1. She was in Easley's AG shop, and continues to serve in that office.
2. She has been an active and generous ($$) supporter of Easley
3. He recently reappointed her to the State Advisory Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, so she's definitely on his radar.

Why is she disturbing? You may recall she ran for DA against Carl Fox in the 1998 primary. Since there's no way to know right now who the governor might be considering for this job, there's no need to pile on Ms. Cheek. Yet. But if you're interested, you might go back to the newspaper stories -- esp. Beth Velliquette's -- and search under "experience" and "plea bargains."

That is all.

(Of course, Judge Barber might still step down some time soon, and so there might be quite a change around here in Superior Court.)



You know, I just read that headline and realized how boring it might seem, but it's really not. Honest! Mark C. just this week was decrying the informal system of governor-appointed judgeships when the state constitution calls for them to be elected, and here we have that same, old-boy-network system written into law in this instance. And this doesn't even take up the question of whether Orange-Chatham needs another Superior Court judge == is the Superior Court trial calendar really _that_ crowded -- and therefore why this was introduced into the appropriations bill, and by whom.

I'm telling you this is HOT stuff, man. I'm sorry about the headline, but I couldn't think of an appropriate crow metaphor.

How serious a candidate is Joe Hackney? Has he ever been asked about the possibility of serving on the Superior Court?

He's been in the Legislature a really long time, as we all know. He's still an active member of the bar, even so, and for some time now there's been talk that he might not mind taking a judgeship as reward for his time in the trenches of the Legislature. It's a very good job if you can snag one. That said, I'm not personally acquainted with Rep. Hackney and don't have special access to the inner workings of his mind. I'm just reporting the watercooler rumors from the courthouse.


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