Commission wants input on NC court system

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 31, 2016

By Amanda Raymond
amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

If you think the state’s courts have room for improvement, there’s a commission that wants your feedback on a few ideas.

The N.C. Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice (NCCALJ) is looking for public input on its evaluation and recommendations for changes in the court system.

Chief Justice Mark Martin put the commission together in September 2015 to evaluate the state’s judicial system and come up with recommendations to strengthen the courts.

Will Robinson, executive director of the commission, was in Salisbury last week to talk to the Rowan Rotary Club, as well as local judges and court officials.

Robinson said the commission members were chosen from businesses, academia, the bar, the non-profit sector, the legislature and the judicial branch to “ensure a well-rounded evaluation of the judicial system.”

The committees held 40 meetings each and heard presentations from more than 90 different national and state experts, practitioners and court officials in the last 10 months.

The committees looked at five areas: civil justice, criminal investigation and adjudication, legal professionalism, public trust and confidence and technology.

The reports are intended inform the public about the relevant issues the committees are examining.

Robinson said that wide participation in the process is vital for the public trust.

Some of the recommendations include:

  • Raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 16- and 17-year-olds for all crimes except Class A through E felonies and traffic offenses. North Carolina and New York whose justice system treats young people as adults at the age of 16.
  • Restoring funding for legal assistance programs, which would include loan repayment assistance for the lawyers who represent the state’s in-need citizens.
  • Further studying the laws and procedures that determine civil fines, fees and penalties so that they do not cause or add to poverty and inequality issues.
  • Increasing public trust and confidence in the courts by doing things like promoting fair and equal access and removing actual and perceived bias in the courts.

The public can read the reports in full and leave comments online at nccalj.org/interim-reports.

The commission will also be holding four public comment meetings in August, including one in Charlotte on Aug. 25 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center Conference Room 267, 600 E. Fourth St., Charlotte, NC 28202.

Sign up to speak at nccalj.org/public-meetings.

The public comment period will end o Aug. 31.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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