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Phillips, murderer of four, loses Supreme Court bid to avoid death penalty (access required)

Mario Phillips (pictured) will remain on North Carolina’s death row after what was the last state-level appeal of his 2007 first-degree murder convictions for killing four people during a robbery. The North Carolina Supreme Court, with Judge Barbara Jackson not participating, upheld the original conviction and rejected Phillips’ bid for a new trial, finding no errors in the lower court’s rulings. The Supreme Court first heard the appeal in February 2010.

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Bill would insert committee into judicial elections (access required)

A measure introduced in the General Assembly last week would create a hybrid system of selecting judges that would combine a screening committee with elections by the public - the first system of its kind in the nation. The legislation was crafted by the NCBA Committee for Judicial Independence, co-chaired by former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Exum and John Wester (pictured), past president of the NCBA. "This bill, if enacted and approved by the people, will greatly improve the way we select judges in North Carolina," Exum said in a prepared statement.

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Long-dead NC jurists still ‘speak’ to court’s historian (access required)

You might think Danny Moody is alone at his desk, housed in a cavernous room on the first floor of the Supreme Court building. But you'd be wrong. He's surrounded by history. And history speaks to Danny Moody (pictured). Oil paintings of former justices silently look on. Books that speak of our state's legal past are stacked around him. The marble bust of a 19th-century jurist sits across the room, not far from an exhibit on the accomplishments of women that includes former Chief Justice Susie Sharp's license plate: "J-1."

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Trial & Error: Female majority on the court – What would Susie say?

Barbara Jackson didn't plan on making history. She donned her black robes and went into the judicial chambers before an overflow crowd earlier this month, and by the time the investiture ceremony was over, North Carolina's Supreme Court was majority female. Sure, the history-making election in November that gave the General Assembly a Republican majority got a lot more attention. The goings-on in our co-equal branch of government that quietly operates a few blocks from the legislative building never get the same spotlight.

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Writer’s block? Some in NC’s legal community say Supreme Court issues too few opinions (access required)

Pull N.C Reports Volume 363 - the most recently published volume - from the shelf and you'll be holding a book that covers just over a year's worth of output from the state's Supreme Court justices but contains only about three dozen written opinions. Is something wrong with this picture? Some members of the bar and academic experts on the judiciary think so. As the court's productivity in terms of opinion-writing has decreased during the last decade, some members of the bar are growing concerned that North Carolina's legal landscape is lacking crucial guidance.

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