Ad Spot

January 18, 2021

New chief justice means shake-up atop NC’s court system

By Gary D. Robertson
Associated Press

RALEIGH — The hiring of a new top administrator of North Carolina’s court system is one of several significant personnel changes in a shake-up atop the state Judicial Branch since Chief Justice Paul Newby was sworn in this month.

Newby, a Republican, chose special Superior Court Judge Andrew Heath as the next director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, a role he began last Friday. Heath had been the state budget director under then-Gov. Pat McCrory and a previous chairman of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which adjudicates workers’ compensation claims.

At least five employees, some with decades of experience within AOC, are now gone, including McKinley Wooten, whom Heath replaced. The AOC’s most recent deputy director, general counsel and a lobbyist of the legislature for the agency are no longer reporting to work, according to Judicial Branch spokeswoman Sharon Gladwell.

These are “at-will” positions, such that the employees aren’t subject to the same job protections that rank-and-file workers receive. The chief justice, who leads the branch of government, has the authority to hire their preferred AOC director and other top staff.

Newby, who had been an associate justice, was elevated to chief justice after narrowly defeating Democratic incumbent Cheri Beasley in November by just 401 votes. Heath administered the oath of office to Newby on Jan. 1. Democrats had held a 6-1 command in seats on the state’s high court last year but that majority narrowed to 4-3 after the November elections.

In response to whether these employees were dismissed or resigned, Heath said in an emailed statement that “the transition occurred in leadership positions such as you would expect when any leader of a branch of government wins an election.” Such a rapid replacement in this branch of government, however, is uncommon.

According to the Judicial Branch and personnel records, among those no longer working after Friday are Deputy Director Danielle Carman; General Counsel Tina Krasner; Andrew Simpson, chief counsel for policy and intergovernmental affairs; and Mildred Spearman, an organizational learning and development officer. Wooten’s last day was Thursday, Gladwell wrote in an email. All of them will receive their salary into next month, she said.

Krasner’s and Carman’s work experience with the Judicial Branch began in the 1990s. Carman left the department in the 2010s to work for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a civil rights group, before returning in 2019. Wooten, who was the first Black AOC director, joined state government as a magistrate in 1992. He been acting or permanent director for nearly two years, according to records.

Heath released a memo announcing several new hires that began work on Monday. They included new general counsel Trey Allen and Ryan Boyce, who will in part lead the AOC’s legislative and intergovernmental affairs division. Allen is a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Government, while Boyce worked previously with Newby and AOC.

The Judicial Branch employs over 6,400 workers in Raleigh at courthouses and other buildings in all 100 counties.

In the memo, Heath told employees: “Rest assured that we share the same desire to modernize technology, provide programs and services to our courts, and assist and equip the courts with the tools, training, and resources needed to administer equal justice for all.”

Comments

Crime

Blotter: Woman faces drug, child abuse charges

Coronavirus

County averaging 118 new COVID-19 cases per day in 2021

News

Political Notebook: Rep. Sasser to chair NC House Health committee in second term

Ask Us

Ask Us: COVID-19 vaccination events have required adaptations, brought frustration

Local

38th Winter Flight Run moves to Mt. Ulla

Local

Cherry, Duren honored during all-virtual MLK celebration

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man charged with statutory rape

Nation/World

Heavy fortified statehouses around the US see small protests

Local

Human Relations Council honors Martin Luther King Jr. with modified fair

Local

Local lawmakers talk priorities for 2020-21 legislative session

Business

From a home office to a global company, Integro Technologies celebrates 20th anniversary

Lifestyle

‘Quarantine Diaries’ — Jeanie Moore publishes book as ‘foundation of stories for my family’

Business

‘It pays for itself:’ Study shows economic impact of Mid-Carolina Regional Airport

News

Gov. Cooper sending another 100 National Guard members to Washington

Local

Rowan County set rainfall record in 2020

News

Former, current congressmen for Rowan County opposed second impeachment

Business

Biz Roundup: Chamber prepares for January Power in Partnership program

Education

Essie Mae holding COVID-19 testing Monday, recognizes honor Roll

Local

County will have hearing on new ordinance about feeding large animal carcasses to domestic animals

Business

Complaints to BBB up 36% in 2020

Nation/World

Some in GOP talk of chance for coming civil war

Nation/World

More National Guard troops pour into Washington

Kannapolis

Kannapolis native Corey Seager agrees to $13.75 million deal with Dodgers

Nation/World

NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas