Compromise on judgeship in North Carolina
Raleigh, N.C. — Lawmakers agreed to support a second Superior Court judgeship for racially tense Robeson County, eliminating the need for a special legislative session sought by supporters of a slain Indian judicial candidate. If approved by the General Assembly in its June session, Republican Gov. Jim Martin could appoint a new Superior Court judge from Robeson County.
Gov. Martin said he supported the agreement and pledged he would appoint a minority, and probably an Indian.
Supporters of Julian Pierce, an Indian judicial candidate killed March 26 in what police called a domestic dispute, had pressured the governor to call a special legislative session to amend state law to allow another minority candidate to run for the present judgeship.
Rep. Sidney Locks, a black Robeson County leader who was part of Monday's negotiations, was unenthusiastic about the compromise.
Filing for the judgeship closed in February, and state law does not allow a replacement for a candidate who dies more than 30 days after the filing period ends.
Many Lumbee Indians and blacks in the county say they are discriminated against and that they are not represented adequately in local political offices. The county's population is 37 percent Indian, 37 percent white, and 26 percent black.
The judgeship was one of nine established last year in areas with predominantly black or Indian populations in an effort to increase the number of minority judges.